The Chancellor at Home: Robert R. Livingston and Clermont


Portrait of Robert R. Livingston, 1804
John Vanderlyn (1775-1852)
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Anson Livingston, 1876.1

Robert R. Livingston (1746-1813) is remembered for an extraordinary political career that spanned the Revolutionary War years through to formation of the American Republic. Among his many contributions, Livingston was a member of the Second Continental Congress, co-author of the Declaration of Independence, and in 1789 he administered the oath of office to President George Washington. A regional and national luminary, Livingston served as Chancellor of the Supreme Court of New York (1777 to 1801) and the United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1781 to 1783). As the United States minister to France from 1801 to 1804, he was one of the key figures in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon Bonaparte.

Intellectually gifted, Livingston also was known for having a restless and inquisitive mind. He found engagement within the domestic and natural environs at Clermont, his family estate in the Hudson Valley, where his private interests included French furniture and silver, agriculture, and merino sheep raising, to name but a few. Livingston's many interests are reflected today in the rich assembly of his possessions now in the collections of the New-York Historical Society.

Creative: Tronvig Group