George Ticknor (1791-1871), Class of 1807

Thomas Sully, American, 1783 - 1872



Oil on canvas

Overall: 36 × 28 in. (91.5 × 71.1 cm)

Frame: 48 5/16 × 40 5/16 × 5 in. (122.7 × 102.4 × 12.7 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Constance V.R. White, Nathaniel T. Dexter, Philip Dexter, and Mary Ann Streeter



Place Made: United States, North America


19th century

Object Name


Research Area


Not on view


Gummed label, top of frame, on reverse: George Ticknor / b. Boston Aug 1, 1791 / d. Jan. 26, 1871 / This portrait by Sully


Thomas Sully’s likeness of George Ticknor (1791–1871) captures this erudite man of letters with an earnest, dreamlike expression as he looks out and beyond the viewer, apparently absorbed in noble thoughts. His abundant untamed curls and the billowing drapery and clouds in the distance appear animated as much by his intellect as by Sully’s fluid hand. In his mastery of flamboyant brushwork and the dramatic pose, Sully reveals not only his admiration for his early mentor, Gilbert Stuart, but also the debt owed to his British teacher, the Romantic portraitist Sir Thomas Lawrence.

Boston-born George Ticknor graduated from Dartmouth College at the age of sixteen (Class of 1807), and, after nearly two years of study abroad, became a professor of French and Spanish literature at Harvard. In 1829 he bought a four-story Neoclassical house, designed in 1803 by Charles Bulfinch, which overlooked the Boston Common. In 1946 his descendants gave the contents of Ticknor’s library, including its furnishings, to Dartmouth.

From the 2019 exhibition American Art, Colonial to Modern, curated by Barbara J. MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art

Exhibition History

American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Galleries, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 9-December 9, 2007.

American Art, Colonial to Modern, Israel Sack Gallery and Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-September 12, 2021.

American Viewpoints: Painting and Sculpture from the Hood Museum of Art, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego, California, May 5-August 31, 2003.

Curator's Choice: Dartmouth College Permanent Collection, Jaffe-Friede, Strauss and Barrows Galleries, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 29, 1976-January 16, 1977.

Entrepreneurship and Classical Design in Boston's South End: The Furniture of Isaac Vose & Thomas Seymour, 1815-1825, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts

Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 2, 2009-present.

Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 26, 1996-June 22, 1997.

Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 1, 2003-May 8, 2007.

Portraits at Dartmouth, Jaffe-Friede Gallery, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 10-April 16, 1978.

Thomas Sully: Imagination and Invention, The Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 11, 2013-January 5, 2014; San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, Texas, February 7-May 11, 2014.

Publication History

American Universities, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Special Issue, Dartmouth's Gifts to the World, April 1994, Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College, 1994, ill. p. 6.

Washington "Allston" and his Boston Patrons. Mary Jo Viola, 797 East 22 St., Brooklyn, NY., 11210.

Dartmouth College Library Bulletin, November 1991

Treasures of the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, New York: Hudson Hill Press, 1985, p. 111, no. 97.

Barbara J. MacAdam, American Paintings in the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Antiques Magazine, ill. p. 1022.

Richard L. Kagan, ed., Spain in America:The Origins of Hispanism in the United States, Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2002, 286 pp., ill. p. 107.

American Viewpoints (brochure for exhibition), San Diego, California: Timken Museum of Art, May 9-August 31, 2003, 8 pp., checklist no. 2.

Arthur R. Blumenthal, Portraits at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 1978, p. 58, no. 50.

David B. Tyack, George Ticknor and the Boston Brahmins, Cambridge: 1967, pp. 88, 162.

Barbara J. MacAdam, American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Muesum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2007, p. 31, no. 12.

Thomas Adam and Gisela Mettele, ed., Two Boston Brahmins in Goethe's Germany: The Travel Journals of Anna and George Ticknor, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2009, ill. p. 3, fig. 1.

Studies in Romanticism, Volume 50, Number 4, Trustees of Boston University, 2011: ill. cover photo.

Göttinger Jahrbuch 2012, Geschichtsverein für Göttingen und Umgebung e.V.,Göttingen Herstellung: Verlag Die Werkstatt, Göttingen, 2012: ill. p. 161.

Willam Keyes Rudolph and Carol Eaton Soltis, Thomas Sully: Painted Performance, organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 180 pp., ill. p. 124.

John R. Stomberg, The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019, p. 114, ill. plate no. 45.

Robert D. Mussey, Jr., "Demanding the Finest," in Rather Elegant Than Showy: The Classical Furniture of Isaac Vose, Robert D. Mussey Jr. and Clark Pearce. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, in association with David R. Godine, publisher, 2018. ill. p. 160. fig. 178.

Eleanor Jones Harvey, Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture, Washington D.C.: Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with Princeton University Press, 2020, 444 pp., ill. p. 183, fig.48.


Collection of George Ticknor (1791-1871) and Ann Eliot Ticknor (1800-1885), Boston, Massachusetts, in 1831; by descent to their daughter, Eliza Sullivan Ticknor Dexter (1833-1880) and her husband, William Sohier Dexter (1828-1908), Boston, Massachusetts; by descent to their son, Philip Dexter (1868-1934) and his wife, Edith Wood Dexter (1870-1942); bequeathed to their son, William Dexter (1897-1943) and his wife, Constance Van Rensselaer Thayer Dexter (1900-1976); lent to Dartmouth College by Constance Van Rensselaer Dexter, in 1943 (the time of her husband, William Dexter’s death); bequeathed to Constance Van Rensselaer Dexter's children: Constance Van Rensselaer White, Boston; Nathaniel Thayer Dexter, Boston; Philip Dexter, St. Louis; and Mary Ann Streeter, Wenham, Massachusetts, in 1976; lent by these four heirs to present collection, 1976-1983; given to present collection, 1983.

Catalogue Raisonne

See Biddle 1786 (Boston Public Library version)

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