Antique American Folk Portrait Pair by Susannah Paine
  • I am so pleased to be able to concurrently offer the works of several renown 19th century women artists.  This lovely couple are strongly attributed to itinerant New England artist Susannah Paine (1792-1862), sometimes spelled "Susanna" and occasionally showing up as "Susan".  The attribution to Susannah Paine was confirmed by one of the two current leading experts on the artist, Suzanne Rudnick Paine, who said that the portraits are not only by Susannah Paine "but some of her best work".  The other leading expert if Ms. Rudnick Paine's husband, Michael Payne, so I feel comfortable that they consulted on this attribution....Susannah Paine had a fascinating life.  Please read more about her on the Folk Portrait Artists page at the link below.

    The pair are painted in oil on wood panels which measure about 30" x 25 1/2" each (there are very slight differences in the sizes of each).  The woman is stunning with her billowing stuffed, puffy sleeves of the Donna Maria style, draped bodice belted at her natural waist and elaborate lace bonnet decorated by peach-colored ribbon bows.  Included in her jewelry is an exquisite matching set of earrings, brooch and ring which appear to be pearls and a dark stone, such as sapphires, in gold settings.  She also wears a gold wedding band and a chatelaine which appears to be a triple chain and may have a wax seal and something else, both of which may match her pearl and sapphire jewelry set.  In her long fingers, she holds a quill pen with which she is writing on paper.  Interestingly, the paper faces the viewer--which would make it upside-down to the lady as she writes.  The lady writes:

    Search for wisdom
    “To understand a proverb and the
    interpretation, the words of the
    wise, and their dark sayings”
    “My son hear the instructions of thy
    Father, and forsake not the laws of thy mother”

    The first quote is Proverbs 1:6 and the second is Proverbs 1:8.  I find it quite interesting that the writer seems to have forgotten "not" in the quote about forsaking the laws of thy mother and added it later.  However, looking at it closely, we see that there may be a bit more space between "foresake" and "the" which might mean that it wasn't forgotten by the artist at all, but is a symbolic "forgotten" element of the writing.  Certainly an interesting query.

    The young husband has the most glorious rosy cheeks and lovely dimples and curly hair.  He wears a high collared which shirt with a white stock over his pleated shirt.  He sits upon a scrolled-armed chair with red upholstery.  His hand is somewhat hidden in the front of his jacket in the classic Napoleon pose that was so popular for men's portraits of the period.

    The wood panel of the man's portrait has several vertical age cracks, none terribly noticeable unless you shine strong light on them.  If you look closely at one of the photos below, you can barely see the cracks just to the left of my watermark.  I've made a note below the appropriate photo.  The woman's board appears to have been broken in half along a vertical age crack and repaired, with appropriate touch up painting.  It is also not very noticeable but I'm showing you photos with strong light so you can see them.  I acquired them unframed but have framed them in really glorious period gilt frames (resurfaced stunningly) with new gilt liners so that they fit without resizing the frames.  The gilt liners blend seamlessly with the period frames.  Framed sizes of each is approximately 39" x 34".  This pair of American folk portraits are circa 1825 and will make a wonderful statement in your home.

    (#5526)     Sold

    Please see the Folk Portrait Artists page for more information about Susannah Paine


    Payne, Michael and Suzanna Rudnick, "Roses and Thorns: The Life of Susanna Paine", Folk Art Magazine, Winter 2005/2006, pp. 62-71.

    Payne, Michael and Suzanna Rudnick, "A Woman Can Paint a Likeness?", The Magazine Antiques, January 2009.

    "Selected Works by Susannah Paine", Cape Ann Museum online.

    "A City Awakes -- Arts Flourish in Portland", Maine Memory Network, Maine Historical Society online.

    Portrait of George Morillo Bartol, Skinner Inc. online archives, American Furniture & Decorative Arts - Sale 2538B - Lot 52.

    "Susannah Paine (1792 – 1862)", American Gallery, Greatest American Painters