Wednesday, 10 January 2018 21:37

Painting the Markley Family

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At HSMC, we have a collection of portraits. While researching the history of these portraits, we discovered three of them were painted by renowned artist, Jacob Eichholtz (1776 – 1842). Starting as a sign painter and copper smith, Eichholtz did not begin painting portraits until 1805.[1] After meeting Thomas Sully in Lancaster, PA in 1808, Eichholtz turned his attention to improving his technique.[2] By 1815 he sold his local business to devote the rest of his life to painting.[3] To learn more about Eichholtz’s history, please visit The National Gallery of Art .

Samuel Markley

     Portrait of Samuel Markley, 1812

Since Eichholtz is a well-known Pennsylvanian artist, we wanted to learn more about the subjects of these three portraits. The portraits depict three men from the Markley family: Samuel, John, and Philip Markley (1789-1834). Based on the design, technique, and material used to create the portraits, we believe the portraits were created at different times in Eichholtz’s career. With dark colors painted onto a wooden panel, the portrait of Samuel Markley demonstrates Eichholtz’s early work. Based on the few records we have on this portrait, we believe it was completed around 1812.

John Markley

                                                            Portrait of John Markley                                                                  


Although we do not know much about Samuel Markley, our research revealed more about John and Philip’s service to Montgomery County. John Markley of Norristown was a Montgomery County sheriff in the late eighteenth century.[4] John was also a prominent member of the Republican Party. Like his father John, Philip Markley pursued a career in politics. From 1819 to 1823, Philip became a State Senator for the seventh district of PA.[5] Our records indicate that Philip’s portrait was completed in 1824, but there is no date given for John’s portrait. Given the improved detail in the portraits, when compared to Samuel’s, it seems likely that John’s portrait was likely finished a few years prior to Philip's.

Philip Markley

Portrait of Philip S. Markley, 1824


[1] National Gallery of Art, Eichholtz, Jacob Biography,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Pennsylvania State Senate, Philip S. Markley: Biography,

[5] Ibid.

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