Miniature Portrait of Sam Houston in Uniform

By Louis Antoine Collas (1775 – 1856), c. 1830s

This miniature portrait, likely made in New Orleans, features Sam Houston wearing a general’s uniform. Houston (1793–1863) traveled to New Orleans and purchased a general’s uniform there on October 6, 1835, after being named commander-in-chief of the militia for the Department of Nacogdoches by the Committee of Vigilance and Safety in Nacogdoches, Texas. That committee was organized as a means to collect arms and provisions to be used during the looming Texas Revolution.

Although once thought to have been completed by George Catlin, this portrait is attributed to Louis Antoine Collas (1775–1856) and was likely executed in 1835. Born in France, Collas studied in Paris and immigrated to Russia. There he painted for the Imperial Court at St. Petersburg before returning to Paris. Collas’ portraits of royal families earned him fame as a portrait artist. He is also known today for his miniature portraits. In 1816, he came to the United States and traveled along the Eastern seaboard. A New York City directory from that period listed him as “Lewis Collers.” He traveled to New Orleans and maintained a business painting portraits of the wealthy French planters in the area. The frame of this piece contains a signed statement by Nettie H. Bringhurst, the youngest daughter of Sam Houston, authenticating the portrait.