This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Possible Earliest Portrait Of Jefferson Found

MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A team of researchers has uncovered what may be the earliest known portrait of Thomas Jefferson. If the picture proves to be Jefferson, it would give historians new insights into Jefferson's thinking and appearance soon after he became the American minister to France—less than ten years after he wrote the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

The canvas, a 1785 oil painting by the French artist Benjamin Nicolas Delapierre showing a gentleman seated at a desk and beginning to write on a sheet of paper, was purchased by an anonymous collector at an auction in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1996. At the time, the identity of the subject was unknown.

According to Dr. Joseph Pesce—president of the Northern Virginia consulting firm leading the research—the portrait was owned for more than 41 years by the secretive entrepreneur O. Roy Chalk, who also owned the renowned 1789 Houdon bust of Jefferson now at Monticello.

Conspicuously displayed in the painting is a book titled De la Caisse d'Escompte, a controversial work written by the French Revolutionary orator and statesman Comte de Mirabeau several years before Mirabeau achieved prominence.

"This book had important repercussions leading up to the French Revolution," said Pesce.

"If Jefferson is the subject, the fact that he chose to be depicted with Mirabeau's book in the foreground suggests that the American minister's alignment with Mirabeau occurred earlier—and was closer—than historians thought."

Adding to the potential historical significance is the possibility that the action depicted in the painting was Jefferson's first step in the crafting of a document titled "Heads for a letter to the Emperor of Morocco," written on 4 September 1785 and now owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Jefferson sent this document to John Adams, who had served with Jefferson in Paris but in September was Minister to England and living in London. Their work culminated in a treaty with Morocco that was ratified by Congress on 18 July 1787 and is still in force today, making it the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history.

To date, the team has collected more than 400 rare artifacts (18 th-century documents, books, pamphlets, newspapers, and other items) related to this project, including eight original editions of the book depicted in the portrait.

One of those books—an inscribed copy purchased from an antiquarian bookseller in Paris in July 2004—may be the very one shown in the painting.

Research continues on the portrait, with emphasis on trying to establish the complete chain of ownership.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 16,790.19 +13.76 0.08%
S&P 500 1,979.92 -7.13 -0.36%
NASDAQ 4,748.3610 -32.9030 -0.69%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs