Portrait of the Reverend Joshua Gee by John Smibert
Historic New England recently acquired its first portrait by the early eighteenth century artist John Smibert. In the second quarter of the eighteenth century, Smibert was New England's most important portrait painter. From 1729 to 1746 when he retired due to failing eyesight, Smibert painted approximately 250 portraits, including one of the Reverend Joshua Gee, pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Boston.
Reverend Gee is important to Historic New England not only as a signficant historic figure, painted by a well-known artist, but also because he is connected by marriage to two of the organization's most important pieces, two remarkable and rare wax figures.
From the exhibit Cherished Possessions:
When thirty-six year old Sarah Gardner became the Reverend Joshua Gee's third wife in 1740, she brought with her furniture, bedding, silver, and three "Shadow Glasses on Stools filled with Wax Work." Joshua Gee was pastor of Boston's Second Church, the Old North Church, later famous for its role in Paul Revere's historic ride to Lexington. Thanks to his father's shipping and real estate successes, Gee had a substantial fortune. Judging from the more than £750 of goods Sarah Gardner brought into the marriage, she too came from wealth.
... In the inventory of Joshua Gee's estate, taken after his death in 1748, three wax work figures under glass appear in the best chamber, valued at £30, an astonishing amount considering that most of the furniture in the house averaged between £3 and £4. After Gee's death, his wife retained the figures. The third figure disappeared long ago; the other two passed down in the female line until they were donated to Historic New England in 1924 by the maker's great-great-granddaughter.
Gee's portrait by Smibert is a wonderful complement to Historic New England's collection and to two of its most important treasures.
Library and Archives Collections
The Kallmann, McKinnell and Wood Architectural Collection
Historic New England is pleased to have received the gift of the original records for the design and construction of Boston City Hall by Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles. This gift includes hundreds of documents, such as drawings, photographs, models, and other materials. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recognized the significance of the building by giving it the 1969 Honor Award for Architecture. In a 1976 poll of architects, critics, and historians taken by the AIA, Boston City Hall ranked as one of the most important structures in American architectural history.