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 Thomas Bayley Lawson  (1807 - 1888)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: portrait, still life

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Ad Code: 3
Thomas Bayley Lawson
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of Daniel Webster
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Whistler House Museum of Art:
Thomas Bayley Lawson ? painter of portraits, still lifes, and miniatures ? was born in Newburyport, MA on January 13, 1807 and died in Lowell, MA on June 4, 1888.

He began life as a dry goods clerk and later, in 1828, had his own store. Lawson trained himself by copying the work of famous artists and, in 1831, he moved to New York City and attended the National Academy of Design for six months. After his initial training of drawing from the Antique, he moved to Philadelphia in April of 1832. Months later, in October of the same year, Lawson relocated back to Newburyport where he established himself as a portrait painter.

In 1842 Lawson moved to Lowell where he painted some of the most prominent of its citizens: the Reverend H. A. Miles, his first sitter and Unitarian minister; John Nesmith; John Avery; Jane A. Lock, poet laureate and friend of Edgar Allen Poe; George Brownell; and Judge John Look.

One of Lawson's most fruitful artistic ventures came in 1844 when a group of Lowell citizens commissioned him to go to Washington, DC to paint a portrait of Daniel Webster, Secretary of State. Webster sat twelve times for this painting and said, according to Frederick W. Coburn, "That is the face I shave." This painting made Lawson nationally famous, and he duplicated it more than twenty times.

Lawson was a founder and first president of the Lowell Art Association in 1878: the organization responsible for saving and preserving the Whistler House Museum of Art ? birthplace of James Abbott McNeill Whistler(1834-1903). When portrait sales weakened during the Civil War and post war period, Lawson started to paint grape and fruit pictures ? a trademark as famous as his portraits. His register lists a total of 28 of these still lifes, with the earliest dated 1859.

Collections representing Thomas Bayley Lawson include the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA; the Pollard Memorial Library in Lowell, MA; the City Hall in Lowell, MA; the Historical Society of Old Newbury in Newburyport, MA; the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA; the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, OH; the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA; the Town of Lancaster in MA; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; the Whittier Home Association in Amesbury, MA; the Bostonian Society in Boston, MA; Amherst College in Amherst, MA; Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME; and Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.

Ray Davenport, Davenport's Art Reference 2001/2002, page 1120
Glenn Opitz, Mantle Fielding,1986, page 526
Daniel Mallett, Index of Artists, page 247
Ray Kreps, Dealer's Choice Biographical Encyclopedia of American Painters... page 809
Groce & Wallace, 1957, page 388
Whistler House Museum of Art files.

Submitted by Peter Kostoulakos, ISA ? Fine Art Consultant

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