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1830s Families by Joseph H. Davis

Joseph H. Davis (1811-1865) made a living painting portraits of people around New England in pencil, pen, and watercolor in the early 19th century. Might there be a portrait of your ancestors that looks like these?

Davis had a distinctive style that worked for him. He had a couple face each other across a table, a table that looked the same except for color in every picture, or (rarely) standing to face each other. Although the basic form was the same from family to family, they differed in the children, pets, and belongings that were included. Notice they were all placed on boldly patterned carpets.

The names of the subjects and the year were written at the bottom of each portrait. Davis’ work was apparently affordable for a middle class family, as he leaves behind around 160 works. You can see 18 of them at It’s About Time. -via Kate Beaton


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