A Rare American Portrait Miniature of a Gentleman,
Attributed to Joseph Wood,
The miniature depicts a young gentleman, his body facing right, with his head turned towards the viewer. He wears a dark blue jacket and white cravat. His hair is parted on the right and his eyes are blue.
Woods was born in Clarkstown, New York, the son of a farmer. He was obsessed by the idea of becoming an artist and ran away to New York at the age of fifteen. He eventually became apprenticed to a silversmith and copied miniatures in his spare time. In 1801 he established himself as a portrait and miniature painter. In 1803 Wood went into partnership with John Wesley Jarvis. Wood met Edward Greene Malbone in 1802, shortly after Wood and Jarvis became partners. Malbone became a close friend of Wood, continuing to offer advice and assistance, as is evident from his visible influence on Wood's work. The Jarvis-Wood partnership broke up in 1809 and Wood took on Nathaniel Rogers as an apprentice. Wood left New York for Philadelphia in 1813 where he exhibited regularly at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1818 he moved to Baltimore and worked both there and in Washington D.C. perhaps also travelling through the South. During his last years, which were spent in Washington D.C., his patronage declined and he died in poverty. Wood's miniatures are strongly influenced by Malbone and are often mistaken for his work.Wood's subjects are self-assured and offer full characterizations.