Joseph Steward

Joseph Steward

Joseph Steward (1753-1822) was a prominent American artist.

Early Years

Joseph Steward was born on July 6, 1753. He was the son of Joseph and Jane (Wilson) Steward of Upton, Massachusetts. Stewart went to Dartmouth College, graduating in 1780.

Joseph Steward continued his studies under the guidance of Reverend Doctor Levi Hart of Preston, Connecticut. By May of 1786 Steward had completed his studies and was licensed to preach. Then, while living in Newport, Rhode Island, he became seriously ill. His illness prevented him from maintaining his own parish. It is not known for certain what ailment Steward had but one source suggests it was bronchitis. [Harlow, Thompson R. “The Life and Trials of Joseph Steward.” ‘’The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin’’ 46.4 (1981): 97-164. ] Steward lived for over 2 years in Newport, RI while being nursed back to health.

In 1788, Joseph Steward moved to Hampton, CT. The town’s reverend, Samuel Mosely, had recently become gravely ill; Steward filled-in on the pulpit during Mosely’s illness. While in Hampton, Steward met Sarah Mosely, the daughter of Samuel Mosely.

Joseph Steward and Sarah Mosely married on May 31, 1789. Steward continued to fill-in for the elder Mosely, but attempts to find him a permanent placement within the parish were prevented by Steward’s poor health. [Larned, Ellen M. ‘’History of Windham County Connecticut 1760-1880’’. 1880. Ed. Leigh Grossman. Pomfret: Swordsmith Productions, 2000. ]

While living in Hampton, CT, the Stewards had 3 children: Sally (Sarah) born in 1790, Joseph born 1792, and Mariah born 1796.

Hartford Years

Soon after Mariah’s birth, the family moved to Hartford, Connecticut. In 1797 Steward became a Deacon of the First Church of Hartford. He held this position until his death.

Steward’s son, Joseph, died in October of 1798 at the age of 7. They had another daughter, Anna J. in 1799.

Also in 1799, Steward, along with Reverends Nathan Strong and Abel Flint, compiled a hymnal titled The Hartford Selection of Hymns. This was a successful book and had 8 editions published by 1821. [Harlow, Thompson R. “Joseph Steward and the Hartford Museum.” ‘’The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin’’ 18.1-2 (1953): 2-16. ]

In December of 1816, Doctor Nathan Strong, pastor of the First Church of Hartford, died. Steward filled as pastor during Strong’s illness and for nine months until a permanent replacement was found.

Joseph Steward died on April 15, 1822 at the age of 69. He was survived by his wife Sarah and 2 daughters, Sarah M. and Anna J. His will distributed his worldly goods between these three. He is buried in the North Cemetery in Hartford, CT (Section F, Lot 452).

Joseph Steward the Artist

Joseph Steward was an artist and is known to have been painting portraiture by 1788, when he was living in Hampton, CT. One of Steward’s earliest known works was his portrait of Samuel Gray (c.1781). Steward seems to have painted primarily in oils and pastels; the portraits of Captain James Stedman and his wife, completed in 1788, are both pastels. The Captain’s portrait was painted posthumously; he had died on September 7, 1788. [Harlow “The Life and Trials of Joseph Steward.” ] Steward did not always paint from life; there are many example of him copying other works, including miniatures. For example, his double portrait of Nathaniel Green and Thomas Shewbrick, completed in 1792, was created by copying two works by Jonathan Trumbull. Trumbull was in Hartford during the fall of 1792 and numerous sources suggest that Steward studied with him at that time.

In 1793 Steward was commissioned by Dartmouth College to create full length portraits of John Phillips, a soon-to-be retired member of the college’s board, and Eleazar Wheelock, the school’s founder. The portraits were completed by August of 1796. This was Steward’s largest and best documented commission.

On June 6, 1796, a notice appeared in the ‘’ [The Hartford Courant|Connecticut Courant] ’’ in which Joseph Steward advertised that he had opened a, “Painting Room in the State House.” The Connecticut General Assembly had given Steward permission to use a room in the newly completed capitol’s third floor as a painting studio. Later advertisements state he was painting portraits and creating profiles at his museum.

The Hartford Museum

In June of 1797 Joseph Steward opened a museum in his Painting Room at the State House (known today as the Old State House in Hartford, CT). He regularly used the newspapers to solicit donations for the museum, thank contributors, and advertise his many curiosities on display.

His collection included portraits, wax works, and other curiosities. Natural curiosities included a heron, a hummingbird, crystals, ores, stalactites, petrifactions, sea shells, an elephant, a baboon, a sagacious goat, a dwarf cow, and a two-headed calf; man-made curiosities included a pagoda, and an organ.

In November, 1808, Joseph Steward’s collection of curiosities had outgrown the space available at the Old State House. He moved his museum to a new building, which was located at the southeast corner of Main Street and Talcott Street in Hartford, CT. The new museum officially opened on November 24, 1808. The hours were 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. “except the evening before and after the sabbath” [Harlow “The Life and Trials of Joseph Steward.” This new museum was located within the Joseph Talcott mansion. The mansion was built in 1725 by Governor Joseph Talcott (1725-1741). Steward bought the property from one of Talcott’s descendants. The building stood until 1900 when the property was sold by the Moseley family and the building razed. There are in existence at least two images of the building Steward’s museum was located in. Both images come from the 1890s, long after the building’s use as a museum. One image can be seen [http://www.cthistoryonline.org/cdm-cho/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/cho&CISOPTR=3328&CISOBOX=1&REC=5 here] at [http://www.cthistoryonline.org/cdm-cho/index.html Connecticut History Online] ]

After Joseph Steward’s death in 1822 the museum was relocated to 3 Central Row in Hartford, CT. (Some records indicate the address was 131 State Street, Hartford , CT. This location is the same as 3 Central Row). [Harlow “Joseph Steward and the Hartford Museum.” ] It reopened in the new location on January 6, 1824. Charles Dickerson became the proprietor of the museum at its new location. In 1832, Caleb Wright is known to be the proprietor. The collection remained intact until at least 1840. Some objects from the museum, including a number of portraits, were donated to the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, CT.

Known Portraits by Joseph Steward

# John Avery (1755-1815) c. 1789, Oil on canvas, 19 x 17 in.
# Mrs. John Avery (Lucy Ayer, 1759-1846) c. 1789, Oil on canvas, 19 x 17 in.
# Reverend Benjamin Boardman (1731-1802) 1796, Oil on canvas, 40 x 37.5 in.
# James Bull (1751-1820) Oil on canvas, 29.5 x 26 in.
# Mrs. James Bull (Martha Cllier, 1765-1834) Oil on canvas, 29.5 x 26 in.
# Reverend Asa Burton (1752-1836) c.1800, Oil on canvas, 9 x 6.5 in.
# Mrs. Normand Butler (Patty Olcott, c.1763-1806) Oil on canvas, 29.5 x 26 in.
# General Jonathan Chase (1732-1800) Oil on canvas, 28 x 24 in
# Mrs. Jonathan Chase (Sarah Hall, 1742-1806) Oil on canvas, 28 x 24 in.
# Judge Samuel Chase (1707-1800) c.1790, Oil on canvas, 28.5 x 24.5 in.
# Colonel John Chester (1748/9-1809) Oil on canvas, 43 x 37 in.
# Mrs. John Chester (Elizabeth Huntington, 1757-1834) Oil on canvas, 43 x 37 in.
# Reverend James Cogswell (1719/20-1807) after 1796, Oil on canvas, 43 x 39 in.
# Wheeler Coit (1739-1796) c.1790, Oil on canvas, 20 x 17.5 in.
# Mrs. Wheeler Coit (Sybil Tracy, 1753-1793) c.1790, Oil on canvas, 20 x 17.5 in.
# Jonathan Dwight (1743-1831) Oil on canvas, 29.5 x 26 in.
# Aaron Gaylord (1772-1810) Oil on canvas, 45 x 41 in.
# Richard Goodman (1761-1845) c.1805, Oil on canvas, 47x 39 in.
# Samuel Gray (1751-1836) Pastel, 18 x 16 in.
# Mrs. Samuel Gray (1764-1797) 1784, Oil on canvas, 20x18 in.
# General Nathanael Greene (1742-1786) & Major Thomas Shewbrick [Shubrick] (c. 1756-1810) Double portrait, c.1792, Oil on canvas, 29.5x26 in.
# Ebenezer Grosvenor Jr. (1713-1793) c.1791, Oil on canvas, 29x20 in.
# Mrs. Ebenezer Grosvenor Jr. (Lucy Cheney, 1720-1792) Oil on canvas, 29 x 20 in.
# Lemuel Grosvernor (1752-1833) Oil on wood, 27 x 23 in.
# Mrs. Lemuel Grosvenor (Sarah Perkins, 1771-1831) Oil on wood, 27 x 23 in.
# Colonel Jeremiah Halsey (1743-1829) c.1797, Oil on canvas, 44 x 39 in.
# Reverend Samuel Haven (1727-1806) c.1794, Oil on canvas, 29.5 x 24.5 in.
# Reverend Samuel Haven (1727-1806) Oil on canvas, 31 x 36 in.
# Rufus King (1755-1827) c. 1792, Oil on canvas, 21.5 x 21.5 in.
# John Lawrence (1719-1802) Oil on canvas, 29.5 x 26 in.
# Mrs. Moses Lester (Lydia Lord, 1789-1806?) Oil on wood, 9 x 6.5 in.
# Ebenezer Moseley (1740/41-1825) Oil on canvas.
# Mrs. Ebenezer Moseley (Martha Strong, 1749-1827) Oil on canvas
# Reverend Samuel Moseley (1708-1791) Oil on canvas
# Captain Thomas Newson (c.1739-1810) Oil on canvas, 29 x 25 in.
# Mrs. Thomas Newson (Sarah Dix, 1742-1794) Oil on canvas, 29 x 25 in.
# Jocob Ogden (1749-1825) 1794, Oil on canvas, 29 x 25.5 in.
# Mrs. Jacob Ogden (Jerusha Rockwell, c.1749-1812) 1794, Oil on canvas, 29 x 25.5 in.
# Peter Olcott (1733-1808) Oil on canvas, 29 x 26 in.
# Mrs. Peter Olcott (Sarah Mills, 1737-1810) Oil on canvas, 30 x 26 in.
# William Penn (1644-1718) Oil on canvas, 30.5 x 26 in.
# Reverend Nathan Perkins (1748-1838) c.1800, Oil on canvas, 43 x 28.5 in.
# Dr. John Phillips (1719-1795) 1794, Oil on canvas, 32.5 x 28 in.
# Dr. John Phillips (1719-1795) 1793-96. Oil on canvas, 78 x 68 in.
# Dr. John Phillips (1719-1795) Pastel on paper, 21 x 16 in.
# Judge Jesse Root (1736-1822) Oil on canvas, 48 x 41 in.
# Reverend Gurdon Saltonstall (1666-1724) 1797, Oil on canvas, 42.5 x 40 in.
# Reverend Samuel Stebbins (1751-1821) Pastel on paper, 24 x 19 in.
# Mrs. Samuel Stebbins (Ursula Griswold, c.1761-1831) Pastel on paper, 25 x 19 in.
# Captain James Stedman (1726-1788) c.1788, Pastel on paper, 17 x 16 in.
# Mrs. James Stedman (Hannah Griffin, 1732-1790) Pastel on paper mounted on Canvas, 17 x 16 in.
# Anna Jane Steward (1799-1879) Oil on canvas
# Reverend Joseph Steward (1753-1822) and his daughter Sarah Mosely Steward (1790-1875) double portrait, c.1800, Oil on canvas, 44.5 x 40 in.
# Reverend Nathan Strong Jr. (1748-1816) c.1814, Oil on canvas, 39 x 34 in.
# Ebenezer Tracy (1744-1803) c.1789, Pastel on paper, 20 x 18 in.
# John Treadwell (1745-1823) Oil on canvas, 27 x 23 in.
# George Washington (1732-1799) Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in.
# Reverend Eleazar Wheekock (1711-1779) c.1793, Oil on canvas, 31.5 x 27 in.
# Reverend Eleazar Wheekock (1711-1779) 1793, Oil on canvas, 79 x 70.5 in.
# Maria Malleville Wheelock (1788-1828) c.1793, Oil on canvas, 28.5x 24.5 in.
# Mrs. Elnathan Whitman (Abigail Stanley, 1719-1795) c.1795, Oil on canvas, 40 x 35 in.
# Eleazar Williams (c.1789-1858) c.1806
# Ephraim Williams (1756-1804) Oil on canvas, 35.5 x 26.5 in.
# Mrs. Ephraim Williams (Hepsibeth Phelps, 1765-1837) Oil on canvas, 35.5 x 26.5 in.
# Oliver Wolcott Sr. (1726-1797) after 1797, Oil on canvas, 47.5 x 40.5 in.
# George Wyllys (1710-1796) Oil on canvas, 80 x 60 in.

Known objects in the Hartford Museum

* 350 feet of paintings [ “Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 30 Apr. 1798: 3. ]
* An African chair [“Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 9 October 1805: 1. ]
* An African quiver with poison arrows [‘’ibid’’]
* An air-gun [“Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 27 April 1803: 1. ]
* A large alligator [“Hartford Museum of Curiosities and Paintings.” ‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824. ]
* An armadilla [sic] [“Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 8 May 1805: 2. ]
* A Bengal tiger [‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824]
* Birds and other animals from Japan [“Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 4 May 1804: 4.]
* The head of a wild boar [’’ibid’’]
* A calf and a pig with 2 heads [‘’ibid’’]
* Clothes and other items belonging to Native People [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 27 April 1803]
* Clothes from China and South America [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 4 May 1804]
* A white deer [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 9 October 1805]
* A hairless black dog from Africa [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 4 May 1804]
* Earthen vessels from Peru [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 8 May 1805]
* A figure representing Liberty [“To the Curious.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 11 May 1801]
* The god Bacchus’ shoes [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 8 May 1805]
* Images of little people [“Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 5 Jan. 1801: 3. ]
* Images of the Battle of the Nile, Christopher Columbus arriving in America, and the Death of Abel [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 11 May 1801; ‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824. ]
* An Indian pagoda [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 9 October 1805]
* Likenesses of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas McKean, Napolean Bonaporte, Jean-Paul Marat, Lord Nellon, Thomas Paine, Voltaire & others [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 5 Jan. 1801; ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 11 May 1801; ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 4 May 1804]
* Pieces of a meteorite [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 9 October 1805]
* A chamber organ [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 8 May 1805 ]
* A 234 pound oyster shell [‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824]
* The head and pouch of a pelican [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 8 May 1805]
* A penguin [‘’ibid’’]
* A Physiognotrace, used to cut profiles [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 9 October 1805]
* A porcupine [‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824]
* A seal [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 8 May 1805]
* Marine Shells [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 4 May 1804]
* A ship made of glass [‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824]
* The skin of a large snake [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 27 April 1803]
* The sword from a swordfish and other marine animals [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 4 May 1804; ‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824. ]
* Wax-work figure of George Washington [‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 5 Jan. 1801]
* The rib of a whale [‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824]

References

Bibliography

* Brainerd, John G. C. “The Gallery of Fine Arts.” ‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 May 1825.
* Dickinson, C. B. ”Election Approaching!! Hartford Museum of Curiosities & paintings.” ‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 28 Mar. 1825.
* “Died” ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 23 April 1822 3.3
* Faude, Wilson H. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1026/is_4_160/ai_79030148 “The Restoration Joseph Hartford Museum.”] ‘’The Magazine Antiques’’ 1 Oct. 2001. 6 May 2008.
* French, Henry Willard. [http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=kOpJAAAAMAAJ&dq=%22Art+and+Artists+in+Connecticut%22&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=fl38UjdCiO&sig=ThJiKuP1dvW9sZTLSjnJMSkUPR8 ‘’Art and Artists in Connecticut’’] . Boston: Lee & Shepard, Pub. 1879.
* Harlow, Thompson R. “The Life and Trials of Joseph Steward.” ‘’The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin’’ 46.4 (1981): 97-164.
* Harlow, Thompson R. “Joseph Steward and the Hartford Museum.” ‘’The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin’’ 18.1-2 (1953): 2-16.
* Harlow, Thompson R., "The versatile Joseph Steward, portrait painter and museum proprietor." ‘’The Magazine ANTIQUES’’, vol. 121, no. 1 (January 1982), pp. 303-311.
* “Hartford Museum” ‘’Hartford Times’’ 21 May 1832.
* “Hartford Museum of Curiosities and Paintings.” ‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 26 Jan. 1824.
* “Hartford Museum of Curiosities and Paintings.” ‘’Connecticut Mirror’’ 2 Aug.1824.
* Larned, Ellen M. ‘’History of Windham County Connecticut 1760-1880’’. 1880. Ed. Leigh Grossman. Pomfret: Swordsmith Productions, 2000.
* “Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 30 Apr. 1798: 3.
* “Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 5 Jan. 1801: 3.
* “Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 27 April 1803: 1.
* “Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 4 May 1804: 4.
* “Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 8 May 1805: 2.
* “Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 9 October 1805: 1.
* “Museum.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 4 May 1808: 3.
* “To the Curious.” Classified Ad. ‘’Connecticut Courant’’ 11 May 1801: 2.
* Walker, George Leon. ‘’History of the First Church in Hartford’’. Hartford: Brown & Gross, 1884. 368.

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