JACOB MAENTEL (1778-1863)

Catherine Wilt
York, Pennsylvania, circa 1830–1832
Watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper, 14 x 8 inches, mounted on antique printed cotton scarf, 23 ½ x 14 ½ inches, in period painted frame.

“This portrait of Catherine Wilt (1817–1906) is one of four that descended in her family. It bears many of the hallmarks associated with Jacob Mantel’s outdoor scenes: dry earth under the feet of the subject, rolling green hills studded with trees and a house in the background. Details of costume and hair point to a date of about 1830–1832, supporting family tradition that the portrait was painted on the occasion of Wilt’s confirmation, which occurred during that time frame. The paisley-bordered cotton upon which the watercolor is mounted is a remnant from the actual shawl depicted in the portrait. Wilt married William Adams (1825–1858) in 1846. Her father, Peter owned and operated a public inn in York, Pennsylvania, on the south side of Market Street, east of Queen Street. The establishment was well known for the entertainment offered by traveling circuses and theater companies in its yards and a large interior room. A series of drawings by Lewis Miller details the tavern and some of its entertainments, as well as an accident that occurred while the building was being erected. Identified by Miller as ‘Peter Wilts House,’ this may be the same home, at 45 South Queen Street, that was deeded to Catherine Wilt in 1850.” Stacy C. Hollander, ed., American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (New York, 2001), p. 381.

Provenance:
By family descent; Frederick W. Shaffer, Bethayres, PA; “The American Heritage Auction of Americana,” Sotheby’s, New York, January 27–30, 1982, lot 833; Marjorie H. Schorsch, Greenwich, CT, 1983; Collection of Ralph O. Esmerian, New York; “Visual Grace: Important American Folk Art From the Collection of Ralph O. Esmerian,” Sotheby’s, New York, January 25, 2014, lot 582; David A. Schorsch and Eileen M. Smiles, Woodbury, CT, 2014; Private collection.

Exhibited:
“American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum,” American Folk Art Museum, New York, December 11, 2001–June 2, 2002. “Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined,” American Folk Art Museum, New York, January 17–September 12, 2012.

Published:
Stacy C. Hollander, ed., American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (New York, 2001), pp. 36, 381, no. 11.

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