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It Came from the Vault: Rarely Seen Works from MAG’s Collection

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Portrait of Aaron Burr (1756 – 1836)

9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in. (24.1 x 19.1 cm)

John Vanderlyn
American (1775 - 1852)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Rochester Area Community Foundation from the Collection of Elizabeth Gibson Holahan (1903-2002)
Accession Number: 2005.248
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

Thomas Jefferson’s vice president, Aaron Burr (1756–1836), is notorious for having killed his political rival Alexander Hamilton in an illegal duel. Despite his reputation for a hot temper and a host of sensual vices, Burr was an early advocate for women’s right to vote and the abolition of slavery.

This painting is a copy after a well-known portrait of Burr by John Vanderlyn in the collection of the New York Historical Society, but a definitive attribution has proved elusive. The beautifully-painted face is surrounded by crudely-painted areas of the background and clothing which may be by a later, less-skilled restorer. This portrait was deaccessioned from the Washington University Art Museum in 1962 and sold to the Kennedy Galleries in New York City. It came into the collection of Elizabeth G. Holahan, long-time president of the Landmark Society of Western New York and the Rochester Historical Society, who bequeathed it to the Gallery in 2005.

[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]

Painted for Aaron Burr; to his son Aaron Columbus Burr; to his son Hippolyte Burr, by 1882; probably purchased from him by William Keeney Bixby (1857-1931); Washington University, St. Louis, MO; sold by them to Kennedy Galleries, New York; purchased at that sale by Irving Burton; Elizabeth Gibson Holahan (1903-2002), Rochester, NY; gift of the Rochester Community Foundation from her estate to the Gallery in 2005

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It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue Entry for this artwork in the It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue. The exhibition ran from March 17-June 9, 2013

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