Friday, May 30, 2014
Jack & Matthew Jouett | Kentucky Life | KET
This historical marker segment recalls a famous father and son, one an unheralded war hero, the other a renowned artist.
The father, Jack Jouett Jr., played a little known but pivotal role in the American Revolution, saving Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia legislature from capture by the British.
On June 3, 1781, the young militia captain was enjoying himself at a tavern in Louisa, Virginia, when he happened to spy British troops riding in. He quickly surmised that they were on their way to Charlottesville, where Governor Jefferson and the legislature had fled after Benedict Arnold's raid on Richmond. Jack made a heroic, all-night 40-mile ride through back roads to sound the alarm at Monticello.
Virginia's legislature honored Jack for his bravery, awarding him two fine pistols and a sword. Although he is known by many Virginians as their own Paul Revere, his story has fallen into relative obscurity outside the state.
After the war, Jack Jouett settled in what eventually became the state of Kentucky and raised a family.
His second son, Matthew, displayed a talent for portraits at an early age. Nonetheless, Matthew followed his father's wishes and practiced law. He served in the War of 1812, but after the war was over he devoted his energies to his first love, art.
Already respected for his portraits, he sought to become even better. He studied in 1816 under the famous Gilbert Stuart, who said Matthew was the only student he had who was worthy of his teaching. Among the notable men of the era who sat for a portrait by Matthew were the Marquis de Lafayette and Henry Clay.
Matthew died young at age 39, but is renowned to this day as Kentucky's greatest painter.