Museum logo
Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
Accession Number 1900.001
Catalog Number 1900.001.022
Object Name Painting
Title Portrait of Reuben Wood
Description Portrait of Ohio's 21st governor, Reuben Wood (1850-1853). He wears a black coat, white shirt, black tie and has a long white beard.
Date 1866
Artist Wright, Rufus, ca. 1832-ca. 1900
Notes Reuben Wood was born in Middletown, Vermont, in either 1792 or 1793. His father, a minister, taught his son at home until his death when Wood was fifteen years old. At that point, Wood moved to Canada to live with his uncle, and he studied the law. When the War of 1812 occurred, Wood was conscripted into the Canadian army, but he escaped back to the United States. He served briefly in the American army and then returned home to his mother in Vermont. After the war, he continued to study the law and taught school.

In 1818, Wood moved to Cleveland with his wife and young daughter. He soon became a member of the Ohio Bar and began to practice law in Cleveland. His legal practice allowed him entry into the political arena, and he served in the state senate between 1825 and 1830. In 1830, Wood became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the Third Judicial Circuit, before being elected in 1833 to the Ohio Supreme Court. He served as a Supreme Court justice from 1833 to 1847.

Over time, Wood became associated with the Democratic Party. In 1850, he ran for governor on the Democratic ticket, ultimately defeating Whig Party candidate William Johnston and Free Soil candidate Edward Smith. By the time that Wood took office, the Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1850 was in session. When the Constitution of 1851 went into effect, it stated that governors would be elected on odd years. Wood's first term of office was limited to only one year, but he then was reelected to a second term in 1851.

In 1853, Wood resigned from the governorship when he became American Consul to Chile. In 1855, he returned to the United States and retired to his farm in Cuyahoga County. He died on October 1, 1864.
People Smith, William Henry, 1833-1896
Wood, Reuben, 1792-1864
Wright, Rufus, ca. 1832-ca. 1900
Signed Name Rufus Wright NY Sept 1866, Original--1862
Sig Loc Mid right in red
Image size 30" x 25"
Frame size 34-1/2" x 29-1/2"
Frame desc Twentieth century molded gilt frame
Material Oil Paint/Canvas/Wood
Provenance In 1867, the Ohio General Assembly passed a joint resolution relative to the governors of Ohio. The legislators resolved that "the secretary of state, on the first Monday of January next, whether the portraits of the governors of Ohio, state and territorial, can be procured, and if so, whether original portraits or copies, and the probable expense of procuring such portraits for the governor's office."

Secretary of State William H. Smith reported to the General Assembly, "Geo. B. Merwin, Esq., of East Rockport, has an original portrait of Gov. Wood, painted by a New York artist, 'a most excellent likeness, and fine specimen of the art,' which he will part with, for the purpose indicated in the resolution, at the price which he paid for it--$100."

On September 21, 1868, Noble H. Merwin wrote to Governor Rutherford B. Hayes the following: "Dear Sir:--I have the honor of presenting to the State, through you, a portrait of my grand-father, the late Reuben Wood. . . This portrait was painted by Rufus Wright, of New York City, from the original, also painted by him from life August, 1862, when Gov. Wood was 71 years of age. The family have always considered the original an excellent likeness, and the copy to be very faithful. . . "

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board took over the care of the Statehouse and its collections in 1988.
Search Terms Ohio Governor
Ohio Governor's Portraits
Subjects Governors
Portrait paintings
Collection Statehouse Artwork Collection/Governors' Portraits