Saturday, April 22, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: April 22, 1787 or 1788 - Matthew Harris Jouett


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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Matthew Harris Jouett, one of the most significant antebellum portraitists of the South, was born on April 22 in 1787 or 1788 near Harrodsburg in Mercer County, Kentucky. He was one of twelve children born to Capt. John and Sallie (Robards) Jouett. When Jouett was five, his family moved to Woodford County. He enrolled in Transylvania University in Lexington in 1804. After graduating with honors four years later, Jouett began to study law with Judge George M. Bibb of the Kentucky appellate court in Frankfort.

In 1812 Jouett enlisted in the 3d Mounted Regiment of the Kentucky Volunteers. He was appointed first lieutenant and paymaster of the 28th U.S. Infantry and on July 13, 1814, was promoted to a captain. He resigned his position on January 20, 1815. Jouett decided not to practice law but to follow his ambition to become a portrait painter and miniaturist, based in Lexington. After studying with Gilbert Stuart in Boston from July through October 1816, he was able to double his price for portraits.

Jouett was unable to make a living in Kentucky, however, and from 1817 until his death, he spent winters in New Orleans, Natchez, and other southern cities along the Mississippi River, painting portraits of notable citizens. The New Orleans directory of 1824 lists Jouett as a portrait painter with a studio at 49 Canal Street. From 1817 to 1825 Jouett's Lexington studio was in the Kentucky Hotel on Short Street. In June 1817 Jouett arranged an exhibition of his paintings and those of other artists for the benefit of the Fayette Hospital.

A total of 334 portraits and miniatures are attributed to Jouett between the years 1816 and his death. One of the most celebrated is that of General Lafayette. He painted several portraits of Henry Clay , one of which hangs in Ashland, the Clay estate. Other subjects included Gen. George Rogers Clark , Gov. Isaac Shelby (1792-96, 1812-16), Sen. Isham Talbot , Dr. W.C. Galt, Asa Blanchard , Robert Crittenden, and Dr. Horace Holley . In 1826 Jouett maintained a studio in Louisville as well as Lexington.

As popular as Jouett's portraits were in the South, he did not become known nationally until his paintings of Gen. Charles Scott and John Grimes were shown in the Chicago Exposition in 1893. Jouett's first one-man exhibition was a retrospective held at the J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville between February 19 and March 4, 1928. Jouett's paintings are owned by the Filson Club, the Kentucky Historical Society, and the Speed Museum , as well as numerous private collectors.

Jouett married Margaret Henderson Allen of Fayette County on May 25, 1812; they had nine children. Jouett died at his home outside Lexington on August 10, 1827, and was buried in the family burial ground of his father-in- law, William Allen. Around the turn of the century, the bodies of Jouett and his wife were reburied in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Strode-Jackson, Arnold N. S. Kentucky Heyday, 1787-1827; the Life and times of Kentucky's Foremost Portrait Painter. 1st Ed.]. ed. New York: Vantage, 1956. Print.
ND237.J8 S75, available, Fine Arts Library

Martin, Mary Farmer Rodgers. Catalogue of All Known Paintings by Matthew Harris Jouett. Louisville, 1939. Print.
759.1 Sp32, Special Collections Research Center

Jonas, Edward A. Matthew Harris Jouett, Kentucky Portrait Painter (1787-1827). Louisville, Ky.: J.B. Speed Memorial Museum, 1938. Print. SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN02173.02 KUK.
ND237.J8 J6, Fine Arts Library

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