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collections > permanent collections > drawings >JAMES SHARPLES
James Sharples
(English, 1751 or 1752-1811; active United States, c. 1796-1811)
Mrs. Joseph Corre, n.d., c. 1790s
Pastel on paper, 9 1/4” x 7”
Gift of the Frank and Margaret Sullivan Fund (2010.032)


James Sharples was a portraitist who specialized in miniatures and small pastels.  Born and trained in England, he arrived in the United States as a mature artist well into his career.  As exemplified by the Museum’s pendant portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Corre, his pastels are noted for their delicacy and precise delineation.  Like other eighteenth-century portraitists, Sharples concentrated on rendering the exact texture of clothing and accessories.  The sheer fabric of Mrs. Corre’s dress, for example, is an indicator of its fine quality, and therefore a marker of the sitter’s status and social position. 


A native of Lancashire, Sharples taught drawing in Bath and exhibited at the Royal Academy before traveling to the United States in the mid-1790s.  Working in New York and Philadelphia, he persuaded George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other notables to sit for him.  From his original portrait of Washington, Sharples established a lively business of selling low-priced copies.   Americans were eager to purchase images of the first president (who died in 1799) and in order to meet the demand, several members of the artist’s family assisted him in making reproductions.   Sharples was back in England during the first years of the nineteenth century, but had returned by 1806.  He spent the last few years of his life working in the United States, dying in New York City in 1811.