The William Snidow Farm
Giles County, Virginia, 1855
Oil on canvas, in a period veneered frame, 20 x 29 inches
A German émigré working in the style of the Dusseldorf Academy, Edward Beyer is recognized as the premier painter of panoramic landscapes of antebellum Virginia. Only a small number of his original oil paintings survive and rarely come to market. In 1855 Beyer also painted the nearby Lewis family homestead “Bellevue” and “A View of Salem,” which like the Snidow Farm, emphasize atmosphere, action, and drama. Beyer adeptly captured the verdant landscape of William Snidow’s farm, the meandering New River, and the Blue Ridge Mountains towering in the distance. According to a Giles County Deed Book, William Henry Snidow (1796-1863) acquired the sprawling property in 1836 after the death of his father, Colonel Christian Snidow (1760-1836). The house was built by William’s maternal grandfather, Captain Thomas Burke (1741-1808), who was the son of one of the earliest settlers west of the Allegheny Mountain Range. Inscribed on back of canvas in black paint: “View of Wm. H. Snidow’s Farm Giles, Co, Va / Painted from Nature by Ed. Beyer / Presented to Wm. H. Snidow by his friends / A. Hopp / Wm. Walten & / Ed. Beyer / Salem Va. Sept. 1855.” Mentioned in the inscription are almost certainly A. Hupp and William Walton who are listed as proprietors of Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs, a popular spa and tourist destination a short distance from the Snidow property and previously owned by William Burke (1769-1852), an uncle of William H. Snidow. In a further connection, Edward Beyer’s Album of Virginia (1858) includes a color lithograph of Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs. Additionally, William H. Snidow was a well-to-do lawyer very active in the affairs of Giles County and oversaw the creation of new roadways to accommodate spa tourism. The company owning Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs to which Hupp and Walton belonged appears to have been based in nearby Salem, Virginia, possibly explaining Salem as the place of the painting’s dedication, noted on the backside.