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Thomas Edwards (artist)

Self-portrait by Thomas Edwards, 19th century (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Thomas Edwards (1795–1869) was an artist in 19th-century Boston, Massachusetts, specializing in portraits. Born in London and trained at the Royal Academy,[1][2] he worked in Boston in the 1820s-1850s, and in Worcester in the 1860s.[3][4]


Edwards kept a studio in Boston on Winter Street,[1] then on Market Street/Cornhill,[5][6][7] Tremont Street (Tremont Temple),[8] and Tremont Row.[9] In the mid-1850s he may have travelled in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, producing drawings of landscapes and the like.[10]

He "was a frequent exhibitor in the early years of the Boston Athenaeum."[11] He also exhibited with the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association in 1847 ("...Two landscapes. Rather heavy in style");[12] and with the New England Art Union in 1851 and 1852.[13][14] In 1855 he exhibited at No.43 Tremont Row, Boston, "a collection of about 75 landscapes and other original compositions ... all finished by him during the last few years. The subjects are chiefly views of American scenery, mostly in New England, a few views in the Western states, White Mountains, and other interesting local scenes, all painted from sketches taken on the spot."[15]

Edwards was among the first wave of artists creating drawings intended for lithographic printing. In Boston he drew for Pendleton's Lithography in the 1820s. Other early lithographic artists in Boston included Francis Alexander, D.C. Johnston, William Hoogland, and J.R. Penniman.[16] Edwards also drew for Annin, Smith and Co's Lithography,[17] and "the Senefelder Lithographic Co. in 1830, along with artists Hazen Morse and John Chorley."[18] Prints historian Frank Weitenkampf writes "Thomas Edwards, of Boston, was one of the first to draw in the crayon manner, and in portraits such as the one of James Tilton, M.D., the hesitation, the want of familiarity with the new medium is quite apparent. His Jacob Perkins (1826, printed by Pendleton) is already more free in execution."[19] In the late 1820s he contributed to the plate illustrations that appeared occasionally in the Boston-based weekly Bower of Taste.[20]

Often painted in miniature, or drawn to be printed lithographically, portrait subjects included:

  • Jacob Perkins, inventor[24]
  • Stephen Salisbury[25]
  • James Tilton, physician[17]
  • John Webster[26]
  • Samuel Porter Williams[21]

Edwards' friends and associates included Thomas Robbins.[27] "James Kidder [1793-1837] and Thomas Edwards shared a studio in Boston in 1831."[28] Students included E.M. Carpenter.[29]

He died in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1869.[30]


  1. ^ a b Boston Daily Advertiser, Oct. 17, 1820
  2. ^ "Landscape, flower and figure drawing, taught privately, or at his rooms, where his terms may be known." Cf. Boston Recorder, Nov. 18, 1820
  3. ^ "Thomas Edwards, an artist who lived in Boston and Worcester. His name appears in the Worcester directories as an artist from 1859-1868"--catalog of the American Antiquarian Society, Drawings Collection, Box 9. Retrieved 04-18-10
  4. ^ Smithsonian American Art Museum. Thomas Edwards. Retrieved 04-19-10
  5. ^ Boston Directory. 1823.
  6. ^ "Portrait and miniature painter, &c. ... Designs made for engravers, &c &c." Cf. Boston Daily Advertiser, Sept. 23, 1823
  7. ^ Boston Directory. 1832.
  8. ^ Boston Almanac. 1847
  9. ^ Boston Directory. 1848, 1851, 1852.
  10. ^ See numerous drawings in the collection of the Boston Athenaeum, by "Thomas Edwards, fl.1820-1856." Retrieved 04-19-10
  11. ^ William Dunlap. A history of the rise and progress of the arts of design in the United States, Volume 3. C.E. Goodspeed & Co., 1918; p.298.
  12. ^ 5th exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, 1847. Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1848.
  13. ^ Smithsonian. Pre-1877 Art Exhibition Catalogue Index. Retrieved 04-18-10
  14. ^ Bulletin of the New England Art Union, no. 1, 1852.
  15. ^ Boston Daily Atlas, April 21, 1855.
  16. ^ D. Stauffer. Lithographic portraits of Albert Newsam. Pennsylvania magazine of history and biography, Volume 24, 1900; p.267-268.
  17. ^ a b c d e Boston Athenaeum. Retrieved 04-19-10
  18. ^ William H. Whitmore, "Abel Bowen," Bostonian Society Publications, I, 1887.
  19. ^ Frank Weitenkampf. American graphic art. H. Holt and Company, 1912; p.184.
  20. ^ Georgia Barnhill. The Introduction and Early Use of Lithography in the United States. 67th IFLA Council and General Conference, August 16–25, 2001.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g WorldCat. Edwards, Thomas 1795-1869. Retrieved 04-19-10
  22. ^ Smithsonian. R.M. Copeland. Retrieved 2011-04-19
  23. ^ Boston Monthly Magazine v.1 no.12, 1826
  24. ^ Boston Monthly Magazine v.1 no.11, 1826
  25. ^ Alice Van Leer Carrick. Shades of our ancestors: American profiles and profilists. Little, Brown, and Company, 1928
  26. ^ Don Shelton. American Miniature Portraits (blog). Edwards, Thomas - portrait of John Webster. Retrieved 04-18-10
  27. ^ According to the editor of Robbins' diary, when Robbins visited Boston in 1832, he "dined at Mr. Edwards's in Fayette Street." Cf. Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D., 1796-1854, Volume 2. Boston: Thomas Todd, printer, 1887. Ed. by Tarbox.
  28. ^ WorldCat. Rev. Jedediah [i.e., Jedidiah] Morse, D.D. Retrieved 04-19-10
  29. ^ Clara Erskine Clement Waters, Laurence Hutton. Artists of the nineteenth century and their works: A handbook containing two thousand and fifty biographical sketches, 5th ed. Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1889; p.121.
  30. ^ Smithsonian. Thomas Edwards. Retrieved 04-18-10

Further reading

  • Catalogue of Pictures in the Gallery of Paintings, at the First Exhibition, Providence, R.I. August 1, 1829. Works by Thomas were included in the show.
  • Catalogue of the First Semi-Annual Exhibition of Paintings, in the Gallery of the Massachusetts Academy of Fine Arts, No. 37 1-2 Tremont Row. Boston. Boston: Printed by Dutton and Wentworth, No. 37, Congress Street. 1853. Works by Thomas were included in the show.
  • Alice Van Leer Carrick. Shades of our ancestors: American profiles and profilists. Little, Brown, and Company, 1928.

External links