Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thomas Sully

Mother and Son (The sitters are the artist's daughter and her son)
oil on canvas
144.8 x 115.3 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

Thomas Sully (1783-1872) was an American portrait painter, who was born in Britain but lived most of his life in Philadelphia. He painted Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and the Marquis de Lafayette, as well as many leading musicians and composers. His 1824 portraits of John Quincy Adams, who became President within the year, and then the Marquis de Lafayette, appear to have brought him to the forefront of his day. He also painted landscapes and historical pieces, and his work was used on United States coinage. His own index indicates that he produced 2,631 paintings from 1801, most of which are currently in the United States.

He made his first appearance in the arts as a tumbler at the age of 11 in Charleston. After a brief apprenticeship to an insurance broker, who recognized his artistic talent, at about age 12 he began painting. He became a professional painter at age 18 in 1801. He was one of the founding members of The Musical Fund Society where he painted the portraits of many of the musicians and composers. His paintings are elegant and romantically warm, emphasizing an economy of form and of colour, but his later work suffered from the sentimentality of the mid-19th century.