Miniature Portrait of Alexander Hamilton
Miniature Portrait of Alexander Hamilton Miniature Portrait of Alexander Hamilton
Miniature Portrait of Alexander Hamilton

Miniature Portrait of Alexander Hamilton

  • This exceptionally rare portrait of Alexander Hamilton is one of a handful painted from life
  • The compelling work was recently re-discovered in the collection of Hamilton's descendants
  • Composed by Walter Robertson, the miniature captures Hamilton at the height of his career
  • New on the the market, it represents an extraordinary piece of American history
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Item No. 30-8887
Price: Available upon request

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One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton was instrumental in helping to shape the newborn nation. In spite of his remarkable popularity and success during his lifetime, only nine known portraits were painted of Hamilton from life during his nearly quarter century of fame. The present portrait is one of these rare few; painted by the celebrated miniaturist Walter Robertson, this highly important work was only recently re-discovered in the collection of descendants of Hamilton himself.

Unlike many of the other Founding Fathers who enjoyed long successful careers, Hamilton burst onto the American political scene like a meteor. At the age of 25 in 1780, he was still relatively unknown, though he showed promise as a young member of George Washington's staff. He rose to become Washington's aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, and eventually became the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Through his important work, Hamilton's democratic ideals and patriotic passion helped to build the foundations of the nation. His career was cut tragically short due to his early death following his duel with Aaron Burr in 1804, yet still he earned lasting distinction as a leader in early American politics.

It is perhaps due to his short career that so few portraits were taken of him from life. The present example, painted by the Irish artist Walter Robertson, represents an amazing re-discovery in the realm of Hamilton iconography. The portrait was previously thought lost, known only by an engraving after the miniature by George Graham. Though the engravings were widely circulated, the portrait itself was quietly held in the private collection of Hamilton's descendants, only very recently appearing on the market.

The portrait was painted circa 1794, shortly before Washington and Hamilton traveled to Pennsylvania to quell the Whiskey Rebellion. Washington was forced to go in person to deal with the uprising and decided that Hamilton should go with him. The artist Robertson, having recently sailed to America with Gilbert Stuart, was in Philadelphia while Washington and Hamilton were preparing to depart and was granted an opportunity for a rare portrait sitting with the president and secretary. Both portraits depict the men in uniform, likely as a nod to the rebellion that they soon would quell.

The miniature captures Hamilton at the very height of his career. As Secretary of the Treasury, he was among the most powerful men in America and wielded remarkable influence over the developing nation. Close to President Washington, many of his democratic and financial ideas were realized during his political tenure. That confidence in his success is brilliantly captured by Robertson in the present portrait.

Circa 1794

Miniature: 5 3/8" high x 4 1/4" wide
Frame: 16 1/2" high x 12 5/8" wide
Period: 18th Century
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