Chester Harding

Chester Harding

Harding, Chester, 1792-1866, American portrait painter, b. Conway, Mass. He worked as an itinerant portrait painter long enough to enable him to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Design. Later he practiced in St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Boston and had three years of artistic and social success in London. On returning to the United States he became the fashionable painter of Boston. His principal portraits are those of Daniel Webster (one in the Bar Association, New York City, and one in the Cincinnati Art Mus.); John Randolph (Corcoran Gall.); as well as effective characterizations of Chief Justice Marshall, Henry Clay, and Washington Allston.

Chester Harding (September 1, 1792 - April 1, 1866), American portrait painter, was born at Conway, Massachusetts.

Brought up in the wilderness of New York state, Harding, as a lad of splendid physique, standing over 6 feet 3 inches, marched as a drummer with the militia to the St Lawrence in 1813. He became subsequently chairmaker, peddler, inn-keeper, and house-painter, painting signs in Pittsburg, Pa., and eventually going on the road, self-taught, as an itinerant portrait painter. From 1826-1830, he resided in Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts, in what became known as the Chester Harding House, a National Historic Landmark which now houses the Boston Bar Association.

He made enough money to take him to the schools at the Philadelphia Academy of Design, and he soon became proficient enough to gain a competency, so that later he went to England and set up a studio in London. There he met with great success, painting royalty and the nobility, and, despite the lackings of an early education and social experience, he became a favourite in all circles. Returning to the United States, he settled in Boston and painted portraits of many of the prominent men and women of his time.

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