George Freeman

(21 April 1789 - 7 March 1868)



George Freeman, born at Spring Hill, near Mansfield Centre, Conn., April 21, 1789. He was a painter of miniature portraits on porcelain and ivory, and of no small repute either in England or America. His father, Skiff Freeman, was a farmer (Mother, Mary (née‎ Aspinwall) of very moderate means, and all that he was in later years resulted from his own personal efforts. Of the earlier pictures of his painting that remain are one of Mrs. Sigourney, and several in possession of Mrs. H.B. Beach of Hartford, executed about 1810. In 1813 he went abroad, remaining in Europe twenty-four years; which accounts for Mr. Dunlap's oversight. Mr. Dunlap returned without warning, and took dinner with his father, telling him he had met his son in Paris and London. In the latter city his work was highly praised, and he received the distinguished honor of being allowed to paint Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from life.

An early book, "Art and Artists in Connecticut", by H.W. French, written in 1879.




George Freeman b. Connecticut. Nov. 1816, Montreal; England, (1789-1868); August 1817, New York, Philadelphia.
This index identifies the artists who created miniatures and silhouettes in Montreal between 1760 and 1860. These charming minor art forms offered smaller, cheaper or more intimate alternatives to the full-scale portraiture practised in the province at that time, providing the sort of personal memento that could be carried with one, pressed into an album or even worn in a locket or brooch. This special market was too limited in the colonial centres of British North America to foster indigenous schools of miniature-painting and silhouette-taking (as occurred in the United States, or with full-scale portraiture in Quebec) so creation of these works remained in the hands of itinerant artists. These artists arrived from the busier art centres of New York or Boston or from overseas, set up shop for a few weeks, advertised their skills in the newspapers or in a shop window and, when business declined, moved on to the next colonial centre. While miniatures and silhouettes are found in many Montreal collections, the great majority are both unsigned and unattributed, and so little is known of their creators. Identifying these itinerant miniaturists and silhouettists proved a lengthy task. A reading of Montreal newspapers published during that century: The Canadian Courant and Montreal Advertiser, The Montreal Gazette, The Montreal Herald, La Minerve and The Vindicator and Canadian Advertiser provided advertisements of thirty-one. A very few miniatures are signed or associated by family tradition with a particular artist. Several silhouettists used a stamp to identify their works. Other unadvertised visits are recorded in J. Russell Harper's Early Painters and Engravers in Canada. The total number of artists reached forty-five.

[Index was compiled as an appendix to the Concordia University M.F.A. thesis Miniatures and Silhouettes in Montreal, 1760-1860; Journal of Canadian Art History.]

Raised on a farm in Spring Hill, Connecticut. Little is known about his youth except that his interest in art began early and he was apparently self-taught. By the age of nineteen, he was living with his sister and supporting himself as an itenerant artist traveling throughout New York City, although he still traveled often for commissions. After a stay in Montreal in 1816, he relocated the next year to London, where he would achieve his greatest success. He painted the Duchess of Leeds in 1825; a letter from his wife written in 1827 lists a string of aristocratic sitters; and in 1841 he painted Queen Victoria. His letters to his brother Shubael reveal both great prosperity and homesickness. Freeman returned to the United States in 1841, after more than twenty years abroad. Shortly after his arrival in America, Freeman painted Martin Van Buren, a longtime friend, in a commission that would ensure the artist continued success in the American market. He exhibited widely at the National Academy of Design, the American Academy, the Artists' Fund Society, and at the Boston Athenaeum . After a busy decade in the 1840s, commissions leveled off, and he entered a phase of semi-retirement. Following a brief return to England in 1856, Freeman settled comfortably in the suburbs of New York City.

[ © Ref. Copyright Ownership wilnitsky.com; George Freeman Family Correspondence, 1808-1863; © Copyright Ownership: Archives of American Art; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; A Dictionary of Painters of Miniatures, London, 1926; © Copyright Ownership: George C. Groce and Davic H. Wallace, The New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America, New Haven, 1957;
© Content will be removed upon request of © Ownerships. ]



John Quincy Adams Papers
Portraits of John Quincy Adams and His Wife: Only a year before Adams compiled the "Rubbish" list, he sat on several occasions in Washington to Geore Freeman, a miniaturist. Perhaps the reason he failed to list Freeman's likeness was that he never saw it finished.

A record of these sittings appears in three diary entries: "Mr. G. Freeman, a Miniature Portrait Painter ...wishes to take my picture and I engaged to call upon him at his lodgings to-morrow." A few days later: "Sat for my miniature to Mr. Freeman, lodging at Mr. M'Leod's." Lastly he recorded calling on Mr. Freeman, who had packed his trunks to go to Baltimore and Philadelphia, but unpacked and took a three-hour sitting, "*which entirely exhausted my patience." (*entries of 8 12, 16 March, 1838)

Mrs. Adams reported these sittings to her son Charles, mentioning that Mr. Freeman wish to havee the likeness to take to England to be engraved. He had also brought with him a portrait of Van Buren as a specimen of his work which, she said, "is a remarkably fine likeness greatly embellished and beautified and yields a handsome proof of the Paintets skill." She added: "He has taken Mrs. Madison but I believe it is not completed yet." A week later the portrait won her approval a "a beaufiful likeness of Mrs. Madison with which your Father is quite enchanted."

Freeman, who was born in Spring Hill, Connecticut, went to England about 1813 for twenty-four years and is said to have painted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Apparently his best-known work is a miniature painted in Philadelphia of Mrs. Edward Biddle. H. B. Wehle said of him: "But for the miniature Freeman painted of this lovely lady he would probably be almost forgotten today."

With comments such as the foregoing in mind, we must again regret that still another likeness of Adams is lost.

[To CFA, 8-14, 18-22 March 1838 (Adams Papers); Harry B. Wehle, American Miniatures 1730-1850 ...and a Biographical Dictionary of Artists by Theodore Bolton, N. Y., 1927, p. 49, 36-87; © Copyright Ownership: Portraits of John Quincy Adams and His Wife, Andrew Oliver, Harvard University Press, Jan 1, 1970. Webmaster agrees to remove this content upon request of author. Funds for editing The Adams Papers were originally furnish by Time, Inc., on behalf of Life, to the Massachusetts Historical Society, under whose supervision the editorial work is being done. Further funds have been provide by a grant from the Ford Foundation to the National Archives Trust Fund Board in support of this and four other major documentary publications. In common with these and many other enterprises like them. The Adams Papers benefits from the contrinuing and indispensable cooperation and aid of the National Historical Publications Commission, whose chairman is the Archivist of the United States.]


Edmund Freeman (1683-1766). He came from Sandwich, Massachusetts in the 1730s and settled in Mansfield. In the Freeman line, there are so many Edmund Freeman it gets confusing. A lot of the documents were on a particular lineage chart. Other documents were lots of letters between Freeman Family members, wills, deeds, and photographs of the Freeman houses and Freeman ancestors. Perhaps most interesting were the original paintings of George Freeman (1789-1868), who was an accomplished painter and miniaturist from Mansfield. Some of these paintings appeared in the Freeman genealogy, however these are the originals. He is the great-grandson of Edmund Freeman (1683-1766).
© Copyright Ownership: Jake Fletcher's Genealogy Project; Documenting my Family History Research.



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