Musée No:792.025

Musée No:792.025

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Nathaniel Olds - Green Tinted Spectacles 

Artist: Jeptha Homer Wade


Date:1837

Jeptha Homer Wade (1811 –1890) was an American industrialist, philanthropist, and one of the founding members of Western Union Telegraph Company in 1854. He soon became one of Cleveland's wealthiest industrialists. He made the first Daguerreotypes west of New York, and was an itinerant portrait painter in his youth travelling around the country. In 1840 he moved to Michigan and developed an interest in the telegraph. He later used his great wealth to benefit his adopted home city of Cleveland. His grandson, Jeptha Wade II, was a founder of the Cleveland Museum of Art and donated the land upon which it stands as a Christmas gift to the city in 1892.

I know you really want to know about this amazing character with the glasses! Infuriatingly there isn't much - his name was Nathaniel Olds and he was painted along with Sally, his wife (see companion portrait at Musée No 792.024), when Homer Wade was boarding with them in Farmerville near New York. The portraits cost $18.  Sadly, that is all.  I can tell you a bit more about the glasses - the green-tinted spectacles worn by Olds were designed to protect the eyes from the intensity of Argand lamps, a type of indoor light used during the early 1800s. These lamps burned whale oil, and many people worried that its bright flames might damage eyesight. Though why he didn’t lend them to his wife for her portrait is a mystery!

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