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Gad Hitchcock with Masonic and Independent Order of Odd Fellow Symbols
1840-50
Maker not marked
USA: New York, New York
Oil on canvas
frame: 41-3/4"h x 34-5/8"w x 3-1/2"d; stretcher: 34 in x 26 1/2 in
Special Acquisitions Fund
84.11

Portrait shows a man [Gad Hitchcock], seated on an Empire-style sofa. He wears a black jacket and stock with a white shirt. On his shirt is an Odd Fellows pin with design of square and compasses, all-seeing eye, and three entwined links. Plain background in tones of brown; well-modeled face painted in tones of pinks and grays. Stamped on back of canvas, "Prepared / By / Edwd Dechaux / New York."


Gad Hitchcock (1802-1853), this painting's subject, grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, but spent much of his life away from home, running a restaurant in New York City. Family history relates that he commissioned this painting as a gift for his mother. While he lived far away, Gad held a place in his relatives' thoughts through his gifts of oysters. When they received the shellfish, his family would throw a feast in his honor. In sitting for his portrait, Hitchcock wore a pin decorated with symbols associated with Freemasonry and with the Odd Fellows, another fraternal organization. In choosing this ornament, Hitchcock made clear to the friends and family that saw the portrait that he subscribed to the values of both organizations.