John Heaten

U.S. active 1730-1740
Portrait of Gerrit Staats 80.0025

The sitter for this portrait, Gerrit Staats, was born in 1722 to a Dutch family whose ancestors settled in Rensselaerwyck (Rensselaer County) near Albany on the Hudson River in 1642. Gerrit married Deborah Beekman around 1747 and they became the parents of eight children. The Staatses built a new "Dutch style" house together in 1758 on what is known as Staats Island in Rensselaer County, which still stands today. Portraiture was a popular genre in Dutch art in the seventeenth century, and when prosperous Dutch immigrants settled in new York, they continued to have family portraits painted by local limners, or craftsmen, usually itinerants, who earned their living drawing or painting objects (signs or barns) as well as likenesses. Limner paintings are known for their clear outlines and lack of perspective or modeling. The painting of Gerrit Staats is by John Heaten, formerly known as the Wendell limner because of the several paintings he made of members of the Wendell family. Heaten was either English or of English descent and married into a Dutch family in the Albany area, where he settled. In the eighteenth century, the Wendell family denoted household transactions in a Day Book, which contains entries for materials sent to the limner John Heaten for paintings ordered in 1737. The Wendell portraits are by the same hand as the portrait of Gerrit Staats, so the name of John Heaten can be accepted as that of the Wendall limner. Heaten has painted Staats holding a pink, a variety of carnation that symbolized marriage. This may have been painted at the time of Staats' marriage to Deborah Beekman. If so, Heaten may also have painted a pendant (accompanying painting) that has yet to be discovered.




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