December Treasure Hunt: Painting and Preaching




Thank you for sending me images of your pair of portraits. The journey of researching your paintings has certainly been an interesting one! I had initially hoped to obtain from you additional images or clarification of the writing on the back of the canvas, but had inadvertently lost your contact information. Using Photoshop, I was able to enhance the legibility of your images. While doing genealogical research on the portraits, I was able to figure out your name and realized that you have been doing research as well! Anyway, it was a quite fun process. Your portraits are a wonderful pair and are a great example of American folk art from the 19th century. As your paintings are in a good state of preservation and have not been lined, the backs of the canvases reveal much about the portraits. They were painted by Horace Bundy (American, 1814-1883). Bundy typically signed the back, identified the sitter, their age and where and when it was painted. The sitters in your portraits are Jonathan D. Stoddard and his wife, Jane Parks Stoddard, both painted at age 35 in Waterford, Vt., in August 1837. In doing some general online research, it appears that Jonathan and Jane Stoddard were buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Saint Johnsbury, Vt. It was on this same Web site where I also noticed that you had submitted an image of Jonathan Stoddard’s portrait, including the information that he was a lawyer and a statesman in Caledonia County, Vt. Horace Bundy was an itinerant painter and Adventist minister who traveled primarily throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts earning a living to support his wife and eight children by painting portraits and preaching. He moved from Lowell, Mass., to Vermont and eventually settled in Concord, N.H., where he died after returning from a trip to Jamaica in 1883. Bundy’s work is actively sought after on the marketplace. In addition to being great examples of American folk art, his work also documents a history of families throughout New England because he faithfully recorded information on the reverse of most of his paintings His work is in many prominent collections and institutions, including the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), Shelburne Museum (Shelburne, Vt.) and Old Sturbridge Village (Sturbridge, Mass.). I would value your pair of portrait paintings at $12,000.

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