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Portrait of John Gwinn

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This oil on panel portrait of John Gwinn, III at age 46 in his naval dress uniform was painted by American portrait artist Thomas Sully (1783-1872) between September 18 and 22, 1837. Sully lived most of his life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and this portrait was commissioned for the price of $150 while Gwinn was a lieutenant at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Shortly after completing the portrait, Sully went abroad to England.

Gwinn is depicted wearing two epaulets, despite his being a lieutenant at the time. It’s possible the second epaulet was painted on at a later date after he achieved the rank of captain. His wife Caroline’s portrait was commissioned two years later.

After being promoted to captain, John Gwinn took command of USS Constitution in 1848 and sailed the ship for the Mediterranean. Gwinn succumbed to chronic gastritis on September 4, 1849 while the ship was at Palermo, Sicily.


Thomas Sully

Date Created

Oil on panel

[H]24 1/2 in. [W]20 1/2 in.

Catalog Number

Credit Line
USS Constitution Museum Collection.

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