Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Joseph Delaplaine to Thomas Jefferson, 6 July 1816

From Joseph Delaplaine

Philada July 6: 1816.

Dear sir,

The first half volume of the Repository will be published in a few days. The second half volume is preparing for publication. Among others, for the second half volume, the life & Portrait of yourself & of the late celebrated Peyton Randolph Eqr will be given. The engraving of his portrait is already executed. It is done from his portrait in Peale’s Museum. It is said to be a pretty good likeness, but the painting is certainly very indifferent.

I want, as soon as possible, the facts of Peyton Randolph’s life. Judge Tucker of Williamsburg in his letter to me says, “Mr Jefferson is probably the only man alive that can do justice to the character of this truly great & good man.”—

May I beg the favour of something from you on this subject, if there is any thing in your possession. Or, if it will be not inconvenient,1 may I request your influence to obtain the facts from his son Peyton Randolph Esqr of Richmond.—

I enclose the frontispiece for my work for your acceptance & beg you to show it to the ladies

Mr Otis painted for me the portraits of Mrs & Mr Madison. The likeness of each gave entire satisfaction.

With my kind remembrance to your excellent family, I remain, Dr sir with great regard your obed. hue st

Joseph Delaplaine

P.S. As soon as my work appears I shall beg you to accept a copy, as a token of my respect.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 17 July 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Joel Yancey, 13 Sept. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello Virginia” and “In case of his absence To be forwarded to Bedford”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 8 July.

The engraving of Peyton Randolph (ca. 1723–75) by the Philadelphia firm of Charles Goodman & Robert Piggot was probably based on a 1774 portrait by Charles Willson Peale that was later destroyed in a fire. A similar painting, however, is now in the collection of Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, while a miniature made by Peale from the original portrait is owned by the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh (Delaplaine’s Repository description begins Joseph Delaplaine, Delaplaine’s Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans, Philadelphia, 1816–18, 2 vols.; Poor, Jefferson’s Library, 4 (no. 139) description ends , vol. 1, plate opp. p. 107; William S. Baker, American Engravers and Their Works [1875], 72–3, 135–7; Peale, Papers description begins Lillian B. Miller and others, eds., The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family, 1983– , 5 vols. in 6 description ends , 1:171; Charles Coleman Sellers, Portraits and Miniatures by Charles Willson Peale [1952], 177–8; Doris Devine Fanelli, History of the Portrait Collection, Independence National Historical Park [2001], 267).

The portrait of Dolley Madison by Bass otis is owned by the New-York Historical Society. Otis’s depiction of James Madison is known from an engraving by either James Neagle or John Neagle (Gordon Hendricks, “‘A Wish to Please, and a Willingness to be Pleased,’” American Art Journal 2 [1970]: 16–7, 23–5; Fielding, Dictionary description begins description ends , 254–5; Thomas Knoles, “The Notebook of Bass Otis, Philadelphia Portrait Painter,” American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings 103 [1993]: 236; Theodore Bolton, “The Life Portraits of James Madison,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892–  description ends , 3d ser., 8 [1951]: 32–3).

1Manuscript: “incovenient.”

Index Entries

  • Delaplaine, Joseph; commissions portraits search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; Delaplaine’s Repository search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; letters from search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; publishes engraved portraits search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; sends artwork to TJ search
  • Goodman, Charles (engraver) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; B. Otis’s painting search
  • Madison, Dolley Payne Todd (James Madison’s wife); portraits of search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); portraits of search
  • museums; Philadelphia Museum search
  • Neagle, James; engraver search
  • Neagle, John; engraver search
  • Otis, Bass; portrait of TJ search
  • Otis, Bass; portraits of D. and J. Madison search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; and Philadelphia Museum search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; portraits of P. Randolph (ca.1723–75) by search
  • Philadelphia Museum; paintings in search
  • Piggot, Robert (engraver) search
  • Randolph, Peyton (ca.1723–75); and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Randolph, Peyton (ca.1723–75); portraits of search
  • Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans (J. Delaplaine) search
  • Tucker, St. George; and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search