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Julia Townsend Marsh


An oil on canvas portrait painting of Julia Townsend Marsh by American artist William Sydney Mount (1807 - 1868).  This work, dated April 13, 1860, was a commission for one of Staten Island's most eminent families. Julia Townsend married Nathaniel Marsh in 1848. Nathaniel, a prominent businessman, held a number of important positions, culminating with the presidency of the New York and Erie Railroad Company. Upon her death at the age of seventy-five in 1898, the Staten Islander reported, "Mrs. Marsh represented all that is oldest, most respected and most solid in Staten Island society... Every family of note and of influence was represented, and the best of Staten Island met at the bier of the most eminent woman of Staten Island."

William Sydney Mount was not a prolific portrait painter, specializing rather in genre scenes of idealized rural life painted primarily on Long Island where he was a long time resident. He resisted the lucrative income of portraiture to pursue his interest in painting the social scene around him. He did not search out the wealthy or elite as subjects, but felt one should, "...never paint for the few, but for the many." This portrait is a late work by Mount. He recorded working on the painting after completing a portrait of a child for the Marsh family in February of 1860. That portrait was painted from a drawing made after the child's death. The portrait of the child is in the collection of the Museum at Stony Brook.

Artist: William Sydney Mount (1807 - 1868)

Title: Julia Townsend Marsh

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dates: 1860

Dimensions: 30 in. x 25 in.

Signature/Inscription: Signed and dated; Reverse

Culture: American

Accession Number: A1966.28.1

Credit: Gift of Julian J. Aberbach and J. Jean Aberbach by exchange

Tags: 19th century, american, canvas, julia townsend marsh, mount, oil, painting, portrait, staten island, william sydney mount, woman