Sat, Oct 6, 2018 10:00AM EDT
Attributed to John Grimes (American, Kentucky, 1799-1837). Oil on canvas, framed. A portrait of Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton (1802-1885), ca 1821; 28.25 x 23.25 in. (sight), 35.25 x 30.25 in. (frame).
Lucy Smith Crittenden Thornton was the daughter of Col. John Crittenden, a Kentucky pioneer, as well as the sister of Senator John J. Crittenden. In 1822, she married her cousin Harry Innes Thornton (17971-1861), who became a prominent attorney in Alabama and California, where she moved in 1852, residing in San Francisco. Her obituaries refer to her as a "relic" of H. I. Innes, who died in San Francisco and was buried in San Mateo County.
By family tradition, this portrait was painted by Matthew Harris Jouett, who did paint her sister-in-law Sarah Lowe Crittenden. However, there is no reference in the many lists of Jouett's work to his having painted Lucy. It is more likely the work of John Grimes, his student. Like Jouett, Grimes frequently emulates the compositional format of Gilbert Stuart. Unlike Jouett, his coloration is more raw and laid down in strong contrast, and his anatomical modeling and contouring is rounder, in the much softer Romantic style.
John Grimes was born in Ohio but had settled in Lexington by 1820. He apprenticed in Thomas Grant's paint shop where he met Matthew Jouett, who took him on as an assistant. During the 1820s, he began an itinerancy in Huntsville, Alabama, although he also traveled to Philadelphia around 1825-1828. He also assisted Jouett in painting The Three Marys in 1824. During the early 1830s, he was intermittently active in Nashville, Tennessee, but returned to Huntsville in 1836, and eventually to Lexington where he died. He is buried in the old Episcopal Burying Ground.
Kelly, James C. "Portrait Painting in Tennessee", Tennessee Historical Quarterly 46, Winter 1987.
Patillo, Edward. "John C. Grimes: Alabama's First Portrait Artist", Alabama Heritage 63, Winter 2002.
Pennington, Estill Curtis. Lessons in Likeness: The Portrait Painter in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1800-1920, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010.
This catalog entry was written by Estill Curtis Pennington, of Paris, Kentucky. Pennington is the author of Lessons in Likeness: the portrait painter in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1800-1920, and is currently compiling a catalog raisonné of the works of Matthew Harris Jouett.
Provenance: Property descended in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Trimble Jr., Lexington, Kentucky