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John Vinall

A somewhat mysterious figure whose artistic reputation rests on this single impressive work, John Mason Furness began his artistic career during the 1780s as an engraver in Boston. By 1785, he took up residence, presumably as a painter, in the studio formerly occupied by the famous John Smibert. In light of his substantial skills as a draftsman and engraver, Furness was particularly well suited to paint the respected Boston schoolmaster and cartographer John Vinall (1736 1823). In this striking, crisply drawn, and informal yet imposing portrait, Vinall is shown seated beside a table, on which are displayed his case of drafting implements, a compass, and an unfinished map.

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