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Artist Phineas Staunton is born in Wyoming, New York.
(Note: In 1853 the artist changes the spelling of his last name from "Stanton" to “Staunton.”)
Staunton studies painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. The Academy did not yet offer a curriculum; instead, artists made studies of items in the Academy’s collection.
As a traveling artist, Staunton completes a portrait in New Orleans of Henry Clay of Kentucky. Contemporary newspapers report that the artist painted Clay from life.
Clay’s oration on the Compromise of 1850 takes place in the Old Senate Chamber.
(December 1) Enfeebled by poor health, Clay attends the opening of the 32nd Congress, 1st session.
(June 29) Clay dies of tuberculosis at age 75 in Washington, D.C.
Staunton attends the National Convention of Artists at the Smithsonian Institution, chaired by Rembrandt Peale. Leading American artists convened and resolved to commemorate American history and promote the display of American art in civic institutions.
Phineas Staunton serves as lieutenant colonel from 1861-62 in the 100th Regiment of New York Volunteers during the Civil War.
(January 11) The Kentucky state legislature passes Resolution No. 51, to procure a life-size portrait of U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky. View Transcript »
(May) Phineas Staunton’s Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate arrives in Kentucky; it is submitted in competition with the entry by artist William Frye.
(May) The competition's selection committee votes four to three against Staunton’s portrait. View Transcript »
(May 25) Governor Bramlette of Kentucky pens a rejection letter to Phineas Staunton in which he describes the favorable opinion of Clay’s son regarding Staunton’s likeness of Henry Clay. View Transcript »
(September) Phineas Staunton dies in Ecuador of yellow fever during a scientific expedition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.
(November) Memorial publication lists Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate as displayed at the University of Kentucky, Ashland.
Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate is returned to Le Roy, New York (the artist’s hometown). Staunton’s wife was a founder of Ingham University in Le Roy, and in 1870 Mrs. Staunton erected the Staunton Art Conservatory at the school as a memorial to her late husband.
Ingham University closes (in 1892) and the Staunton Art Conservatory contents are sold at auction in 1901. Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate is purchased for $60 and donated to the Le Roy Union Free School. Displayed in a study hall, the painting now bears telltale concentric marks from balls tossed at it by school children.
When the Le Roy Union Free School closes, Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate is transferred to the Le Roy Historical Society. Due to the painting's immense size, it remains in storage for the next half a century.
The Le Roy Historical Society offers Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in support of her White House refurbishing initiative. The White House declines the offer.
Donated to the U.S. Senate Commission on Art, the restored painting is delivered to the Capitol and installed in the East Brumidi Stairway.