Thomas Sully (American, 1783-1872)
oil on canvas, Framed: 122.00 x 103.00 x 10.00 cm (48 x 40 1/2 x 3 7/8 inches); Unframed: 89.50 x 70.50 cm (35 3/16 x 27 3/4 inches). Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1916.1979.1
According to his own inventory, the astonishingly productive Sully painted more than 2,600 works during his career. Most of these paintings were commissioned portraits, including this one of David, who had just recently married.
French-born David was an American officer who served as a paymaster during the War of 1812. His rank is indicated by the fringed epaulet on his left shoulder and the lack of one on his right. In composing the portrait, Sully ingeniously positioned David's body on an angle to emphasize the single epaulet and downplay the uniform's lack of symmetry.