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Overview

Scenes detailing middle-class manners and mores became prevalent in American art and literature toward the middle of the nineteenth century, and Francis Edmonds' amusing vignette regarding matrimonial intent successfully combines these two avenues of expression. The painting is loosely based on James Kirke Paulding's "The Dutchman's Fireside," a popular tale set in mid-eighteenth-century New York. The story deals with the relationship between a shy, ungainly bachelor, Sybrandt Westbrook, and his distant cousin, Catalina Vancour. As the young woman implores her diffident caller to stay for tea, her mother gestures towards the couple. She is either soliciting her husband's help in persuading the young man to remain, or -- in the hope of securing an even better match for her daughter -- attempting to enlist his aid in discouraging their daughter's affections for this provincial suitor. Mr. Vancour pointedly ignores his wife, far too absorbed in worldly affairs to concern himself with matters of etiquette or romance. In the background, the bemused family servant, Aunt Nantje, wisely surveys the scene.

The precise detailing of the structured, stage-like space, the theatrical use of light, the choice of brightly colored costumes, and the humorous portrayal of everyday life all reflect the influence of the seventeenth-century Dutch genre paintings that had impressed Edmonds greatly during his travels on the Continent.

Provenance

Purchased c. 1841-1842 from the artist by Jonathan Sturges [1802-1874], New York, and Fairfield, Connecticut; his son, Frederick Sturges [d. 1917], New York, and Fairfield, Connecticut; his son, Frederick Sturges, Jr., Fairfield, Connecticut;[1] gift 1978 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1842
Seventeenth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York, 1842, no. 214.
1844
Exhibition of the New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, New York, 1844-1845, no. 52.
1988
Francis W. Edmonds: American Master in the Dutch Tradition, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; New-York Historical Society, 1988, pl. 5.
Bibliography
1842
"Editor's Table." Knickerbocker 19 (June 1842): 591.
1842
"National Academy--Cutting Criticisms." New York Herald (16 June 1842).
1842
"The National Academy." Brother Jonathan 2 (June 1842): 184.
1845
Catalogue of the Exhibition of the New-York Gallery of Fine Arts, New York, 1845: 135.
1845
Lanman, Charles. Letters from a Landscape Painter. Boston, 1845: 240-241.
1847
Tuckerman, Henry T. Artist-Life: or, Sketches of American Painters. New York, 1847: 160.
1856
"Our Private Collections, No. II." The Crayon 3 (February 1856): 57-58.
1865
Cummings, Thomas S. Historic Annals of the National Academy of Design (1825-1863). Philadelphia, 1865. Reprint. New York, 1965: 141, 320.
1867
Tuckerman 1867, 411, 413-414, 627, as by John W. Edmonds.
1884
Lanman, Charles. "Noted Amateur Painters. Artistic Recollections by Charles Lanman." Art Union 1 (August/September 1884): 158-159.
1949
Larkin, Oliver W. Art and Life in America. New York, 1949: 220.
1966
Lawall, David B. "Asher Brown Durand: His Art and Art Theory in Relation to this Times." 4 vols. Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1966: 3:77, no. 88, as Rustic Lovers or the Country Cousin by Durand.
1966
Miller, Lillian B. Patrons and Patriotism: The Encouragement of the Fine Arts in the United States, 1700-1860. Chicago, 1966: 157.
1970
Mann, Maybelle. "Francis William Edmonds: Mammon and Art." The American Art Journal 2 (Fall 1970): 99.
1974
Mann, Maybelle. "Humor and Philosophy in the Paintings of Francis William Edmonds." Antiques 106 (November 1974): 866.
1977
Mann, Maybelle. Francis William Edmonds: Mammon and Art. New York, 1977: 88, 91-92.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 152, repro.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 14, 70, no. 16, color repro.
1981
Edmonds, Francis W. "'The Leading Incidents & Dates of My Life': An Autobiographical Essay by Francis W. Edmonds." The American Art Journal 13 (Autumn 1981): 10.
1981
Williams, William James. A Heritage of American Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1981: 81-82, repro. 83.
1982
Clark, Henry Nichols Blake. "A Fresh Look at the Art of Francis W. Edmonds: Dutch Sources and American Meanings." The American Art Journal 14 (Summer 1982): 78, 80, 82, 85-86, fig. 13.
1982
Clark, Henry Nichols Blake. "The Impact of Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Genre Painting on American Genre Painting, 1800-1865." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Delaware, Newark, 1982: 218-223, 228-229, 238, fig. 25.
1988
Clark, Henry Nichols Blake. Francis W. Edmonds: American Master in the Dutch Tradition. Exh. cat. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; New-York Historical Society. Washington, D.C., 1988: pl. 5.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 80, no. 17, color repro.
1989
Burns, Sarah Lea. Review of Henry Nichols Blake Clark, Francis W. Edmonds: American Master in the Dutch Tradition, Exh. cat. In Winterthur Portfolio 24 (Winter 1989): 278.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 170, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 232, repro.
1995
Morgan, Jo-Ann. "Mammy the Huckster: Selling the Old South for the New Century." American Art 9 (Spring 1995): 90-91, color repro.
1996
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 190-196, color repro.
Technical Summary

The fabric support is tightly woven and irregular. Stenciled on the reverse is "J Y VC P (R) / Artist colourman / 8 / Stran[d?]."[1] The painting has been lined twice, the last time in 1978. The ground layer is white and thinly brushed. There is a fair amount of underdrawing, probably in pencil. Subsequent layers of warm background pigments were applied with swirling, vigorous strokes; the foreground figures and details were constructed with fairly loose brushwork and rich, fluid paint. The painting is in good condition. Discolored varnish was removed in 1978, and minor losses were inpainted.

[1] The stencil mark, incompletely recorded in the NGA conservation files, is concealed by the 1978 lining.