Daniel Hendrickson was descended from Hendricksons who moved in the 1690s from Flatbush, Long Island, to a section of Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey, that came to be known as Holland. Born on 5 February 1723, he was the eleventh and youngest child of Captain Daniel Hendrickson and Catharine Van Dycke. Captain Hendrickson, a farm owner, physician, and at one time High Sheriff of Monmouth, died when Daniel was four years old, and his extensive land holdings were divided among his sons. Daniel inherited the homestead farm, on which he lived his entire life. On 22 December 1743 Daniel married Catharine Couwenhoven, with whom he had four children.
Although nothing is known about Hendrickson's secular education, he received catechismal instruction under the direction of the pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church. He later offered such lessons himself. On 25 April 1747, he and his wife joined the Reformed Churches of Freehold and Middletown. He became a lay reader, delivering sermons from the pulpit and conducting prayer meetings at home, and published a sermon in Dutch. His leadership in the church earned him the nickname "Dominie."
Hendrickson's primary occupation was that of a farmer, and, like his father, he amassed a large amount of property. In addition to practicing agriculture he is recorded as having run a tannery, a cordwain business, a brickyard, a redware pottery, and a distillery. He was also involved in shipping brick and agricultural products from Monmouth County to New York City.
Music and art seem to have been recreational activities for Hendrickson. He had a spinnet in his house and, according to Reverend Schenck, a descendant who wrote a brief biography of Hendrickson in about 1870, "obtained for his personal use a large organ" for which he had his ceiling raised. About his art Schenck wrote: "He had an unusual genius for painting as without any known instruction and in a creditable manner he executed life-size portraits in oil of himself, several of his family, of a dau. [sic] of Gov. Belcher and also one of the Rev. W. Erickson now in the possession of the author." Of these, only a portrait of his daughter Catharine, owned by the National Gallery (1953.5.45), and a self-portrait have been located. Another painting, attributed to him by family tradition and exhibiting stylistic similarities, is a portrait of a man thought to be Pieter Luyster, a neighbor and friend of the artist. In addition to painting portraits, Hendrickson is believed to have done some decorative painting of furniture and walls.
Hendrickson, described by Schenck as grossly overweight, died very suddenly on 21 January 1788. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
Hendrickson, Daniel. Ledger and Account Book, 1753-1769. Special Collections, Rutgers University Libraries, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Schenck, Reverend Garret Conover. "Sketch of Daniel Hendrickson." Unpublished manuscript, c. 1870. Hendrickson Miscellaneous File, Collection 1, Family Papers, Monmouth County Historical Association, Freehold, New Jersey.
Beekman, George C. Early Dutch Settlers of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Freehold, New Jersey, 1901: 113-135.
Chotner, Deborah, with contributions by Julie Aronson, Sarah D. Cash, and Laurie Weitzenkorn. American Naive Paintings. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 177-178.