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Maker(s):Negus, Nathan
Culture:American (1801-1825)
Title:portrait: man
Date Made:1821
Materials:oil, wood: yellow poplar; gilding
Place Made:United States; Georgia (probably)
Measurements:overall unframed: 25 1/2 in x 20 in x 1/2 in; 64.77 cm x 50.8 cm x 1.27 cm
Accession Number:  HD 84.042
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Oil on panel portrait of an unidentified man by Nathan Negus (1801-1825), which is signed in the lower left corner, "N. Negus Pinx. / 1821." Born in Petersham, Massachusetts, Negus was the fourth son and eighth child of Joel Negus, a sign painter, and Bessy Gould Negus of Leverett, Mass. Negus was apprenticed to John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841), an ornamental painter in Boston, after studying briefly with portraitist Ethan Allen Greenwood (1779-1856) in 1815. While with Penniman, Negus organized a society for other artists in the shop to study and discuss art theory and techniques. After working in Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts in the spring and summer of 1820, Nathan Negus followed his older brother Joseph Negus to Savannah, Georgia, in December 1820. Together they traveled through upcountry Georgia and Alabama, and Nathan painted portraits and helped Joseph paint Mason cloths and ornamental work. In 1822, Joseph Negus married Elizabeth Filcont of Massachusetts and settled in Catawba, Alabama, where he died in October 1823. Increasing poor health brought Nathan back to Petersham in July 1825, where he died four days after his arrival. This bust-length portrait is of a man who is probably in his 30s, facing to the left, and wearing dark blue coat with double row of brass buttons, white vest, white high collar, and white jabot, against a neutral background. This is a well painted portrait by accomplished artist, with painterly techniques such as white highlights around nose and at corners of and under right eye indicating strong light from his left. The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library of Deerfield, MA, owns the Negus Family papers.


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