Rachel Ann Maria (Overbaugh) Ostrander and Titus Ostrander
Attributed to Ammi Phillips (1788-1868)
Saugerties, New York, circa 1834-1835
Oil on canvas, 58 x 44 inches, original veneered frame
This is one of the greatest folk portraits ever painted. Ammi Phillips was one of the most successful and prolific portrait painters of the nineteenth century, plying his trade in New York’s Hudson River Valley and Western New England for more than half a century. This striking, elegant likeness of Rachel Ostrander and her son Titus is his largest known work and generally considered one of his best. The beauty and timeless serenity of the image belies the adversity faced by the principal sister in the decade following the completion of this painting. Rachel Overbaugh married Stephen Nottingham in 1827, when she was just seventeen. They had Titus shortly thereafter, and another child just after this portrait was painted (interesting to note how Phillips helped her hide her pregnancy). When Stephen died in 1840 Rachel married her first cousin, Solomon Overbaugh in 1842. Their child Peter was one year old when Solomon died in 1844, and Rachel married her third husband, Captain William Teunis Swart, in 1846.