The other day I scoured our folk art galleries and storage areas to find a piece that would make a great Thanksgiving post. To my surprise, there are few folk paintings that depict a family at mealtime. Perhaps this was too mundane a subject even for the folk genre painter; more likely, it required a range of skills that was difficult to acquire. Think about it: in order to paint such a scene you would have needed to do portraiture, interior space (and perspective), and still life (for the plates and platters of food).
But I happened to receive an email from a colleague who sent along an image of just such a feast as a thank you for a recent research visit to Cooperstown. And I knew the image immediately. It is from a private collection that I have known for several years.
It is a family record by the itinerant artist James Osborne, depicting the family of Hatch family of Maine in 1831. Beneath a large panel listing the family members and their birth dates, Osborne has depicted the family seated at a large table about to partake in a sumptuous feast. Notice that the father, at the end of the table at the right, is reading to the family prior to the meal. Perhaps a short Biblical passage offered as grace? If you look closely (which might be difficult since I could not obtain a high resolution image), you can also see one small child sneaking a morsel of food while the others wait patiently for the dad to finish. A little humor goes a long way at the Holidays.
Enjoy this image while you enjoy your holiday weekend, hopefully with family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving!!!