This wonderful American oil on panel folk portrait makes me think about how closely related 19th century folk art to the early 20th century Modernist art movement. In his short life, Thomas Ware created what appears to be less than 50 portraits of his Vermont neighbors using a formula that was fun, edgy and thought-provoking. His hard-edged, strongly outlined portraits have the sitter gazing directly at the viewer with wide, almost sorrowful eyes. This gentleman with a book is certainly no exception and would be just as comfortable in a 19th century room setting as in a contemporary setting. He appears to be in untouched condition (very good untouched condition), nailed into the original painted frame, and ready to hang in your collection. The only apologies that I can find are a few dings along the edge of the frame and that it appears that the top stick of the frame was pulled off, leaving two gouges to the back of the wood panel (not affecting the front at all) and the top frame stick was nailed back with round nails and is just a tiny bit off-skew. Except for these replacement nails on the outer edge of the top stick, all other nails are tiny square cut nails. Interestingly, Ware did not use gesso to build up the front of his wood panels before painting as some artist did. For example, Ashel Lynde Powers and Gilbert Stuart both covered their wood panels with gesso and then combed them so that they looked like canvas. But Ware applied his paint directly to the wood panel so that you can see the wood grain and the marks from hand-planing the wood if you look closely. I've tried to show you some of this wood figuring in the photos below.
Framed size is 25 ½” x 21 ½”. Not signed but confidently attributed. Circa 1820. This will be a great addition to your collection.
Please see the Folk Portrait Artists page for more information about Thomas Ware.