Leaving England for America at the age of nine but returning in his mid-twenties to study with Benjamin West, in 1810 Sully finally settled in Philadelphia. There he became the city's leading painter, known for dashing brushwork and elegant figures. Lieutenant Jean Terford David (1792-1838) commissioned these portraits of himself and his wife Mary Sicard David (1792-1864) soon after his appointment as regimental paymaster in the United States Army. Sully created visual drama by portraying Daivd from below against a cloud-filled sky. Mrs. David, however, is seen from straight on and presents a sweet and benign figure.
The frame is original.
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Catalogue of the Inaugural Exhibition (6 June-20 September, 1916), no. 157.
Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition of Portraits by Thomas Sully (1922), pp. 5-7, cat. no. 72, illus. p. 50.
Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 20th Anniversary Exhibition (26 June-4 October, 1936), p. 29, no. 49.
Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The World of the Romantic Artist: A Survey of American Culture from 1800 to 1875 (28 December, 1944-28 January, 1945), no. 6; p. 9-10.
Saginaw, Michigan, The Saginaw Museum, An Exhibition of American Paintings from Colonial Times until Today (10 January-15 February, 1948), p. 22, illus. no. 56, plate III.
Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, From Colony to Nation: An Exhibition of American Painting Silver and Architecture from 1650 to the War of 1812 (21 April-19 June, 1949), p. 73, cat. no. 118.
Washington D.C., The National Portrait Gallery, Mr. Sully, Portrait Painter (3 June-5 September, 1983), p. 59, cat. no. 19, illus. p. 59.
Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Federal Philadelphia 1783-1825: The Athens of the Western World (5 July - 20 September 1987), cat. no. 224.
Milwaukee Art Museum, WI (10/11/2013 - 1/5/2014) and San Antonio Museum of Art, TX (2/7/20114 - 5/11/2014): "Thomas Sully: Painted Performance", cat. no. 10, p. 105.