James Bowdoin III

European paintings, drawings, and prints
Darkly painted portrait of an older white man with gray hair, a ruffled shirt, and a black jacket.

As the son of an avid arts collector and second governor of Massachusetts, James Bowdoin III built on his father’s important cultural legacy by assembling one of United States most significant collections of paintings and drawings. He eventually bequeathed over two hundred objects to the College forming the Museum’s core collection. Bowdoin’s bequest—which created one of the first public collections in the country—included 141 old master drawings and some six dozen paintings, many of which are inspired by antiquity. Bowdoin’s life, travels, and collecting practices illustrate the trend among American elite society of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries towards classicism as an expression of taste and refinement.


Copy after the antique Unknown Artist 1500–1600
The Rape of Europa Pietro Antonio De Pietri 1663–1716
Venus and Adonis Francisco Vieira Lusitano ca. 1725
An Augur and Four Figures Around an Obelisk After Polidoro da Caravaggio 1580–1640
The Choice of Hercules Taddeo Zuccaro ca. 1543–1566
The Continence of Scipio John Smibert ca. 1726
Venus and Adonis Unknown Artist after 1804
Portrait of Reverend Samson Occom Nathaniel Smibert ca. 1751–1756
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson Gilbert Stuart ca. 1805–1807
Homer Johan Faber the Elder 1710
Plato Johan Faber the Elder 1710
Demosthenes Johan Faber the Elder 1710
Cicero Johan Faber the Elder 1710