Reference Entry

Bowdoin, James, III

Diane Tepfer

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T010668

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(b Boston, MA, Sept 22, 1752; d Buzzard’s Bay, MA, Oct 11, 1811).

American diplomat and collector. He was born into a prominent New England mercantile family of broad political and intellectual interests. Using the fortune garnered by his grandfather, a sea captain and merchant, he built on the collection, one of the first in the United States, begun by his father James Bowdoin II (1726–90), eventually bequeathing it to Bowdoin College, Maine, which was named after his father. The collection includes 70 paintings—mainly copies after Old Masters, the first Old Master drawings to arrive in America, and several prints, the latter probably collected by James II. It is likely that James III purchased at least 34 of the paintings in Europe, where he studied, later travelled, and was Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain under President Thomas Jefferson between 1805 and 1808. From the Scottish-born portrait painter John Smibert, he likely acquired additional copies but also, more significantly, two portfolios totalling 141 drawings. Most notable among them are a landscape traditionally attributed to ...

Reference Entry.  376 words. 

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; 18th-Century Art ; Art of the United States ; 19th-Century Art

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