Joseph Badger

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About this artist

Joseph Badger was an active portraitist in Boston during the middle of the eighteenth century. Having spent his youth in the town of his birth, Joseph Badger was married in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1731. Two years later he was recorded as living in Boston. He is thought to have worked almost exclusively in the Boston area. In documents concerning his estate he is identified as a "glazier" and a "painter." He appears to have begun painting portraits about 1740. Where Badger received what training he had is not known, although he lived near the "colour shop" of JOHN SMIBERT, presumably purchased supplies from Smibert, and may have taken some instruction from him. He must be considered a self-trained, primitive artist, but with the retirement of Smibert in 1746 and the departure of John Greenwood (1727-1792) in 1752, Badger ranked as Boston’s foremost portraitist until the arrival of Joseph Blackburn (active in North America, 1753-1763) in Boston in 1755. About 150 portraits by Badger survive, including those of some of Boston’s leading citizens.

Lawrence Park, "An Account of Joseph Badger, and a Descriptive List of His Work," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 51 (December 1917): 158-201 § Frank William Bayley, Five Colonial Artists of New England: Joseph Badger, Joseph Blackburn, John Singleton Copley, Robert Feke, John Smibert (Boston: Privately printed, 1929), pp. 1-49 § Richard C. Nylander, "Joseph Badger, American Portrait Painter," Master’s thesis, State University of New York at Oneonta, 1972, with catalogue of paintings, bibliography § Phelps Warren, "Badger Family Portraits," Antiques 118 (November 1980): 1044-45 § Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery, American Colonial Portraits, 1700-1776, exh. cat., 1987, published by Smithsonian Institution Press, with essays by Richard H. Saunders and Ellen G. Miles, bibliography.