Core Holdings of the Tormey-Holder Collection: John Carlin
Distinguished Looking American Gentleman
of the Mid Nineteenth Century
by John Carlin (1813-1891)
1 5/8 x 2 1/8 inches (sight)
watercolor on ivory; housed in a gilt metal pendant frame
About the Artist: Born deaf and mute in early nineteenth century Philadelphia, John Carlin's story offers a shining example of how one can overcome obstacles and adversities. He studied portrait painting under John Neagle (1796-1865) and took lessons in drawing from John Reubens Smith (1775-1849) before traveling abroad to France in 1838. There, he studied under Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) and took a strong interest in painting miniature portraits. He returned to the United States in 1841, settling in New York City, where he began painting miniature portraits professionally. From New York, he also made frequent working trips to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and various towns throughout Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York State. Exhibited at the National Academy of Design (New York City), the American Art Union, the Maryland Historical Society and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In addition to miniature portraits, he also produced a number of genre and landscape scenes. A tireless champion of those who shared his disabilities, he helped establish the National Deaf-Mute College (known now as Galludet University) in Washington, D.C. Known to have works in collections of the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Maryland Historical Society, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), The Metropolitan Museum (New York City), the New-York Historical Society and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Listed by Barratt & Zabar (pages 209-213), Benezit, Blättel (pages 202, 203), Bolton (pages 22, 23), Fielding (page 141), Foskett (page 505), Johnson (pages 90, 91) and Schidlof (page 127).