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Gallery Text

Born in Vienna but residing for much of his life in Rome, Anton von Maron was one of the most celebrated portraitists of the eighteenth century, receiving commissions from the Roman elite, foreign dignitaries, and British aristocrats visiting on the Grand Tour. Here he portrays the Scottish commissioner and traveler Archibald Menzies (d. 1777) in an elaborate waistcoat and fur-trimmed jacket. The sitter holds a copy of Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem (1761), the book by James Macpherson purported to be a translation from the Gaelic. The inclusion of that volume, with its controversial claim of a classical heritage for Scotland, marks his sitter’s political affiliations and engagement in contemporary debates on history and literature, and underscores the sitter’s desire to be associated with Rome.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
BR57.147
People
Anton von Maron, Austrian (Vienna, Austria 1733 - 1808 Rome, Italy)
Title
Archibald Menzies
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
1763
Culture
Austrian
Location
Level 2, Room 2220, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Rococo and Neoclassicism in the Eighteenth Century
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
76.2 x 63.5 cm (30 x 25 in.)
frame: 95.3 x 82.6 x 5.1 cm (37 1/2 x 32 1/2 x 2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: top stretcher at right, blue ink on paper, handwritten: J[?] 68 W. R. 3
  • label: on verso at u.r., red and black ink on paper, typewritten: 12 Homage to Mozart Ex. / Anton von Maron / Portrait of Archibald Menzies
  • inscription: verso of canvas: Arch. Menzies Esqr / Marone. Pinxt / Rome 1763
Provenance
Mrs. Pender-Small (?-1927), sold; [through Christie’s London, November 28, 1927, lot 50]; to Spiller (1927-?). [Julius H. Weitzner, New York, NY, sold]; to Robert Rantoul Endicott, New York, NY (?-1957), gift; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1957.

Notes:
1. According to a letter dated October 21, 1968, from Mr. Brinsley Ford, London to the Director of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, the painting was purchased at the November 28, 1927 Christie’s London sale by Spiller for 32 gns. No further information about the identity of Spiller is provided; it is possible that Spiller was a dealer.
2. According to a letter from Julius H Weitzner to Robert R. Endicott dated September 27, 1957, the painting was exhibited at the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum in Berlin from 1929-1932.
3. The painting was lent by Julius H. Weitzner to the 1956 Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CT exhibition “Homage to Mozart” (cat. 36).
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Robert Rantoul Endicott
Accession Year
1957
Object Number
BR57.147
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Homage to Mozart, exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, CT, 1956), cat. no. 36 p. 19

George R. Brooks, "A Portrait by Anton von Maron in the Busch-Reisinger Museum", Gazette des Beaux-Arts (February 1966), pp. 115-118, pp.115-118, repr. p. 166 as fig. 1

Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY, 1967), cat. 45

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 60, color plate; pp. 117, 270, repr. b/w cat. no. 439

John Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701-1800, compiled from the Brinsley Ford Archive, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (New Haven, CT, 1997), p. 654 under Menzies, Archibald

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 212

Isabella Schmittmann, Anton von Maron (1731-1808). Leben und Werk, Scaneg Verlag (Munich, Germany, 2013), pp. 193-195 as cat. 41; p. 454; repr. p. 550 as Tf. 6b / Abb. 044

Exhibition History

Homage to Mozart, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 03/22/1956 - 04/29/1956

Highlights from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum and Harvard Alumni of St. Louis, City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, 01/30/1964 - 03/01/1964

Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Fogg Art Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 05/08/1967 - 06/11/1967

German Rococo and Romanticism, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, 03/12/1977 - 05/01/1977

German Painting 1760-1960: A New Installation, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 12/20/1983 - 02/19/1984

Masterpieces of European Art, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/22/1985 - 09/15/1985

32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu