Exhibition & Collection Programs
Winter Symposium: William Matthew Prior
Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 10:00 am
10 am–noon


William Matthew Prior (1806–1873) “democratized” portraiture by devising a sliding-scale fee structure that made such visual documents available to a broad cross-section of American society. He adjusted his painting style accordingly, offering flat portraits “without shade” for less money than fully modeled depictions. This also allowed him to compete with the growing popularity of photography that was threatening to replace the painted portrait. Prior was a fierce abolitionist, and his legacy includes a significant number of portraits of free African Americans in the pre–Civil War era. He was also deeply involved with the Adventist Movement started by prophet William Miller, who predicted the second coming of Christ in 1844; Prior painted leading members of this movement as well as Miller himself. Today, Prior is celebrated for the freshness and spontaneity of his portraits, particularly those that relied less on academic conventions. Artist & Visionary: William Matthew Prior Revealed, organized by the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, will be on view at the American Folk Art Museum January 24–May 26, 2013.

William Matthew Prior: Artist and Visionary
Paul S. D’Ambrosio, president, New York State Historical Association and Farmers Museum, Cooperstown, New York

Prophecy Art in America
Carol Crown, professor of art history, University of Memphis

Painting Like Prior: Artists of the Prior-Hamblin School
Stacy C. Hollander, chief curator and director of exhibitions, American Folk Art Museum

William Matthew Prior, Ornamental Painter
Lee Kogan, curator emerita, American Folk Art Museum

Space is limited, reservations recommended. RSVP/info: Rachel Rosen, director of education, 212. 265. 1040, ext. 381, or rrosen@folkartmuseum.org

Funding provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.