Handwritten on card: ‘Samuel Purviance, 1805.’
Image is glued to cardboard card.
‘Samuel D. Purviance North Carolina 1805 Dexter #431’
(In 1862, Elias Dexter published The Saint-Memin Collection of Portraits, containing photographs of Saint-Mémin's American portraits and biographical sketches of the sitters. Although some sitters were misidentified in the volume, it has been used as a standard means for identification of the Saint-Mémin portraits www.mdhs.org)
Card dimension: 8 x 6 cm // 3 1/8” x 2 5/16”
Image diameter: 5.5 cm / 2 ¼”
Samuel Dinsmore Purviance (1774 – 1806) was a Congressional Representative from North Carolina; born on Masonboro Sound at Castle Fin House, near Wilmington, North Carolina; attended a private school; studied law; was admitted to the bar and practiced at Fayetteville, North Carolina; also owned and operated a large plantation; In about 1792 he married Mary Brownlow (c.1774–January 23, 1802), daughter of John Brownlow and Rebecca Evans of Cumberland County, North Carolina. He was member of the State house of commons in 1798 and 1799; member of the State senate from Cumberland County in 1801; trustee of Fayetteville Academy in 1803; elected as a Federalist to the Eighth Congress (March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1805); continued the practice of law in Fayetteville; died on the Red River in 1806, while on an exploring expedition into the West.
Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Mémin was born in France in 1770. He served as an officer in the French Army, and was exiled after the French Revolution. When he arrived in the United States in 1793, he began to teach himself the arts of engraving and painting, producing some views of New York City as early as 1794. His first work was published in 1796, the year he began a portrait business with Thomas Bluget de Valdenuit, a fellow Frenchman. The two utilized the physiognotrace, a device whereby a sitter's profile was traced by a bar, and a pantograph, with a piece of chalk attached to its end, drew the same profile in a smaller dimension onto a piece of paper. Details were then added to the outline drawing. Another pantograph was used to trace the drawing and produce a continuous line engraving on a copper plate. Saint-Mémin then utilized a roulette, a tool of his own invention, to produce shading on the engravings. The sitter usually received the drawing, the copper plate and a dozen engravings for a set fee.
While in business with Valdenuit, Saint-Mémin produced the engravings from his partner's drawings. The partnership dissolved after about a year, and Saint-Mémin went on to create both the portrait drawings and engravings himself. He left New York in 1798, and traveled down the east coast of the United States, with stays in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, and Charleston.