Kentucky Artists by Martha Grassham
While Kentucky's sons and daughters have enriched the field of science by
inventions and discoveries, they have not neglected the fine arts.
Among the painters, Matthew H. Jouett of Mercer County from early childhood
displayed a talent by drawing sketches with a lead pencil. He became a pupil of
Gilbert Stuart, who always called him "Kentucky." Jouett, on the occasion of La
Fayette's visit, painted the noted general, and from that sketch painted the
life-sized one that hangs in the State House. His pictures were on exhibition at
the World's Fair at Chicago and compared favorably with those of the best
foreign painters. It is said that Thomas S. Noble, another native of Kentucky
who has won fame with his brush, exclaimed after viewing Jouett's portraits,
"Rembrandt is next to God and Jouett is next to Rembrandt." The Honorable
Charles Summers, who had made a study of foreign artists, on seeing one of
Jouett's portraits, examined it closely and exclaimed, "What a glorious Van Dyck!"
Richard Jouett Menefee made a catalogue a few years ago of three hundred and
thirty-four paintings by his grandfather.
Matthew H. Jouett.
In Frankfort was born another boy, Joseph H. Bush, whose talents at an early
age caused him to use his mother's hearth and a piece of charcoal to sketch a
profile of his father. Among his noted works are portraits of General Zachary
Taylor, Benjamin W. Dudley, and Governor John Adair.
John Grimes, who lived many years in this state, is noted for a portrait,
"The Country Lad," and "Suicide," a composition. Oliver Frazer first saw the
light in Fayette County. He studied under Jouett and Thomas Sully, and later at
Paris, Florence, Berlin, and Ludlow, where he and P.R. Healy, fellow students,
became fast friends.
Though he was born in Pennsylvania, so much of the work of Louis Morgan was
done in Kentucky that we class him with her artists. His "Simon Kenton" was the
most prominent picture at an exhibition in the Academy of Fine Arts at
As a boy, Samuel W. Price also exhibited artistic talent; among his portraits
being "Old King Solomon" and one of Chief Justice George Robertson. Among his
works in composition are "Caught Napping" and "Gone Up." There are also W.C.
Allen, Mrs. Eliza Brown, Aaron H. Corwine, Paul Sawyier, Nevill Cain, and others
who have done creditable work.
The poet-sculptor, Joel T. Hart, when only five years old modeled figures of
animals in clay, molded a button out of pewter, and carved in wood. His first
work of note was a bust from life of General Cassius M. Clay; among other noted
men of whom he made busts were General Andrew Jackson, the Honorable John H.
Crittenden, Robert Wickliffe, and the Reverend Alexander Campbell. His statue of
Henry Clay now stands on the capitol grounds at Richmond. Louisville and New
Orleans each ordered a statue of Clay. After that came Hart's masterpiece,
"Woman Triumphant," which stood for years at Lexington, Kentucky.
The Kentucky legislature appropriated twelve hundred dollars for removing the
remains of Joel T. Hart from Florence, Italy, and reinterring them at Frankfort.
Although born in California, Mrs. Mary Anderson de Navarro, an artist in
another line, spent her girlhood in Louisville, so Kentuckians have ever claimed
her as "Our Mary." Her brilliant stage career is known to all.