1860 (From an 1813 Portrait)
Paul Beck, Jr. (1760-1844), was a distinguished Philadelphia merchant and philanthropist. Appointed to the post of Port Warden, Beck helped to improved the city's shipping facilities and was instrumental in building a canal to connect the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. Among the many charitable institutions served by Beck was the Ludwick Institute, founded in 1801 as a free school for poor children. For many years its vice president, Beck bequeathed to it a property at 6th and Catharine Streets. In 1859 the Institute removed to that site (which became known as the Beck School House) and soon after it commissioned this portrait.
Executed by Thomas Sully (1783-1872) in 1860, this portrait was copied from an earlier one he had painted in 1813. An Athenaeum shareholder from 1818 to 1822, Sully was Philadelphia's leading portraitist. His canvases show a fine use of colors and textures, as well as an attention to detail. In this example he has included a biographical accessory, the gold snuff box given to Beck in 1812 by Major William Jackson (1759-1828), once personal secretary to George Washington.
The Ludwick Institute has long met at the Athenaeum and a majority of its managers are usually also directors of the Athenaeum.
29" x 35.75"
Oil on canvas
Donated to the Athenaeum by the Ludwick Institute in 1959.
General Collection, Museum Collection, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia