Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions
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  • Attributed to Sturtevant J. Hamblin (act. 1837–1856)
  • Probably Massachusetts
  • c. 1845
  • Oil on canvas
  • 27 1/8 x 22 1/4 in.
  • American Folk Art Museum, gift of Robert Bishop, 1992.10.2

    Portraits of sea captains are poignant reminders of the hazards and hardships posed by the oceangoing trades during the nineteenth century. Perhaps more than any other single community, men who followed the seafaring professions relied on painted portraits to function as a surrogate presence in their homes, as voyages frequently lasted years and men did not always survive to return home. This is one of several similar portraits of sea captains painted by Sturtevant J. Hamblin, who established himself in Boston with his brother-in-law, William Matthew Prior. The two were the primary practitioners of a schematic style of portraiture “without shade” that could be completed quickly and at modest cost to the client.
  • Photo by John Parnell, New York