Artist Joseph Jonathan Blackburn, American, 1700-1780
  • Mrs. James Pitts
Date 1757
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 50 1/8 × 40 inches (127.3 × 101.6 cm)
Framed: 57 5/8 × 47 1/2 × 2 7/8 inches (146.4 × 120.7 × 7.3 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Gibbs-Williams Fund
Accession Number 58.356
Department American Art before 1950
On View American W261, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed and dated, lower right: J. Blackburn Pinxit 1757
until 1776, James Pitts (Boston, Massachusetts, USA);
his son, John Pitts (Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, USA);
his great-grand nephew, Thomas Pitts (Detroit, Michigan, USA);
Mrs. Thomas Pitts (Detroit, Michigan, USA);
her son, S. Lendall Pitts [1875-1938] (Detroit, Michigan, USA);
Mrs. S. Lendall Pitts [1880-1963] (Norfolk, Virginia, USA);
1958-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Goodwin, D. Provincial Pictures by Brush and Pen. Chicago, 1886, pp. 10-11 (ill.).

Park, Lawrence. “Joseph Blackburn: A Colonial Portrait Painter with a Descriptive List of his Works.” American Antiquarian Society Proceedings 32 (October 1922): pp. 311-312.

Pilgrim Tercentenary Exhibition. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1921, no. 2. [as Elizabeth Bowdoin]

The Eleventh Exhibition: American Colonial and Early Federal Art. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1930, pp. 25-27, no. 71. [as Portrait of Elizabeth Bowdoin Pitts]

"Early America." Art Digest 4 (February 15, 1930): p. 8.

Bolton, Theodore and Harry Lorin Binsse. “An American Artist of Formula: Joseph Blackburn.” Antiquarian 15 (November 1930): p. 53.

Richardson, Edgar P. “American Portrait Painting.” Bulletin of the DIA 14, 1 (October 1934): p. 11.

Baker, C.H. Collins. “Notes on Joseph Blackburn and Nathaniel Dance.” Huntington Library Quarterly 9 (November 1945-August 1946): p. 41.

Painting in America: The Story of 450 Years. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1957, no. 28.

Sellers, Charles Coleman. “Mezzotint Prototypes of Colonial Portraiture: A Survey Based on the Research of Waldron Phoenix Belknap, Jr.” Art Quarterly 20, 4 (Winter 1957): p. 441 (pl. 27a).

Belknap, Waldron Phoenix, Jr. American Colonial Painting. Cambridge, MA, 1959, p. 301, no. 27a (pl. 28).

Eight Generations of the Pitts Family. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1959, pp. 26-27. [as Mrs. James Pitts]

Payne, Elizabeth H. “Pitts Family Portraits of the Eighteenth Century.” Antiques 77 (January 1960): p. 88.

Stevens, William B. Jr. “Joseph Blackburn and his Newport Sitters, 1754-1756.” Newport History 40 (Summer 1967): pp. 97-99.

Cummings, Frederick J. and Charles Elam, eds. The Detroit Institute of Arts Illustrated Handbook. Detroit, 1971, p. 131.

American Portraiture in the Grand Manner, 1720-1920. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1982, pp. 90-92.

Shaw, Nancy Rivard, et al. American Paintings in the Detroit Institute of Arts, Volume 1: Works by Artists Born Before 1816. New York, 1991, pp. 40-43 (ill.).

American Beauty: Paintings from the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1770-1920. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 2002.