Family Tree Tuesday – Lydia Field Emmet
Lydia Field Emmet was best known for her work as a portraitist. Her paintings can be found hanging in the White House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other prestigious art galleries. In 1883, at the age of sixteen, she was commissioned to illustrate Henrietta Christian Wright’s children’s book Little Folk in Green. Emmet was an illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar magazine and was commissioned to paint an official portrait of the First Lady, Lou Henry Hoover from President Herbert Hoover which now hangs in the White House.
She was born on January 23, 1866 in New Rochelle, New York to merchant William Jenkins Emmet and illustrator Julia Colt Pierson. Thomas Addis Emmet was Lydia’s paternal great grandfather. He was a prominent lawyer who later served as New York State Attorney General. He was an Irish nationalist who held a pivotal position in the Dublin Society of the United Irishmen after the failure of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Emmet immigrated to the United States with his family after his younger brother, Robert Emmet, was hanged in 1803 for high treason by the British government for his attempt to implement an Irish rebellion. Robert Emmet became an heroic figure in Irish history.
Lydia’s paternal grandfather was Judge Robert Emmet who served as the captain of a cavalry regiment in the War of 1812. Her maternal grandfather was Josiah G. Pierson who was an inventor and is believed to have invented the first properly functioning nail-cutting machine, with a patent registered for the device in 1795. He was the son of Congressman Jeremiah Halsey Pierson.
Jane Emmet de Glehn, Lydia’s sister, was also an artist and married Wilfrid de Glehn, a notable British impressionist painter. In 2007, Arden Galleries in Manhattan held an exhibition of paintings by five generations of women in the Emmet family which included Lydia’s great aunt Elizabeth Emmet and her great-great grandnieces Julia Townsend and Beulah Emmet.
Playwright, editor, and screenwriter Robert Emmet Sherwood was Lydia’s nephew, he was the son of her sister Rosina Emmet. Sherwood won four Pulitzer Prizes, one of them for his book Roosevelt and Hopkins which recounted his time working as a speechwriter for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for the film The Best Years of Our Lives.
Check out Lydia Field Emmet’s family tree and see how you may be related!