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Three-quarter length portrait of Jonathan Sayward, facing right; right arm leaning on table; curtain in left background; right background shows ocean with two ships.
oil paint (paint)
Cherished Possessions: Jonathan Sayward became something of a local hero for his role during the Siege of Louisbourg in 1745. Louisbourg, in Nova Scotia, provided the French with their principal access to North America. From here, French fleets harassed English and colonial merchant and fishing vessels. The success of this expedition was met with widespread acclaim and Sayward's role helped pave the way for his subsequent appointment to prestigious and lucrative offices.However, on the eve of the Revolution, Sayward, a deeply conservative man, profoundly believed that the best thing for the colonies was that they remain part of England. After refusing to endorse separation from England, he was stripped of public office, shunned by former friends, and forbidden to leave his house.
Jonathan Sayward's portrait remains in the parlor of his house, where it was hung roughly 245 years ago. The artist has not been identified. Conceivably, Sayward had his and his wife's portraits painted in Boston, perhaps when he was serving on the General Court in the 1760s. The portrait shows him at the height of his career and clearly conveys an image of a successful, unpretentious merchant, the ships in the background indicating the source of Sayward's wealth, or perhaps his role in transporting militia to the siege in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in 1745. Very few colonists had their portraits painted; this painting is evidence of Sayward's elevated position in colonial society.
Original to Sayward-Wheeler House (York Harbor, Me.),
57 3/8 x 46 1/4 (HxW) (inches)
Gift of the heirs of Elizabeth Cheever Wheeler
Probably Massachusetts (United States)
Probably Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)