Victorian House Portrait
Antique folk art oil on canvas portrait of a Victorian house, 29.75 x 21 inches, signed “Anderson 1888.” In life, the Queen Anne style building would have been a pile of competing forms: the rounded and conical turret, protruding gable, front porch, decorative roof line, and of course, the elaborate gilded weathervane. The ornamental millwork depicted would have added another layer of tactile complexity, and the polychrome and striped painted exterior would have only made the “picturesque” massing even more sculptural and eccentric.
This is all to say the physical character of this exuberant late 19th century house is disregarded in this startlingly flat, two dimensional depiction, which verges on abstraction. While the artist dwells on the painstaking decorative details of the building, he also treats the rest of the scene evenhandedly, with stark workaday additions in the rear revealed as well as a dreary fence. Without a person in sight and with most of the window shutters closed on the house, the painting has a pensive, if not disquieting mood. Given the extreme attention to detail, it seems likely the painter lived in the house, which makes its ambivalent depiction all the more intriguing.
The painting is unframed, which seems to add to its abstract two-dimensional quality. Its canvas shows craquelure, which with its curves and spirals adds a marked contrast to the style of the painting and makes the piece even more visually striking. The piece also appears to have been conserved, the edge of the stretcher lined with a black band. Overall, the painting is in a fine state of preservation.
With its distinct style and evocative subject, the piece is an exceptional depiction of American vernacular architectural and among my favorite American folk art paintings to cross my path.
Very good condition, with paint craquelure (see photos).
29.75 inches wide
21 inches tall
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