Saturday, April 18, 2009

stories of Stuart, Goodridge and Webster cont.

“…and love is heaven, and heaven is love”

As mentioned previously, Sarah Goodridge painted a miniature of Stuart; in fact not just one, but three. Clearly he admired her excellent ability. It has been described that she studied under his tutelage, however; “Stuart never claimed any artist as his student, although nearly every American artist of the next generation credited him or his works in the development of their own.” (Barratt and Miles p 291). Sarah opened her studio in Boston in 1820 and adapted Stuart’s oil-paintinging techniques to watercolor, the result of which was a range of stunningly saturated and controlled works. Ibid.

Sarah Goodridge. Self-Portrait, ca. 1845. Courtesy of the R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, La.

As also mentioned in the previous post Sarah had a ‘close friendship’, I think it can correctly be called ‘an affair’, with statesman Daniel Webster. I found this interesting tidbit which I think pertains to the story here, in Life and Letters of Dolly Madison by A. C. Clark (W F Roberts Co, Washington DC 1914). In a letter to Dolly by Mrs. Robert Tyler, the wedding of ‘Elizabeth’, 19 yrs married in Feb 1842, is described. Mr Webster was in attendance.
From the letter:

“Lizzie looked surpassingly lovely in her wedding dress and long blonde-lace veil; her face literally covered with blushes and dimples. She behaved remarkably well, too; any quantity of compliments were paid to her. I heard one of her bridesmaids express to Mr. Webster her surprise at Lizzie consenting to give up her belleship, with all the delights of her position, and retire to a quiet Virginia home. ‘Ah,’ said he,

*Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And love is heaven, and heaven is love.' ”

Grace Fletcher, by Chester Harding (1792-1866)
First wife of Daniel Webster, who bore him five children.
(Portrait painter Chester Harding also spent time with Stuart in the mid 1820s…. becoming such a skilled imitator that he picked up clientel of Stuart’s after his death.

Grace Fletcher Webster died at age 47. Two years later Webster, absolutely determined to find a suitable marriageable candidate and after a whirlwind one month courtship, married Caroline Le Roy from a wealthy New York family. It seems to have been a marriage of convenience; she had money and connections, he could offer her respite from spinsterhood (Caroline was 32 and unmarried, Webster was 47) and he received a pile of money as a dowry. There was some talk of divorce, especially when Sarah came to visit him in DC and Caroline left town to visit friends and family in New York. But the marriage survived, and Caroline outlived Daniel by 30 years.

Sarah and Daniel ~ it seems their friendly connection survived the new marriage. Note that Sarah’s self portrait does not show a willful, vain, demanding personality.

~~Sarah (detail) Self portrait ca 1825, watercolor on ivory 3 1/8 x 2 5/8 in.
~portrait of Daniel Webster by Gilbert Stuart, unfinished 1817


willow said...

Wow, that Daniel Webster was really striking! This is a perfect movie plot and I think Daniel Day-Lewis would make a perfect Daniel Webster.

Maureen said...

Daniel Day-Lewis, perfect casting. Somebody hurry up and write the script please.

Mary-Laure said...

Wonderful post, thanks for all the info. I think DDL is always perfect.

Beth Ahrens-Kley said...


And, Daniel Day-Lewis Would Be perfect in such a movie role...Or maybe in a DVD series like the one about John Adams (great BTW), altho Webster's nickname was Black Dan, because of all his questionable dealings, unpaid debts, and roving eye!

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