Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Delaplaine, 30 May 1813

To Joseph Delaplaine

Monticello May 30. 13.


Your favor of the 23d is recieved, in which you enquire whether there is an approved portrait of myself, by whom painted, & in whose possession? mr Stuart has drawn two portraits of me, at different sittings, of which he prefers the last. both are in his possession. he also drew a third in water colours, a profile in the medallion stile, which is in my possession. mr Rembrandt Peale also drew a portrait in oil colours on canvas while I lived in Washington. of the merit of these I am not a judge, there being nothing to which a man is so incompetent as to judge of his own likeness. he can see himself only by reflection, and that of necessity full-faced or nearly so.

With my wishes for your success accept the tender of my esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (LNT: George H. and Katherine M. Davis Collection); addressed: “Mr Joseph Delaplaine Philadelphia S.W. corner of 7th & Chesnut streets”; franked; postmarked Milton, 2 June; endorsed by Delaplaine. PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ.

TJ first sat for the artist Gilbert stuart in May 1800. Stuart seems to have sent that oil painting to London for engraving, and its subsequent history is unknown. TJ sat for a second portrait in June 1805 during Stuart’s residence in Washington. This work became known as the “Edgehill Portrait” because of its long association with the Randolph family home of that name. Stuart produced his medallion stile portrait (a version of which appears on the title page of each volume of this edition) from life during the same visit. rembrandt peale painted TJ’s portrait at the President’s House in January 1805. In 1816 Delaplaine commissioned a portrait of TJ to use in his Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans (Philadelphia, 1817; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 4 [no. 139]), and he accompanied the artist Bass Otis to Monticello for the sitting (Bush, Life Portraits description begins Alfred L. Bush, The Life Portraits of Thomas Jefferson, rev. ed., 1987 description ends , 59–61, 68–81; Stein, Worlds description begins Susan R. Stein, The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, 1993 description ends , 139, 173).

Index Entries

  • Delaplaine, Joseph; Delaplaine’s Repository search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; letters to search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; publishes engraved portraits search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; B. Otis’s painting search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; G. Stuart’s paintings search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; R. Peale’s painting search
  • Otis, Bass; portrait of TJ search
  • Peale, Rembrandt; portrait of TJ search
  • Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans (J. Delaplaine) search
  • Stuart, Gilbert; portraits of TJ by search
  • Stuart, Gilbert; “Medallion” profile of TJ by search