Watercolor on ivory. The painting is an oval surrounded by dark wood frame with ornate flower relief pattern. The painting depicts a white man wearing a sack coat, brown vest, black stock, and white collar. Subject is facing slightly right, in front of a blue backdrop.
This portrait was painted around 1825 by an unidentified artist, and it depicts fur trader Jean Baptiste Beaubien.
Jean Baptiste Beaubien, whom the portrait depicts, was an agent of the northern Illinois branch of the American Fur Company. At one point early in the 19th century, he headed the company's outfit.
The portrait depicts Jean Baptiste Beaubien, a French Creole from Detroit and prominent agent of the northern Illinois branch of the American Fur Company, which established operations in Chicago in 1816. John Kinzie and Antoine Deschamps were the company's first agents in Northern Illinois. Beaubien was appointed in 1819 to aid Kinzie, and eventually became head of the outfit. He traded with Native Americans such as Shabonna, a Potawatomi-Ottawa chief who lived south of Chicago. Beaubien then married a Native American woman, who helped him form profitable trading alliances with Native Americans throughout the region. The fur trade was the core of Chicago's economy in the early 19th century, and Jean Baptiste Beaubien was an important part of that industry.