Athol Daily News – A Page from North Quabbin History: Templeton sisters specialized in painting miniatures

Published: 01/18/2021 3:01:09 PM

Changed: 01/18/2021 3:01:07 PM

The North Quabbin area has always been an artist’s paradise. Painters who once lived in the area included Sarah and Eliza Goodridge, two sisters from Templeton who specialized in miniature painting in the 19th century.

Both Sarah and Eliza excelled in the arts, according to Brian Tanguay, president and curator of the Narragansett Historical Society.

Sarah started with drawings on birch bark. Tanguay said that, to the best of his knowledge, none of these early works have survived. “The historical society has some pencil drawings, starting sketches, and a number of paper dolls that Sarah made for her niece.”

Many of Sarah and Eliza’s paintings were miniatures, most of them painted on ivory. “We have some that appear to be on paper, but most of them appear to be on ivory. They soon found out that painting on thin ivory was the best way to show off their work. ”

Tanguay explained, “Without the camera to capture loved ones, painting was the best option. It was expensive so not everyone could afford it. ”

Sarah eventually moved to Reading and worked in Boston. Sarah trained with Gilbert Stuart, who stated that her portrait of him was the best he had ever seen, Tanguay said.

Daniel Webster also frequently visited Boston and stood up for Sarah. He was impressed with her work and soon commissioned her to do several portraits in both Boston and Washington.

“Sarah did very well for a single woman who could buy her own house in the 1820s,” Tanguay said, adding, “She would be the person I would visit if I could return in time.”

Eliza, her sister, lived next to the Historical Society on Boynton Road. Her husband Ephraim ran the business, which was in the current Historical Society building.

Eliza’s works have included portraits of the Stiles family, their friends who once lived next door in Templeton and eventually moved to Worcester to become more involved in high society affairs, Tanguay continued.

Eliza’s paintings are on display in museums around Worcester. There are also some well-known landscapes that Eliza made of the Holyoke area, “but not many. I’ve seen three so far, ”said Tanguay.

“Although most of the sisters’ paintings are unsigned, we believe that in her later years, Eliza painted a large 8×10 portrait of her mother Beulah, which is part of the Narragansett Historical Society’s collection along with 20 other originals by Sarah and Eliza, ”he added.

Tanguay was particularly interested in the two sisters and their works of art. “For the past 30 years I have organized and visited Sarah’s collections in several New England museums and compiled the full list of her work and where it is stored,” said Tanguay. Some of his research is currently on display alongside the Historical Society’s collection. “One day it will be published in a book that will record all of her life and work. Their story has piqued interest for 200 years; It’s worth a book, ”Tanguay continued. He also aims to organize a show of their work in either Worcester, Boston or New York.

Currently there are only a few museums that display the sisters’ paintings. Most of them are saved and can only be viewed by appointment.

These museums include the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, which houses Sarah’s self-portrait, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Currier Museum of Arts in Manchester, New Hampshire, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the New York Historical Society and Worcester Art Museum, American Antiquarian Society, Yale University and Narragansett Historical Society, which houses the portraits of Eliza and Ephraim.

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