James Sharples (American, ca. 17511811)
Pastel and black chalk (or black pastel) on toned (now oxidized) wove paper; 9 7/16 x 7 1/4 in. (24 x 18.4 cm)
Bequest of Charles Allen Munn, 1924 (24.109.89)
According to William Dunlap, biographer of American artists, the price of a profile likeness by James Sharples was $15; for a full face, $20. The so-called full-face images, such as this, actually portray a three-quarter visage. They are relatively rare in Sharples' oeuvre and, almost without exception, are unique images, whereas his profiles were drawn to be replicated. Moreau de Saint-Méry, a member of a distinguished Creole family, served as deputy for Martinique and as an elector in Paris before being forced to flee to the United States in November 1793, after Robespierre's accession to power. He sat for Sharples in Philadelphia, where he owned a bookshop, pursued his career as an author, and sold dry goods on the side.