Stephen Van Rensselaer II (1742–1769)

Thomas McIlworth (active 1757–1768)
Date: 1763
Medium: Oil on canvas in original carved and gilded wood frame
Dimensions: 30 H x 25 1/16 W (painting); 36 3/8 H x 31 3/8 W (frame)
Engraved on brass plaque attached to bottom of frame: Stephen Van Rensselaer/7th Patroon/June 1, 1742-Oct 19,1769; inscribed on ink on paper label adhered to back of canvas, bottom center: Stephen Van Rensselaer/(1st [sic] Patroon)/Who left this portrait to/his daughter Elizabeth/born 9 months/before his death./He left it to her/that she might know/her father's face/Elizabeth was his only/daughter. She married/first John Brad/Street Schuyler - second/John Bleecker
Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase
Accession Number: 1981.10

The well–dressed young man in this portrait, Stephen Van Rensselaer II, had just turned twenty-one years old a few months before his likeness was finished in October 1763. Perhaps it was painted to commemorate his coming of age—his entrance into adulthood. Stephen’s striking indigo blue suit accented with silver thread on the buttons and buttonholes denotes a young man of wealth, someone of prominence in the community. Indeed, Stephen was heir to the accumulated wealth and vast land holdings of the Van Rensselaer family, holdings that consisted of 700,000 acres of land around Albany, New York.

This portrait by New York artist Thomas McIlworth accompanies manuscript collections, furniture, household items, and paintings in the Institute’s collections that document the historically important Van Rensselaer family.