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Robert Hazlehurst headed a shipping and mercantile company in Philadelphia, where this portrait of him would have been painted. Painted at the height of his career as a portraitist, this work displays the highly polished, illusionistic style characteristic of Charles Willson Peale’s oeuvre during the 1770s and 1780s. Hazlehurst is depicted as a dashing young man. His casual yet elegant pose would have been interpreted at the time as evidence of his sincerity and lack of pretension. In the same year that this portrait was painted Peale began his most famous project, a series of portraits of famous men, including several Revolutionary War heroes.

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