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Maker(s):Belknap, Zedekiah (attributed to)
Culture:American (1781-1858)
Title:portrait: John Foster Stearns
Date Made:circa 1832
Materials:oil on canvas
Place Made:United States; Vermont; Dummerston
Measurements:Frame: 32 in x 27 in; 81.3 cm x 68.6 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2017.8
Credit Line:Gift of William B. Borus and Julie N. Borus, in honor of Harold Richardson Borus and Elisabeth Fowle Borus
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

John Foster Stearns was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, in 1790 and settled in Dummerston, Vermont, where he died in 1872. Stearns' eldest daughter, Susan, married Deerfield historian George Sheldon. Zedekiah Belknap was born in Auburn, Massachusetts (near Worcester), but grew up in Weathersfield, Vermont, just south of Windsor. He was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1807 with the hope of entering the ministry. Instead, Belknap spent his life painting prosperous farmers and shopkeepers along the Connecticut Valley and in Massachusetts. The inscriptions on this fine example of Belknap’s work places the painter in Dummerston, Vermont, about 1832 when he portrayed Asa Knight and his wife, Susan, whose store is now at Old Sturbridge Village. The amazing coincidence for Deerfield is that the elder daughter, Susan (1820-1881), of Dummerston merchant, farmer, and magistrate John Foster Stearn was married in 1844 to George Sheldon (1818-1916) of Deerfield, nationally known antiquarian and the founder of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association in 1870. Inscribed on reverse “John F. Stearns, Esq.” and “Sarah A. Stearns” The oil painting depicts the sitter seated in a chair, in a three quarter view, he is dressed in a black coat with a white shirt and cravat, he is holding a quill pen and a piece of paper in his hands, there is an inkwell and two quills in the rear on his table, he has reddish-brown hair that is pushed up and away from his face with sideburns, there is a large red drapery in the rear of the painting, the frame is original to the painting. The frame has a small brass label (not original to the frame) that reads "ZEDEKIAH BELKNAP/1781-1858"


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