William Verstille (American, 1757–1803)
Watercolor on ivory
1 29/32 x 1 7/16 in. (4.8 x 3.7 cm)
Gift of J. William Middendorf II, 1968 (68.222.10)
Verstille painted his first miniatures during the American Revolution, when he made small portraits of officers while a member of the troops. After the war, he lived in Connecticut and then moved to Philadelphia and New York, where he learned a bit from the fine miniaturist John Ramage (24.109.93). In New York, he kept a detailed account book recording his commissions for mourning pieces, hairwork, and jewelry. His portrait of George Henry Remsen (17681804), a member of a prominent merchant family, dates from his New York period: the brushwork has a sketchy quality with thin wavering lines. Remsen is portrayed in Verstille's typical fashion, with long, narrow eyes, a long crooked nose, lips that curl at the corners, and bristly hair.