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Important Folk Art Temperance Painting Neal Dow c1840

Important Folk Art Temperance Painting Neal Dow c1840


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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Folk Art: Pre 1900: Item # 770453

Please refer to our stock # a1086 when inquiring.
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A superb oil on canvas American folk art painting depicting a man orating about temperance. He is standing beneath trees which are arching to almost form a bower over him. A courting couple is on either side of him, with a church in the background. The symbolism of the couples probably reflects the belief that marital and family relations improve in temperance households. Note also that the orator is holding a bottle in his left hand, probably just after having poured the contents on the ground. It is quite rare to find paintings with this theme. The work is done with vibrant colors and is extremely folky in nature. The photos do not do it justice.

Based on the theme and the physical appearance of the speaker, the painting almost assuredly is an interpretive look at Neal S. Dow (1804 - 1897), who was nicknamed the "Napoleon of Temperance". He was a prohibitionist mayor of Portland, Maine, and also known as the "Father of Prohibition". He sponsored the Maine law of 1851 which banned the manufacture and sale of liquor. This law and Dow's handling of it later led to the Portland Rum Riot of 1855 and the repeal of the law in 1856. In 1880 he was the presidential candidate for the Prohibition Party. The last photograph in this listing is of Neal Dow.

Overall condition is very good, with no paint flaking and totally minimal restoration or inpainting of any kind. The frame is not period, but nicely complements this work of art. Sight size is 28 1/4 inches by 23 3/4 inches, while the framed size is 34 inches by 29 inches.