Abraham E. Wendell (b. 1715)

Attributed to John Heaton (active 1730-1745)
Date: c. 1737
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 35 1/2 H x 29 5/8 W
Credit: Gift of Governor and Mrs. W. Averell Harriman, Dorothy Treat Arnold (Mrs. Ledyard) Cogswell, Jr., Gates B. and Bessie DeBeer Aufsesser and Richard C. and Marjorie D. Rockwell
Accession Number: 1962.47

This portrait not only depicts a specific person, it also conveys information about life in the Upper Hudson Valley in the early eighteenth century. It contains the only identifiable local scene in early Albany portraiture, and the one known contemporary picture of a colonial period Dutch water mill in New York. Depicted as a two-story wooden structure, it may have been Abraham Wendell's home. The vehicle parked in front of the mill, is a "boat wagon" peculiar to Dutch New York. Nearby is a drag used to smooth a plowed field. Although Wendell's figure is posed in a manner typical of English mezzotints, the rural character of the background comes through. The unusually long and graceful fingers on Wendell's hands are typical of this artist's style. From about 1695 to 1750, upper- and middle-class colonists in the New York Province commissioned portraits. Wendell inherited all his family's property, which included land, houses, grist mills, a brew house, an orchard, and a farm.