Oil on canvas, ca 1836, unsigned, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln's physician, Major William Smith Wallace of Lancaster, PA and Springfield, IL; 29 x 24 in.
A nearly lifelong resident of Lancaster, PA, Jacob Eichhholtz enjoyed a fruitful career as a predominantly self-taught American portrait painter. The grandson of a German immigrant, Eichholtz studied in the "English School" at Franklin College in 1787; he continued his education as an apprentice to a copper and tinsmith. But by 1806, Eichholtz gave up tinsmithing and began painting profile portraits after brief meetings with the English-trained portrait painters Thomas Sully and Gilbert Stuart. Working from 1805-1842, Eichholtz's work draws heavily on the American neoclassical period by conveying direct, calm, and self-assured depictions of men and women. During his lifetime, Eichholtz experienced a fair amount of success as a portrait painter, especially after moving to Philadelphia in 1823, where he lived intermittently the rest of his life. However, he always remained quintessentially a Lancaster, PA artist. As historian Rebecca Beal explains, although [Eichholtz] enjoy[ed] substantial success in Philadelphia and Baltimore, he remained in spirit the artist of Lancaster and Pennsylvania Germans...[who spoke] for a simpler, plainer America...of unpretentious, hard-working, deeply patriotic Americans.
Also a native of Lancaster, PA, Major William Smith Wallace was born on August 10, 1802 to John and Lydia Smith Wallace. In 1824 he graduated from the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia and began practicing in Lancaster county. A decade later, he established his own practice and a drugstore in Springfield, IL. Shortly thereafter, he married Frances Jane Todd (b. 1817), daughter of Robert Todd of Lexington, KY and sister of Mary Todd Lincoln, in 1839. Together the two had six children.
In 1843, Dr. Wallace became Abraham Lincoln's physician, after Lincoln married Wallace's sister-in-law Mary Todd. In 1861, Wallace accompanied the president to Washington D.C. for his inagural address on March 4, 1861; the Wallaces became frequent guests at the White House during the president's tenure. Lincoln appointed Wallace paymaster of volunteers, with the rank of major in 1862.
After Dr. Wallace's death on May 23, 1867, the painting passed to his daughter, Mary Todd Jacobs Wallace, who married Colonel John Pope Baker. A lawyer by trade, Baker was appointed by President Lincoln to the 1st United States dragoons in Washington City, and served in the battle of Bull's Run on July 21, 1861.
Rebecca J. Beal, Jacob Eichholtz 1776-1842: Portrait Painter of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA: The Historical Society of PA, 1969, pp. 243 and 350 (pictured).
Property of John Pope Baker II, St. Louis, MO.
From Major and Mrs. Wallace Fairchild Baker
From Col. and Mrs. John Pope Baker (Mary Todd Jacobs Wallace)
From Major William Smith Wallace.
Condition: Relined. Very light and scattered inpainting from previous restoration, including small dashes along sitter's hair, and next to sitter's ear.