Daniel Waldo, 1789
The original tacking edges are extant. In 1949 a glue lining was replaced with a wax-resin lining, and the painting was attached to a new auxiliary support. In the course of that treatment, a small amount of the design area was folded over the top and bottom edges, and the canvas was opened up slightly along the left and right edges. The ground that was exposed by this extension was retouched.
The off-white ground layer has a slightly pebbled surface and extends over the entire tacking edge. It was applied evenly and almost completely hides the weave of the canvas.
In general, the painting was developed with opaque and semiopaque applications of paint. Broad areas appear to have been blocked in first and colors were partially blended on the canvas. The drapery in the background was painted with broad, loose brushwork and was finished with opaque zig zagging highlights. Gullager began the face by defining the shadows with light gray paint, over which he painted opaque flesh tones. The effect of sheer fabric on the white ruffled cuffs of the sleeves was achieved with varying tones of gray paint. There is low impasto in the white highlights.
The red drapery has faded considerably from deep red to reddish brown; the original color remains vivid where it has been protected by the rabbet of the frame. Fading has also occurred in the blue sky at left but to a lesser extent.
Wax-resin consolidant has been used to reduce cupping in the paint layer. There is significantly less cracking in the areas over the stretcher than in the rest of the design area. The proper left hand has the most pronounced abrasion on the paint surface. The paint has shriveled somewhat, most noticeably on the proper left hand, and probably results from excessive heat used during past lining treatments. Inpainting and retouching is limited to a few of the wider cracks, the left and right edges of the canvas, a scratch on the proper left shoulder, and a small area on the proper right hand.
In 1949 the painting was varnished with a moderately thick application of PVA, and in the late 1980s it was probably varnished again with a synthetic resin. The varnish is now somewhat matte and uneven but not significantly discolored.
The frame is stamped "S. WADE" on the back panel of each vertical member of the frame. The frames on at least four other portraits by Gullager Rebecca Salisbury Waldo (Mrs. Daniel Waldo), Daniel Greenleaf and Elizabeth Greenleaf (both about 1791, location unknown), and Nathaniel Soley (location unknown) are stamped in the same manner. The Waldos lived in Worcester, the Greenleafs in Boston, and Soley in Charlestown or Billerica.1 The identity of S. Wade might be Simeon Wade (about 17571806), who was listed in the 1789 Boston city directory as a housewright and the operator of a boarding house in Pierce's Alley. In 1796, when the next Boston directory was published, Wade was listed as a housewright on Middlecot Street. He was forty-nine years old when he died on May 2, 1806 after falling from the roof of a house.2
2. "A Record of Deaths in Boston and Vicinity," NEHGS 78: 310 (April 1924): 186.