October 15, 2014
Lost or destroyed paintings are perhaps the most painful reminders of the importance of photoarchives and similar repositories of images and accompanying metadata. An unfortunate example is this painting of a young bride. The wedding portrait of Mrs. James Erwin Yeatman (the former Angelica Charlotte Thompson) had been commissioned by her husband, a businessman from St. Louis who founded the Yeatman-Woods Bank of Nashville, Tennessee, to commemorate their marriage on September 11, 1838. The portrait remained in the family until March 1955, when it was destroyed by fire in the family home in Glenco, Missouri. According to information supplied by one of the former owners, the painting had been executed in Nashville by one C. Mygand, about whom little is known; it is fortunate that this rare record of his work survives.
Interestingly, the subject was the granddaughter of Angelica Kauffmann Peale (1775–1853), the eldest daughter of the American artist Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827). Although Angelica Kauffmann Peale did not become a professional artist like many of her sisters, she did study drawing with her father and was an accomplished amateur. (One wonders if she also commemorated this happy event in the life of her namesake.) The groom, James Erwin Yeatman, also enjoyed an unusual distinction: he apparently served as the model for Stephen A. Brice, the hero of Winston Churchill's bestseller of 1901, The Crisis.