Published: August 20, 2002
Ammi Phillips’ ‘Quaker Woman’ Finds a New Home at the Shelburne Museum
SHELBURNE, VT. – Shelburne Museum has acquired a powerful portrait by the accomplished Nineteenth Century painter Ammi Phillips (1788-1865).
The work, titled “Quaker Woman” was painted about 1835 and is “the finest portrait to be acquired by Shelburne Museum in six years, and one of the artist’s most vigorous and exciting works,” according to chief curator Henry Joyce. “Quaker Woman” is a significant addition to the museum’s holdings of early American paintings and joins two other portraits by Phillips in the permanent collection.
“Quaker Woman” is a gift to the museum from Susan Wanner, a resident of Burlington, Vermont, who had owned the painting since 1974. The painting came to Mrs Wanner from her aunt, who bought the painting at auction in Philadelphia in 1956. Mrs Wanner gifted “Quaker Woman” to Shelburne Museum in July 2002, in large part as a response to the museum’s renovation and re-opening of the Stagecoach Inn Gallery, where the painting now is displayed.
Ammi Phillips is recognized as among the finest American portrait artists of the early Nineteenth Century. Beginning his career in 1810, Phillips was an itinerant painter in high demand throughout New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and southern Vermont. His self-taught style is characterized in “Quaker Woman” by the fine modeling of the subject’s face by light and shadows, and the use of thin white brush strokes to highlight the effects of starched fabric on her cap.
Phillips was prolific, producing at least 700 paintings over the course of his career. He began to be rediscovered by collectors and museums in the early 1960s, and today his work can be found in major museums throughout the United States.
“Quaker Woman” has never before been exhibited in a museum. It is displayed in Stagecoach Inn Gallery along side another Phillips portrait, “Elmore Everitt, M.D. of Sharon, Connecticut” (circa 1832).
“Quaker Woman” is an example of the artist near his peak, featuring a particularly successful and sensitive rendering of the subject’s face. The painting is on view through October 27.
Shelburne Museum, US Route 7, can be reached at 802-985-3346 or www.ShelburneMuseum.org.
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