Historical Society sees original painting of Redd family portraits |


The Madison County Historical Society had a special guest when they presented their November program.

The woman arrived at the Richmond branch of the Madison County Library, wearing a 19th-century white dress. Her brown hair was tied back in a bun with curly locks hanging down.

She was transported by Kentucky historians Sharon and Mack Cox, who own her portrait, painted by the famous Matthew Harris Jouett. On Thursday evening, Mack Cox and his wife Sharon brought the painting and exhibited it to members of historical society before recounting the story of “An American History: Portraits of the Redd Family” in detail.

The Cox couple own this historic painting, along with eight other famous Kentucky artists, Jouett and Oliver Frazer.

“As you know, Sharon and I are collectors, and every time we find items, we do research,” Mack Cox told the audience. “Sometimes the research can turn into an epic journey and that was the case with this painting by Rebecca Redd.”

Matthew Harris Jouett was Kentucky’s most famous artist, according to Cox. Jouett was also Redd’s brother-in-law, who plays a big part in the family’s history.

Oliver Frazer, who was a generation later, was Kentucky’s most important artist of his day, he said. Jouett’s niece married Frazer, and their daughter married Jouett’s nephew. They lived in Eothen, a federal home in Lexington, where they assembled family paintings of the two artists which hung in Eothen from around 1905 to 1934 and are called the Redd Family Paintings, an American art gallery featuring the work of two important southern artists.

Cox’s graphic-rich lecture told the story of these paintings, from their creation to the present day.

The Redd Family Portraits tell the story of the marriages, mentorship, and geography that intertwined the lives of Jouett (1788-1827) and Oliver Frazer (1808-1864) and their descendants. Cox recounted the stories, journeys and adventures of these paintings as they passed from the original owners to the present day against the backdrop of war, financial crises and cultural revolutions in American history to return to their space. original creation in Kentucky.

The story begins with Jouett, born in Mercer County, in April 1788, the second son of Captain John “Jack” Jouett, Jr. (Paul Revere of the South) and his wife Sarah “Sally” Robards.

According to Mack Cox, Jouett was educated at Transylvania College in Lexington. After graduating from Transylvania, Jouett studied law with George M. Bibb, Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeal. Jouett returned to Lexington about a year after starting his studies with Bibb and began practicing law. Shortly after arriving in Fayette County, he married Margaret “Peggy” Henderson Allen on May 25, 1812.

The same year, war was declared with England and Jouett entered the Third Mounted Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers enlisting as 1st Lieutenant in the 28th United States Infantry Regiment, eventually reaching the rank of Captain. . He held this rank until his resignation from the army on January 20, 1815, according to the Maison Jouett historical site.

The established painter returned to Lexington and in 1816 left for Boston to study portrait painting under the direction of famous portrait painter Gilbert Stuart.

Shortly after the start of his studies, Jouett was recognized as the best portrait painter west of the Alleghany Mountains. Jouett maintained several studios including one in Lexington on Short Street, between the Northern Bank and the residence of the late DA Sayre. However, in 1825 Jouett moved his studio from Short Street to North Upper Street. It was in this North Upper Street studio that the Marquis de Lafayette sat for Jouett when he made his grand tour across the United States, according to the Jouett Historic Site website. In addition to this painting, some notable portraits painted by Jouett are those of Henry Clay, Alexander John Mitchell, Jr. and Martha Bell Mitchell (children), Dr. Horace Holley, Major Morrison, Governor Letcher, John J. Crittenden, Isaac Shelby , and a full-length portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, now owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and on display in the Old State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Jouett also painted portraits of several members of his family, including his wife, two brothers, a sister and his mother.

Jouett was replaced as painter by Oliver Frazer (1808-1864), the most famous of his generation. They were linked by Jouett’s wife, Peggy Allen (1795-1873), who had two sisters. Elizabeth Allen (circa 1792-1840) married Dr AJ Mitchell, and their daughter, Martha Bell Mitchell (1816-1903), grew up to marry Oliver Frazer, according to The Decorative Arts Trust. Jouett painted Martha and her Brother (her niece and nephew) in 1826, but died before its completion. She was painted again in 1849 by Oliver Frazer (her husband) with two of their children.

Jouett and Frazer lived on small neighboring farms just north of Lexington, with their homes about 300 feet apart. Frazer bought his house from Jouett’s other sister-in-law, Rebecca Allen Redd (1803-1866). Jouett painted the Three Allen Sisters and gave a landscape painting of his house to Rebecca Allen painted around 1818. Jouett had two studios, one in Lexington and one at his home, which was in the wing protruding from the left side of his house. house in the painting. It was a large room, open to the rafters with a skylight and large windows for lighting.

With both families at home, their collection of paintings has given the Eothen House a special artistic mystique.

Rebecca Allen Redd was married to Captain William Allen Redd and her four sons moved to Lafayette County, Missouri in 1857. During the Civil War, her son Oliver Frazer Redd became a captain in the Confederacy, serving as aide-de-camp to the General Jo Shelby. . Shelby’s wife, Nancy Elizabeth, and their son Orville lived with Mrs. Redd for much of the war.

Throughout the lives of families, the paintings were sold, passed on after deaths and through marriages – but were always encouraged by the family to keep the portraits that held families together – together.

In a nearly hour-long presentation, Cox spoke about each artist’s family, portraits, painting style, and how each piece has moved from coast to coast and found its own. path together and in the possession of the Cox family.

Before the Cox family acquired the portraits, they were passed on to Rick Han, a descendant of the Redds who lives in California.

“In his own words, Rick was raised believing that portraits of Redd were a part of his heart and soul, and nodded in front of his grandparents and great-great-grandparents,” said himself. Cox recalls.

When Han was due to receive the paintings, they were shipped on September 11, 2001, narrowly missing the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The portraits arrived unharmed in Han California. However, he did think about the future and how he wanted the portraits of Redd to be together in Kentucky and in the public eye.

Fishing for this person, he made a post on Ebay in 2011 with impossible terms. Mack Cox saw the post, offered alternatives to his post, and asked if he had any other articles from Kentucky.

He did. He had four portraits and wanted to speak with Cox. After Han Google searched Mack Cox’s name, he found an article that showed the Cox family already owned a painting that his cousin had sold. It was a painting by his grandparents, who had always taught Han to “Keep Portraits Together.”

“He believed our meeting on Ebay was divine intervention,” Cox said Thursday. “We came to an agreement and the paintings were sent back to Kentucky in a wooden box.”

Since the paintings arrived in Kentucky, the Cox family has made it their goal to share art with the public. The paintings have been shared within the Hopewell Museum in Paris, the Bluegrass Trust and Antiques Garden Show, the Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, the Speed ​​Art Museum, the Jack Jouette House and finally the Madison County Historical Society.

“Redd’s paintings speak louder as a group than they do individually,” Cox said. “So we chased them and now have nine. Matthew Harris Jouett’s family and Oliver Frazer’s personal art – two important Southern artists – they’ve traveled from the Bluegrass to the Midwest, from the Mid-Atlantic to New York. England From coast to coast to California and Kentucky They’ve known war and peace They whirled around a magical place called Eothen, the home of Oliver Frazer and neighbor of Matthew Harris Jouett. From 1905 to 1934 they were assembled there by the descendants of the two artists. It was such a picturesque place, the visitor upon seeing it for the first time was struck by its relevance as the abode of an artist. “

While the board members were in awe of Rebecca Redd’s portrayal, they were also in awe of Cox’s presentation. MCHS board member Donna Dodd Terrell said she was moved to tears.

“It moved me to tears,” Terrell said. “I was sitting here (wiping her eyes), glad I was in the back row. It was lovely, just lovely.”

Sharon and Mack Cox were also honored prior to the presentation with the James J. Shannon Award from MCHS.

The Cox family is both originally from Kentucky and graduated from EKU. They live in Madison County after retiring in 2017. For many years they collected and documented early Kentucky antiques, their collection having been described as one of the finest assemblages of Kentucky Antebellum material.


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