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Joseph H. Davis

 Drawing - Portrait Of Lucy Cottle by Joseph H Davis

Portrait Of Lucy Cottle

 Drawing - Portrait Of A Girl On A Patterned Carpet Holding Flowers by Joseph H Davis

Portrait Of A Girl On A Patterned Carpet Holding Flowers

Joseph H. Davis (active 1832–1837) was an itinerant American portrait painter. Over a period of only five years, from 1832–37, the itinerant artist Joseph H. Davis painted about 150 watercolor portraits of residents of Maine and New Hampshire. The body of work he left behind is highly regarded for its calligraphic line, miniaturizing delicacy, and decorative stylization. His pictures are in many important collections, including those of the American Folk Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Gallery of Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.


Life and Work

Little is known about the artist’s life: his identity was only securely established by art historians in 1989.[1] Yet art historians have been able to reconstruct his movements during his brief career as an itinerant artist because of the calligraphic inscriptions Davis would include at the foot of his pictures, usually giving the name and age of his sitters. The sitters are then cross-referenced through external sources, establishing their (and the artist's) location at the time of the painting.[2] The portrait of Bartholomew Van Dame is inscribed "Left Hand / Painter," which is taken as a confirmation that the artist was left-handed.[3] The article by Arthur and Sybil Kern that established Davis's identity also posited his connection with the Freewill Baptist Church.[4] This church provided the network that connected Davis with many of his clients, and Davis includes the church's publications, The Morning Star, as an attribute in many of his portraits.[5] Davis's art has a highly consistent character. He painted portraits in watercolor, with the faces of his sitters depicted in strict profile while their bodies usually open outward to a three-quarter view.[6] Generally the figures are set within bourgeois interiors, with objects (e.g. musical instruments, inkwells, books, etc.) used to characterize the personalities portrayed, suggesting their professions and showing off their life styles.[7] He is "best known for his double portraits of married couples" facing each other across a table,[8] which endows the interiority of his work with an explicitly Romantic quality.

References

Arthur Kern and Sybil Kern, "Joseph H. Davis: Identity Established," The Clarion 14, no. 3 (Summer 1989).
Gerard C. Wertkin (ed.), Encyclopedia of American Folk Art, New York: Routledge, 2004, pp. 144-145.
See Wertkin, Encyclopedia, p. 144 and Stacy C. Hollander (ed.) et al., American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, New York: The American Folk Art Museum in association with Harry N. Abrams, 2001, p. 392.
Arthur Kern and Sybil Kern, "Joseph H. Davis: Identity Established," pp. 48-50.
Hollander (ed.), American Radiance, p. 392.
Hollander (ed.), American Radiance, p. 393.
Hollander (ed.), American Radiance, p. 392.

[1]

Kern, Arthur and Sybil. "Joseph H. Davis: Identity Established," The Clarion 14, no. 3 (Summer 1989), pp. 45–53. Accessed online: http://issuu.com/american_folk_art_museum/docs/clarion_14_3_sum1989
Stacy C. Hollander (ed.) et al., American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, New York: The American Folk Art Museum in association with Harry N. Abrams, 2001, pp. 392–397.
Wertkin, Gerard C. (ed.). Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. New York: Routledge, 2004, pp. 144–145.

External links

http://www.folkartmuseum.org/index.php?p=folk&t=images&id=9961
http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/artist-info.2464.html?artobj_artistId=2464&pageNumber=1
http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/10732?=&imgNo=0&tabName=gallery-label
http://www.mfa.org/collections/search?f[0]=field_artists%253Afield_artist%3A13426
http://72.9.254.50/view/people/asitem/items$0040null:64/0?t:state:flow=1d055469-6f6c-4a26-aec6-0ecec1ad99d2

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