Dodge, John Wood - portrait of Mrs Eliza M Eastman

Miniature portraits by John Wood Dodge feature in many public collections of American art. They include The National Portrait Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum, The Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville.

This collection has been fortunate to acquire a further miniature portrait by Dodge, to make a total of three in the collection.

This miniature portrait of Mrs E M Eastman was painted by John Wood Dodge (4 Nov 1807-17 Dec 1893). He was one of the best New York miniature painters of the second quarter of the 19C, until he was recommended to move to live in the South for the sake of his health where he continued his career.

Two of Dodge's uncles were Generals in the American Army and on 19 Dec 1831 he married the daughter of one of them; Miss Mary Louise Dodge (1 Jun 1811-?), who was the daughter of Ezekiel Dodge (1767-1839) and Jane Power (1780-1837).

The eldest daughter of John Wood and Mary Louise Dodge was Mary Louise Dodge (28 Oct 1832-23 Aug 1833) who died in infancy. They then had another seven children, only one of who seems to have outlived her father.

For his New York Times obituary, see DEATH OF JOHN WOOD DODGE.; An Artist Who Years Ago Gained fame an ...

The miniature is inscribed on the reverse; "Painted by John W Dodge - Miniature Painter - No 42 Franklin St - New York - Sept 30th 1836 - Mrs E M Eastman".

Unfortunately, to date it has not been possible to identify the sitter more closely and so I would be very grateful for any clues that would help to identify her.

At this time, Dodge seemed to identify his sitters with their husband's initials. Thus it would appear that she is the wife of a Mr E M Eastman.

Normally this would be sufficient to identify him and hence, then his wife's maiden name and their families.

However, there are an number of men from around that date named Eastman and with a first name beginning with "E", who lived in the general area of New York and the surrounding states.

They include; Ebenezer Eastman, Edmund Eastman, Edward Eastman, Enoch Eastman, Eli Eastman, Enos Eastman, Elijah Eastman, Ezra Eastman, and Ezekiel Eastman. With some of those first names appearing more than once.

But for none of those can I find one with a second initial "M".

An Exciting Coincidence
Later note - November 2008 - Doyle Auctions offered a miniature (showing below) which must be the husband of the above sitter.

It is described as; "Portrait of Mr. Eastman - Inscribed on the reverse Painted by/John W. Dodge/42 Franklin St./New York/Sept. 30th 1836/Mr. Eastman - Watercolor on ivory 2 7/8 x 2 1/4 inches - The account book of miniature portraits maintained by John Wood Dodge has been microfilmed by the Archives of American Art. On September 30, 1836, the date inscribed on the reverse of the present work, Wood recorded in his logbook payment in cash of $60 each for likenesses of W. M. Eastman and Mrs. Eliza Eastman. [John Wood Dodge Papers, 1828-1934; reel 960, Archives of American Art.]

As the date is identical, Sept 30, 1836 the miniature must be of Mrs Eliza M Eastman and her husband must be Mr W M Eastman, not Mr E M Eastman as I had assumed.

It may not be possible to reunite the miniature portraits, but at least they can be seen together here, over 170 years after they were painted. [Later, Mr Eastman unfortunately sold for more than I could afford, which was a little sad, but at least the images are reunited here.]

Although not confirmed, I am inclined to believe Mr W M Eastman is the William Eastman (1792-?) of Homer, Cortland, NY who married Elizabeth ....? in 1832. They appear to have had five children; Philena, Daniel, Jennie, Ellen, and Henrietta. Philena possibly being the Eliza Philena Eastman (17 May 1836-1907) who married Samuel Rice.

The year 1836 the miniature was painted by Dodge marked one of several high points in his career, as in the previous year, 1835, a miniature portrait by him of his brother Edward S Dodge, had been described by "the City News papers to be the best miniature in the Academy this year".

For reasons that are not clear, Dodge worked from a number of different addresses while he worked in New York.

This can be seen from the following signed and dated examples.

Feb 29, 1832 - 82 Franklin St - A Gentleman
Nov ??, 1832 - 82 Franklin St - James O Owens
Sep ??, 1832 - 37 Lis(?) St - Edward Shotwell
Oct 23, 1834 - 485 Pearl St - Rev W L Jupson
Feb 7, 1835 - 485 Pearl St - Miss Major
Apr ??, 1835 - 42 Franklin St - Mrs E Mead
Oct 14, 1835 - 42 Franklin St - Isaac F Tysen
Sep 30, 1836 - 42 Franklin St - Mrs E M Eastman
Jul 31, 1838 - 52 White St NY - Mr A L Clements
Oct 18, 1838 - 52 White St NY - Mrs A L Clements

Perhaps, as his reputation improved and he could charge higher prices, he moved to better premises.

The photographic quality of his best work is well illustrated in the close up of this miniature. It is hard to realise it was painted several years before photography was introduced to America via the daguerreotype.

Apparent in the Eastman miniature is a characteristic "thumb-print" shadow which is found on many, but not all of his miniatures.

For two other miniatures by John Wood Dodge in this collection, one of Eliza Jane Moffit Budd and one of Reuben Kreider which is unfortunately cracked, see American Miniature Portraits - 1: Dodge, John Wood - portrait of ...
and American Miniature Portraits - 1: Dodge, John Wood - portrait of ...

Raymond White has written two excellent articles on John Wood Dodge, particularly with regard to his later career in Tennessee. One can be seen at John Wood Dodge: and the portrait miniature. - The Magazine ...

The other is in the Spring 2000 edition of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly. The latter article includes the names of around 270 Tennesseans painted by Dodge between 1828 and 1854. 1335


Andora Smith said...

I have a miniature painting by him of my Ancestor John Kirkman signed from 1847 in mint condition. How do I find out what it's value is?

Eudora Pierce MacNair at andorasmith@yahoo.com

Unknown said...

I have a painting with a lady from Nahville Tn he wrote on back it says April 1857 and it says likelness of Mary and cant read rest..