Sturtevant J. Hamblin, son of Almery and Sally Clark Hamblin, listed his profession as a portrait painter between 1841 and 1856. He came from a family of artisans which included his grandfather, George Hamblin, who was a painter and glazer, his father, and his brothers Nathaniel, Joseph G., and Eli. Sturtevant's sister Rosamund married the itinerant portrait painter William Matthew Prior in 1928, and Sturtevant may have become his brother-in-law's pupil. Sturtevant resided for several years with the Priors; he is recorded for the first time as living "at Wm. Prior's" in 1837, the date used by scholars as his beginning active date, despite the fact that his first signed work dates from 1841. About three years later both families moved to Boston. In 1841 Sturtevant Hamblin and William Prior are recorded living in Nathaniel Hamblin's house on 12 Chambers Street. The following year they moved to Marion Street in East Boston; they lived there together until 1844. Three of the Hamblins advertised as house, sign and fancy painters, and Sturtevant probably earned part of his living in this manner. By 1846 William Prior established his own residence on Trenton Street, East Boston, where he lived until his death in 1873. While the Hamblins continued working in the painting business, only Sturtevant is known to have considered himself a portrait painter. By 1856, however, he evidently became dissatisfied with his painting career and entered into a partnership in "Gent's Furnishings" with his brother Joseph.
Because Sturtevant Hamblin rarely signed his paintings, and his brother-in-law was such a prolific and popular artist, many works attributed to Prior may have been executed by Hamblin. Careful stylistic comparison of Prior-Hamblin portraits with existing signed Hamblins has more firmly established the artist's individual style and illumated a larger portion of his oeuvre. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
Little, Nina Fletcher. "William M. Prior, Traveling Artist, and his In-Laws the Painting Hamblens." Antiques 53 (January 1948): 44-48.
Bishop, Robert C. H. The Borden Limner and His Contemporaries. Ann Arbor, 1976: 72-73.
Rumford 1981, 112-117.
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: 164.