called John Blair (ca. 1689-1771), Mary Munroe Blair (1708-1768), and their son, James Blair (1741-1772)

Artist: Unknown
Date: probably 1720-1750

The problem with identifying the subjects in this portrait is that it apparently descended through the child pictured, James Blair. According to tradition, the portrait passed from James Blair to his widow, Kitty Eustace. The two married in 1771 and James Blair was in the process of divorcing Kitty, from he separated almost immediately after the wedding, when he died in 1772. He explicitly left nothing to Kitty in his will. James’ siblings fought her in court for Blair family property and money. According to the family from whom the portrait ultimately descended, Kitty left the painting to her stepson from her second marriage to a Carolinian, from whom she also appears to have separated from. It then apparently descended in her stepson’s family. It seems strange that the portrait was not claimed by one of James Blair’s siblings. Further, the composition of the portrait is unlike any other known portraits painted in or for Virginians. The portrait was likely painted in England. A tentative date of the 1740s is provided based on the age of James Blair. The costumes and wigs could date earlier but not much later.

Dimensions: 52.4 x 65 in. (133 x 165 cm.)

The three subjects sit at a table covered with a Turkey carpet. The woman sits on the right in a black and red upholstered chair. She wears a brown dress with a white underskirt. The baby wears white and blue fabric draped around him. He holds fruit of some kind, perhaps an orange, and sits in his mother’s lap. The man sits on the left and wears a long, white wig, a brown jacket embellished with silver frogs, brown stockings, and a pink textile draped over his arm. His left elbow rests on the table. In the background is a monument of some sort and two cupids on the left. A brown drapery swag with silver design hangs on the right.

See: FARL; Encyclopedia Virginia

Family: BlairUnknown
Location: Unknown
Credits: Private collection. Photograph by Ira W. Martin, courtesy of the Frick Art Reference Library.