Publisher: Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary
Reverend James Blair
Anglican minister James Blair stands for a portrait in Williamsburg, in or around 1735. Blair was commissary, or the representative of the Bishop of London, with authority to preside over the Anglican clergy in America. He also was the cofounder of the College of William and Mary and served as its president for fifty years until his death in 1743. Seen in the distance behind Blair is the college's Wren Building, the oldest college building in the United States, which, according to tradition, was designed by the famous English architect Sir Christopher Wren. Originally built between 1695 and 1700, the Wren Building was gutted by fire in 1705, 1859, and 1862. This is a rare view of the building as it appeared after its reconstruction in the wake of the 1705 conflagration.
Though unsigned, this painting was probably executed by the English artist Charles Bridges, who came to Williamsburg in 1735 and stayed in the Virginia colony until at least 1743.