America's theologian

Only one portrait of Jonathan Edwards was painted during his lifetime, a rather conventional “likeness” done by the Boston-based painter Joseph Badger. The face is severe, aloof, unsmiling and suspiciously similar to many of the other faces in Badger’s 150 or so portraits from the 1740s and ’50s. It turned out to be too severe for many of Edwards’s admirers over the years. As a result, later variations on the Badger portrait have appeared, variations that struggle to soften the remoteness of Badger’s image and even to curl the unrelenting edges of Edwards’s mouth into a smile. One of these, an 1877 lithograph by John Ferguson Weir, adorns the jacket of George Marsden’s new Edwards biography.

 

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