Thomas Hovenden, Study for a Portrait of a Man

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
18 in. x 15 in.

Primarily a painter of genre scenes and arranged compositions, Thomas Hovenden painted only a small number of portraits. He had planned to paint them when he was a young artist struggling to earn a living in Baltimore, but he could not get commissions. Then as his career moved forward, he developed a preference for domestic interior scenes. 

His best-known portraits are his 1882 depiction of his neighbor, Portrait of Samuel Jones, and his 1890 Portrait of Frank Hamilton Cushing, of his good friend and well-known ethnographer.

This drawing of an unknown man is a close study of the subject’s facial features. The model’s fashionable hairstyle, hint of a mustache, and shirt, jacket, and tie suggest that he was from the middle or upper class.

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