Dr. John Bard of Hyde Park
MORRIS H. SAFFRON
A MONG the objects of art on view in the Rare Book and
/-a\ iManuscript Library is a small but striking pastel of an
A )\ elderly man with a good head of gray hair, ending in a
queue, a prominent nose and deep-set eyes. Although the face in
general seeems open and frank, the compressed upper lip indicates
the firmness, determination and persistence which were charac¬
teristic of the man. Outlined against a dark blue background, the
figure, wearing a gray coat trimmed with brown, and a white shirt
and vest, gazes intently to the left. The sitter, then approaching
his eightieth year, is identified as John Bard, a New York physi¬
cian who was a leader in the medical community during the latter
half of the eighteenth century; the portrait itself, hitherto unpub¬
lished, is considered to be the original by James Sharpies, Sr.
(1751-1811), of which at least four other versions are known.
Sharpies, an English portrait painter, arrived in New York in 1793
with his wife Edien and family. During his first stay which lasted
eight years he traveled widely throughout the States, executing
numerous small, inexpensive likenesses of Revolutionary and other
distinguished figures, including George and iMartha Washington.
Scholars have long known that many of the portraits attributed to
James, Sr., were actually clever replicas, the work of Ellen or of
either of the two artist sons, Felix or James, Jr., but in many instances
the problem of attribution is extremely difficult or even quite im¬
possible to solve.
Nevertheless, a study of photographs assembled at the Frick Art
Reference Library has led to the following observations. The best
version, in all probability the original, by James, Sr., is at Colum¬
bia; this portrait has an impeccable provenance, having been pre¬
sented by Dr. Bard himself to a medical colleague and having been
at one point owned by Charles E. Sands whose mother was a Bard.