Ezra Ames of Albany: Portrait Painter, Craftsman, Royal Arch Mason, Banker, 1768-1836

Ezra Ames of Albany: Portrait Painter, Craftsman, Royal Arch Mason, Banker, 1768-1836

Ezra Ames of Albany: Portrait Painter, Craftsman, Royal Arch Mason, Banker, 1768-1836

Ezra Ames of Albany: Portrait Painter, Craftsman, Royal Arch Mason, Banker, 1768-1836

Excerpt

Ezra Ames of Albany, prominent in his day as a portrait painter, is still remembered because his portraits have a local, a State and, sometimes, a national interest as records. Although he was born at Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1768, he settled at Albany as early as 1793, and lived there until his death in 1836. Except for a few early portraits, none of the pictures he painted before he moved to Albany has been identified, so that practically all his known portraits are of residents of New York State.

Since any portraits painted from life may be regarded either as personal records or as historical documents, and since Ames recorded the likenesses of about five hundred of his contemporaries, his portraits, many of which are still extant, constitute important documentary sources for the history of New York State during the early Republican Era. Nevertheless, despite the preponderance of interest in his work because of its historical significance, one should not overlook its solid artistic merits.

The fact that some of his portraits have been confused with the work of Gilbert Stuart, John Wesley Jarvis, John Vanderlyn, and Henry Inman gives an idea of their relative artistic quality. A number of his portraits, such as (among others) those of Julius Rubens Ames, Harmanus Bleecker, Francis Bloodgood, George Clinton (the version at The New-York Historical Society), Thomas Humphrey Cushing, Mrs. Thomas Humphrey Cushing, Samuel Stevenson Fowler, Edmond Charles (Citizen) Genet, Thomas Hillhouse, Henry Jones, Ambrose Latting Jordan, James Kent (the version at the Albany Institute of History and Art), Mrs. John Meads, Henry Newman, John Keyes Paige, Mrs. John Keyes Paige, Marcus Tullius Reynolds, Ambrose Spencer, Theodore Strong, Matthias Burnett Tallmadge, Absalom Townsend, William Tully, Jr., Philip Van Cortlandt, and Mrs. Jonathan Walton--all of which are reproduced in this volume--do rank with the work of those artists whose produc-

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