GHS Completes Conservation of James Habersham, Sr. and John Houstoun Portraits

Detail of Habersham portrait before conservation

Two oil paintings from the GHS collection of portraits recently returned to GHS after receiving conservation conducted by Stella Art Conservation in West Palm Beach, Florida. The newly-restored paintings, “Portrait of James Habersham, Sr.” (GHS 1361-AF-045) and “Portrait of John Houstoun” (GHS 1361-AF-149), each depict a Georgia governor who served in the tumultuous 1770s.

“We are grateful for our long-time friends, Ray and Karen Masciarella, who provided the necessary funding for the conservation of these portraits,” said Nate Pedersen, GHS Manager of the Archival and Reference Team. “Stella Art Conservation did excellent work restoring these two portraits and bringing them back to life. The contrast between the before and after is extraordinary. The richness of the colors and the quality of light captured by the original artists is again on full display.”

Painted more than a century after his death in 1884, James Habersham, Sr. was an early immigrant to the Georgia colony, arriving in 1738 with Christian evangelist George Whitfield. Habersham became politically prominent by the 1750s and served as acting governor of Georgia under the British royal government in the early 1770s. Habersham expressed loyalty to Britain as tensions with the colonies rose, but he died in 1775, prior to the American Revolution.

That year, lawyer and planter John Houstoun was starting his political career, when he became one of the five delegates that represented Georgia in the Second Continental Congress. During the American Revolution, Houstoun commanded the Georgia militia in the invasion of Florida. In 1778 Houstoun was elected to his first of two terms as governor of Georgia. The portrait housed by GHS was painted in 1791, after he served a term as the first mayor of Savannah.

The Raymond M. and Karen R. Masciarella II Conservation Fund was established by Raymond M. and Karen R. Masciarella in 2018 to ensure that the important and historical collections of the Georgia Historical Society will be conserved in perpetuity.

Explore the Georgia Historical Society collection of portraits.

Image Credits:

Habersham, Richard West. “Portrait of James Habersham Sr.” Portrait. Savannah: 1884. From Georgia Historical Society: GHS 1361-AF-045, Georgia Historical Society collection of portraits.

“Portrait of John Houstoun.” Portrait. Savannah: 1791. From Georgia Historical Society: GHS 1361-AF-149, Georgia Historical Society collection of portraits.