Probably born in Medford, Massachusetts, Samuel Jordan went to sea as a boy and, upon his return, led a checkered life. Incarcerated several years for counterfeiting and horse theft, he appears to have taught himself to paint while in the state prison at Charlestown. A condition of his pardon in 1830 was that Jordan leave the United States, but he was working in Plaistow, New Hampshire, by February 1831. Only five signed paintings by Jordan are known, these dating from 1830 to 1833. The artist’s sojourn in Plaistow and in adjacent Haverill, Massachusetts, is documented in the diary of Isaac Watts Merrill (1803-1878). Jordan’s paintings are generally a bit crude, but quite vivid. Convicted of burglary in 1834, he was sentenced to a life term in prison, but made his escape in 1836. There are no records of him after this date.
Chotner, Deborah, with contributions by Julie Aronson, Sarah D. Cash, and Laurie Weitzenkorn. American Naive Paintings. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 236.
Child, Deborah M. "Samuel Jordan: Artist, Thief, Villian." Antiques and Fine Art (Summer 2009): 146-153.