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Newport Restoration Foundation Purchases Sketch of Goddard’s House

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Goddard House in Newport Rhode Island.

The Newport Restoration Foundation has purchased a pencil and watercolor sketch of the house and shop of Newport cabinetmaker John Goddard. The sketch, made in 1865, is by Hudson River School painter Samuel Colman.

One of only two known images

This is the earlier of only two known images of Goddard’s shop located on its original waterfront lot on what was previously known as Water Street and is currently Washington Street in Newport’s Point neighborhood.

The house was later moved to Second Street, where it stands today.

The piece is a relatively small – 5 ¼” X 9” – pencil and watercolor sketch on gray artist’s paper.

It is inscribed on the front in pencil “Old Waterfront Houses – 1865,” presumably by the artist, in the lower right and with the initials “SC” on the lower left. The painting is exhibited in the entry hall at the Whitehorne House museum.

“We are very excited to have discovered and acquired this previously unknown image of John Goddard’s house and shop,” said Pieter N. Roos, Executive Director of the Newport Restoration Foundation. “Besides the subject, what is interesting about the painting is the length to which the artist went in order to secure the perspective. The image could only have been rendered from a boat sitting in the harbor off Easton’s Point.”

While almost every Goddard and Townsend cabinetmaker in Newport built a shop on Bridge Street, Goddard chose to build several blocks north and on the water.

Besides the assumed advantage of having lumber delivered directly to the door by boat, the location likely provided more natural light through three waterfront facades and reflection off the water.

The desire for more natural light is seen in the construction of many workshops, including Christopher Townsend’s, which had a great many windows.

In-depth look at cabinetmaking in Newport

The Newport Restoration Foundation recently purchased Christopher Townsend’s Bridge Street house and workshop, which will be used for research and scholarly endeavors.

“With the Townsend House and the Colman watercolor now part of our collections and the furniture at Whitehorne House, we will be able to provide a more in-depth look at cabinetmaking in Newport,” continued Roos. “We are not only able to show people the actual furniture, but we can place items into the context of where they were built and by whom.”


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