Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Joseph Delaplaine to Thomas Jefferson, 11 May 1816

From Joseph Delaplaine

Philadelphia May 11th 1816.

Dear sir,

I had the honour of duly receiving your obliging favour of the 9th of February last.

You have been pleased to correspond with me much on the subject of your portrait. Being very desirous to obtain it, and fearing that Mr Stuart will never be prevailed upon to give up yours, I avail myself of your kind offer to receive in your house, any Artist I might send to further my Work. Accordingly I have engaged one of our best portrait painters, Mr Otis of this City, who has Contracted, and made arrangements to set out for your Mansion on the First day of June next, for the express purpose of painting your portrait for my work. Mr Otis will take with him a volume of publick characters, a work you already mentioned to me, in which your biography is given. I take the liberty of sending it to you for the purpose of having it corrected, if it needs it; for I purpose to take great care that justice shall be done to your life. The alterations or corrections be pleased to give on a piece of paper if you see proper, & Mr Otis will take charge of them as well as the Book.

I cherish the hope that I may be enabled to accompany Mr Otis to your house. I shall endeavour so to do.

I beg you to have the goodness to inform me whether it will be your pleasure to receive Mr Otis at the time mentioned.

The late President Adams has lately sat for his portrait for me to young Mr Morse1 who studied in London..—Mr Monroe sat to Mr Wood for me a few days ago, & the President promised to do the same. Mr Clay also sat. I take the liberty of enclosing a head of Columbus which be pleased to do me the favour to accept.

I remain with perfect respect & esteem Your obedt humle st

Joseph Delaplaine

P.S. In a few days I will have the pleasure of sending your Vespucius. The engraver has nearly done with it

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 18 May 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to William Wirt, 18 Aug. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello Virginia”; stamp canceled; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 12 May.

The volume containing TJ’s biography was Public Characters of 1800–1801 (London, 1801; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 402). Delaplaine’s Repository ceased publication before it could include the portrait of John Adams by Samuel F. B. morse now owned by the Brooklyn Museum. Contrary to Delaplaine’s assertion, James monroe had not sat for a portrait by Joseph Wood (Monroe to Delaplaine, 31 May 1816 [LNT: George H. and Katherine M. Davis Collection]). Delaplaine later displayed his large collection of portraits, including those of Adams, James Madison (the president), Henry clay, and TJ in an art gallery that he opened in Philadelphia in 1819 (Delaplaine, Prospectus of Delaplaine’s National Panzographia for the reception of the Portraits of Distinguished Americans [Philadelphia, 1818]; Philadelphia Franklin Gazette, 4 Oct. 1819; Georgetown, D.C., Metropolitan, 10 Feb. 1820). The enclosed engraving of columbus, not found, appeared in 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. 1. The engraver of the Amerigo Vespucci portrait was Gideon Fairman.

1Reworked from “Morris.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Adams, John; portraits of search
  • books; biographical on TJ search
  • Clay, Henry; and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Clay, Henry; portrait of search
  • Columbus, Christopher; and portrait for J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; and portraits of TJ by G. Stuart search
  • 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
  • Fairman, Gideon; engraver search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; B. Otis’s painting search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; G. Stuart’s paintings search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); portraits of search
  • Monroe, James; and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Otis, Bass search
  • Morse, Samuel Finley Breese; and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Otis, Bass; portrait of TJ search
  • Otis, Bass; visits Monticello search
  • paintings; and J. Delaplaine’sRepository search
  • Public Characters; TJ’s biography in search
  • Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans (J. Delaplaine) search
  • Stuart, Gilbert; portraits of TJ by search
  • Vespucci, Amerigo (Americus Vespucius); portrait of search
  • Wood, Joseph; as portrait painter search