Thomas Satterwhite Noble

Thomas Satterwhite Noble

Thomas Satterwhite Noble (May 29, 1835 - April 27, 1907) was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He grew up on a plantation where hemp and cotton were grown. Noble saw the effects of slavery firsthand and portrayed many scenes of the Old South in his works. He attended Transylvania University in Lexington and studied art with Oliver Frazier and George P. A. Healey and moved to New York, New York in 1853 at age eighteen.

He first studied painting with Samuel Woodson Price in Louisville, Kentucky in 1852, then with Thomas Couture in Paris, 1856-1859 and returned to the United States in 1859. He served in the Confederate army from 1862-1865 during the American Civil War, despite his avowed hatred for slavery.

After the war, he had a studio in New York City 1866-1869. In 1869, Noble was invited to become the first head of the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati, Ohio, a post he would hold until 1904. During his tenure at the McMicken School of Design, Noble moved briefly to Munich, Germany where he studied from 1881-1883. He retired in 1904 and died in New York City, April 27, 1907. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.Noble's works are largely historical presentations. Modern critics have viewed them as overly romanticized, while others believe that he painted realistic scenes from actual events. One of his most famous paintings is "The Modern Medea" (1867) which portrays a tragic event from 1856 in which Margaret Garner, a fugitive slave mother, has murdered one of her children, rather than see it returned to slavery. (This event was the inspiration for Toni Morrison's novel "Beloved".)


Birchfield, James D., Albert Boime, and William J. Hennessey. "Thomas Satterwhite Noble, 1835-1907" (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky), 1989. ISBN 0-929007-00-X

NAME=Noble, Thomas Satterwhite
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Artist and educator
DATE OF BIRTH=May 29, 1835
PLACE OF BIRTH=Lexington, Kentucky
DATE OF DEATH=April 27, 1907
PLACE OF DEATH=New York, New York

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