This wonderful folk portrait offers to folk art collectors and collectors of Black Americana alike. This oil on tin also provides another example of the link between 19th century folk art and the early 20th century Modernist Movement. The African American gentleman in circa 1840 clothing fills the frame and gazes straight at the viewer with his large brown eyes. Strong light from his proper left casts the right side of his face in shadow while strongly highlighting the proper left side of his face. The man’s facial features are strong. The reddish brown background is reminiscent of background colors used by Thomas Ware. He wears a black suit with stock tied in a short bow and a white shirt. The lower right corner is signed in red paint. The signature has some age wear but appears to saw “Spencer”. I have not located information about the artist. The frame is period moulded walnut with an edge that has been gilded. Framed size is 11 ½” x 14 ½”. Condition of the painting is very good but for 2 outwardly pushed dimples to the tin at his hairline at about 11 o’clock. The tin is not pierced, just a bit pushed out in these two small places. The frame has a sliver of wood missing on the inside edge at 9 o’clock that you can easily see in the photos.
This is a really great example of American folk art.