Miniature portrait of U.S. Congressman William Lyman of Massachusetts, attributed to artist Benjamin Trott, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, c. 1795. This oval miniature watercolor portrait on ivory of William Lyman (in office March 4, 1793 – March 3, 1797), shows Lyman in chest-up pose. Lyman wears a double breasted black-brown coat with black lapels and a white cravat. It is likely that the portrait was executed while Lyman was a Congressman in Philadelphia - where Trott maintained a studio. The frame appears to be the original, has minor chips and scratches with its original loop intact at top. Identified on reverse in faded pencil, “Wm Lyman” and B. Trott”. Benjamin Trott (1770-1843) was an American artist and miniaturist working mostly during the Federal Period, War of 1812 and into the first quarter of the 19th century. Willliam Lyman (1755-1811) was born in Northampton, Massachusetts. Lyman graduated from Yale in 1776. He served in the Revolutionary War, achieving the rank of Major. After the war Lyman became active in politics and served as a Member of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives and in the State Senate. In 1793, Lyman was elected as a Republican to the United States Congress as a Representative from Massachusetts and served until 1797. Lyman served as United States consul to England, under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, from 1805 until his death in 1811. According to the National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996) Benjamin Trott's career unfolded in New York, Philadelphia, Kentucky, and Ohio before he established himself in the nation's capital. He was praised for the strong coloring and vivid likeness in his portraits, but his perfectionism and professional jealousy strained his relationships with fellow artists. He was obsessed with the idea that other painters such as Walter Robertson and Edward Greene Malbone knew better how to create pure pigments, and was determined to discover their secrets. Gilbert Stuart, with whom Trott had worked early in his career, was one of the few painters to remain friendly with the miniaturist. Trott's most successful work was created between 1800 and 1825, but his style later became unfashionable and his career suffered. Trott's obituary, however, credited his talent, acknowledging that his mind ". . . was vigorous, his genius undoubted, and his reputation equal to that of any other engaged in similar pursuits."
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