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Lot #1084
John Jay Autograph Letter Signed

John Jay writes home while negotiating the Jay Treaty, inquiring about the status of Gilbert Stuart's unfinished portrait

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Estimate: $3000+
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John Jay writes home while negotiating the Jay Treaty, inquiring about the status of Gilbert Stuart's unfinished portrait

ALS, one page both sides, 7.25 x 8.75, September 13, 1794. Handwritten letter from London to his wife Sally, discussing family matters and inquiring about his unfinished portrait by Gilbert Stuart. In part: "I am happy in being assured by your Letter that you and the children were well—God grant that you may all continue so. I am glad that William and his sisters have passed some time at Rye—a run in the country is favourable to Health…Several letters from me to you are now on the ocean—I have not omitted any opportunity of writing that has come to my knowledge. It gives me pleasure that the mill is going on; and I think with Johnny Lyon that it will be profitable unless the expence of it should exceed my expectations…Until the major marries, I fear his attention to the farm will not be sufficiently uniform and minute…Your son is well, and doing well—he will write to you by this ship. How does Stewart go on—has he finished the Picture—continue your request to him to compleat it." He adds a handwritten postscript, in part: "Mr. Rob't Morris Jun'r the son of Mr. R. Morris of Pha. will be the Bearer of this. Mr. Marshall a gent: of Richmond…and Mr. Russell…go on the same ship with Mr. Morris." Handsomely double-matted and framed with an engraved portrait to an overall size of 21.5 x 16.5; there is a window in the backing for viewing the front of the letter. In fine condition.

With an urgent need for a peaceful and functional economic relationship with Britain, President Washington sent John Jay to London in the summer of 1794 in hopes of resolving several ongoing, post-Revolution military and commercial disputes. After drawn-out negotiations, the two nations reached an agreement on November 19th, defining terms that would expel royal troops from America’s western frontiers, send the issue of Britain’s debts to arbitration, and grant US ships access to trade routes in and around English ports. In this interesting letter, he mentions an unfinished painting by "Stewart"—presumably the portrait that Gilbert Stuart had left unfinished in 1784. Another famed artist of the era, John Trumbull, accompanied Jay to London as his secretary; Trumbull would complete the portrait upon returning home to America in 1804. Today it resides in the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Animation
  • Dates: #649 - Ended December 07, 2022

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