Daniel Wadsworth

Daniel Wadsworth (1771–1848) of Hartford, Connecticut, was an American amateur artist and architect, arts patron and traveler. He is most remembered as the founder of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in his native city.

Early life and education

Daniel Wadsworth was descended from some of the first Puritan settlers of the Connecticut colony. His father Jeremiah Wadsworth was one of the wealthiest men in Hartford, and his mother was also from an elite family. The senior Wadsworth was involved in trade, manufacturing, banking, and insurance. Young Daniel was educated partly at home; he was introduced to the great art and architecture of the royal courts of Europe by his father, who traveled there with him (see Grand tour)..

Marriage and family

Wadsworth married Faith Trumbull in 1794. He later became acquainted with her uncle, John Trumbull, one of the period’s most celebrated historical painters.


Wadsworth worked at art and architecture, but did not need to support himself by either. He took many trips with writer Benjamin Silliman and Trumbull to Niagara Falls and the White Mountains to write accounts and sketch the landscapes they saw.

In later years, he became a leading patron of painters Thomas Cole, considered at the time the greatest landscape artist in the United States, and Frederic Edwin Church, also of Hartford and the Hudson River school. Determined to promote American artists, Wadsworth purchased the entire collection of the American Academy of the Fine Arts in New York. He then announced his plans to build "a Gallery of Fine Arts" on Main Street in Hartford, which would later be named after him. He provided many of the art objects initially displayed from his personal collection in addition to the ones from the American Academy. He also helped Lydia Sigourney with the publication of her first books.

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