For the eclectic collector of 19th century American folk art, this is an oil on canvas, as framed in the original gilt, measuring 26 1/2" by 37 1/2" overall. The work was purchased recently in coastal Maine, where it came directly out of an old farmhouse near Nobleboro. It had been the property of one family there for decades. From a folk art Americana standpoint, it is a most interesting and unusual work indeed. The previous seller's label described it as ".....Revivalist Period 1830-1840 unsigned depicting a group of people in a boat moving toward a light with a crystal palace whilst mourners stand at water's edge, most likely symbolizing the death of a group of family members during a tragedy or illness or accident". This might well be the case, or, there might be a religious theme, with the crystal temple on the hillside, the rising sun and figures moving towards it, and so forth. Note the lady in dark blue Victorian garb at left, watching the departing boat through a spyglass, as top-hatted men stand nearby. I'd hesitate to call this a mourning piece, but it might be. The mystery is fascinating. The oil is in original shape, dirty, with no varnish, and a few unstable paint areas, with light losses in a vertical line at right and at lower left. The frame is of that gilt style popular during the middle to later portions of the century. You could clean and varnish this or enjoy it as it stands. It is really an unusual work; the rich symbolism and allegory elevates this to more than just another primitive 19th century folky painting. Contact me if you'd like more photos or photos under different lighting conditions. .
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