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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: George Hewitt Cushman, American, 1814–1876
Subject: Martha Wetherill Young, American, 1833–1900

Martha Wetherill Young (1833–1900)

ca. 1852

Watercolor on ivory

3 1/16 × 2 1/2 in. (7.8 × 6.4 cm)
Gift of Miss Alice Cushman
1940.46

In its luminous style, this portrait of Martha Wetherill looks back to earlier Federal-period miniatures. Wetherill was a member of a prominent Free Quaker family in Philadelphia. In 1852, she married William Washington Young (1824–1859), with whom she later had four children. Perhaps their union occasioned the commission of this miniature, painted by her brother-in-law, George Hewitt Cushman.

Born in Connecticut, Cushman received early instruction in drawing from Washington Allston and studied as an engraver in Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston. In 1842, he moved to Philadelphia, where for the next twenty years he engraved bank notes and book illustrations in addition to painting miniatures and oil portraits, mainly of family and friends. Cushman first exhibited miniatures in 1842 at the Artists’ Fund Society and continued to show his work for the next two decades in both Philadelphia and New York. In 1849, after several years of courtship, Cushman married Susan Wetherill, a cousin of Martha. The Wetherill family established close ties with Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of the abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).

Geography: 
Made in United States
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Miniatures - Jewelry
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.