Presented is the only known signed portrait by Joseph H. Knowlton of Manchester, New Hampshire
"J. H. Knowlton had a studio in Union Block in 1843, and many of his portraits are found among the families of our older residents. He soon drifted into other fields of enterprise, to neglect has native art gift, which was of an unusually high order." Art and Artists of Manchester, Manchester Historic Association Collections Volume IV, Part One, Manchester Historic Association, 1908. 112, Art and Artists in Manchester. Unfortunately, between 1908 when the Historic Association noted that many of his portraits could still be found within old Manchester families and the beginning of the 21st century, almost all of Knowlton’s portraits have been lost.
In response to a query by the preceding owner of the offered portrait, the Manchester Historical Society responded, “I took copies of the image you sent and went into the collection to compare with works listed as by unknown artists and I do believe I have found the lady's sister! or at least another lady possibly by J. H. Knowlton. The second image I have attached is of Miss Alice Moore by an unknown artist - but bears a striking resemblance to your portrait of a Manchester Lady. The treatment of the hair, the pose, the dark background plus the portrait style strongly suggest J.H. Knowlton as the artist. It would be nice if he had signed the back as he did on yours but alas - the back is blank. The frame looks to be very much the same as yours as well - ours is a painted grain - to look like a more expensive wood and the stretchers to which the canvas is attached have a similar lap-joint construction. This is an exciting find!” As a result of this singly known signed portrait by J.H. Knowlton, the Manchester Historical Society has attributed the portrait in its collection to Knowlton. The portrait of Miss Alice Moore is cataloged in the Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog at Knowlton portrait of Miss Alice Moore.
This exceptionally beautiful portrait is also inventoried in the Smithsonian catalog at Portrait of a Young M anchester Lady. Signed on the reverse “J.H. Knowlton / Manchester / N.H.”, it is the only known signed painting by Joseph H. Knowlton. The canvas on original stretcher measures 27” x 22”. The stunning lady resides in the original paint decorated frame which measures 35” x 29 ¾”. Minimal conservation was done in 2010, which included removal of a second layer of varnish while leaving the remnants of the original varnish, fill-in and painting as needed and a final finish of Liquitex Soluvar Gloss. Everything was done according to museum standards and is totally reversible. The correspondence from the conservationist will be provided to the final owner of this lovely portrait. The lady has resided in my collection since 2010, hanging where she is the first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see at night. My research buddy, Sue Anderson, and I did a lot of research on Mr. Knowlton and I’ve given you the guts of our findings. Additionally, I asked my friend, Suzanne Rudnick Payne who is an independent scholar and writer. Ms. Payne tells me that, although she is has no information on Knowlton, she has often seen works by this hand. I still hold out hopes of finding other works signed by Knowlton. Condition is marvelous but for a flake of missing paint in the binding of the open book the sitter holds and a bit of waviness in the canvas.
This is a wonderful opportunity to own a beautiful portrait by a rare artist of much talent. Circa 1843-44.
Provenance: Ex- Mrs. Doris Stauble, Wiscasset, ME
Ex-Alabama Private Collection
Ex-Peggy McClard, Houston, TX
The results of rather extensive research on Joseph H. Knowlton can be read on the Folk Portrait Artists page.