Miniature Portrait of Isaac V. W. Dutcher

Image of miniature portrait of Isaac V.W. Ducher, watercolor on ivory in engraved gold case, Phillip Oscar Jenkins, 1841
by Phillip Oscar Jenkins, watercolor on ivory, 1841
This very fine miniature portrait is an example of a personal keepsake that could be carried or worn as jewelry as a memento of a friend or loved one in the days prior to photography. The artist, Philip Jenkins, was living in Kentucky at the time this portrait was thought to have been painted. The sitter, Isaac Dutcher, had recently moved to Quincy, Illinois, in 1838 from New York. 
How did a Kentucky artist find a client from Quincy, Illinois? Itinerant painters like Jenkins would travel great distances to arrange sittings, following recommendations and leads from prior clients. Most likely the connection to Illinois was through his wife’s brother, who lived in central Illinois. Philip and Jemina Jenkins visited often, painting many of the family members and presumably picking up other commissions for portraits. However the commission came about, we have this portrait of a young and stylish businessman, newly arrived in Illinois, painted by another young man, a confident, traveling painter from Kentucky, out to make his place in the world.  

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