Amasa Hewins (1795–1855) was a portrait, landscape, and genre painter. For most of his life, he lived in Boston, where his work was first shown at the Boston Athenæum in 1830. He spent some time in Italy during the 1830s and again in the 1850s as an active member of the thriving American expatriate communities in Rome and Florence.
In the early twentieth century, the Athenæum acquired Hewins’s European journals, sketchbooks, and other papers. Acknowledging the value of this collection, the Athenæum sponsored the editing and publication of the journals in 1931. This portrait, which was then in a private collection, was reproduced as the frontispiece of that book, making the recent gift of it to the Athenæum by one of the artist’s descendants an appropriate one.