GEORGE THÉODORE BERTHON, R.C.A.
G. Blair Laing Limited, Toronto
The Loeb Collection, Aylmer, Quebec
Private Collection, Montreal
Pierre Théberge, The Mr. and Mrs. Jules Loeb Collection (catalogue), The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1970-71, unpaginated, cat. no. 4, reproduced.
Dennis Reid, A Concise History of Canadian Painting, 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, Toronto, 2012, page 33, fig. 2.11, for Mrs William Henry Boulton, 1846 (collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario), reproduced in colour.
The Mr. and Mrs. Jules Loeb Collection, A Travelling Exhibition prepared by Pierre Théberge, Curator of Contemporary Canadian Art, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1970-71: Sir George Williams University, Montreal, 01 September - 30 September 1970, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 15 October - 15 November 1970, Winnipeg Art Gallery, 15 January - 15 February 1971, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 01 March - 31 March 1971, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, 15 April - 15 May 1971, The Art Gallery of Windsor, 01 June - 30 June 1971, Université de Sherbrooke, 15 July - 15 August 1971, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, 01 September - 30 September 1971
George Berthon was born in the Royal Palace of Vienna and was the son of René Théodore Berthon, court painter to Napoleon I. He emigrated to Canada in 1841 and established himself in Toronto by 1844 executing portraits of Bishops, Mayors and Chief Justices. As portrait painter to the upper echelons of the Canadian Establishment, Berthon’s works figure prominently in major collections such as that of the Art Gallery of Ontario (The Three Robinson Sisters) and Law Society of Upper Canada (Portrait of Sir John Beverley Robinson, Chief Justice of Upper Canada - which is considered to be his masterpiece).
In the 1971 exhibition of the Loeb collection organized by Pierre Théberge, the sitter of this work was described as the wife of John Beverley Robinson (1791-1863), Chief Justice of Upper Canada, 1830-1862. However, scholarship on pre-Confederation art is always evolving and countless other works by artists from this period have been misidentified or misattributed in the past. At the time of the 1971 Loeb traveling exhibition, Berthon’s record books from the artist’s family had not yet been made public. With this information now available, the sitter has since been identified as Mrs. James Lukin Robinson, John Beverley Robinson’s daughter-in-law who married James Lukin Robinson (1818-1894) in 1845 – the year this work was executed. Like the portrait in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario of Mrs William Henry Boulton, 1846, with which it shares many affinities – pose, posture, setting, attention to detail, oval format and size – this could also be a wedding portrait.
James Lukin Robinson’s bride, Elizabeth Arnold, was daughter to John Arnold. Her husband, John Beverley Robinson’s first son, would become 2nd Baronet in 1863.