|Biography from Schwarz Gallery:|
|Oliver Tarbell Eddy was born in Greenbush, Vermont, the oldest son of
inventor, printer, and engraver Isaac Eddy, who traced his ancestry
back to the Mayflower. Although his father instructed him how to
engrave on copper, Eddy evidently taught himself how to paint. |
He married Jane Maria Burger, daughter of the silversmith Thomas
Burger, in Newburgh, New York in 1822. Eddy was active as a
portrait and miniature painter in New York City by 1826, and exhibited
a portrait at the National Academy of Design the following year.
He moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1831 and then to Newark in
1835. William H. Gerdts has suggested that he relocated to Newark
because a distant relative, the Reverend Ansel Doane Eddy, was pastor
of the First Presbyterian Church. The artist was extremely
successful in Newark and painted at least thirteen portraits of members
of the family of a hat manufacturer named William Rankin. Eddy
lived in Baltimore from 1842 to 1850, painting portraits and inventing
a precursor to the typewriter. He lived in Philadelphia from 1850
until his death and was buried in Woodlands Cemetery.
Gerdts characterizes Eddy as “something of a Newark equivalent of
[Henry] Inman in New York City” because he followed the period’s
compositional conventions of portraiture. Nevertheless, the
artist worked in a highly distinctive style characterized by a
pronounced degree of naiveté. His ill-proportioned figures are
generally stiff and wooden, set in self-conscious formal poses, and
often possess an aura of haunting solemnity. Eddy consistently
represented accessories such as floor coverings, furniture, windows
draped with fringed curtains, and his sitters’ costumes in a
meticulously detailed manner. He produced some remarkable large,
complex multi-figure portraits such as the Children of William Rankin,
Sr. (1838, The Newark Museum), and the Children of Mr. and Mrs. Israel
Griffith (c. 1844, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore).
1. William H. Gerdts, Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting, 1710–1920 (New York: Abbeville Press, 1990), vol. 1, p. 230.
2. The standard study of Eddy is Edith Bishop, Oliver Tarbell Eddy, 1799–1868 [exh. cat.] (Newark, N.J.: The Newark Museum, 1950).
3. Gerdts, Art Across America, vol. 1, p. 231.
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