National Society of Colonial Dames of
America in Tennessee

Metro Davidson County Collection - Nashville Public Library

Portrait #887
Elliston, Joseph Thorp
Artist:Cooper, Washington Bogart
Date Created:ca. 1840
Owner/Location:Special Collections Division
Nashville Public Library
615 Church Street
Nashville, TN 37219
Frame Dimensions:
Image Dimensions:46 x 39
Materials/Media:Oil on canvas
Date Documented:6 August 2007

Description:Joseph Thorp Elliston in his 60s, with grey hair and glasses. He is seated in a chair and is holding a walking stick or cane.
History of Work:Presented to the Nashville Public Library in 1965 by Marcellus B. Frost in memory of Mrs. Mildred Buford Frost and her sisters Eleanor Buford Jones and Elizabeth Buford Shepherd, all Joseph Thorp Elliston's great-granddaughters. Before the donation, Frost had the portrait and frame restored. The portrait was exhibited in Mayor Beverly Briley's office until the new library building opened in 1966. It was displayed in the Nashville Room until concerns about the portrait's deteriorating condition resulted from its removal from display. In 2003, the portrait was examined by the Cumberland Art Conservation Center. As a result of the Center's tests, they discovered that during the previous restoration, the portrait had been completely overpainted to conceal heat-damaged paint beneath and that the original paint was blistered and eroded from improper cleaning in the past. The ultimate finding was that there was "no indication that a salvageable image can be retrieved." The portrait is still in its original frame, which is damaged.
Notes:Born in Virginia in 1779, Joseph Thorp Elliston was Nashville's first silversmith, jeweler, watch and clockmaker. Elliston apprenticed under Samuel Ayers of Lexington, Kentucky, from 1795 until 1799, when he moved to Nashville and opened his own shop. He was one of Nashville's five incorporators (1806), served as Nashville's fourth Mayor (1814-1817), was a trustee of McKendree Methodist Church, and was a founder of the Nashville Female Academy. He died in 1856, was originally interred at Nashville City Cemetery, and was reinterred at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.