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Chester Harding Correspondence

 Collection — Container: MS Am 1102
Call Number: MS Am. 1102

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of eighteen lettersdating from 1820-1867 that were either written to, or regarding Chester Harding.  The letters include thank-you notes, social introductions, and requests for portraits of specific people.  Notable correspondents are the 10th Duke of Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton Douglas; the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, George Hamilton Gordon; the Viscountess Anson, Lady Anne Margaret Coke Anson; as well as poets, writers, clergymen, and politicians, such as William Wilberforce and James WalkerOf particular interest are the short lines written by James Sheridan Knowles, the Irish dramatist, inspired by Harding’s portrait of William Hazlitt.


  • 1820-1867
  • Acquisition: 1969-02

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Chester Harding (1792-1866) was an American portrait painter born in Conway, Massachusetts, in 1792. He was raised in upstate New York and worked in several different trades until he became a sign painter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where a traveling portrait painter taught him portraiture. He moved to St. Louis and became a professional portrait painter, and made frequent long trips to London where he studied and painted. Harding became successful in society circles in London, painting members of the aristocracy. In 1826 Harding returned to the United States and settled in Boston, Massachusetts. He was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1828.

Harding painted several important people throughout his career: James Madison, John Quincy Adams, James Monroe, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and several British Dukes, among others. His portrait of Daniel Webster hangs in the Boston Athenaeum, and other portraits by Harding are at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Harvard University Art Museums, the Worcester Art Museum, as well in other American museums. He died in 1866.


18.00 Items

Language of Materials



Arranged chronologically.

Method of Acquisition

Purchased from Goodspeed's Book Shop.

Processing Information

Finding aid written by Rare Books and Manuscripts Department staff in 1969.

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.
Chester Harding Correspondence
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2015-03: Updated by Catilin Culbertson in March, 2015

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Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

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