This portrait of Daniel Webster is expertly rendered, yet somehow fails to capture the power and intensity of the Massachusetts senator. Webster?s impassioned oratory was legendary, and it was intensified by his unforgettable physical presence. Dark in complexion, with penetrating eyes–often likened to glowing coals–he had an electrifying effect on anyone who saw him. One 19th-century journalist wrote, "The God-like Daniel...had broad shoulders, a deep chest, and a large frame....The head, the face, the whole presence of Webster, was kingly, majestic, godlike."
This Webster image is part of a litho-graphic series of famous individuals produced by Elijah C. Middleton, of the renowned 19th-century Cincinnati lithographic firm Middleton, Strobridge and Company. The portraits were printed on embossed canvas-like paper and varnished in order to simulate an oil painting. This process was enormously popular until the early 1880s; Middleton?s oil-portrait prints of Henry Clay (38.00223.001), Stephen A. Douglas (38.00224.001), and Andrew Jackson (38.00222.001) are also in the Senate collection.
1. Oliver Dyer, Great Senators of the United States Forty Years Ago (1848 and 1849), (1889; reprint, Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1972), 251-253.