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Portrait of Young James Blickensderfer b.1847, d.1858, American, Moses Billings

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American Portrait of Young James Blickensderfer b. 1847 By M.(Moses) Billings, dated 1858 This is an original oil painting by the prominent artist, Moses Billings(1809-1884), dated 1858. The portrait is of James Blickensderfer, a citizen of Erie, Pennsylvania, the community where M. Billings spent the majority of his life. Moses Billings (1809 - 1884) Born January 15, 1809 in Amherst, New Hampshire, Billings was a self-taught artist, as few formal schools of instruction were in existence at that time. His painting techniques of facial features, particularly the eyes, gave his likenesses excellent quality, while his colors and period apparel were realistic. The artist settled in Erie, Pennsylvania in about 1835 when he married Jane Wilkins who hailed from there. As the only portrait painter in Erie in the first half of the 19th century, Moses Billings exerted a tremendous influence on artistic development in the area. With brush and canvas, he captured life in the young city straddling the eras between its frontier founding and its rise to prosperity as a commercial port and industrial center. In addition to portraiture, Billings contributed to his community by paintings signs and making decorative crafts for commercial purposes, as well as photography. In 1846 the artist temporarily moved to Washington, D.C. where he painted portraits for President James Madison(the Father of the Constitution), his wife, Dolley Madison and President John Quincy Adams. Billings returned to Erie, PA in 1848 where he taught art lessons; one of his pupils being Junius R. Sloan(1827-1900) from Ohio, a portrait artist who also became the first significant and well known landscape painter in the area. Billings offered a new technology to the people of Erie, called daguerreotype, which was the process of making a photograph on a plate of chemically treated metal or glass, which put him at a great advantage. Along with his most famous paintings, Billings also painted the portrait of Abraham Lincoln, as well as the prominent citizens of Erie, of which about 500 were known to have been done. One of these paintings is available in this very listing. Billings earned a solid reputation for his ability to capture a likeness of others, a skill he practiced into his 70's. He died August 14, 1884, at age 75. In 1963, the Erie Public Museum opened a special exhibit featuring Billings' portraits. In 1976, the Smithsonian Institution's National Collection of Fine Arts honored him among American artists, and the following year, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown purchased an oil painting entitled Girl in White. His portraits are now located at the Erie Art Museum; the Erie County Historical Society, Self Portrait of Moses Billings; Brauer Museum of Art, Portrait of Junius R. Sloan; Erie County Courthouse; Theil College Permanent Art Collection, Portrait of John Quincy Adams; and Stamford Historical Society, Portrait of William Jacob Blickensderfer; Sources: Erie Art Museum Erie Hall of Fame Collections: Brauer Museum of Art (Valparaiso, IN) Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, OH) Erie Art Museum (Erie, PA) Erie County Courthouse (Erie, PA) Erie County Historical Society (Erie, PA) Stamford Historical Society (Stamford, CT) Theil College Permanent Art Collection (Greenville, PA) Measurements: site, 24" x 20" Framed, 26" x 22" Condition: Original "as found". Three pinholes. Some craquelure' and minor paint losses. Craquelure' is indicative of natural aging, and shrinkage of painted canvas over time. Please examine all photos; the tiny white spots indicate either a pinhole or a paint loss. This lovely portrait painting is ready for your restoration expert or, if you like, display it "as is." We have it displayed in our Americana room and it's quite striking with emphasis on the figure's face through proper lighting. Portrait acquired from the family descendants.
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