Daniel Waldo, 1789
Gullager painted Waldo's long coat with light-brown paint and the shadows in the folds of the fabric with darker brown. He defined the highlights on the proper left cuff of the coat and at the bent elbow with zig zagging brushwork. The sleeves and front of the coat have large cloth-covered buttons with a checkerboard pattern. The unbuttoned coat is worn over a black waistcoat and a pair of black breeches. The artist painted the highlights in the waistcoat with opaque gray paint. Waldo wears a white neck cloth, shirt ruffle, and ruffled shirt cuffs. Toward the top of the waistcoat, one button is fastened and the next two are unbuttoned, thereby revealing part of the shirt ruffle just above the waist.
Waldo sits in a wooden side chair whose carved ear is visible at the right center of the composition. His proper right hand rests on the polished surface of a writing table and his left one is on his left thigh. Gullager painted the sitter's hands in detail, defining their veins, fingernails, and knuckles. The tabletop reflects Waldo's thumb, index finger, and shirt cuff. A dull rose-colored drapery with zig zagging pink highlights extends from the upper left corner to the center of the painting. The curtain is pulled back in a swag at left to reveal a window, through which is visible a seascape with a partly cloudy blue sky and a ship sailing on greenish-blue water. The black and rose fringe of the drapery covers most of the top windowpane. The window frame casts a shadow to its right on the gray wall. Light falls from the upper left corner of the painting, creating highlights in the wig, fabrics, flesh, and furniture. Gullager lightened the wall slightly around the chair at the right side of the painting. The window at left provides a secondary light source. Shadows help to model the figure and the features of the face and to define the contours of the costume.
On May 3, 1757, Daniel married Rebecca Salisbury (17311811), the sister of competing hardware merchants Samuel (17391818) and Stephen Salisbury (17461829). The Waldos had ten children, five of whom reached maturity. The children were baptized at First Church Boston, where Daniel had been admitted as a member in 1756.4 In the spring of 1775, Daniel Waldo and his family moved to Providence, Rhode Island, and in March 1777 he moved again to Lancaster, Massachusetts where he sold imported goods.5 Two years later Daniel wrote to his brothers-in-law Samuel and Stephen Salisbury that he had been threatened to be mobb'd for selling my Goods too dearam an Extortionist & what notpray acquaint me how Things are Carried on in Boston & Worcester.6 In March 1781 Waldo was selling his house in Lancaster and the following year he was settled in Worcester and selling an Assortment of Hard Ware and West-India Goods.7 In 1784 Waldo entered into partnership with his son Daniel Waldo, Jr. (17631845) and retired in 1791, after which the younger Waldo continued the business alone.8 In May 1806 the elder Waldo built the first brick building in Worcester on the corner of Main and Exchange Streets. Stephen Salisbury reported, I went all over their House, Cellar, Barn, and Garden, the House has Stately Rooms and many conveniences in and about the house, and any person that has ever lived in Boston. . . might be content there. I found them all Engaged, and in good Spirits.9
Daniel Waldo was active in community affairs in Boston and Worcester. In 1763 and 1765 he was chosen a warden of Boston. He was among the Sons of Liberty who gathered in August 1769 to celebrate the departure of the royal governor of Massachusetts at the height of the protests against the Stamp Act. In March 1771 Waldo was voted an Overseer of the Poor, and continued in that office until the outbreak of the American Revolution. In Worcester he served as a jurist and as a member of a committee appointed in 1785 to supply the pulpit. He was also chosen to be the first president of the Worcester Bank (incorporated 1804) and was succeeded in that position by his son Daniel.10
When Daniel Waldo died on December 8, 1808, he was honored with an unusually long obituary that read, in part:
Waldo was buried in Rural Cemetery in Worcester.
The figures in Daniel Waldo and the companion portrait Rebecca Salisbury Waldo (Mrs. Daniel Waldo) turn toward one another and look at the viewer. Both paintings are kit-cat size, a half-length format that includes the sitter's hands. Daniel and Rebecca Waldo are set in domestic interiors with a rose-colored, fringed drapery in the background. Whereas Daniel sits in a wooden side chair, Rebecca is on an upholstered sofa. Gullager often painted husbands and wives on different seating furniture; side chairs appear with both male and female subjects and sofas are popular in his portraits of women.
Although relatively few people sat for portraits in the eighteenth century, Daniel Waldo was following a family tradition by commissioning Gullager to depict himself, his wife, and their daughter. In 1750 his parents, Cornelius Waldo and Faith Savage Waldo, posed for Joseph Badger. His older brother John Waldo (1791, Worcester Art Museum) would later sit for a portrait to a first cousin once removed, John Waldo Durant (17741826).14
2. The Boston Gazette and Weekly Journal, March 19, 1764.
3. For the dissolution of the partnership, see The Massachusetts Spy, Boston, November 26, 1770. For Daniel's independent business, see The Boston Evening Post, April 26, 1773.
4. Lincoln 1902, I, 16162.
5. Samuel Barrett to Stephen Salisbury, Charlestown, Mass., May 3, 1775, Salisbury Family Papers, hereafter cited as SFP, AAS, box 3, folder 3. See also Lincoln 1902, I, 158 and Thomas's Worcester Spy or American Oracle of Liberty, November 26, 1778.
6. Daniel Waldo, Lancaster, to Samuel Salisbury, Worcester, October 27, 1779, SFP, AAS, box 4, folder 1.
7. The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser, March 29, 1781; and Daniel Waldo, Lancaster, to Samuel Salisbury, Worcester, March 22, 1781, SFP, AAS, box 4, folder 3.
8. Thomas's Massachusetts Spy or the Worcester Gazette, December 30, 1784 and July 14, 21, and 28, 1785. For the retirement of Daniel Waldo, Sr., see Lincoln 1902, I, 159.
9. Stephen Salisbury I, Worcester, to Elizabeth Tuckerman Salisbury, Boston, May 17, 1806, SFP, AAS, box 13, folder 2. See also, Historic Houses of Worcester 1919, 1920.
10. For Waldo's public service, see Lincoln I, 1902, 16062. For his role in the Worcester bank, see Worcester Bank Records, 18031934, SFP, AAS.
11. Thomas's Massachusetts Spy or Worcester Gazette, December 21, 1808.
12. Samuel Salisbury, Boston, to Stephen Salisbury I, Worcester, September 6, 1789, SFP, AAS, box 5, folder 6.
13. Miss Waldo is illustrated in The Magazine Antiques 146:3 (September 1994): 284.
14. For John Waldo Durant, see Lincoln 1902, I, 7879.
15. Thomas's Massachusetts Spy of the Worcester Gazette, July 14, 21, and 28, 1785.
16. For this interpretation, see Dresser 1949b, 131.