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Face Lift: Caption This!Week Three: Charles and Louis Manigault—Father and Son

This week’s portraits depict a nineteenth-century father and son duo. Charles Izard Manigault and his son Louis Manigault shared an appreciation for art, but chose to explore their interests along different avenues. Parent-child conversations can be full of admiration or tinged with irony. What do you think these two would say to one another (or would be in a bubble overhead)?

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Curatorial Perspective
In this father and son pairing, the two half-length bodies of the Manigault men are posed to compositionally mirror one another. However, the personality of Louis was hardly a reflection of that of his father Charles Izard, and this discrepancy is represented stylistically in each artist’s handling of his subject.

Though born in Charleston, Charles Manigault traveled to the Far East at an early age and loved the adventure of travel. After making his fortune as a rice planter, he was financially able to continue his excursions abroad. Perhaps his time in Europe fostered his appreciation of art, for Manigault became one of America’s more noteworthy early art collectors. His extensive collection was nationally renowned and garnered him a reputation as an arbiter of taste. Sully’s realistic yet romantic style of painting seems to capture the ambition and confidence befitting such a connoisseur. He completed this portrait just before Manigault embarked on another voyage, and the stormy clouds and sea in the background suggest this setting.

Though the younger Manigault is also depicted at sea, the setting is much more controlled and linear, a style appropriate for both Samuel Stillman Osgood’s artistic training and Louis Manigault’s personality. Osgood left his native Boston in the late 1830s to study painting at London’s Royal Academy of Painting, known for its highly formalized and technical teaching methods. A similar structure predominated Louis’s life: though Louis also traveled extensively, he seemed to lack some of his father’s zeal for adventure. His personality was described in his obituary as “reserved, quiet and unassuming,” which provides an interesting contrast to Charles’s idealism.

See previous Face Lift: Caption This! contest entries.

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