Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
John Lewis
John Lewis
This profile portrait is likely of the well-to-do Virginia planter named John Lewis, though there are others by the name. The artist, Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Memin, is more readily known. Saint-Memin was born a member of the French nobility in Dijon and art merely a pastime at first. In 1784 he enrolled in the Royal Military Academy in Paris, but graduated just as the French Revolution drove his family into exile in Switzerland. In 1793 they moved to the family's sugarcane estate in Saint-Dominique (later Haiti), but when the revolution spread there as well, fled to New York in 1795. From a fellow emigre, Saint-Memin learned to use a mechanical drawing device, the physiognotrace, to create portrait profiles which could later be engraved and reproduced in multiples. He supported himself with this work, along with some profile miniatures, for 14 years. Following the fall of Napoleon, he returned to France and became the director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon until his death at age 82.