Major William S. Dallam and
Letitia (Meredith) Dallam
For several years the couple resided in the Senator John Pope House–often called the “Pope Villa”–designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe. In 1819 they entertained President James Monroe (1758-1831) at the Pope House during his tour of the Southern states.
ARTIST: Samuel H. Dearborn (c.1786-1852) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and trained as an engraver with Abel Bowen (1790-1850). Leaving Boston, he headed west, where he painted miniature profile portraits in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Northern Ohio, and the Kentucky Bluegrass. In 1809 he advertised in the Kentucky Gazette that “the low price of two dollars which he has for small likenesses on paper, it is expected will induce many to substitute them for blank profiles.”
In 1811 he stabbed a fellow resident of his boarding house in Frankfort, Kentucky. He fled the Commonwealth, getting as far as Upper Canada. Caught and returned to Kentucky to stand trail for murder, he escaped from prison. This time he was more successful at evading the law. By 1818 he had returned to Boston, changed his name to Nathaniel, and returned to his roots as a commercial engraver.
FRAME: Original carved and gilt frame with églomisé matte.
RELATED OBJECTS: MESDA has several objects owned at Winton by Major William and Letitia Dallam of Lexington, Kentucky, on view. These include a painting by George Beck (ACC 5740) and a fancy painted sidechair (5691.2).
REFERENCES: Estill Curtis Pennington, “Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802-1920” (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2011)
DESCRIPTION: Rectangular frame with oval shapes around two profile portraits. The glass framing the work is painted black and has gilt decoration. On the left is a silhouette of a man facing right, wearing a black jacket and white shirt with brown hair. On the right is a woman facing left, wearing a pink dress with white collar, a black beaded necklace and wears her hair up. Below both portraits is the artist signature.