Portrait of Captain John Somes (1745-1816) enlarge

Portrait of Captain John Somes (1745-1816)

John Somes, shown in a dark jacket with large buttons and a lacy white shirt with a high collar, was born in Gloucester in 1745, a son of Abraham and Martha (Emerson) Somes. He served as commander of the privateer Swallow during the Revolutionary War, was the first president of the Gloucester Bank (founded in 1786) and a state representative. Somes kept a tavern in Gloucester's Harbor Village during the immediately after the Revolution. The undertaking earned him the nickname "Old Toby," a reference to a mug typically used for ale that was modeled in the shape of a stout old man, often with a tri-cornered hat.

Captain John Somes married Anna Dolliver (1755-1846) in 1780 and sometime around then the couple had their portraits done by Benjamin Blyth. Anna and John had no children; following Anna's death this pastel portrait of John descended through the Dolliver family until, in 1959, it was donated to the Cape Ann Museum. Sometime during the first half of the 19th century, Fitz Henry Lane painted a copy of Blyth's portrait of Captain Somes, the whereabouts of which is now unknown.


Artist: Benjamin Blyth
Date of work: c. 1780
Medium: Pastel and paper mounted on canvas
Accession number: 1596
Credit line: Gift of Mrs. Ranch from the Estate of Josephine Dolliver, 1959


    A selection of works by Benjamin Blyth: