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Historical American Portraits in Americana at Stair

Said to be a descendant of a family who arrived in the New World aboard the Mayflower in 1620, Augustus Russell Street (1792-1866) was born in New Haven, CT to Titus Street (1758-1842) and Amarylis Atwater Street (1764-1812). After the Revolutionary War, Titus Street was deeded a parcel of land by the State of Connecticut and founded Streetsboro Township in the Western Reserve, now the state of Ohio. Titus Street never lived nor visited the township that bears his name, but the development of these land parcels played a role in the westward expansion of the colonies and the birth of America’s agricultural ‘bread basket’. His business acumen helped Street to amass a large fortune which he passed on to his eldest son, Augustus. Augustus Street was educated in his hometown of New Haven, attending Yale University where he received a law degree in 1812. He practiced law only briefly before devoting himself to philanthropy and the dissemination of his family’s fortune to many organizations. His alma mater was the grateful recipient of large donations, naming the Yale School of Fine Arts building Street Hall after their benefactor.

Augustus Street married Caroline Mary Leffingwell (1790-1877) in 1815. Their first daughter, Caroline Augusta Street (1816-1863) was born a year after their marriage, followed by eight other daughters, all  of whom predeceased their parents and elder sister. Caroline Augusta married Andrew Hull Foote (1806-1863), also a native of New Haven. The couple had five children. Andrew Hull Foote was one of the first American rear-admirals and a naval officer known for his service during the Civil War when he was appointed commander of the Western Gunboat Flotilla. Foote travelled around the world during his naval career, and, in 1837, he circumnavigated the globe aboard the USS John Adams. Admiral Foote was the son of Samuel Augustus Foote (1780-1846), 28th Governor of Connecticut, and Eudocia Hill Foote.

Three portraits in our upcoming Americana sale depict members of the Street and Foote families. All three were purchased in an estate sale in Rockland County, NY advertised as property from a family whose descendants were on the Mayflower. These portraits were purportedly handed down within this family. The two larger portraits are of husband-and-wife Augustus Russell Street and Mary Caroline Leffingwell. The smaller portrait is of Eudocia Hill Foote, mother of Andrew Hull Foote who married the Street’s daughter. While not signed or attributed, it is possible that they were painted by Nathaniel Jocelyn (1796-1881) who was himself a life-long resident of New Haven, CT.  Yale University Art Gallery owns a portrait of Street by Nathaniel Jocelyn, as well as several engraved works by the artist. Jocelyn also painted Mary Caroline Leffingwell Street on at least one occasion, circa 1845. Mrs. Street was an artist herself and copied a Jocelyn painting of her husband which is also in the collection of Yale University Art Gallery.

Time & Location

Historical American Portraits in Americana at Stair on September 8 at 11am

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