Matthew Harris Jouett
American, 1788 – 1827
Portrait of Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor (1799 – 1873), about 1826
Oil on canvas
38 1/8 × 33 1/8 in. (96.8 × 84.1 cm.)
From the Noe Collection, Gift of Bob and Norma Noe, Lancaster, Kentucky 2011.4.1
Gauging a Portrait
What makes a successful portrait? Capturing an acceptable likeness of the model is certainly key. But a great portrait should go beyond that to convey a bit of the personality of the sitter. Look carefully at this painting and think about what makes it a great portrait. Notice Jouett’s subtle handling of light and shadow—from the glints of light along the bridge of the nose to the subtle way shadow defines the soft contours around the mouth. They contribute to the naturalism of the portrait. Look, too, at Colonel Taylor’s posture. He sits upright, but his arm drapes over the back of the chair, adding a degree of informality to an otherwise static pose. What are other ways Jouett enlivened this portrait?