Encyclopedia of American Folk Art

By Gerard C.Wertkin; Lee Kogan | Go to book overview
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Gordon, Ellin, Barbara Luck, and Tom Patterson. Flying Free: Twentieth Century Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Ellin and Baron Gordon. Williamsburg, Va., 1997.
Rosenak, Chuck, and Jan Rosenak. Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century American Folk Art and Artists. New York, 1990.




BUSSELL, JOSHUA (1816-1900)

served as an elder and trustee of the Shaker community at Alfred, York County, Maine, but he will be remembered as well as a gifted mapmaker and landscape artist. Bussell entered the Shaker community with his family in 1829. Respected for his faithfulness, he remained a resident of Alfred's Second family for the rest of his long life. He also composed hymns, one of which, the rousing "Jubilee," remains in the oral tradition of the Maine Shakers to this day.

During the 1830s and 1840s, the Shaker central leadership at New Lebanon, New York, encouraged the drafting of illustrated maps or site plans of each Shaker village, to record the location of dwellings, shops, barns, pastures, orchards, and other features of the natural and built environments. Initially, talented Shaker draftsmen responded by creating documentary records with meticulous attention to detail but little artistic expression. Bussell, whose first drawing is dated 1845, was a cobbler by trade. He carried the mapmaking tradition later into the nineteenth century than any other Shaker artist did. By the 1880s his early diagrammatic renderings had evolved into fully developed watercolor paintings. In addition to the Alfred community in which he resided, Bussell's subjects included Maine's other Shaker village at New Gloucester, its subsidiary Poland Hill family, and the Shaker community at Canterbury, New Hampshire. Robert P. Emlen, the author of a definitive study of Shaker village views, attributes seventeen drawings to Bussell.

see also Henry Blinn; Painting, Landscape; Shakers.

Emlen, Robert P. Shaker Village Views: Illustrated Maps and Landscape Drawings by Shaker Artists of the Nineteenth Century. Hanover, N.H., 1987.
Patterson, Daniel W. The Shaker Spiritual. Princeton, N.J., 1979.


BUTLER, ANN (1813-1887)

was the foremost decorative painter in the successful tin shop established about 1824 by her father, Aaron Butler (1790-1860), in Greenville, Greene County, New York. Butler's father came to Greene County from Connecticut in 1799, and by 1811 he married Sarah Cornell. Ann was the oldest of their eleven children, nine of whom survived and attended Greenville Academy, founded in 1816. Ann Butler may have learned flower painting and other artistic skills at this academy, as ornamental arts were often deemed an essential aspect of a young woman's education in the early decades of the nineteenth century. She was conversant with all phases of production of her father's tinware business at a young age, and accompanied him on trips to as far away as New York City. According to family history, Ann was in charge of the decorating, or "flowering," of tinware produced by the shop by the time she was fourteen or fifteen. She later taught her sisters Minerva, Marilla, and Harriet to decorate tinware as well, and their work follows her own closely in design and technique. Ann Butler's involvement in the family business effectively ended when she married Eli Scutt, a union arranged by her father. Thereafter she moved to nearby Livingstonville, where she raised her own family of three children, and is buried in the Scutt family plot.

It has been possible to identify specific motifs and styles as the work of Ann Butler, based on several pieces signed with her full name or with a heartshaped device enclosing her initials that have survived to the present day. Dense decoration of roses, rosebuds, tulips with turned-back petals, diamondpatterned baskets, and delicate filler elements are brightly painted against dark surfaces. Flowers are painted in reds, sometimes with the addition of blue, with lean overlays of white to give definition. Fine ink work appears around the outlines or tendrils, and as crosshatching in flower openings. Fancy pieces, such as an English tea caddy and a Battersea-type shaped trinket box, were among seven pieces that were part of the Butler family legacy until the 1930s. These were probably made for relatives and friends. Unlike the tinware produced for the general trade, which was typically painted Japan black, these are decorated with white bands on the lids or upper portions. The bands have either straight edges or are scalloped in a swag design. On dome-top trunks, the white band follows the curve of the lid on each short end.

Butler's short professional life highlights one of the few artistic occupations sanctioned for young women at the time. Painting on tin, clock faces, and other


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