Hurter, Johann Heinrich - portrait of I N S Allamand

This important miniature portrait is by Johann Heinrich Hurter (1734-1799) and was a very fortunate acquisition. Hurter was born in Switzerland, but worked in many European cities including London and Paris. He may be the Johann Heinrich Hurter who married Anna Christina Roerig on 11 Jul 1756 in Prussia. From the extra information below, it seems that Anna Christina had died by 1790.

Schidlof describes Hurter as an excellent painter on enamel. His works are represented in many major collections, but rarely come on the market. The miniature is signed "Hurter fct 1788".

The rear of the case is engraved "I N S Allamand obit d 2 Maart 1787" and thus was completed after the sitter's death. This refers to a well known naturalist of the 18C who is recorded on the Internet under a variety of spellings, including J N S Allamand, Jan Nicolaas Sebastiaan Allamand, and Jean-Nicolas-Sebastien Allamand.

Allamand was born in Lausanne, Switzerland on 18 Sep 1713 and died in March 1787. In Lausanne he studied theology and became a Protestant minister. He moved to Leiden and became Professor of Natural History at Leiden University in 1749, then later Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics.

He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1755. Allamand was also involved in editing and publishing several books.

Allamand was friendly with Benjamin Franklin, who had read of Allamand's experiments with electricity which were carried out in 1746. He attended Franklin's experiment in London to show the wave calming effects of oil on water and subsequently Allamand urged the spread of this knowledge to seamen as a safety device when in dangerous seas. Hence the phrase "pouring oil on troubled waters". For much more detail about this see View as HTML

The plant genus Allamanda, a shrubby climber and native of Central America is named for him.

An intriguing point about this miniature, is that it appears Hurter married Allamand's widow. There is an Internet reference at which records three marriages of Magdelaine Crommelin who was baptised 28 October 1739 at Rotterdam:

Married (1) 5 May 1761 Rotterdam, Justus Lodowig Schlemm who died 17 September 1779 Delft.

Married (2) 22 August 1784 Leiden to Prof. Dr. Jan Nicolaas Sebastiaan Allamand, born 18 September 1713 Lausanne and died 2 March 1787 Leiden

Married (3) 12 July 1790 Leiden to Freiherr Johann Heinrich von Hurter, son of Freiherr Hans Jacob von Hurter and Anna Meyer. He was born 9 September 1734 and died 2 September 1799

From these dates, it seems likely Hurter was commissioned by Allamand's widow to paint the portrait and then married her. 1197

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