Medium: oil on canvas
Date: circa 1820-1830
Size: 25" x 30" (sight)
35 3/4" x 43"
Frame: original with an added oval insert
Condition: This painting is virtually untouched. It remains unlined and mounted on its original pine strainer. There are no tears or repairs and only a few cases of spotting. The frame has some minor chipping along the back edge.
This painting was acquired directly from a descendant of the sitter. So far as anyone knows it had hung in the home of a descendant for as long as anyone could remember.
The sitter was confirmed by research from the genealogical records of The Ogden Family in America compiled by Henry Ogden Wheeler and by comparison to a daguerreotype in the procession of a descendant of the family that was taken later in life.
The attribution of the artist was confirmed by Katherine Woltz, Director and Editor of the John Vanderlyn Catalog Raisonne at the University of Virginia.
This painting is extremely rare given its quality and condition. Most Vanderlyn portraits of this quality are now in the collection of museums and private collection. Those images that occasionally turn up at auction are either of inferior quality or falsely attributed to the artist. In part quality portraits by John Vanderlyn are rare because had absorbed a contempt for portraiture, from the French painters like David with whom he had studied. He also worked very slowly and charged more than his contemporaries. Instead of painting portraits he strove for artistic distinction in painting great canvases based on history or classical literature. He confessed to Aaron Burr in 1802 that he was “indifferent” to painting portraits and would have preferred “undertakings not subject to so much loss of time occasioned by the disappointments in sittings.” As a result there are not many examples of his work in existence.
It's a known fact that Vanderlyn gave special attention to the portraits of people of particular importance or those who he was close to personally. This in part accounts for the quality of this work. Elias Ogden the sitter, was a nephew to Aaron Burr who was Vanderlyn's benefactor. It was Burr who sponsored Vanderlyn's artistic training in France.
Judge Elias Bailey Dayton Ogden
The most prominent of Governor Aaron Ogden’s children were born in what is today Elizabeth, NJ. He graduated at Princeton at 19 years of age and immediately began the study of law. He was licensed as an attorney in 1824, a counselor in 1829, and was made Sergeant-at-Law in 1837, being the last lawyer in New Jersey whoever received that appointment. He began his legal career in Paterson NJ, which at that time was a small, struggling town on the Passaic river, but which rose rapidly in importance from its growing factories. Dayton Ogden, as he was generally called, had many competitors in his chosen profession, but soon became an able advocate, and secured a large clientage.
Paterson was then included in Essex Co. and its lawyers were obliged to attend court at Newark, the county seat. Soon after receiving his counselor’s license, young Ogden was appointed Prosecutor of the Pleas the most important office of the kind in the state. In the prosecution of his duties, he displayed great assiduity and unusual legal talents. The criminal business of the county was very large, requiring unusual labor and time, and obliged him to be in Newark four times during the year. But while Mr. Ogden always performed his whole duty as Counsel of the State, he succeeded in retaining all his private practice, and his numerous clients never complained of his inattention to their interests. This condition of affairs was the result of his great industry and care in the conscientious discharge of all his legal duties. He filled the office of Prosecutor for two terms.
His political party early recognized his abilities and twice elected him to the State Legislature. In 1844, when the best talent of the state was required irrespective of party affiliation, he was chosen a member of the Constitutional Convention.
He was appointed Associate Justice in 1848 and reappointed in 1855. At the expiration of his second term, Governor Charles S. Olden knowing the great worth of Mr. Ogden’s legal talent, departed from the usual political procedure, and reappointed him, although of the opposite political faith, and thus did honor to Judge Ogden and to himself.
His judicial opinions were rendered after full and careful examination and were always regarded as sensible and just. Among them was one in which he denied the right of judges of the State court to interfere for the release of a prisoner held by the judgment of a Federal court.
Judge Ogden was a man of sound judgment and sterling common sense; to his fellow members of the bar, he was genial and affable; as a judge, he was painstaking and conscientious; and during his long term of office, he enjoyed the respect and confidence of the whole community. At the expiration of his last term, he removed to Elizabeth and occupied the homestead of his father, Governor Aaron Ogden, where he was born and where he died in 1865.
The Ogden Family in America Elizabeth Branch and Their English Ancestry
Compiled by: William Ogden Wheeler
Printed for Private Circulation by J. B. Lippincott Company Philadelphia 1907