"Portrait of Levi Fletcher" by Thomas Sully Thomas Sully (1783–1872)
Portrait of Levi Fletcher
Oil on canvas
30 x 25 inches
Museum purchase; 1992.054

This portrait of Levi Fletcher demonstrates why Thomas Sully was one of the most popular portrait painters of his time. With warm colors, delicate brush strokes, and soft lighting, the artist has presented Levi Fletcher as an attractive and assertive gentleman. Sully believed that an artist should always flatter his subjects, and as a painter of the Romantic period, which promoted a concern with the ideal over the actual, Sully idealized his portraits of people. He often depicted his sitters as more attractive or even younger that they may have actually been. Yet, beyond his ability to please his subjects, Sully's technical ability as a painter is also great. In his portrait of Levi Fletcher, Sully's attention to detail gives a sense of the thickness of Fletcher's hair as well as the texture of his black velvet jackets. The number of portraits Sully produced—more than two-thousand in addition to other paintings—testifies to how much the public favored his style of portraiture.