Christian Gullager

(American born Denmark, 1759 - 1826)

The portraitist Christian Gullager was born in Copenhagen, the son of a servant in the household of a high-ranking government official and print collector. Gullager studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts there and was awarded a silver medal in 1780. He immigrated to the United States and was first documented in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1786, the year of his marriage. He was listed in the Boston directory in 1789 as a portrait painter and made two professional trips to Worcester that year. He also worked as scenery painter for the Federal Street Theatre. Gullager relocated to New York in 1797 and advertised himself as a painter of portraits and theater scenery. He soon moved to Philadelphia, where he was listed in the city directories from 1798 to 1805, the last three years as a miniature painter. William Dunlap recorded that Gullager was working as a theater scenery painter in New York in 1806, but was dismissed because of his “taste for lounging.”1 According to Philadelphia County records, Gullager’s wife obtained a divorce from him on December 27, 1809. Nothing is known about the artist’s activities until his death in 1826.