Arthur Miles – Portrait of Mrs. Waddell – 1867
Charlotte Augusta Southwick, daughter of Jonathan and Lucretia Southwick, was born in New York City in 1813. Jonathan Southwick was a successful New York merchant who had accumulated a large fortune in business. Charlotte’s lineage can be traced back to some of the most distinguished U.S. Colonial families, the Washingtons and the Elys.
Charlotte was twice married. Her first husband was Mr. William McMurray who died but a few months after their marriage, leaving her a widow at the age of eighteen. She remarried soon after in 1842 to William Coventry Waddell (1802-1884), a wealthy lawyer and financier who held various political positions in the State Department during the administration of President Andrew Jackson, and in 1832 was appointed U.S. marshal in New York. Widower of Julia Ann Cobb, Mr. Waddell had ties to some of England’s noble families, being directly descended from Lord Daubeney, of the time of Henry VII and the earls of Coventry. A few years following his marriage to Charlotte, he built a new residence on Murray Hill, a Gothic Revival mansion occupying an entire block at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Forty-seventh Street. Mr. and Mrs. Waddell entertained the country’s celebrities, and the most distinguished visitors from foreign lands. They also spent summers at Saratoga Springs, the fashionable resort of the times.
A social leader in the broadest sense in the early 1850s, Mrs. Waddell was the first American woman to establish a New York Salon. Before the era of Caroline Schermerhorn Astor and Mamie Fish, Charlotte Waddell dominated as the queen of Manhattan society. John W. Jordan wrote in 1911: "No record is to be found which deals with the social history of New York City in the nineteenth century as a whole, and which does not pay homage to this Salon and its hostess". To the drawing-room of this most charming and magnetic of women came Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Washington Irving, Thackeray, and many others who in their literary, artistic or diplomatic careers had become famous. In the panic of the monetary crisis of 1857 Mr. Waddell lost his fortune and he was compelled to sacrifice his beautiful home on Murray Hill, moving to a residence two miles north of Newburgh on the Hudson. A few years later, they eventually retrieved a portion of their fortune. retaining her social prestige, Mrs. Waddell continued to make her hospitable home a recognized intellectual center. After a prolonged and brave battle against an ovarian tumor, she died in 1891 at her home at 340 W. 43rd Street, New York City. She is buried in the family vault in downtown Manhattan’s Trinity Churchyard.
Arthur Miles was a British Victorian era portrait and genre painter born in Lambeth (South London) 10 January 1827 and died in Stroud Green (North London) 22 June 1904. He was the son of Thomas Miles, a composer and music teacher, and brother of Leonidas Clint Miles (1839-1898), a landscape painter. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy between 1851-1872, at The British Institution between 1862-1867 and at the Royal Society of British Artists between 1859 and 1880. One of his works is in the National Gallery, London.
Sources: Benezit, Dictionary of Artists; The Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940; The Dictionary of Victorian Painters; British and Irish Paintings in Public Collections; Kurt of Gerolstein: Arthur Miles, Victorian Artist (2021). Emma Willard and her pupils, Fifty years of Troy female seminary, 1822-1872 (1898); The Queens of American Society (1873); John W. Jordan, Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania (1911); The Old Merchants of New York City, Vol. 4, Walter Barrett, 1863; S. Waddell-Smith.
Artist: Artur Miles (1827-1904).
Signed and dated in the lower right corner.
Medium: Oil on canvas.
Condition: Very good condition. Relined and restored professionally in the early 1980s.
Dimensions: 76 x 64 cm. / 30 x 25 ¼ in.
Frame: 95 x 83 cm. / 37 ½ x 32 ¾ in. Gilt wood, oval aperture, very good condition.
Provenance: Private Collection, Ottawa.
1867 Painting Portrait American Socialite Mrs. Coventry Waddell, Arthur Miles
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