DR. SAMUEL A. SHUTE (1803-1836)
Isaac Orr and Mary Johnson Orr
Corinth, Vermont, circa 1834
Each, watercolor and pencil on paper, 27 x 23 inches, mounted to museum standards in reproduction veneered frames
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This pair of portraits depicting Isaac Orr (1804-1873) and his wife, Mary Johnson Orr (1808-1870) of Corinth, Vermont rank among the most powerful and highly stylized known examples by Dr. Samuel A. Shute. Painted two years before his untimely death at age 33, these extraordinary portraits are notably flamboyant and freely painted in a style unique to Samuel Shute. They were part of a commission that also included a smaller watercolor portrait of their daughter, Atlantis Orr (1831-1860), 17 x 14 inches, inscribed on back: “April, 1834, Atlantis Orr 2 years 7 months” now in a private collection, illustrated in A Sampler of Recent Acquisitions II (David A. Schorsch, New York, 1992).
Watercolor portraits by Samuel A. Shute are rare when compared to the body of work done together with or individually painted by his wife, Ruth W. Shute (1803-1882). An unusual and distinguishing characteristic of Samuel Shute’s most highly stylized portraits are stark white-painted faces exemplified in the portrait of Mary Johnson Orr and “Woman with two canaries” in Jean Lipman and Tom Armstrong, Eds., American Folk Painters of Three Centuries (New York, 1980), p. 165. Additional watercolor portraits by Samuel A. Shute include “Dr. and Mrs. Charles Chandler” of 1829 in Lipman and Armstrong, p. 167; “Gentleman wearing a striped waistcoat and Woman wearing a bonnet with pink ribbons” in Stacy C. Hollander, Ed., American Radiance, The Ralph Esmerian gift to The American Folk Art Museum, p. 54, plate 25a-b, and “Lady with a colored belt” in Marna Anderson, A Loving Likeness, American Folk Portraits of The Nineteenth Century (Princeton, NJ, 1992), p. 38.
Found in St. Johnsbury, VT; Collection of Stephen Corrigan and Douglas Jackman, Rockingham, VT; Walters-Benisek, Northampton, MA; Private collection; Stephen Score, Boston, MA; David A. Schorsch and Eileen M. Smiles, Woodbury, CT; Private collection.