Sat, Jan 17, 2015 09:00AM EST - Sun, Jan 18, 2015 09:00AM EST
(New York, 1800-1875) Portrait of Francis Tryon, younger brother of Josiah Tryon (1798-1886), a major figure in New York's Underground Railroad, inscribed verso "painted by F. R. Spencer Dec. 1848" and titled verso under lining, oil on canvas, 34-1/4 x 27-1/8 in.; original liner with modern gilt wood frame, lined with linen and restretched on original stretcher, scattered retouch, crackle, recent restoration. Provenance: Brunk Auctions, March 10-11, 2012, lot #511; Private Collection<br><br>A note from the consignor:<br>Frederick Spencer grew up in an accomplished family. His father served as an officer in the War of 1812; one uncle was a judge and another served as a professor of medicine; plus his younger brother pioneered innovations in lenses for telescopes and microscopes. When he passed on, Frederick R. Spencer was himself described as “one of the greatest American portrait painters of his time” (Post Standard, New York, May 15, 1904).<br><br>Spencer began life as an artist around 1822 and in 1825 moved to New York to study under John Trumbull, the well-regarded history painter. From 1827-1830, the artist made his income producing portraits in Canastota, Albany, and Utica. He returned to New York in 1831 and became successful painting prominent citizens (this portrait of Francis Tryon, the wealthy businessman, serves as an example). Spencer won election to the American Academy of Fine Arts in 1832 and sat on the organization’s Board of Directors from 1833-35, followed by exhibiting and officiating roles at the National Academy of Design. Today Spencer’s paintings are widely represented in American facilities, including the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum.<br><br>Spencer’s sitter Francis Tryon, a resident of Fifth Avenue, often traveled abroad in his role as an importer. He followed the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, the Swedish scientist, philosopher, and Christian mystic whose views captivated intellectuals of the day (William Blake, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman and George Inness among them). Many Swedenborgians were active abolitionists, a belief consistent with the mission of Tryon’s influential older brother Josiah, remembered for helping runaway slaves escape from Niagara County into Canada.
lined with linen and restretched on original stretcher, scattered retouch, crackle, recent restoration