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.
More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I, pages 190-196, which is available as a free PDF at https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/research/publications/pdfs/american-paintings-19th-century-part-1.pdf
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; gift 1978 to NGA.
- Seventeenth Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York, 1842, no. 214.
- Exhibition of the New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, New York, 1844-1845, no. 52.
- Francis W. Edmonds: American Master in the Dutch Tradition, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; New-York Historical Society, 1988, pl. 5.
- "Editor's Table." Knickerbocker 19 (June 1842): 591.
- "National Academy--Cutting Criticisms." New York Herald (16 June 1842).
- "The National Academy." Brother Jonathan 2 (June 1842): 184.
- Catalogue of the Exhibition of the New-York Gallery of Fine Arts, New York, 1845: 135.
- Lanman, Charles. Letters from a Landscape Painter. Boston, 1845: 240-241.
- Tuckerman, Henry T. Artist-Life: or, Sketches of American Painters. New York, 1847: 160.
- "Our Private Collections, No. II." The Crayon 3 (February 1856): 57-58.
- Cummings, Thomas S. Historic Annals of the National Academy of Design (1825-1863). Philadelphia, 1865. Reprint. New York, 1965: 141, 320.
- Tuckerman 1867, 411, 413-414, 627, as by John W. Edmonds.
- Lanman, Charles. "Noted Amateur Painters. Artistic Recollections by Charles Lanman." Art Union 1 (August/September 1884): 158-159.
- Larkin, Oliver W. Art and Life in America. New York, 1949: 220.
- 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.
- Miller, Lillian B. Patrons and Patriotism: The Encouragement of the Fine Arts in the United States, 1700-1860. Chicago, 1966: 157.
- Mann, Maybelle. "Francis William Edmonds: Mammon and Art." The American Art Journal 2 (Fall 1970): 99.
- Mann, Maybelle. "Humor and Philosophy in the Paintings of Francis William Edmonds." Antiques 106 (November 1974): 866.
- Mann, Maybelle. Francis William Edmonds: Mammon and Art. New York, 1977: 88, 91-92.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 152, repro.
- Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 14, 70, no. 16, color repro.
- 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.
- Williams, William James. A Heritage of American Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1981: 81-82, repro. 83.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 170, repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 232, repro.
- Morgan, Jo-Ann. "Mammy the Huckster: Selling the Old South for the New Century." American Art 9 (Spring 1995): 90-91, color repro.
- 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.
The fabric support is tightly woven and irregular. Stenciled on the reverse is "J Y VC P (R) / Artist colourman / 8 / Stran[d?]." 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.
 The stencil mark, incompletely recorded in the NGA conservation files, is concealed by the 1978 lining.