Tuesday, 1 November 2016

American Folk Art - part 5

Continuing a major series on American Folk Art featuring 21 postings. Folk Art encompasses art produced by artists and ordinary folk with little or no training in the arts, and is traditionally utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic. The period I’m covering is the C18th and C19th.
See parts 1-4 also for earlier works.

Note: Follow me on Twitter for notice of updates @poulwebb

This is part 5 of a 21-part post on American Folk Art:


Scrimshaw is the name given to scrollwork, engravings, and carvings done in bone or ivory. Typically it refers to the handiwork created by whalers made from the byproducts of harvesting marine mammals. It is most commonly made out of the bones and teeth of sperm whales, the baleen of other whales, and the tusks of walruses.
The practice survives as a hobby and as a trade for commercial artisans. 


1775 Scrimshaw Map of Boston on Revolutionary War Powder Horn
40.6 x 9.5 cm

1800c Scrimshaw Horn Beaker
7.6 x 5.1 cm

1800s Walking Stick. American Sailor's Scrimshaw
Walrus Tusk Head Mounted on a Narwhal Tusk
85.5 cm long



1820s Sperm Whale Tooth made on the American whaling ship "Harriet" (front)

1820s Sperm Whale Tooth made on the American whaling ship "Harriet" (back)

Frederick Myrick was one of Nantucket's most famous scrimshaw artists, and the first to sign his work. Born in 1805, Myrick went on at least three whaling voyages. He carved what may be the most famous whaling scrimshaw that depict American whaling. "Susan's Teeth" is a series of 22 scrimshaw creations that depict whalers off the coast of Japan and Peru in 1829.


1828-29 Scrimshaw Whale's Tooth
"The Susan Whaling on the coast of Japan"


1828-29 Scrimshaw whale's tooth showing "The Frances of New Bedford" by Frederick Myrick

1828-29 Scrimshaw whale's tooth showing "The Frances of New Bedford" by Frederick Myrick

1828-29 Scrimshaw whale's tooth showing "The Frances of New Bedford" by Frederick Myrick

1828-29 Scrimshaw whale's tooth by Frederick Myrick on the whaleship "Susan"

1829 (August 28th) Scrimshaw whale's tooth by Frederick Myrick on the Whaleship "Susan."
"Engraved by Fred Myrick on board of the Ship Susan August the 28th 1829."

1829 (August 28th) Scrimshaw whale's tooth by Frederick Myrick on the Whaleship "Susan."
Reverse inscription reads "The Susan on the coast of Japan whaling."

1829 (February 8th) Scrimshaw whale's tooth by Frederick Myrick on the Whaleship "Susan."
The banner reads "The ship Susan of Nantucket"

1929 (August 28th) Scrimshaw whale's tooth  inscribed
"Engraved by Fred Myrick on board of the Ship Susan August the 28th 1829." 
 *          *          *          *          *

1830-70c  Whale's tooth scrimshaw with Abalone shell inlay

1830-70c  Reverse of whale's tooth scrimshaw with Abalone shell inlay

1840 Whalebone scrimshaw
27.9 cm long

1850-90 Whale's tooth scrimshaw
Portland Museum of Art, Maine

after 1865 Scrimshaw Tortoise shell

n.d. Whalebone Scrimshaw

Whale's tooth Scrimshaw featuring the American flag and eagle


Charles Peale Polk (1767-1822)

Charles Peale Polk
Self-Portrait



Charles Peale Polk was born in Annapolis, Maryland in 1767. Orphaned at a young age, he was sent to Philadelphia to live with his uncle and study art. By the time he was in his twenties, Polk was advertising himself as a portrait artist in Baltimore newspapers. Being unsuccessful, he returned to Philadelphia after a couple of years and advertised his services as a house and sign painter.
He continued his artistic pursuits and by 1800 he had opened exhibitions in Baltimore. In 1800 he held government office in Washington, DC, at the National Gallery of Art.


1787-90c Portrait of Mrs. Jacob Ten Broeck and Daughter
oil on canvas 82.1 x 99.7 cm

1790c George Washington
oil on canvas 55.2 x 45.4 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

1793 George Washington
oil on canvas 75.6 x 58.4 cm
Private Collection

1790c Washington before Nassau Hall
oil on canvas 92.1 x 72.4 cm
Private Collection

1793 George Washington
oil on canvas 76.2 x 58.4 cm
Private Collection

1791-76c Mrs. Thomas Kell nee Aliceanna Bond
oil on canvas 95.9 x 81 cm
Private Collection

1791-96c Captain Thomas Kell
oil on canvas 95.9 x 81 cm
Private Collection

1792 Mrs. Elijah Etting
oil on canvas 90.5 x 70.2 cm
Baltimore Museum of Art, MD

1793 Emily Smiley Snowden
oil on canvas 90.5 x 78.4 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

1797 Mrs. Cornelius Baldwin (Mary Briscoe)
watercolour on ivory 6.5 x 5.4 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

1799 Eleanor Conway Hite and Son, James Madison Hite
oil on canvas 152.4 x 101.6 cm
Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown, VA

1799 Isaac Hite
oil on canvas 152.4 x 101.6 cm
Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown, VA

1799-1820 Thomas Jefferson
oil on canvas 69.2 x 61 cm
Private Collection

Portrait of a Young Lady
oil on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm

Rufus Hathaway (1770-1822)

Rufus Hathaway was an American physician and folk art painter. He lived in southern Massachusetts, where he painted numerous portraits between 1790 and 1795. He later studied medicine and established himself as a doctor at Duxbury.


1790 Lady with Her Pets (Molly Wales Forbes) 
oil on canvas 86.6 x 81.3 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

1791 Captain Pollycarpus Edson
oil on canvas mounted on panel 63.5 x 77.5 cm

1791 Mrs. Pollycarpus Edson
oil on canvas mounted on panel 63.5 x 77.5 cm

1793-95 A View of Mr. Joshua Winsor's House & c.
oil on canvas 71.1 x 81.8 cm
Folk Art Museum, New York City

John Brewster Jr. (1766-1854)

John Brewster Jr. was a prolific, deaf itinerant painter who produced many charming portraits of well-off New England families, especially their children. He lived much of the latter half of his life in Buxton, Maine,  SA, recording the faces of much of Maine's elite society of his time.

Being deaf from birth, and growing up in a time when no standardised sign language for the deaf existed, young Brewster probably interacted with few people outside of the circle of his family and friends, with whom he would have learned to communicate. A kindly minister taught him to paint, and by the 1790s he was travelling through Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts and eastern New York State, taking advantage of his family connections to offer his services to the wealthy merchant class.

1799 Comfort Starr Mygatt and His Daughter Lucy
oil on canvas 137.2 x 99.7 cm
Private Collection

1799 Lucy Knapp Mygatt and Her Son George
oil on canvas 137.2 x 101.6 cm
Palmer Museum of Art, State College, PA

1800c Betsey Avery Brewster
oil on canvas 78.1 x 55.9 cm
Private Collection

1800c Child with Strawberries
oil on canvas 94.2 x 63.8

1801 Elizabeth Stone Coffin, Massachusetts

1801 Major Stone Coffin, Massachusetts

1805 Francis O. Watts with Bird
oil on canvas 89.5 x 68.6 cm
Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY

1807 One Shoe Off
oil on canvas 88.6 x 63.2 cm
Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY

1810c John Cox of Bridgeton, Maine
oil on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm
Private Collection

1810c Little Girl

1820-35c (attributed to) Portrait of a Young Woman
oil on canvas

1820c John Colley
oil on canvas 76.8 x 63.8 cm
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

1820c Martha Colley
oil on canvas 76.8 x 63.8 cm
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

n.d. Portrait of a Boy with a Book

n.d. Portrait of a Youth with a Book

n.d. William Fogg
oil on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm
Private Collection

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