1927 Watercolor of Sheridan Circle

Sheridan Circle

Several months ago I found this nice little watercolor painted in 1927 by Joseph Whitla Stinson. In the lower right corner its titled Sheridan Circle Wash. D.C.

Stinson appears to have been a very colorful person based upon what I’ve been able to find out about him. When he died at the age of 69 in 1954, he was described as an attorney, poet, and landscape artist with a “flair for sensational marital episodes and gaudy attire.” He was born in New York, where he studied architecture, civil engineering, and law at Columbia University.

He joined the State Department as an attorney in the Latin-American Division, a position he had moved on from by 1936. In a 1935 review of his work during an exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, it was stated that his work showed the influence of his master, Honorato Garlandi, noted Roman¬†aquarellist and painter of the Roman Campagna, under whom he studied. Many of Stinson’s paintings showed scenes in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. In addition to exhibiting his work at the Corcoran, he also had exhibits in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

However, at the time of his death, it was his marriages that were notably remarked upon, and which had kept him in the headlines for weeks in 1939 and again in 1945. In 1937 he married as his second wife a wealthy widow, Mrs. William Livingston Crounse, at Bar Harbor, Maine. After five weeks of bizarre District Court proceedings in 1939, she won and annulment after she charged that she wed him while under the influence of a hypnotic drug.

Stinson married again on January 2, 1945 — at the age of 60 — to 75 year old Miss Violet Biddle, a member of a noted Philadelphia family. Yet only a few weeks after the marriage, Stinton was being tried to determine his lunacy. Suffering from manic-depression, Stinton was found mentally ill by the District Commission on Mental Health on January 29th, only later to be declared of sound mind by a District Court jury after six hours of deliberation on March 16th. Stinton was initially arrested in January and held for observation after allegedly sending letters to Government and police officials and following a night trip to the White House in a taxi.

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