Thomas Hovenden, Study for a Portrait of a Man
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.