Matthew Harris Jouett (1787-1827)

Matthew Harris Jouett
Transylvania University

copper-plate engraving after Jouett by E.G. Gridley from A Discourse on the Genius and Character of the Rev. Horace Holley, L.L.D. Late President of Transylvania University, 1828
3 3/4 x 6 inches (image)
5 3/4 x 9 inches (paper)


Jouett’s talent, winning personality, strong character and tragic early death cemented his almost-legendary reputation as Kentucky’s first, great, native-born painter. Jouett trained with celebrated portraitist Gilbert Stuart in Boston, Massachusetts, and made his career as a portrait painter in Kentucky and up and down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. He inspired a generation of painters, and his portraits, wrote journalist E.A. Jonas, “provide a progressive pageant of the Kentucky story.”

Jouett’s portrayal of the main building at Transylvania University in Lexington constitutes his only known print. The engraving was published a year after the artist’s death, and the building depicted burned to the ground a year later. Jouett attended Transylvania.