Sunday

Unknown - portrait of Judge John Speed

Fortunately acquired for the collection is this miniature portrait painted on ivory in 1840 by an unknown artist for Lucy Gilmer Speed. It is of Judge John Speed (May 17 1772-Mar 30 1840), the father of Joshua Fry Speed (Nov 14 1814-May 29 1882), the great friend of Abraham Lincoln.

On April 15, 1837, Lincoln arrived at Springfield, the new state capital, in order to seek his fortune as a young lawyer. Lincoln needed to set up housekeeping and went to Speed's store to buy a bed. Lincoln asked to buy the bed on credit but young Joshua Fry Speed offered to share his own large upstairs room, resulting in the two settling in as room-mates. This in turn led to the development of a life-long friendship.

Judge John Speed was also the builder and original owner of the historic home Farmington, which he built in 1815/1816 for his wife, Lucy Gilmer Fry, daughter of Joshua Fry and granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Walker, the guardian of Thomas Jefferson.

Lucy knew Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson and there are design similarities between Farmington and Monticello, the latter as shown here being completed in 1809.

For example, they both have octagonal rooms, a distinctive feature of Jeffersonian architecture. Lucy's aunt and uncle's home in Charlottesville, Virginia was also called Farmington and had an addition designed by Thomas Jefferson.

Judge John Speed was descended from the British cartographer of the 17C, see A genealogy of the Speed family since the 16th century

Judge John Speed was also the father of James Speed (Mar 11 1812–Jun 25 1887), who was appointed to the cabinet of Abraham Lincoln as Attorney General in 1864. See James Speed - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One of the Judge's daughters was Susan Fry Speed (30 Sep 1817-Nov 1888). She is referred to below in connection with some other Speed and Lincoln memorabilia acquired with this miniature.

The miniature is 43mm x 35mm in size and the reverse of the unusual octagonal shaped case is inscribed "L G Speed" for Lucy Gilmer Speed, who was the second wife of Judge John Speed.

The birth of John Speed was recorded at Charlotte Court House, Charlotte, Virginia. He was the son of James Speed and Mary Spencer.

He firstly married Abigail LeMaster (aka Abby LeMaster) on 1 Nov 1796 (sometimes 26 Nov 1796) in Jefferson, KY. Abigail (c1775-Jul 1807) was the daughter of John LeMaster and Jemimia Floyd.

There are reports of up to four children, James Speed (1797-1797), possibly a second James Speed (1799-1799), Mary Speed (1802-?), and Eliza Jane Speed (1805-2 Jul 1885). Eliza is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville KY.

As a widower with two small children, John Speed then secondly married Lucy Gilmer Fry on 15 Nov 1808 at Mercer, KY. Lucy Fry (23 Mar 1788-27 Jan 1874) was the daughter of Joshua Fry and Peachy Walker.

Judge John Speed was then 36 years old and thus 16 years older than Lucy. Family history sites suggest they had eleven children with most of them born prior to 1819. The eldest, Thomas Speed being born on 15 Sep 1809.

John Speed served in the United States forces in 1791 against the Indians and the "Farmington" property in Judge John Speed's life was reportedly the scene of lavish hospitality extended not only to kinsmen and friends, but even to an army, for it is said, that the volunteers for the War of 1812, passing "Farmington," were entertained in entire companies and even larger bodies of men. Although this was before the main house was built in 1815.

At around this time, in 1820, Louisville’s population was 4,180 of which 1,031 were slaves and 95 free people of color.

Speed commenced construction of a homestead in 1815, which was completed in 1816. It is shown here together with four outbuildings in John Rutherford's 1820 gouache, which was painted some 65 years before the first known photo of the house.

It is now the historic home Farmington Historic Homes Foundation - Farmington According to tax lists, John Speed owned 12 enslaved African Americans in 1811, 39 in 1812 and 43 in 1813. By 1820, John Speed is listed as owning 55 slaves. This rapid increase in slave ownership reflects the establishment and development of Speed's plantation at Farmington.

The main cash crop was hemp, which was used to make rope and bagging for the cotton trade. The farm also produced corn, hay, apples, pork, vegetables, wheat, tobacco and dairy products. The tasks of planting, harvesting and shipping products to market were performed primarily by enslaved African Americans who worked in the fields, labored at the ropewalk and drove the wagons.

Farmington has a place in history, as shortly after the 1840 death of Judge John Speed, in 1841, Farmington hosted its most famous guest, Abraham Lincoln.

Tired and despondent over breaking off his engagement to Mary Todd of Lexington, and also worried about the direction his political career was taking, Lincoln came to Farmington to visit with Joshua Speed and his family. He stayed about three weeks with the Speed family during August and September 1841. The courtship of his friend Joshua and Fanny Henning gave him some hope about his own future. After rest and relaxation, Lincoln returned to Springfield and to renew his wooing of Mary Todd. Their subsequent marriage is history.

At least six of Judge John Speed’s sons and grandsons served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

The Speed Art Museum has in its collection two similar images of Judge John Speed as shown here. One is a large oil by Matthew Harris Jouett (1788-1827).

The second is a miniature watercolor said by the Speed to be on paper, although it looks as if it may be on ivory. It is 51mm x 41mm and is by an unknown artist.

All three portraits appear to be based on the same pose, looking at the viewer and with his spectacles pushed back on his forehead.

Most likely, the Jouett portrait is the original, obviously painted before Jouett died in 1827. In that year Judge John Speed would have been aged 55 and, although the image is difficult to see, Speed looks a little younger than 55, which suggests the oil portrait was painted around 1820.

Differences between the two miniatures are subtle, as can be seen by comparing them, but sufficient to be confident they are not by the same artist.

The artist for this octagonal miniature is unknown, but there is part of a trade card used as packing in the reverse, with the wording "..den Lane New York". A kind visitor has suggested this refers to Maiden Lane, in Manhattan, with the trade card referring to the artist or jeweller who made the case. This suggests the miniature was painted and/or framed in New York. However, there were some 120 miniature painters in New York at this time and hence it has not been possible to identify the artist.

From the style of the case it probably dates to the early 1840's. Judge John Speed died in 1840 and the most likely explanation is that Lucy Gilmer Speed commissioned the miniature in 1840, so that she could wear it in memory of him.



Within the Speed Museum collection there are these three portraits of Lucy Gilmer Speed but, unfortunately, she does not appear to be wearing the miniature in the paintings.

The one on the left is a miniature in a case which is difficult to date. The middle portrait in color is an oil by Jouett who, as noted above, died in 1827 and probably painted the oil of Judge John Speed around 1820.

That suggests the oil of Lucy Gilmer Speed by Jouett which is of identical size, was also painted around 1820, when she was aged 32.

However, she looks to be quite some years older than 32 in the oil portrait, which raises the possibility that the portrait does not depict Lucy Gilmer Fry but some other family member, unless the years, her own eleven children, and her two step daughters had caused time to be particularly unkind to her!

The various other portraits of the Speed family above are in the Speed art Museum collection and full details about them can be viewed via the Kentucky Online Arts Resource (KOAR) Home

When the miniature of Judge John Speed was acquired, it was accompanied by several other items of memorabilia associated with the Speed family and Abraham Lincoln. These items are associated with descendants of Judge John Speed's daughter Susan Fry Speed (30 Sep 1817-Nov 1888) who married Benjamin O Davis (3 Jun 1806-15 Mar 1861) on 5 Jun 1838.

One of the children of Benjamin and Susan Davis, was Lucy Gilmer Davis (30 Aug 1840-3 Feb 1924) who married J Edward Hardy (5 Nov 1834-?) on 18 Jun 1861.

One of the children of J Edward and Lucy Hardy was Frank Whittle Hardy (aka Frank Hardy) (see references to F W Hardy below) and a daughter was Charlotte Howard Hardy.

Charlotte Howard Hardy (aka Lottie Hardy) (1862->1930) married Charles Pettet Robinson (1854->1930) and their daughter was Lucy Gilmer Robinson (Jan 1896-May 1987) who married ? McCormick (?-<1930) in 1921. She is also known as Gilmer Robinson McCormick as referred to below. It appears her husband died before 1930, as in the 1930 census, she was living as a widow, with her 8 year old son, John N McCormick at her parents' home.

There is an actress and singer named Gilmer McCormick who was born in Louisville in 1947 and seems likely to be the granddaughter of Lucy Gilmer Robinson McCormick, see Gilmer McCormick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia She is best known for for her performance in the stage and film versions of Godspell in the early 1970s and for her role in the 1984 horror film Silent Night, Deadly Night.

One of the items acquired with the miniature portrait of Judge John Speed, is a very old photograph of an oil portrait of a Speed family member. He is believed to be the son of Judge John Speed, but the whereabouts of the original oil portrait is unknown.

On the reverse there are several partially illegible inscriptions, but the following can be read; "Mrs Edward Hardy Ky St" and "J E Hardy 117 W Ky" and "8 cream on board".

These appear to relate to instructions for creating copies of this photograph of the oil portrait.

However, the oil can be compared with this miniature portrait of Joshua Fry Speed which is owned by the Filson Historical Society, Louisville, KY.

Although an image of the young James Speed has not yet been located, a photograph of him in later life is shown here.

Of the two brothers, Joshua Fry Speed seems the most likely to be the sitter in the oil, but the help of any visitor able to confirm the sitter's identity would be appreciated.

Three other items came with the miniature of Judge John Speed, two books and an engraving.


One book seems to be quite common. It is a 1908 edition of "A Perfect Life" by Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews, and which contains an engraved portrait of Lincoln.

The flyleaf of the book is inscribed; "F W Hardy 117 W Ky St, Louisville, Ky", the same family as mentioned on the reverse of the image of the oil portrait above.

The second engraving is a profile portrait of Lincoln which seems to have been cut down from another source. It has a facsimile image of Lincoln's signature.

It appears to be signed "Mandel(?) Murphy UWI(?)". However, it is possible that the word Mandel may be Cryllic for Murphy, as the "N" is back to front and the "E" is a "C".

Thus any thoughts on the origin of this profile engraving would be welcome.

The last item is another book by Joshua Fry Speed which seems to be uncommon, as there are few Internet references to it and no original copies appear to be available for purchase.

The exterior cover is titled "Lincoln - California - by Joshua F Speed".

Inscribed on the flyleaf is "Mrs Wm Robinson from her friend Fanny Speed" and underneath that is "Gilmer Robinson McCormick".

From the information above it is can be seen that Gilmer Robinson McCormick was a great-great-granddaughter of Judge John Speed.

The full title of the book is "Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln and Notes of a Visit to California - Two Lectures by Joshua F Speed".

It has 67 pages and was published by John P Morton and Company in Louisville, KY in 1884.

Joshua Fry Speed married Frances Henning (aka Fanny Henning (1820-1902) on 12 Feb 1842. They had a marriage of 40 years, but they had no children.

Joshua Speed died in 1882 and so it is probable his wife Fanny Henning Speed arranged the printing of the book in 1884 after his death.

Joshua and Fanny are shown in this double portrait, with Joshua's arm around Fanny.

In the 1850 census, Fanny's mother Elizabeth Henning (1785-?) was living with them and they disclosed assets of $20,200.

They can be tracked through subsequent census records, although Fanny could not be found in the 1900 census.

They are interred together at Cave Hill Cemetery which is a 296-acre Victorian era National Cemetery and arboretum located at 701 Baxter Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky. 1327

Thursday

Wagner, Daniel and Maria Louisa - portrait of Miranda Wagner


There are a number of American miniature painters who are deservedly well known for the quality of their painting.

There are others, sometimes demonstrating even more skill than those well known names, whose names are completely unknown, or whose name is known, but their work is very rare. In my opinion, this stunning miniature portrait comes into the latter category.

The photos displayed here, while illustrating the skill of the artist, do not convey the depth of colors and the vibrancy of the miniature when viewed in the hand or under a magnifying glass. It is 95mm x 77mm and contained within a leather case.

The portrait has moved straight to the top echelon of my personal favourites among the American miniatures in this collection.

I feel the actual painting skill is similar to that displayed by John Henry Brown. However Brown was trying to emulate photographs and his miniatures tend to be flat, whereas this miniature was painted just before the introduction of photography and has a depth that very few other miniature painters have equalled.

Unfortunately, the name of the sitter is unknown, although the previous owner has believed it had probably been in a drawer in the same house in Raymond, Maine since before 1880.

If any of the occupants of the house at that date had been known, it may have been possible to back track through census records to determine the likely sitter.


The skill of the artists can be seen in the close ups of the head, her wrap, and her hands. It is almost possible to read the writing on the letter she is holding.

The miniature is clearly signed on the reverse "D and M L Wagner December 1839". Above the signature there is an earlier erased signature which is indecipherable. It appears to start "By Daniel ......." but there are two interpretations.

Firstly, that it read "By Daniel Wagner" but then it was amended to include his sister's name.

Secondly, that it may have read "By Daniel and Maria Louise Wagner" but the wording was then found to be too long to fit on the reverse of the miniature when the paper was cut down to size and so the signature was rewritten to fit the piece of backing paper.


In August 2015 there has been a very interesting development with respect to the miniature portrait depicted here.As included much further below I have been contacted by a descendent of the Wagner family who has several oil portraits by Maria Wagner. On of them is of Miranda Wagner, Maria's sister-in-law. The visitor has suggested there such a close likeness, that this miniature is also of Miranda Wagner.

I must say with great gratitude that I agree with that opinion, and have therefore altered the title of this post to record her name, instead of "portrait of a lady". It is rare to be able to give an unidentified sitter back their identity, but it is very satisfying to do so.  

Since the miniature was first listed here, more has been discovered about the lives of Daniel (14 Apr 1802- 21 Jan 1888) and his sister Maria Louisa Wagner (1815-20 Oct 1888) and added below. Daniel was born in Leyden, MA and worked in Utica NY, Albany NY, NYC and died in Norwich NY.

They have been found in the 1880 census record which shows Maria Louisa as born in NY state, elsewhere she is recorded more precisely as born at Preston, Chenango, NY in 1815. She worked in Chenango Valley, NY, Albany NY, NYC and died in Norwich NY in the same year as her brother. Maria Louisa is buried at Mt Hope Cemetery,Norwich, NY.

In the 1880 census, they are recorded as living in Rochester NY, Maria as 62 years old and with no occupation, but Daniel describing himself as 78 and as "portrait and landscape painter". They record both their parents as born in Massachusetts. Daniel is not referred to as crippled, despite the references below to him being crippled.

Their father was Frederick Wagner (1777-16 Jul 1868) who had been born in Worcester, MA, son of John Frederick Rudolf Wagner born on 19 May 1778 in Worcester, whose parents were Caterina Elizabetha Wagner and Johan Jacob Wagner. Their mother was Anna Walworth.

Frederick Wagner married Anna or Hannah Walworth (21 May 1778-6 Sep 1847) who had been born in Leyden, Franklin, MA. They were married on 03 Jan 1799 at Leyden, Franklin, MA and had 13 children, of which Daniel was the eldest of four sons, and Maria Louisa was the seventh of nine daughters.

The reverse of the ivory shows how some artists added depth to their work. In comparing the reverse with the front, it can be seen that the dress, necklace, and hair are different. Presumably, at the request of the sitter.

Among American miniature painters there are very few examples of miniatures being jointly signed. Other examples include; "Inman and Cummings" and "Doyle and Williams". However, the Wagner's seem to be unique as signing as brother and sister.

According to Women's Culture: American Philanthropy and Art, 1830-1930 - Google Books Result Maria took up miniature painting to help care for her crippled brother.

Other works by them seem to be rare. The only one I can find is a reference to this portrait of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft by Maria Louisa Wagner, which is inscribed on the reverse "Painted by/Mary Louis Wagner/Washington ["Albany" is crossed out] /June 1852/The Property of Ester Schoolcraft." This seems to suggest that they also worked as individuals.

The year 1839 that this fine miniature of a lady by Daniel and Maria Louisa Wagner was signed, is poignant in the history of miniature portraits, as it is the year before the introduction of daguerreotypes began to hit miniature painters like a tsunami.

Thus 1839 could be said to represent the high tide mark for American miniature painting. This miniature certainly deserves to be regarded as a worthy example to mark that high tide. 1322


Subsequently, the following extra information has been found out. "Daniel and Maria Louisa Wagner, were a brother and sister team from Norwich, New York who travelled from town to town in a covered wagon painting portraits and miniatures.

One day they met the great William H. Seward in Ithaca, NY who later became Governor of New York. He was so taken with their work that he advised them to open a studio in Albany, NY. 

They soon won acclaim among the elite, painting portraits of many famous people of the day...Martin Van Buren, Erastus Corning, Silas Wright, Millard Fillmore, and many others.

 
Showing here is a partial list of the portraits they painted. A larger list is now held as part of the Chenango County museum. Also showing are some newspaper articles about the Wagners.

"Some commentators proclaimed the two country children to be "THE WORLDS GREATEST PAINTERS OF MINIATURES" In 1852 upon the advice of Mr. Fillmore, the two headed to Washington, DC. There they made paintings of Daniel Webster, President Fillmore's family, and a great many other notables. Then they went to New York City where they opened a studio. 


Throughout their entire lives the brother and sister remained inseparable. They returned to their home town of Norwich, New York in later years where Daniel Died in Feb. 1888, and his sister died a few months later apparently of grief at the loss of her brother. They are buried side by side in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Norwich."

A kind visitor found the miniature by Daniel and Maria Wagner in this collection and has sent in for display another miniature by Daniel Wagner. Wagner painted this one of his niece, Altheda Sheffield (Phelps) at age 14 in 1840. She was the great-great-grandmother of the visitor.

For those interested, the visitor was able to provide more information about the Wagner family. There were 13 children, with Daniel being the third and Maria the eleventh. The following obituary is from an 1888 newspaper clipping found at the Gurnsey Memorial Library in Norwich, New York. As there is little information readily available about the Wagners, it has been repeated here in full for any interested family or art researchers.

"Death of Daniel Wagner
At his home on Hayes St, Saturday evening, Mr Daniel Wagner the well known artist died at the advanced age of 86 years. As noticed in a former issue he had a shock of paralysis about two weeks ago. He was too feeble to rally after lingering till Saturday evening quietly passed away. He was born at Layden Mass. April 14, 1802 and removed to this town with his parents in the fall of 1805. At sixteen years of age he was a well grown youth five feet ten inches high a well proportioned and could out work, out run or out jump any one of his age. In those days, farmers had all their own grain ground at the mills near by, and boys went to mill evenings so as to be in school in the day time.

One evening he went to mill with grain, and having to wait his turn, played a game of "goal" with the other boys. When his grist was brought out, though in a great perspiration, he placed the grist on his horse and rode nearly two miles, in the teeth of a northwest wind. He took a severe cold which settled in his right hip joint. He was treated with "calomel and jallop and freely bled." He suffered intense pain and his right leg contracted about three inches. Drs. Mitchell and Packer were called in consultation and pronounced his disease "acute hip disease." Dr. Mason, who had just been Chenango’s Representative in Congress, was also consulted and gave it as his dictum that his patient might live three months.

Despite the prophecies of the physicians, he rallied and could move on crutches. Then the socket joint of the left leg was attacked and that hip thrown out of joint. He was confined to the bed for a year by this trouble. He finally recovered so as to be able to get about with short crutches.

While in this crippled condition he began to sketch the heads of his friends for amusement. He soon found he had decided talent for drawing giving individuality. His friends soon began to insist upon keeping his sketches and paying him for them. One day he was a guest in a home where the daughter had just returned from boarding school and had a box of water colors. She taught him how to use them and he colored a head of her, with which she was greatly pleased. Going to Oxford soon after he saw a portrait of a beautiful lady by Rembrant Peale. He copied it in oils with gratifying success.

He then began to teach his sister, Miss Louise Wagner, the details of drawing and gave her the head of "Thomas Jefferson," to copy. She succeeded so well that they determined to pursue art. About this time he was confined to his bed for a year, but, his health slightly improving , he began to paint miniatures "lying on his back and having his sitter beside his bed. His sister having decided to devote herself to the same line of art, they spent several years painting portraits in the towns of Chenango Valley, going as far south as Binghamton and north to Utica and Whitestown and west to Ithaca. At the latter place the became acquainted with William E. Seward and under his advice went to Albany, where they painted miniatures of the members of legislature. From Albany they went to New York taking letters of introduction.

From a short autobiography we take the following, "We took rooms at the Astor House and being lame I sent my letters to those for whom they were intended. Among them was one Newman the bookseller. He called, looked at our specimens, pronounced them excellent but said he - "I fear there is one thing you lack to succeed well in New York and that is brass. My motto is that brass is gold in New York. You must keep a brass candlestick by you and rub your face morning and night till you get brass enough for New York. Then you will succeed."

Among the New York visitors was Dr. Valentine Mott, the great surgeon. He examined Mr. Wagner and pronounced his case one of the most remarkable he had ever seen. "I have never known," said the great surgeon "one to live through a dislocation of both hips."

From New York, the brother and sister returned to Albany, where they painted portraits of Erastus Corning, Martin Van Buren and Silas Wright. In 1848 the painted Vice President Millard Fillmore. In 1853 they went to Washington and painted the family of President Fillmore, visiting the White House and attending the receptions. They painted many Congressmen and Daniel Webster, then Secretary of State.

Returning to New York they established a studio in the Dodworth Building and took a landscape painting in oils. They made studies on the Hudson and in the Adirondacks. Some of these paintings were exhibited at the Centennial. About 1870 they returned to this village, where they have resided since. Mr. Wagner was a very pleasant and interesting man to meet. His struggle and victory over the disease which made him almost a helpless cripple for sixty years was as remarkable as pathetic. His sister who has been his inseparable companion all these years, is left to mourn her great loss.

His funeral was attended Monday afternoon from the residence of Elmore Sharpe, Esq, on Hayes Street whose wife is a niece of the deceased where Mr and Miss Wagner have made their home for several years. Rev A J Van Cleft officiated and made some most appropriate and excellent remarks.




Another kind visitor has also sent images of a nice miniature by Daniel Wagner, signed and dated Albany Jan'y 1845.

It is interesting to compare the signature with the one above. The word Wagner seems a little different and hence it appears one signature is by Maria Louisa and one is signed by Daniel.

The case containing the portrait is engraved on the reverse "John J P de Puy", but so far the owner has not been able to find out more about John de Puy.


Later - The owner has now advised this information;

I've been able to find a bit more about Mr. De Puy.  Basically, as the Web has grown, and more texts are added, things appear that didn't even a year or two ago. It appears he was a member of the New York State Legislator for just one year, 1845, representing New York City.  So, he must have had the miniature done when he was serving at the Capitol in Albany.  He was listed as an "American Republican" party member, a short-lived Nativist  minor party which swept the NYC election in 1844.  They later became part of the "Know Nothing Party".  However, in 1848 he's mentioned in the newspapers as Chairman of the Democratic Whig Young Men of New York City, and then in 1850 I find him in San Francisco as Chairman of the local Whig Party.  So, he probably moderated his views as the Whigs were a more liberal party, in modern terms. Finally, I find a "J. J. R. De Puy" of New York as a minister of the Methodist Church......maybe him, maybe not.


Later - yet another kind collector has provided a photo of a further miniature portrait by Maria Louisa Wagner. It is of a young lady and is signed and dated on the backing paper "Painted by M Louisa Wagner Albany Nov 1847".

The miniature is another example of the excellent work of this artist and in a relaxed, informal pose.

There is some paint loss on the red chair, as is the case with red area in her other portraits. At this time artists often mixed their own colors and hence it seems Maria had difficulties in striking the right mix of ingredients for the color red.

August 2015 - I have received a great deal more information about the Wagner family from a descendent.
They have advised as follows:

Dear Mr. Shelton,
The recent discovery of your blog entitled “ American Miniature Portraits” attributed to Daniel and Maria Louisa Wagner (from January of 2008), has opened what I hope will be a whole new chapter for my family and I hope will also provide you with more information about the artist. 

Since they were originally painted, we have kept in the family a set of four portraits painted by M. Louisa Wagner. Of the four paintings, only one is signed: “Painted by M.L. Wagner, 1880,” on the lower right corner of the canvas. It is the portrait of the woman that we believe to be Miranda Wagner.

Anna Farnsworth Wagner,
I have included photographs of the paintings, a detail of the signature, and a scan of what we know about the Wagner family, given to me by my mother, Martha Daughhetee (nee Austerman), and typed up by her, perhaps taken from some record she still has. We will be sharing all of our new information with her, she is 90, and will be delighted by this discovery.

We have long believed that the older portraits were the artist’s grandparents, and the later ones were her parents, but thanks to information you provided, which we then compared to the info in the scanned documents, we now believe that the man and woman depicted in the later portraits are the artist’s elder brother and his wife; and that the earlier portraits are of her parents.


The portraits that we have are as follows:
John Jacob Wagner III,
John Jacob Wagner III, oil on canvas, 16.125 x 13.875 inches, c. 1880.
Anna Farnsworth Wagner, oil on canvas, 16.125 x 13.875 inches, c. 1880.
John Jacob Wagner IV, oil on canvas, 26.5 x 21.5 inches, 1880.
Miranda Wagner, oil on canvas, 26.5 x 21.5 inches, 1880.

We have long wondered how such an accomplished painter could have flown under the radar and have conducted occasional searches for information about Ms. Wagner since the internet became available.

Your information is the first we have found, and it has given us a great deal of new information about our ancestry, and about the painter and the story of her brother.

There are some inconsistencies between the information we possess and what you provide, but we may very well want to chalk that up to less than accurate records, distance, and the passage of time. For example we have always believed that Ms. Wagner’s father was John Jacob Wagner III, while your research indicated that their father was named Frederick.

John Jacob Wagner IV,
Also that her mother’s maiden name was Farnsworth, whereas your research indicates it was Walworth. Another is that Daniel and Maria Louisa were two of thirteen children, whereas our family record says there were eight.

As to that point, infant mortality being what it was, that detail does not cause us to believe that the artist you wrote of, and the one that painted our paintings is not one and the same.


While she may not have painted Lincoln’s portrait, as we have long been led to believe, her introduction to William Seward and the record of portraits of notables from our nation’s capital that your research indicates were painted by the brother and sister is an area of consistency. 

The dates on our portraits is consistent with her life span, and the time during which one might expect both she and her brother to have painted with the most proliferation.


Miranda Wagner
Here’s an area where we enter into wild speculation. My wife believes that the woman featured in the miniature in your article, who is unknown, may very well be the same woman in our later portrait, the artists’ sister in law, Miranda Wagner. There are enough physical similarities, but the fact that your miniature turned up in Maine is inconclusive, and no doubt we can never be sure. 

At any rate we invite you to compare the two and we welcome your thoughts and any additional information you can provide. We would very much appreciate learning of your source information for the research you conducted about the Wagners, we hope there is much more to learn about the family.

 I look forward to hearing from you,
 Sincerely,
Mark Daughhetee
 P.S. I am also an artist, and have always been very curious about this particular aspect of my ancestry. Thank you again.

This is the comparison of the two images that he sent me. I replied to Mark as below and he kindly agreed I could post the above information here for the benefit of other people interested in the Wagner family.
Hello Mark,
Many thanks for your kind comments and all the extra information. I am glad that the information I had accumulated at
3 American Miniature Portraits: Wagner, Daniel and Maria ...
was of use to you. The whole purpose of the website was to try and add to the public record, information about "forgotten" artists and sitters, so that their lives were in fact not forgotten! [ Perhaps a sort of artistic, "Who Do You Think You are? ! ]

Other than where I mention that the information came from a visitor to the website, the information was collected from the Internet via various "trial and error" name combinations, or from www.ancestry.com  Both often tedious processes! - but which did uncover odd "nuggets". However, even there I may have made the odd error.

While I am unable to guarantee the accuracy of any information provided by visitors which differs from your  own information, I happily accepted that it was given by those visitors in good faith. Hence, there is probably an opportunity for you to undertake more detailed research and to hope to reconcile them.

I have not checked the relative ages of the paintings with her age at the time, but do agree with your wife that the portrait in the miniature is very likely Miranda Wagner. The quality of that miniature is exceptional, so the attention given to the detail becomes explainable by it being of a close relative. (There are in the collection a few miniatures by other artists, of a single sitter at different ages, and it has amazed me how well paintings can convey a person's likeness at different ages.)