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Superb Ammi Phillips American Folk Art  Portrait  c1840

Superb Ammi Phillips American Folk Art Portrait c1840

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Folk Art: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 935470

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A wonderful American folk art portrait of a Methodist minister painted by Ammi Phillips (1788–1865). The distinguished gentleman is sitting at a table, with his hand holding a pair of spectacles and resting on a Methodist hymnal. The finely rendered depiction of the large dominating figure with dark clothing emphasizes the gravitas of the sitter.

The painting is 32 5/8 inches by 27 1/4 inches sight size, and 37 7/8 inches by 32 3/4 inches framed size. The painting is in overall excellent condition. It had been relined for stability, but appears to be on its original stretcher. There is some slight bubbling in one or two small spots, which are not due to inpainting, and visible with difficulty in oblique light. In fact, there is no evidence of inpainting when viewed under a black light. The frame is not period, but is custom-made and beautifully complements this work. The painting has been in a private collection for over 18 years, and was originally found in a barn in New York.

Verification of the attribution to Phillips was made by Howard Fertig, who curated and co-wrote, with Stacy Hollander, "Revisiting Ammi Phillips: Fifty Years of American Portraiture"; New York: American Folk Art Museum, 1994.

Phillips, a self-taught New England portrait painter, is regarded as one of the most important folk artists of his era. His work is represented in virtually all major American folk art collections and museums. He was born in Colebrook, Connecticut, and began painting portraits as early as 1810. He worked as an itinerant painter in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, and was known as a "limner," this being the term given to those best-known artists of 19th-century America who were nonacademic portrait painters, often itinerant, who usually worked in oils. Primarily, the limner viewed his work as a source of income,