ORLANDO HAND BEARS (1812-1851) Portrait of Ephraim Niles Byram1838oil on canvas82 1/4in x 41 1/4in (208.9 x 104.8cm)

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Lot 31W
ORLANDO HAND BEARS (1812-1851)
Portrait of Ephraim Niles Byram
1838
oil on canvas
82 1/4in x 41 1/4in (208.9 x 104.8cm)

Sold for US$ 31,325 inc. premium
ORLANDO HAND BEARS (1812-1851)
Portrait of Ephraim Niles Byram
1838
oil on canvas
82 1/4in x 41 1/4in (208.9 x 104.8cm)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    'Andy Warhol', Sotheby's, New York, April 23, 1988
    Acquired from the above by the present owner


    Orlando Bears was a native artist of Sag Harbor and Long Island who was possibly taught by local artist and distant relative, Hubbard Fordham (1794-1872). Bear's subjects were mainly affluent families and relatives that were capitalizing on the wealth and prosperity of the local whaling industry that was rapidly growing along the coastlines of Connecticut and Long Island during the first half of the nineteenth century. It is quite possible that Orlando Bears and Ephraim Byram (1809-1881) were acquaintances or friends sharing similar ages and being prominent figures of the local community. Bryam, who commissioned two portraits from Bears, was a self-taught scientist and clockmaker who ran the Sherry and Byram clockworks of Sag Harbor, making clocks for important municipal buildings such as New York's City Hall as well as Sag Harbor's Whaler Church. It seemed that both young gentlemen were entwined in the local industry; Byram would have been aged around 29 years old and Bears 26 years at the time of this portrait. Byram's interest in making scientific instruments furthered into navigational and nautical instruments to aid the local ships. In 1836 he was awarded a Gold Medal by the American Institute for his work on an orrery; an articulated scaled model of the solar system in. The subject of celestial study is very much the theme in the present lot, which featured prominently on the back cover of the publication 'Sag Harbor Historical Society: History of Sag Harbor'.

    The following fascinating contemporary account of the unique genius of Ephraim Niles Byram was written for the 'Journal of the American Institute' in October 1836:

    'Mr. B. is a self-taught young man, of twenty-six years of age. The movement of this instrument is effected by clock-work, by means of which, the various planets, with their satellites, are made to revolve in their appropriate spheres around the sun, at the same time performing their diurnal revolutions. An illuminated glass globe, about twelve inches in diameter, represents the sun, by which the various changes of the seasons, eclipses, are accurately shown. Its superiority over other orreries of former construction is, that its movements are effected without the confusion of machinery, the planets being suspended by small wires, and the machinery placed above the line of vision. The mind of the observer is occupied by nothing but the silently moving bodies performing their revolutions, apparently suspended in open space, with great synodic precision. The workmanship is neatly executed, and the whole would confer honour upon those whose advantages have been far superior to those of the inventory and constructor of this beautiful instrument.'
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