Oil on canvas of a blue-eyed elderly lady wearing a white bonnet, 27" by 22" (34" by 29 1/2" in the 19th century frame), that attractive old frame bearing a placard giving the name of the artist as WILLIAM MATTHEW PRIOR (1806-1873). Images of the unsigned painting, which was found in Downeast Maine, were sent to major auction houses in New England and New York City. None disputed this being a work by the famous itinerant portraitist. The work came from the estate of a longtime Maine antiques dealer. Condition is excellent, with a modern reline on replaced stretchers, and some well-hidden inpaint in a horizontal thin line in the middle area of the lady's black dress. Prior was born in Bath, Maine and painted in Maine before 1840. By 1841 he was in Boston, painting primarily commissioned portraits of individuals, including children, and on more rare occasions, families. In 2008 a master work by the artist brought over $100,000 at auction. Prior was known for the "flatness" of the imagery, with little or no shading and modeling (which was more time-consuming and therefore costly). He actually advertised that flatness of imagery, stressing the lower cost for such work.
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