Monday, February 21, 2011

American Miniaturists the Goodridge Sisters, Daniel Webster, Whigs, & a Daring Miniature

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Sarah Goodridge Goodrich (American miniaturist, 1788-1853) Self-Portrait c 1825

Miniaturitst Sarah Goodridge (or sometimes Goodrich, 1788-1853) was born the 6th of 9 children in Massachusetts in 1788. It is said that as a child, she came across a book on drawing & painting & taught herself to draw. Growing up on a farm, with little money to buy paper, she drew her earliest pictures on the sanded kitchen floor with a stick or on sheets of peeled birch bark with a pin. Sarah's younger sister Eliza Goodridge (1798-1882) may have found the same book, as she also painted miniatures.

Sarah Goodridge Goodrich (American miniaturist, 1788-1853) Self Portrait 1830

After the death of their father, Sarah moved to Boston, to live with her sister Eliza. There Sarah was able to expand her birch-bark-beginning by taking a few lessons from a miniaturist & by visiting portraitist Gilbert Stuart for advice. She soon began earning a living by painting miniature portraits. By 1830, Sarah Goodridge was a leading miniaturist in Boston, completing up to 3 portraits a week; supporting her sick mother & her orphaned niece; & maintianing a studio there. The Boston Athenaeum held 5 exhibitions of her work between 1827 & 1835. She never married, but she achieved a more prominent legacy in history than her sister Eliza by her gift to an intimate, influential friend.

Sarah Goodridge Goodrich (American miniaturist, 1788-1853) Daniel Webster 1825

She developed an ongoing love relationship with Boston lawyer & politician Daniel Webster (1782-1852), who was married with 3 children, when she painted his 1st portrait. He returned to sit for 12 more portraits over the next 25 years. Their friendship is documented in 44 letters that Webster wrote to Goodridge between 1827 & 1851. She carefully preserved his letters to her; he destroyed her letters to him. His first wife, Grace, died in January, 1828; & he married Caroline LeRoy in December, 1829.

Sarah Goodridge Goodrich (American miniaturist, 1788-1853) Beauty Revealed Inscribed 1828 & presented to Daniel Webster

After Webster’s 1st wife died, Goodridge painted for her beloved a daring miniature self-portrait of her bare breasts naming it Beauty Revealed. Webster may have been appreciative of her gift, but he was an ambitious man who needed money to fuel his conservative political ambitions. He chose his new wife from a wealthy & prominent family. Sarah Goodrich twice traveled to Washington to carry out commissions for her longtime, self-promoting confidant Daniel Webster. As for the miniature Beauty Revealed, Webster kept it hidden among his personal effects until the day he died. Today it is on display for all the world to see in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Sarah Goodridge Goodrich (American miniaturist, 1788-1853) Self Portrait Painting a Miniature 1845

In 1850, due to failing eyesight, Sarah Goodridge retired to a house she bought in Reading, Massachusetts. Three years later she died of a stroke at the age of 65. Her sister Eliza lived until 1882.

Sarah Goodridge Goodrich (American miniaturist, 1788-1853) Girl Called Persis, Child of Mrs Solomon Sargent

Sarah Goodridge Goodrich (American miniaturist, 1788-1853) Sarah Appleton with Cat

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Lydia Stiles Foster (1806-87) c 1838

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Mary Maccarty Stiles (1807-1872) c 1825

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Mary Stiles Newcomb (1807-1872) c 1840

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Rebecca Faulkner Foster (1761-1834) c 1830

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Julia Porter Dwight 1832

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Sophia Dwight Foster Burnside (1787-1871) c 1830

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Lydia Stiles (1806-1887) c. 1825

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Mary Maccarty Stiles (1775-1838) c 1825

Eliza Goodridge (American miniaturist, 1798-1882) Mary Maccarty Stiles (1807-72) c 1837
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