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John and Mary Stiles

 

John Stiles

 

JOHN WILLIAM STILES (1777-1836), c. 1825
Eliza Goodridge (1798-1882)
watercolor on ivory
John William Stiles: 3 5/8 x 2 3/4 (9.2075 x 6.9850)
Bequest of Dwight Foster Dunn, 1937
Weis #107
Hewes #107

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MARY MACCARTY STILES (1775-1838), c. 1825
Eliza Goodridge (1798-1882)
watercolor on ivory
Mary Maccarty Stiles: 3 5/8 x 2 5/8 (9.2075 x 6.6675)
Bequest of Dwight Foster Dunn, 1937
Weis #108
Hewes #108

More information

 

Mary Stiles

 

In 1821, John and Mary Stiles and their two daughters Lydia and Mary moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, where Mrs. Stiles's parents lived. Mary Maccarty Stiles was the granddaughter of the Reverend Thaddeus Maccarty and her family was part of Worcester's social elite. The couple probably commissioned these miniatures around 1825 from Eliza Goodridge, who had known the family in Templeton and remained friendly with Lydia Stiles (Foster) for most of her adult life. Goodridge was at the beginning of her career when she painted these portraits, and the corrections to Mr. Stiles's shoulder and alterations in the position of his arm reveal her struggles depicting human anatomy.

John Stiles was born in Keene, New Hampshire, and lived in Templeton, Massachusetts, after his marriage to Mary Maccarty in 1801. There, he became a successful merchant and served as town clerk and selectman. From 1810 to 1813, Stiles was the town's representative at the Massachusetts General Court. His personal and business correspondence, including letters to his wife and to his political colleagues, are preserved in the American Antiquarian Society's manuscript collection.(1) Stiles maintained a library that included printed ephemera relating to American history. In 1822 he donated two early broadsides to the Society, including a 1766 denunciation of the Stamp Act and an announcement for a 1779 political convention.(2) In the twentieth century, a descendent gave several volumes from John Stiles's personal library, including Salma Hale's Annals of the Town of Keene (1826) and Aaron Hall's A Sermon Against Profane Swearing (1790).

The portrait of Mary Maccarty Stiles shows her at around fifty years of age wearing a sheer bonnet and patterned shawl. Her death, about ten years later, was caused by a runaway horse and was described in detail in the Worcester newspaper: '[T]he horse rushed furiously from the stable and up the avenue into the main street, crossed over from the east side to the west side-walk, turned down the side street amidst the people walking there.... [H]is breast came in contact with an aged lady, Mrs. Mary Stiles, who was dashed upon the brick pavement, the horse falling upon her.'(3)



1)   John William Stiles Papers 1792-1838, American Antiquarian Society Manuscript Collection.

2)   See BDSDS 1766 'Countryman' and BDSDS 1779F 'Proceedings,' American Antiquarian Society Broadside Collection.

3)   Massachusetts Spy, August 8, 1838, p. 3.

John Stiles Mary Stiles

 

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