John Wood Dodge

(4 November 1807 - 7 December 1893)

John Wood Dodge was born on November 4, 1807 in New York City. His parents and grandparents were all from New York state, and the family home was near Poughkeepsie, New York. At the age of sixteen, he was apprenticed to a sign painter, where he painted tinned can of food. He then taught himself how to paint by copying borrowed paintings. He then practised drawings at the National Academy Museum and School in New York City from 1826 to 1827.

He focused on paiting miniatures on ivory. From 1830 to 1838, his work was exhibited at the National Academy Museum and School in New York City. He was also elected an Associate of this academy in 1832.

In 1838, he moved to Alabama, finally settling down in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lived and worked for twenty-one years. In 1840, he published an article entitled 'Painting and Daguerreotype' in which he criticized the invention of the photography, as it made miniature paintings less popular. Still, in 1842, he did a portrait of Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), whose reproduction as a miniature was widely popular nationally. In 1849, he did a portrait of Varina Howell Davis (1826–1906), the second wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis (1808–1889) (National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.). However, by the 1850s, he began to take pictures.

In 1861, he left Tennessee and returned to New York City, as he supported the Union. Some of his paintings are exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. as well as the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1845, he purchased land in the Cumberland Mountains near Nashville, which he developed into a homestead together with a log house and an apple orchard.



An Artist Who Years Ago Gained fame an a Painter of Miniatures.

John Wood Dodge, a veteran artist, died in Pomona, Tenn., on Dec. 17, agred eighty-seven years. He was born in New-York City in 1806, his parents and grandparents all having been natives of this State. There is now standing, in good repair, near Poughkeepsie, the family house of his ancestors, one of the oldest in the country.

Two of Mr. Dodge's uncles were Generals in the American Army. The daughter of one, Miss Mary L. Dodge, he married, in 1831. She survives him.

Mr. Dodge's speciality in art was for a long time miniature portraits on ivory; indeed, from his early youth until the age of photography he confined himself to that branch, having ranked first in the United States in that line for many years. Owing to a weakness of the lungs, he found it necessary to pass his Winters in the South, returning North for the Summers. At one time he passed a fortnight at the "Hermitage," painting the likeness of Andrew Jackson. That of Henry Clay, a relative of Mr. Dodge, was considered the finest ever taken of the great statesman.

During a visit to the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, Mr. Dodge had been induced to purchase a large tract of land -- some 6,000 acres -- and for many Summers after passed the hot season there, becoming so much interested in the culture of fruit trees that, with his son, he finally established a large nursery, enthusiastically saying that the plateau would in time become the greate centre of such an enterprise for the whole United States. His apples were so remarkable as to flavor and size that one barrel at Nashville sold for over $120.

But the breaking out of the rebellion changed the entire outlook, ant it was not long before he received a hint as to the propriety of leaving the State at once. This he did, traveling by wagons to Ohio, whre by the sale of them and the horses he and his family were able to reach New York City. There he immediately selected a selected a studio, to begin again his artis life at the age of nearly sixty. Two years later he was induced to make his home in Chicago, where he remained till again taking up his abode at his old Summer home in Pomona -- so named by him many years ago because of its numerous fruit trees.

Afte many years of miniature painting Mr. Dodge was persuaded by friends to attempt larger portraits in oil. He achieved a success quite unexpected to himself. His last exhibit at the New York National Academy of Design was a lift-size and striking likeness of Henry Bergh.

Within the past ten years he had finished quite a number of compostitions pictures, the last being one he had a long while contemplated, but owing to the difficulty of procuring satisfactory models had put off attempting. It was, however, satisfactorily finished in his eighty-eighth year, and is now in the possession of William Ziegler of New York City.

Mr. Dodge's death was caused by pneumonia after a week's illness. He was buried in the cemetery presented by him to Pomona some time ago. He leaves a wife and two daughters, several grandchildren and one great-grandchild named for him last summer.

© The New York Times: Published December 31, 1893 div