Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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John Tuffs

Artist:
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)
Date:
ca. 1861
Medium:
Shell
Dimensions:
1 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (4.5 x 3.8 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Sheila W. and Richard J. Schwartz Gift and Morris K. Jesup Fund, 1990
Accession Number:
1990.78.1a, b
Not on view
During Saint-Gaudens’s years as a cameo cutter’s apprentice, he helped his masters meet the demand for carved shell broaches, bracelets, and other wearable keepsakes. The delicately-rendered portrait of New York attorney John Tuffs (1812-1859) is believed to be his earliest surviving work. A posthumous portrait likely based on a daguerreotype, it presents the sitter in a technically challenging three-quarter pose. The young apprentice dutifully conveyed the details of Tuff’s dress and the thin wisps of his hair, yet with equal precision he naively depicted Tuffs’s wandering left eye. More than ten years after ordering the portrait of her husband, Hannah Rohr Tuffs (1829-1905) commissioned her pendant cameo (1990.78.2a,b) when visiting Rome with her sister. The pair is housed in original velvet-lined leather cases.
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