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Indiana Governor Portrait Artist: Jacob Cox (1810 - 1892) - Noble

Jacob Cox

Artist, Indiana Governors' Portrait Collection

Noah Noble (1794-1844)
Governor of Indiana
December 7, 1831 - December 6, 1837

Artist: Jacob Cox, American, 1810-1892
oil on canvas, 36 x 29 (91.5 x 73.7)

THE PORTRAIT of Noah Noble is another of Jacob Cox's studio and raises the same queries regarding date and derivation as does the portrait of Ray. Like the Ray portrait, the portrait of Noah Noble was painted early in the artist's career, before 1840. (1)

The paintings are strikingly similar in the pose of the subject, the facial expression and the self-conscious, inflexible method of rendering. Although lacking his technical ability at this point in his career, Cox infused the portraits with enough variety to reflect the very different personalities of the sitters. Noah Noble was a handsome, prepossessing man, and Cox had invested his portrait with refinement and grace. The use of clear, pastel tints and detailed attention to delicate background effects such as the quill pen, vine-like foliage, and gold tablecloth trim are befitting the governor's urbane manner. Like the portrait of Ray, this painting probably remained in the possession of the artist until it was acquired by the state in 1869.

Jacob Cox was born near Philadelphia in 1810, and his youth was spent in Philadelphia and in Washington, Pennsylvania. When he was about twenty years old, he went by boat, with his bride and his brother, from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati.

In 1833, they came to Indianapolis, where the brothers established a stove, tinware, and coppersmith business. Jacob had displayed some talent for art in his boyhood days, but he was persuaded to take up a more practical trade and was discouraged from taking instruction in drawing and painting. The tinware establishment was very successful here, but Jacob found his eagerness to paint overshadowing his interest in business, and spare moments given to sketching and reading art books multiplied until painting became the dominant interest of his life.

He opened a studio in Indianapolis in 1835 and began his long career as an Indiana painter, which was interrupted by a short stay in Cincinnati in 1842. His reputation grew rapidly, and within a few years he became the leading artist of Indianapolis, receiving many important commissions and attracting to his studio most of the art students of the period. He retained his popularity until his death in 1892.

(1) For more detailed information on Jacob Cox, see Wilbur D. Peat, Paintings by Jacob Cox - A Retrospective Exhibition of Work by and Early Indianapolis Artist, (ex. cat.) Indianapolis, John Herron Art Museum, November 8-30, 1941.

Source: Peat, Wilbur D. Portraits and Painters of the Governors of Indiana 1800-1978. Revised, edited and with new entries by Diane Gail Lazarus, Indianapolis Museum of Art. Biographies of the governors by Lana Ruegamer, Indiana Historical Society. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society and Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1978.