Skinner Auctions
Skinner AuctionsBoston MA
March 1, 2015 10:00 AMCalender

American School, Mid-19th Century Barnburner Politicking.

Sell one like this
Auction: American Furniture & Decorative Arts - 2786BLocation: BostonDate / Time: March 01, 2015 10:00AM


American School, Mid-19th Century

Barnburner Politicking. Unsigned. Oil on canvas, depicting an interior scene with three politicians in the living room doorway at left, the most prominent of which may represent ex-President Martin Van Buren, who extends a card reading "POLK/DALLAS" to the seated homeowner whose wife stands behind him, her arms crossed, the room decorated with 18th and 19th century furniture and decorative arts rendered in uncommon detail, including depictions of an early 18th century black-painted cane-back chair, a high chest, a looking glass, two drop-leaf tables, a tall clock, painted tinware, and other decorations, 26 x 31 in., in likely original mahogany veneer ogee-molded and parcel-gilt frame. Condition: Spots and lines of retouch, two small repaired tears.

Note: Scenes like that represented here took place during the 1844 presidential campaign of James K. Polk and his running mate George Dallas. The foremost politician in the scene, thought to be Martin Van Buren, holds in his hand a printed card for the Polk/Dallas campaign, the eventual winners of the election. The political landscape in 1844 was complicated and contentious, according to Jonathan H. Earle, in whose book Jacksonian Antislavery & The Politics of Free Soil, 1824-1854 (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2004) this painting is reproduced. In the caption to the image, Earle writes "This intriguing image of New York politics in the 1840s features a trio of politicians - [one] bearing a strong resemblance to Martin Van Buren - soliciting the support of a folksy voter and his skeptical wife. The painting illustrates the rough-and-tumble factionalism of Democratic politics in the age of Hunkers and Barnburners" (p. 64).
Estimate $30,000-50,000

vertical line repaired tear just behind female figure, and another in drop-leaf table below her. Spots and lines of retouch throughout the painting.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Martin Van Buren, George Dallas, James K. Polk, American School, President, cane-back chair, Jonathan H. Earle, politician, Chapel Hill