Miniature Portrait of John Lord
This miniature watercolor portrait depicts John Lord, who joined USS Constitution’s crew on October 10, 1824 and served as gunner during the long Mediterranean cruise between 1824 and 1828. In the portrait, Lord wears an undress uniform of the 1820s, complete with cap. “J. Lord Gunner on the Constitution” is written on the back. He was transferred to the Charlestown Navy Yard on July 16, 1828 and succumbed to a lingering illness in 1829 at the age of 40.
In the age before photography, miniature portraiture was a thriving art form in America. Usually reserved for the well-to-do, framed miniatures painted in oil or watercolor on thin slices of ivory or paper were used as mementos, small tokens, or memorials that could be either displayed or worn as jewelry.