Goodridge, Sarah (1788–1853)

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Goodridge, Sarah (1788–1853)

American painter who produced miniature portraits on ivory of well-known denizens of Boston and Washington, D.C. Born in Templeton, Massachusetts, on February 5, 1788; died in Reading, Massachusetts, in 1853; sixth of nine children of Ebenezer Goodridge (a farmer) and Beulah Goodridge; sister of Beulah Goodridge Appleton and Eliza Goodridge Stone (also a miniaturist); attended local schools; briefly attended David L. Brown's drawing school; never married; no children.

Sarah Goodridge, one of the most distinguished American miniaturists of the 19th century, was one of nine children of Beulah Goodridge and Ebenezer Goodridge, a Massachusetts farmer. Sarah's earliest pictures were scratched with a pin on sheets of peeled birch bark or drawn with a stick on the sanded kitchen floor. Largely self-taught, she learned to paint miniatures on ivory by following the written instructions in a booklet. After teaching school in Templeton for two summers, Goodridge took up her artistic career, selling watercolor and crayon portraits of her friends. In 1820, she opened a studio in Boston and moved in permanently with her brother-in-law and sister, Thomas and Beulah Appleton . That same year, she met artist Gilbert Stuart, who, impressed with her talent, took her on as a student. In 1825, after some prodding from his wife Charlotte Stuart , Gilbert also let Goodridge paint his portrait, although he hated what he called "having his effigy made." The finished miniature, considered brutally honest and quite unflattering by some, pleased Stuart so much that he preserved it in a bracelet with his own and his wife's hair. The painting was engraved by Asher Durand for the National Portrait Gallery, and Goodridge also painted two replicas which are now in the Metropolitan and Boston Museums.

Goodridge's talent flowered under Stuart's instruction, and she was later commissioned to paint Daniel Webster, General Henry Lee, and many others. A prolific painter, she was able to support her mother for 11 years and also raised an orphaned niece. Sarah Goodridge worked until 1850, when her eyesight failed, then retired to a cottage she was able to purchase for herself in Reading, Massachusetts.


Petteys, Chris. Dictionary of Women Artists. Boston, MA: G.K. Hall, 1985.

Rubinstein, Charlotte Streifer. American Women Artists. NY: Avon, 1982.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Goodridge, Sarah (1788–1853)

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