Joseph Partridge


Partridge a painter, was born in England, although he was living in Nova Scotia by September 1, 1817. His first advertisement in the Halifax Journal announced that heintended to open a drawing school. His earliest known watercolor, Man and Woman on a Sofa, is signed and dated August 1817. Two other early watercolors arehis painting of the National School at Halifax, Nova Scotia, painted about 1818, and a signed self-portrait of 1819.After 1819, Partridge moved to New England, in the United States. The 1821 Boston city directory lists him as a miniature painter but no paintings from this periodare known. From December 1821 through 1823, Partridge advertised in Providence, Rhode Island newspapers, indicating that he would instruct in painting and that hecould paint portraits and miniatures of living or dead subjects.Editorials in the Providence Gazette praised his paintings and recommended that manufacturers utilize his talents. At least one took this advice, using a lithograph based on a Partridge watercolor. Of Partridge’s many renderings of Providence’s buildings and streets, the location of only one of the subjects, President Street, The First Baptist Meeting House and Adjoining Buildings (1822) is now known.Partridge’s portraits of 1822 through 1823 include the 1822 miniature on ivory of the
Rev. Stephen Gano, the watercolor on paper of the Rev. Adam Clarke, and the watercolors on paper of Moses Brown. Brown would not sit for a portrait, and Partridge did a sketch without his knowledge, producing three watercolors, themost fully developed one initialed and dated 1823. Nevertheless, Partridge clearly found it difficult to earn a sufficient wage by his painting. On December 23, 1823, and again one month later, the Providence overseer of the poor authorized payment “for a load of wood for Partridge the Portrait Painter he being very poor and family suffering.” On February 2, 1824 the town councildecreed that he leave the state. He moved to Taunton, Massachusetts, and then to Boston, where, on May 15, 1825, he painted the signed and dated portrait of Joseph Chapman.On August 26, 1825 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. During his three years aboard ship sailing in the Mediterranean, he painted about twenty-onewatercolors of places he visited and the natives he saw. Partridge was discharged from service on October 18, 1830. Given that the 1834 Boston city directory lists hiswife as a widow, he died sometime between his discharge and late 1834.His paintings are in the collections of major museums such as the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, Virginia, and in private collections.