National Society of Colonial Dames of
America in Tennessee

Historic Rock Castle - Hendersonville, Tennessee

Accession #1846

Donelson, Daniel Smith
Artist: Dury, George
Date Created: ca. 1850
Owner/Location:Historic Rock Castle
139 Rock Castle Lane
Hendersonville, TN 37075
Frame Dimensions:22" x 18"
Image Dimensions:16" x 13"
Materials/Media:Oil on canvas
Date Documented:27 July 2011

Description: Bust-length of subject facing three-quarter left with head turned to look directly at the viewer with piercing blue eyes. His is wearing a black coat over a white shirt with stand up collar showing over loosely knotted black tie. His hair is slightly gray at the temples and is combed straight back from his high forehead. The background is mottled shades of green, brown, and gray.
History of Work:Portrait of Daniel Smith Donelson (1801-1863), oil on canvas in original giltwood frame, signed lower right and on back G. Dury (George Dury, Germany/Tennessee, 1817-1894).

George Dury, who studied art in Bavaria before immigrating to Tennessee, was one of Nashville's most important 19th century portrait painters. His work is rarely signed. This portrait was likely painted circa 1850. Condition: canvas in very good condition, cleaned, with overall craquelure and some minor inclusions. Moderate cracking and loss of gilding to frame. 16" x 13" sight, 22" x 18" framed. Provenance: descended in Donelson family - sold to Historic Rock Castle in 2011.
Notes:Daniel Smith Donelson, nephew of President Andrew Jackson, was one of three sons born to Samuel and Mary Donelson of Sumner County, Tennessee (one of his brothers was Andrew Jackson Donelson). A graduate of West Point (1825), he had a distinguished military career before serving in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1841 until 1843 and again from 1855 until 1861. He was speaker of the house when the Civil War started. When Tennessee seceded, he returned to the military as adjutant general of the Provisional Army of Tennessee. To protect the Cumberland River he selected the sites for Forts Henry and Fort Donelson; the latter was named in his honor. Donelson fought in several battles, including the Battle of Murfreesboro, where he was part of the charge that broke the right wing of the Federal army. In January 1863, Donelson was given command of the Department of East Tennessee. He remained in command of the department until his death on April 17 1863 near Knoxville at Montvale Springs, TN. Five days later, authorities in Richmond, unaware of his death, promoted him to major general. Smith's home, Hazel Path, still stands in Hendersonville, TN.