Saint-Mémin in America 1793-1814
© The National Portrait Gallery, all rights reserved.
Between 1796 and 1810, Charles Balthazar
Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin (1770-1852) created some of the
most memorable images in the history of American portraiture. Nearly a thousand
Americans sat for portraits, among them Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, Mother
Seton, Meriwether Lewis, and Charles Willson Peale. Saint-Mémin's
popularity rested on a growing appreciation for profiles as a particularly
truthful form of portraiture, and his distinctive images have come to epitomize
A member of the French hereditary nobility, Saint-Mémin came to
New York City in 1793, at the age of twenty-three. He was a former military
officer exiled by the events of the French Revolution. In New York, Saint-Mémin
turned to the arts to support himself, his parents, and his sister. With
some training in drawing and an aptitude for precision, he taught himself
the art of engraving. First, he made a few landscapes and city plans. Then,
in 1796 he took up the profession of portraitist. His partner was Thomas
Bluget de Valdenuit (1763-1846), also of the French military.
Read more about the work and life
of St. Mémin
View Image Gallery of St. Mémin engravings,
1793 to 1814, courtesy National Portrait Gallery
Review the Exhibition List of the St.
Mémin Collection at the National Portrait Gallery