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George Frederic Stearns (Mansfield, Massachusetts, 1826-1902) Portrait of the Isaac Stearns Family

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American Furniture & Decorative Arts - 3022M
Date / Time :
August 13, 2017 10:00AM


George Frederic Stearns (Mansfield, Massachusetts, 1826-1902)

Portrait of the Isaac Stearns Family
Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 in., depicting the family including William Stearns, his wife, Nancy Hick Walker Stearns holding baby Wilhelmina, Josephine standing, and seated are their three sons LeRoy, William Lowell, and Elijah Walker, all in a room with fireplace, Boston classical table with floral cloth, a checked floor cloth, and painting on the wall depicting the family home on Stearns Avenue, East Mansfield, Massachusetts, where the picture was painted, in original black-painted frame.
Condition: Unrestored, with areas of wear and associated paint loss.

Note: George Frederic Stearns was born October 1, 1826, in Mansfield, Massachusetts, the fourth of nine children of Isaac and Sarah Fillebrown Stearns. While little is known of his early life, it is thought that he began painting when in his late teens or early twenties. While Stearns' uncle, William and cousin William L. Stearns', were "Painters" by profession, and it is possible that they played some role in the development of his artistic skills, there is no known evidence that George received any formal academic training. Family records show that Stearns is known to have painted portraits of at least eight of his relatives and at least one other genre painting described as a "Southern Slave Market." He apparently made at least a modest living from his work as the 1850 Federal Census notes Stearns' occupation as "Portrait Painter."

In 1855 George Frederic Stearns and his brother, Orange Scott Stearns, built the "Mud House," a hexagonal cement structure on Stearns Avenue, Mansfield, Massachusetts, that still stands today.

George married Louisa Jones Shaw April 25, 1855 in Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and together they had ten children. According to family tradition, Louisa did not feel that portrait painting was a suitable profession for a gentleman and urged him to enter the ministry. By the late 1850s Stearns seems to have stepped away from his portrait painting profession and to begin his religious training. The 1860 Federal Census notes Stearns' occupation as "Clergyman," and he was fully ordained as a minister October 10, 1861. Stearns continued in the ministry as a pastor and missionary for the remainder of his life serving in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Maine, and Massachusetts. Reverend Stearns died in Mansfield, Massachusetts, on April 17, 1902.
Estimate $8,000-12,000

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.


William Lowell, Nancy Hick Walker, William Stearns, George Frederic Stearns, Louisa Jones Shaw April, Walker Stearns, Elijah Walker, LeRoy, Isaac Fillebrown Stearns, Sarah Fillebrown Stearns, Wilhelmina, Orange Scott Stearns, East Mansfield, Mansfield, Economy of the United States, Edward C. Stearns, George Luther Stearns, Stearns