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George Whiting Flagg
Date: 1816 - 1897
Remarks: Of all the American artists Luman Reed patronized, George Whiting Flagg received his most extensive support. Reed first encountered Flagg's work in 1834, most likely at the annual exhibition at New York's National Academy of Design. Flagg, who was the nephew of the renowned American painter, Washington Allston, was all but seventeen years old. Impressed with what he saw and seeing great promise in the artist's talent, Reed approached Flagg later that same year with an unprecedented offer to completely subsidize the artist's living and educational expenses, including European travel, and pay him an annual salary for a period of seven years. In return, Flagg was obliged to do nothing more than give Reed the paintings he produced during the period. The artist was allowed, however, to accept lucrative portrait commissions from other patrons. Reed outlined the terms carefully, but added gently that he did not consider them binding by law, but "kept up by mutual attachment & friendship." All of the paintings Flagg produced for Reed were figure subjects. Some were large-scale history paintings expressing lofty themes, such as Lady Jane Grey Preparing for Execution, while others were more in keeping with Reed's preference for genre subjects and "fancy or "ideal" portraits, like Chess (The Chess-Players-Check Mate) and Lady and Parrot, respectively. Until Reed's death in 1836, the relationship between patron and artist remained close and supportive, with Reed serving as Flagg's sponsor, mentor, and, virtually, his adoptive father.