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Maker(s):Field, Erastus Salisbury
Culture:American (1805-1900)
Title:portrait: Caleb Hubbard
Date Made:1836-1837
Materials:oil on canvas, wood, glass
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Sunderland
Measurements:framed: 41 x 34 1/2 in.; 104.14 x 87.63 cm
Accession Number:  HD 89.044
Credit Line:Museum Collections Fund
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Framed oil portrait of Caleb Hubbard (1754-1850) by Erastus Salisbury Field (1805-1900) in the winter of 1836-1837. The painting descended in the Hubbard family to Parker Dole Hubbard (1919-1994), son of George Caleb Hubbard (b.1878) and Florence Graves Hubbard, grandson of Parker Dole Hubbard (1825-1895) and Elizabeth Newton Hubbard (1842-1915), great-grandson of Ashley Hubbard (1792-1861) and Betsey Dole Hubbard (1794-1862), and great-great grandson of Caleb Hubbard and Lucretia Ashley Hubbard (1767-1853) of the Hubbard Tavern in the Plumtree section of Sunderland. Caleb Hubbard was the son of Israel Hubbard, Jr. (1725-1817) who settled at Plumtrees, built the family home, and established the tavern; Caleb served in the Revolutionary War and later took over the homestead and tavern. Born in Leverett, Mass., Field worked mainly painting the middle-class citizens of rural New England. Though he studied painting with Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) in New York for 3 months from Dec. 1824 to Feb. 1825, Field continued to paint in a country style. His portraits, with their flat compositions and blunt directness, were popular in rural towns and small cities along the Connecticut River Valley, from Greenfield and Northampton in the north to Hartford and New Haven in the south. His rapid style conveyed details of clothing and facial expressions with minimum brushwork; Field could complete a full portrait of an adult sitter in a day's time at a cost of $5, and created over 1500 paintings over his career. Although each portrait captures a distinct personality, his portraits share stiffly formal characteristics such as refined silk dresses, woolen coats, and mahogany furniture, along with other symbols of fashion, status, education, and civic-mindedness. The early portraits often depict their subjects with triangular-shaped shoulders and elf-like ears. After decades as an itinerant portrait painter, Field met the new competition from photography (introduced by his former teacher, Morse) by using the technology to provide his portraits with sharper realism; he later became interested in romantic, imaginative landscapes that illustrate religious allegories, and political and historical narratives, the best-known being his "Historical Monument of the American Republic" in the Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Mass. The nephew of Lucretia Ashley Hubbard and Caleb Hubbard, Field stayed with the Hubbard family in Pluntrees from 1836, off and on during his career, and painted 11 members of the family. HD's collection of Hubbard family portraits by Field include: Caleb Hubbard (HD 89.044) and his wife, Lucretia Ashley Hubbard (HD 89.045); their daughter Harriet Henderson Hubbard (2005.12.2); their son, Ashley Hubbard (HD 89.010) and two of his wife, Betsy Dole Hubbard (HD 89.010 and 89.046); and children, Israel Wales Hubbard (HD 2005.1), Nancy Henderson Hubbard (HD 2012.6), Parker Dole Hubbard (2005.21), Stephen Ashley Hubbard (HD 91.002), and Elizabeth Peck Hubbard (HD 91.002). The portrait shows the 83 yr. man seated on a red-upholstered chair, a standard prop in Field's portraits also used in Lucretia Ashley Hubbard's portrait, HD 89.045. Caleb has long straight white hair, and is dressed in a dark formal coat and vest with a white pleated shirt and black cravat, against a plain dark background. He is holding his spectacles in his left hand and in his right, a copy of "Message/ from/ the/ President of the United States/ to/ theTwo Houses of Congress/ at the Commencement of the ---/ The Twenty-fourth Congress/ December 6, 1836/ Printed by Order of the Senate of the United States/ Washington/ 1836."


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