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Edward, Julie and Mary Ames Hitchcock

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Edward, Julie and Mary Ames Hitchcock

Artist: Frederick R. Spencer (American, 1806-1875)

Date: 1847
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Overall: 64 x 50 1/2in. (162.6 x 128.3cm)
Signed: Canvas verso (in paint): "Painted by F.R. Spencer / April 1847."
Inscribed: Canvas verso (stamped): “Prepared / by / Theo Kelley / New York.”
Credit Line: Gift of Edith Byers Roberts
Object number: 95.21
Label Text
This is one of Spencer's most ambitious portraits, painted at a time when the new technology of daguerreotypy began to seriously challenge the craft of portrait painting. Little is known about the Hitchcock children except that they reputedly lived in northern New Jersey. The work abounds with insights about mid-nineteenth century sibling relations, children's clothing, fabrics and interior furnishings. Its original rococo revival frame is an important document of mid-century taste and decoration.

Spencer grew up near the village of Canastota. According to the painter William Dunlap (1766-1839), in 1822 Spencer "evinced his love of art by going frequently to Utica . . . to see my scriptural subjects, exhibiting there. . . . He says I at that time gave him some valuable instructions." Over the next three decades Spencer developed a lucrative practice in New York City while simultaneously maintaining ties with patrons in central New York State such as the MWPI's Munson and Williams families. A number of the portraits he painted for them are now in the museum's collection.

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