Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The random monthly pick; Mrs. Isaac P. Davis and her sister; and 'high praise' for portrait painter Thomas Sully

Mrs. Isaac P. Davis and her sister Mrs. Bernard Henry by Gilbert Stuart 1806

As usual, it seems to be easier to find out more about the relevant male-- but in any case from there we can extrapolate just a bit about the life of this young lady named Susan, on the right. From L. PARK; "Mrs. Davis was Susan Jackson, and Mrs. Henry was Mary Jackson, daughters of Doctor David and Susan (Kemper) Jackson of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Susan Jackson married, in 1807, Isaac P. Davis (1771-1855) of Boston, a very intimate friend of Stuart, and Mary married Bernard Henry of Philadelphia." ..."Mrs. Davis, the head at the right of the picture, is shown with a smiling face, brown eyes and hair, and a fresh complexion, with her head slightly tilted towards the right. Mrs. Henry has a fresh complexion, but eyes of a darker brown, and her brown hair has a reddish tinge, and her expressionn is serious."
Isaac P. Davis (1771-1855), Boston merchant, manufacturer and businessman, was the brother of Judge John Davis, politician, statesman, historian who served as president of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1818-1835), and was said to be the first person to refer to the Plymouth colonists as pilgrims. Isaac was close friends of Daniel Webster, and of Gilbert Stuart. The Stuart portrait of Daniel Webster {click here for the Stuart portrait of Webster (and the titillating story of his relationship with miniaturist and colleague/student of GS Sarah Goodridge) entries April 15, 18, 2009} was painted for Isaac and hung for many years in his parlor.
the following below is from “The Penn magazine of history and biography, Vol 32 “ by Historical Society of Pennsylvania --
( note: Thomas Sully (1783-1872) was a well-known English-born American portrait painter)
I tried to find the Sully portrait of Isaac P. Davis but was not successful.
Isaac P. Davis was an early patron and friend of American artists and meeting Sully at Stuart’s, when Sully made his first call, offered to sit for his portrait to Sully, that Stuart might see what Sully could do. Accordingly Davis sat, as entered in the Register, and the picture was shown to Stuart. After looking at it attentively for some time he said, “Keep what you have got and get as much as you can,” which was high praise from Stuart, who usually advised to forget what you knew and not try again.



Rouchswalwe said...

How true! When I was looking into my family history, information about the women was much more difficult to unearth. But each gem was more precious and sometimes much more interesting than a drier fact about one of the men.

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