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John Quincy Adams


Horace Robbins Burdick, after an original by William Page


Faneuil Hall  


Faneuil Hall
United States








Oil on Canvas




John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was the son of the second President of the United States, John Adams. A prominent politician himself, John Quincy Adams followed in his father's footsteps and had a long and brilliant career in government, serving in the United States Senate, as Minister to Russia and to England, and as Secretary of State under James Monroe. In 1825, he was elected the sixth President of the United States, where he served a single term. After losing his bid for re-election, Adams spent the rest of his life as the Congressional representative of Plymouth, Massachusetts, where he continued his life-long defense of civil liberties.

This portrait is by Horace Robbins Burdick (1844-1942), after an original by William Page (1811-1885). The original Page portrait was painted from life in 1838, when Adams was seventy-one. Page's painting used to hang in Faneuil Hall, but was moved to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1876 over concerns that the painting could be damaged in a fire - a real threat at the time, as the interior of Faneuil Hall was entirely wooden and had been nearly demolished in a fire in 1761. This copy, by Burdick, was commissioned in 1876 to hang in its place and shows Adams seated in a low-backed chair, the patterned arms of which serve as the only hint of decorative indulgence.

Adams was an avid sitter for portraits and was the subject of many leading portraitists of the time, including John Singleton Copley, who captured a younger Adams as his political career was first gaining momentum. Here, nearing the end of his life, Adams is portrayed as somewhat relaxed and contemplative, but still very active in contemporary life, as indicated by his fashionable dark cravat worn with a wide turn-over collar. The Federal-style building in the background is a reminder of his long years of public service in politics, both local and international.

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