Descended in the Bronson family, Winchester, Connecticut
Sold in these rooms, Important Americana, January 28, 29 and 30, 1988, Sale 5680, lot 1496
David Schorsch, New York
Maria Rachel (Munsell) Bronson was born in Torrington, Connecticut on April 26, 1819. Her son Wilbur was born in Winchester, Litchfield, Connecticut on June 9, 1848. A companion portrait of her two older sons, Edward and Henry, also by Ammi Phillips, was sold at the same Sotheby's auction as this one.
The Bronson family history, written in 1912 by Ellen E. Potter, mentions Ammi Phillips coming to paint the family's portraits.
Stacy C. Hollander's essay on Phillips in American Radiance notes, "For more than fifty years, Ammi Phillips portrayed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of his friends, relatives and neighbors in New York, as far north as Ticonderoga in the Adirondacks, south to Bedford, in Westchester County, and throughout the border areas of Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Connecticut.
Phillips was born in Colebrook, Connecticut, in 1788. By 1809 he was already an itinerant artist, advertising that he would paint "correct likenesses...with perfect shadows and elegantly dressed in the prevailing fashions of the day." He married Laura Brockway of Schodack, New York, in 1813, and started a successful pattern of patronage that would continue throughout his life. Unlike many traveling painters, Phillips established himself in a community and then painted in the area for a period of years, allowing him to establish a familiarity between him and his clients that is evident in portraits that are acute personal studies. The portraits of these years are ethereal in color, large in scale and minimal in compositional elements. At this time Phillips began utilizing the artistic convention of men seated with one arm draped over a chair back. By the 1820s the portraits were reduced in scale but projected an increased use of strong color contrasts, a style fully realized during the Kent period.
In 1830, shortly after his first wife died, Phillips maried Jane Ann Caulkins of Northeast, New York, and spent the next years painting prominent families along both sides of the Hudson River from his home base in Rhineback, and later Amenia, New York. He moved back to the Berkshires some time before 1860 and continued to paint the residents of the area until his death in 1865 in Cutrisville (now Interlaken). His obituary in the Berkshire County Eagle read simply, Died at Curtisville, Stockbridge, July 14th, very suddenly, Mr. A. Phillips, aged 78."
Accompanying this lot is extensive genealogical information about the Munsell and Bronson families.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale