Middleton portrait of Daniel Webster


[Daniel Webster]  Cincinnati: Elijah C. Middleton, 1863.  Chromolithograph (“Warranted Oil Colors.”)  17 1/4 x 14 (oval).  Paper mounted on canvas, as issued.  Original maker’s stamp on verso.  In original frame.  Very good condition.


Elijah C. Middleton is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of chromolithography in America. Establishing his engraving firm in Cincinnati at mid-nineteenth-century, Middleton’s business benefited from the city’s prime location along routes of westward migration. As the city grew, so did a market for printed material—including chromolithographs. Middleton and his partner, W.R. Wallace, ventured from engraving into chromolithography and produced the oldest surviving chromolithograph from Cincinnati. Their partnership became the basis for chromo-publishing giant Strobridge & Company, which competed with Ehrgott & Forbriger for prominence in the Cincinnati and Midwestern print markets.

Shortly after Hines Strobridge joined Middleton and Wallace in partnership, Middleton struck out on his own in 1861, advertising his own gallery of printed portraits made with “warranted oil-colors.”   Between 1861 and 1873, Middleton produced chromolithographed portraits of seventeen different subjects, including thirteen American political and military figures, forming what came to be known as “Middleton’s National Portrait Gallery.”  Middleton’s portraits gained national attention, and as far away as Philadelphia, lithography giant P.S. Duval commented on Middleton as his competition.  This print was likely based on a photograph of Webster and Middleton was able to get testimonials on the accuracy of the portrait from his widow, Caroline LeRoy Webster, who wrote “I have had the satisfaction of seeing your Portrait of my deceased husband, and I take pleasure in giving it my cordial and unqualified approbation, as being the most perfect, and in all respects the most satisfactory Portrait of him I have ever seen.  In fact, it is true to life in every feature, in its complexion, and expression.”  Middleton was very proud of his development of the use of the “Warranted Oil Colors.”  The appearance of this print is excellent proof that Middleton had much to be proud of.