Encyclopedia of American Folk Art

By Lee Kogan; Gerard C.Wertkin | Go to book overview

EICHHOLTZ, JACOB (1776-1842)

was a portrait painter of German ancestry from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He showed an interest in drawing from the age of seven, and was given rudimentary drawing lessons from a sign painter. His father arranged for him to serve an apprenticeship as a copper and tinsmith. He practiced these trades to support his family, while also painting portraits, until the age of thirty-five, when he began to paint full-time. More than nine hundred works have been attributed to Eichholtz.

Best known for his portraits, Eichholtz also painted a sign for the William Pitt Tavern, and painted the Lancaster Union Hose Company's carriage. The artist moved to Philadelphia about 1821, and later moved back to Lancaster. He also worked in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Eichholtz painted portraits of his relatives and friends, as well as of wealthy patrons such as Nicholas Biddle, president of the United States Bank. Contemporary writer William Dunlap wrote that Eichholtz's portraits, "hard likenesses at thirty dollars a head," were more sought after than those painted by Rembrant Peale or Thomas Sully. However, he is generally regarded as a second- or third-tier painter of academic portrait.

Though he painted details, his portraits were not excessively decorative in their style, and reflected academic traditions that Eichholtz observed in the works of European-trained painters, such as the modeling of facial features; the standardized half-turned poses of his sitters, with their sloping shoulders and slightly tilted heads; and details such as a finger placed to mark the page of a book; columns used as room furnishings; or a glimpse of a landscape in the background.

See also Painting, American Folk; Trade Signs.

Beal, Rebecca J. Jacob Eichholtz. Philadelphia, 1969
Dunlap, William. History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States. Boston, 1965.
Groce, George C., and David H. Wallace. The New-York Historical Society's History of Artists in America, 1564-1860. New Haven, Conn., 1957.
Harris, Alex. A Biographical History of Lancaster County. Lancaster, Pa., 1872.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Jacob Eichholtz 1776-1842, Pennsylvania Painter: A Retrospective Exhibition. Philadelphia, 1969.


ELLIS, A. (active c. 1830),

a provincial folk portrait painter with an unusually flat, decorative style, has thus far eluded biographical documentation. Ellis's fifteen known or attributed works, nearly all executed in oil on wood panel, were either found in or depict subjects from the Readfield-Waterville area of central Maine. At least two watercolors on paper, miniature portraits, are also thought to be by Ellis, and the two signed portraits of a gentleman and lady are in the collection of the New York State Historical Association. Ellis consistently depicts sitters with highly stylized faces, little or no shading or contour, and lively patterned costumes. The degree of stylization in Ellis's work suggests that the artist may have painted furniture.

See also Furniture, Painted and Decorated; Miniatures; Painting, American Folk.

D'Ambrosio, Paul S., and Charlotte Emans. Folk Art's Many Faces: Portraits in the New York State Historical Association. Cooperstown, N.Y., 1987.
McDonald, Sheila. "Who Was A. Ellis? And Why Did He or She Paint All Those Pictures?" Maine Antique Digest, vol. 11 (April 1981): 26-A, 27-A.



was a prolific painter who was born and died in Hartford, Connecticut. He painted miniature watercolor portraits and several oil on canvas likenesses in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and claimed to have traveled to New York State, Pennsylvania, and as far west as Ohio. More than three hundred works by Ellsworth have been identified.

Ellsworth married Mary Ann Driggs in 1830 and the couple had one child. His wife alleged that Ellsworth deserted her three years after their marriage, which ended in divorce in 1839. Itinerant painting often required extended periods of travel in search of commissions, and this probably made it difficult for some artists to establish or maintain relationships.

Ellsworth's earliest watercolor portraits show sitters in frontal or three-quarter poses. Two portraits from 1835 depict a boy and a girl painted full-length and standing in a landscape, while a portrait of a gentleman displays Ellsworth's ability to create a semi-academic, polished likeness. By about 1840 he intro duced a stylized format that he varied throughout the remainder of his career. Often signed, these watercolors, on thin woven paper, incorporate half-length profile poses, with subjects often holding books, flowers, or other props. A gray, cloudlike aureole surrounds the head and separates the face from the lighter background, while another encloses the bottom of the figure. One variant places subjects in


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Encyclopedia of American Folk Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Entries vii
  • Introduction xxvii
  • A 1
  • B 35
  • Bibliography 75
  • C 79
  • Bibliography 107
  • Bibliography 111
  • D 113
  • Bibliography 144
  • E 145
  • Bibliography 153
  • F 161
  • Bibliography 166
  • Bibliography 171
  • G 189
  • Bibliography 203
  • Bibliography 210
  • H 217
  • Bibliography 225
  • Bibliography 235
  • I 247
  • Bibliography 249
  • J 251
  • K 269
  • Bibliography 273
  • L 279
  • M 293
  • Bibliography 309
  • Bibliography 311
  • N 337
  • O 349
  • P 355
  • Bibliography 388
  • Q 411
  • R 421
  • Bibliography 433
  • S 447
  • Bibliography 450
  • Bibliography 472
  • Bibliography 484
  • Bibliography 490
  • Bibliography 494
  • Bibliography 496
  • T 509
  • U 527
  • V 529
  • W 539
  • Bibliography 540
  • Bibliography 546
  • Bibliography 556
  • Y 561
  • Index 569


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