Thomas Handasyd Perkins


Richard Saltonstall Greenough (American, 1819–1904)


about 1846




19 7/8 x 16 7/16 x 2 3/16 in. (50.5 x 41.8 x 5.6 cm) (oval)


Richard Greenough’s portrait of the Boston merchant and early supporter of the Boston Athenæum Thomas H. Perkins is typical of neoclassical relief portraits. The subject is shown bust-length, carved in comparatively low relief, and appears in profile, thereby affording a summation of facial features that, without benefit of color, aids readability. Neoclassical portraits are either idealized or, as here, somewhat ennobled by emphasizing the subject’s inherent dignity or suggesting the wisdom gained from age or experience. An ethereal quality is also suggested by the use of a round or, as here, oval frame.

Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.

Credit Line

Gift of the Mercantile Library Association, 1952

Object Number