The Tennessee Historical Society’s collections originated in 1818 when artist Ralph E.W. Earl founded the Nashville Museum. The museum exhibited oddities like the 14’ long jaw of a sawfish, but Earl’s portraits drew in the crowds. A highlight of the museum, Earl’s 1818 full-length portrait of General Andrew Jackson showed Old Hickory “reconnoitering the position of the British before New Orleans” before the battle on January 8, 1815.
In a review on May 9, 1818, the Nashville Whig observed:
“In the contour of the head, and indeed of the whole figure, the fidelity of the representation cannot easily be excelled…. There is a characteristic in the forehead of the original [Jackson himself], which is rarely met with – there is a stubbornness, or perhaps more properly speaking, a firmness almost amounting to obstinacy, which the Painter has unequivocally struck. The expression of the eye, indicates a perfect confidence, as to the result of the contest which seems to be viewed with a fixed and determined resolution to overcome.”
The portrait came into the possession of the Tennessee Historical Society in 1865 as a bequest from Justice John Catron, and it is now part of the THS collections in the Tennessee State Museum.