James Balfour (d. 1775) and George Balfour (1771-1830)

Date: 1773

James Balfour was a Scottish emigrant who was a factor for the prominent Hanbury firm of London. He was a merchant in Hampton and Norfolk and was a partner in the firm of Balfour and Barraud (with Daniel Barraud). He lived for a time at Little Scotland Plantation and then moved to Little England Plantation near Hampton. Captain Esten was a ship captain who regularly sailed between Virginia and England. His wife was Mary Jemima Balfour.

Dimensions: 48 x 39 in. (121.92 x 99.06 cm.)

James wears a dark blue or black suit and a wig. He sits in a chair, leaning on a desk covered in a green cloth, while his right hand holds a letter and his left hand rests on his son’s arm. A pile of books, quills, inkstand, and papers are on the desk. George wears a white gown with blue sash around waist, a linen cap with blue plume, and plays with a drum set. A green drapery with gold fringe and a large tassel is on the left. The letter James holds reads: “To Mr Balfour/ Little England/ per The Hanbury/ Capt Esten/ Virginia”. They are turned three-quarters to their right.

See: Carolyn J. Weekley, Painters and Paintings in the Early American South (2013): 351.

Family: Balfour
Decade: 1770s
Credits: Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 1968.2.