Miniature oval watercolor portrait of Thomas Martin of Nashville, Tennessee (born c. 1780-d. 1835) at about 40 years of age, thinning blonde-grey hair and blue eyes, wearing a dark coat and white shirt and tie. Gilt metal frame with vacant reserve under glass en verso, later chain. Unsigned. 2 1/2" H x 2" W sight, 3" H x 2 1/2" W framed. Circa 1820. Provenance: a Nashville, Tennessee estate. Note: A memoir written by Martha Philips Martin and handed down in the family relates many interesting details of her life with Mr. Martin, including their friendship with Andrew and Rachel Jackson, meeting the Marquis de Lafayette, and numerous Indian encounters during their travels. According to her memoir, Thomas Martin was born in Ireland and raised in County Down. He left Ireland during the Rebellion and emigrated to New York in 1800. He found his way to Clarksville, Tennessee, where he became a successful merchant, and in about 1810, married Martha "Patsy" Philips, daughter of wealthy farmer Joseph Philips and Milbrey Horn of Nashville. Martin and his bride moved to Louisiana, where they lived in a community of other Tennesseeans who had come to seek their fortunes as planters, including three Sumner brothers, and a Dr. Henning. They called the area where they lived "Irish Bend". Shortly before the Battle of New Orleans, the Martins returned to Tennessee. Thomas Martin purchased a plantation a mile and a half from Nashville on Gallatin Pike, which would become known as Locust Grove. The house, which still stands today but has been moved to Tyne Blvd. in Nashville, is known as the place where Tennessee Governor Sam Houston spent the second night of his notoriously short marriage to the much younger Eliza Allen. Setting out for Nashville the morning after the wedding, they were forced by a snowstorm to take refuge at their friends' home, Locust Grove. Author Louise Littleton Davis, writing in FRONTIER TALES OF TENNESSEE, writes: "Next morning, as Mrs. Martin stood at a window watching a snowball fight between her two young daughters and Governor Houston, Eliza came down the stairs. 'It seems as if Gen. Houston is getting the worst of the snowballing,' Mrs. Martin greeted Eliza. 'You had better go out and help him'. To which, to Mrs. Martin's utter amazement, Eliza calmly answered, 'I wish they would kill him. I wish with all my heart that they would kill him'". The newlyweds separated a few weeks afterward, and Governor Houston departed to Texas. CONDITION: Frame appears to have once had a clasp, now removed. Painting in very good condition.
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