JOHN NEAGLE (November 4, 1796 – September 17, 1865) was a fashionable American painter, primarily of portraits, during the first half of the 19th century in Philadelphia. Born in Boston, MA, Neagle’s training in art began with instruction from the drawing-master Pietro Ancora and an apprenticeship to Thomas Wilson, a well-connected painter of signs and coaches in Philadelphia. Wilson introduced Neagle to Bass Otis and Thomas Sully. Neagle became a protégé of Sully’s. Neagle decided to concentrate exclusively on portraits and set up shop as an independent master.
Neagle’s notable works included one of PATRICK LYON (1779-1829), a wealthy businessman and an inventor. Lyon was seized and imprisoned for three months following a robbery at the Bank of Pennsylvania. He was accused as an accomplice because he had manufactured the vault doors. He was later cleared and awarded a large sum for damages. He commissioned Neagle to paint his image as a blacksmith, the vocation with which he began his career. Neagle’s portrait of Lyon includes the Walnut Street Jail in the background.
Offering two items, a one-page ALS, 5 x 7 ¾, October 30, 1851, from Neagle declining an invitation to tea and a clipped autograph of Lyon, dated Sept. 18, 1805 – two fine pieces.
Neagle’s letter reads, “My dear sir, I am truly an unlucky fellow. I would really be glad to accept your kind invitation to tea this evening, but I have a business engagement with one of my cousins (by appointment two days ago) at ½ past 6 o’clock & an invitation accepted yesterday to spend the evening in a house which I have never yet visited.
“Please present my best regards to Mrs. [?] Alcock & Mrs. Mitchell & say I will soon pay my respects to them.
“Very truly yours,
Light toning, folds and a couple of pin holes to the letter. Else excellent. The Lyon signature and date are attached to another sheet. Toning but very readable and a nice association.
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