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Portrait of Gerrit Symonse Veeder

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Portrait of Gerrit Symonse Veeder

Attributed to: Nehemiah Partridge (American, 1683-c.1729-37)

Date: c. 1720
Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall: 30 1/4 x 26 1/4in. (76.8 x 66.7cm)
Inscribed: Verso: "G.S. Veeder"
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 65.29
Text Entries

The subject of this eighteenth-century portrait of a handsome middle-aged man in a blue jacket and brocade waistcoat is Gerrit Veeder, a land and mill owner in Schenectady, New York. An 1886 history of the county also lists him as a carpenter.(1) In his 1690 marriage to Tryntje Otten he obtained additional land in the heart of the town at the corner of Union and Church streets.(2) Like many marriages along the upper Hudson, this one early proved fruitful, and the couple’s first child, a son, was born less than three months after the wedding ceremony.
The Veeders’s next door neighbors were Caleb and Anna Beck, who kept a tavern and store in the palisaded town on the Mohawk River. Caleb Beck was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and it appears likely that the limner Nehemiah Partridge, born in the same town at about the same time, came to his Schenectady subjects through acquaintance with this New Hampshire-born mariner. There is at least one reference to Veeder in Caleb Beck’s account book, as in the early winter of 1718 Beck charged Gerrit Simonson Veeder for 1 gill of rum purchased “for his son Daniel."(3)
Portraits of the Becks are, along with this subject, among the more than sixty portraits from wide-ranging locations in the colonies once attributed to an anonymous Aetatis Suae limner. In I980, after a generation’s search by contemporary art historians, portraits of members of the Wendell family of Albany—three out of more than twenty-five paintings having inscriptions written in one distinctive hand and consistent in style with the large group of likenesses—were identified as Partridge’s work. In a May 13, 1718, entry in his day book, Evert Wendell recorded—in Dutch—that “Nehemiah Peartridge De Schilder [painter]” had promised to paint portraits of the family and pay ten pounds in exchange for a horse. One of the witnesses to the agreement was Samuel Van Vechten, later a sitter to the same painter. Thus Partridge, who began his career in Boston, and who early in 1718 had identified himself as a limner in an apprenticeship agreement in New York City, was established as the artist of a group of paintings that had hitherto been described as having been painted in the distinctive Aetatis Suae manner.(4)
The portrait of Veeder is painted in the economical style that Partridge often employed for quick effect, especially in less sophisticated towns or in other areas where he had already established his reputation by his initial use of a more painstaking and elaborate technique. The paintings in the former style often had Indian red grounds—as in this case—which is visible in facial shadows and at the edges of large areas of colors laid over the base layer.
Many details of Veeder’s facial features and costume echo those in other men’s portraits attributed to Partridge, the most evocative being the relation between this portrait and the 1721 likeness of Captain Christopher Christophers of New London, Connecticut (bearing an inscription at the upper right in Partridge’s hand),(5) and the portrait of Captain Ebenezer Coffin of Nantucket (Bayou Bend Collection, Houston), the painter’s cousin, who was probably painted when he was in Boston in 1714., at a time when Partridge was beginning to advertise his skills as a limner in the Boston News Letter.


1. Gerrit Symonse Veeder was born in Schenectady, New York, in about 1670, the son of Simon Wolkertse Veeder (alias de Bakker). Gerrit was married in Albany on August 3, 1690, to Tryntje, daughter of Helmer Otten, and died between 1747 (when he made his will) and 1755 (when it was proved). See Jonathan Pearson, Contributions for the Genealogies of the Descendants of the First Settlers of the Patent and City of Schenectady from 1662 to 1800 (Albany: Joel Munsell, 1873), p. 264. Also George R. Howell and W.W. Munsell, History of the County of Schenectady (New York: W.W. Munsell, 1886), p. 31.

2. Ona Curran, “The Early Veeder Family." Schenectady County Historical Society Bulletin, vol. 7. no. 1 (September 1967), unpaged.

3. The “son” is likely to have been Veederls son-in-law Daniel Van Antwerpen. Caleb Beck Account Book (November 30, 1718), Sleepy Hollow Restorations, Inc., Tarrytown, N.Y.

4. Mary Black, “Contributions Toward a History of Early Eighteenth-Century New York Portraiture: The Identification of the Aetatis Suae and Wendell Limners,” American Art Journal, vol. 12, no.4 (Autumn 1980), pp. 4-31.

5. John R. Totten, Christophers Genealogy (New York: New York Genealogical Society, 1922), unpaged.


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