Thursday, October 4, 2012
Samuel Miller, Emily Moulton, 1852 from the Currier Museum
"Some portrait painters’ lives remain a mystery, though their works still survive. Samuel Miller, (American c. 1807-1853) painted an image of Emily Moulton (1852). (We know some details about Emily, the sitter, because the painting remained in her family until it came to the Currier.) An inscription on the back of the painting reads: "Painted in 1852 by Mr. Miller who lived on the south corner of Pearl and Bartlett Streets, Charlestown, Mass., USA". Records from 1852 list Samuel Miller as a portrait painter living in Charlestown, but beyond that there was no trace of him. Thus, it was assumed that Miller was an itinerant painter who never stayed anywhere long enough to be documented and perhaps died young. However, a Boston historian has discovered Miller’s death certificate showing that the artist was born in Boston around 1806 and died in Charlestown in 1853. He appears to have specialized in full-length portraits of children, often shown with pets and flowers, similar to folk painting, with the use of flat areas of bright color with a tendency toward simplification. Moreover, a number of works attributed to Miller because of their stylistic similarities to Emily Moulton, can now be dated with some accuracy. One point remains puzzling…if this is Emily, as family tradition maintained, she would have been 18 when Miller painted this portrait. Does she look 18 to you? Clearly the sitter here is younger than eighteen, raising several questions: Whether the portrait in fact represents one of the younger Moulton daughters, whether it depicts someone else entirely, or whether the work could be a copy of an earlier image of Emily.
Itinerant painters did not have the training or the established following that portrait artists in larger cities enjoyed. Some learned the trade as apprentices; others were self-taught and copied the conventions of portraiture from engravings of European portraits. Most itinerant painters had little training or were self-taught. They relied on native ability and the skills they had acquired as sign, house or coach painters to depict what they saw. Despite their lack of formal training, they often captured the essence of the sitter’s personality."
From this great page at the Currier Website:
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Heard on local public radio. Arts and Culture contribute 4% of the island's economy. That is nearly twice the state average and miles a head of others. I am lucky to live here. . . . . . (I do think the number is low, for I visited here before I lived here for cultural events. I am sure most come for the beach, but many come for the great art and cultural resources we have here. This contributes to our tourism sector.)
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The dust is clear and political caravans have long since left the Granite State for South Carolina and beyond. I thought it would be fun to point out that there is more to New Hampshire than skiing and a quad-annual circus of a political primary. Manchester is home to an internationally renowned art museum: the Currier Museum of Art. I am planning a trip off the island and up north to the Currier at the end of the month. My second in recent years. This museum in a little treasure tucked away safely on a side street of a sleepy Northern New England city.
From their website: "The Currier features European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs and sculpture, including works by Picasso, Monet, O'Keeffe, Wyeth, and LeWitt with exhibitions, tours, and programs year-round. The museum also offers tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House."
There are several goodies that are of interest and have me excited to return,
1.) The Henry Melville Fuller Paperweight Collection: 330 high quality glass paperweights from great glasshouses and artist in Europe and the United States.
2.) A fantastic ceramics collection including the works of Mary and Edwin Scheier.
3.)And finally two works by a true itinerant. The Portrait of Mark, Abigail and Lois Susan Demeritt (1835 watercolor, ink and graphite on paper - shown above) and a drawing of Bartholomew Van Dame (1836 watercolor, ink and graphite on paper) both by itinerant Joseph H. Davis. Davis painted more than 150 watercolor portraits of prosperous middle-class men, women, and children who lived along the Maine-New Hampshire border.
I plan to blog more about the Scheiers and Joseph H. Davis. folk pottery and a identified itinerant, how could I not. I may also at some time talk about the Medieval works at the Currier. However, for now I will say, visit the Currier and if you have been there, head back!