Saturday, February 16, 2013

Jeremiah Paul Jr and Sr: Artist and Schoolmaster

Jeremiah Paul - George Washington Leaving His Family Oil on Canvas, Circa 1800
Modern day Woodbury is fast becoming a destination for the arts. It's also not surprising to find in Woodbury's past, which dates back to the 1680's, some very interesting ties to the early arts in Colonial America. Here's a brief account of the Woodbury born artist Jeremiah Paul Jr. and his Quaker schoolmaster father.
The first schoolhouse in Woodbury was known as the Deptford Institute. The building later became the public library and currently houses City Hall. It was built in 1774 after the formation of the Deptford Free School Society in 1773, a group of prominent Society of Friends. Located on Delaware Street, it was open to all denominations on the condition of payment of tuition and adherence to the school’s rules, as laid down by the controlling Society of Friends. The first teacher was a Quaker by the name of Jeremiah Paul (Krauss, 2008). By 1784, ten years after its formation, the schoolhouse boasted 130 students and Paul, "with no jar or dissatisfaction from either side" left for a more lucrative position and moved to Philadelphia, PA (Rhoads & Lewis, 1862).
circa 1901
Jeremiah Paul's son, Jeremiah Paul Jr., was born circa 1761 in Woodbury, presumably before the family moved to Philadelphia. Later in life, Jeremiah Jr. was trained under  artist Charles Willson Peale and went on to become a fairly respected portraiture artist. He was also a member of the Columbianum Art Academy formed in 1794 in Philadelphia. The Columbianum Art Academy, although short lived, has the prestige of having organized the first major public art exhibition in the United States. Later Paul Jr. with other Philadelphia artists formed the Pratt, Ritter, and Co. to "undertake all manners of commissions, from the paintings of portraits, signs, and fire buckets to japanning and the execution of coffin plates" (Marter, 2011). See below for some more examples of his work:

Jeremiah Paul - Portrait of Maria van Buren, wearing a bonnet, 1810

Jeremiah Paul - Portrait of a Gentleman, 1800

Jeremiah Paul - Tench Coxe 1755-1824

Jeremiah Paul - Lady in White Shawl, circa 1805

 Jeremiah Paul - Four Children in a Courtyard, 1795
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Krauss, J. (2008). History of Woodbury city public schools. Retrieved from

Marter, J. (2011). The Grove encyclopedia of American art, volume 1. Oxford University Press.

Rhoads, S., & Lewis, E. (1862). Friends' review: A religious, literary and miscellaneous journal. (Vol. 15, p. 739). Philadelphia, PA: Merrhiew & Thompson. Retrieved from