James Edwin Finley, Sr.,

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James Edwin Finley, Sr.,

Birthdate:
Birthplace: West or East Nottingham, Cecil County, Province of Maryland, (Present USA)
Death: Died in Charleston, Charleston County, SC, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Samuel Finley, Pres.of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) and Sarah Finley
Husband of Mary Finley (Peronneau)
Father of James Edward Finley, Jr.; Samuel Benjamin Finley; William Peronneau Finley; Mary Huston Finley and Sarah Ann Finley
Brother of Rebecca Breese; Samuel Finley, Jr.; Ebenezer Finley; Mary Sarah Finley; John Hall Finley and 3 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About James Edwin Finley, Sr.,

About His Portrait:

The painting was given to Dr. James E.B. Finley by his nephew, Samuel F.B. Morse. It remained in the family until Finley's great-granddaughter Mrs. E. Vernon Hahn (Maruetta Finley Hahn) donated it to the museum. The painting is signed by various owners (Mrs. Leighton Finley, Mrs. M.D. Finley, Dr. James E. Finley)

Samuel Morse, best known for his invention of the telegraph, was born in Charlestown Massachusetts and graduated from Yale College in 1810. With the American painter Washington Allston, he visited England and studied with Allston and Benjamin West in London. Returning to the States five years later, Morse established himself in New England as a portrait painter. In 1820 he became the first president of the National Academy of Design. Between his New England and New York sojourns Morse was in Charlestown, South Carolina. During the years he received many commissions to paint portraits and, at the same time, he worked experimentally in chemistry and electrical and galvanic fields. As is generally known, Morse conceived the idea of the telegraph while on broad the packet ship Sully on his way from Europe to America in 1832.

Morse’s portrait of Dr. Finley is characteristic of his best canvases. Sensitively observed and firmly painted, it reveals a careful delineation of features without affectation, and with a subordination of minor details. Dr. James E. B. Finley (1758-1819) was an uncle of the artist, and it was Morse’s hope to make a reputation for himself in Charleston because of his uncle’s position there. Edward Lind Morse tells of Morse’s arrival in Charleston in 1818 and reveals the following about the portrait: “At first, however, the promised success did not materialize, and it was not until after many weeks of waiting that the tide turned. But it did turn … around the enthusiasm of the Charlestonians, and others began to pour in, so that in a few weeks he was engaged to paint one hundred and fifty portraits at sixty dollars each.”

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James Edwin Finley, Sr.,'s Timeline

1758
1758
West or East Nottingham, Cecil County, Province of Maryland, (Present USA)
1798
January 2, 1798
Age 40
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
1801
December 13, 1801
Age 43
Beaufort, Beaufort, South Carolina, USA
1803
January 31, 1803
Age 45
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
1804
1804
Age 46
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
1806
January 10, 1806
Age 48
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
1808
June 28, 1808
Age 50
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA
1819
June 3, 1819
Age 61
Charleston, Charleston County, SC, USA