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American Folk Art

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Judge and Mrs. Arthur Yates

ca. 1840
36 x 58 3/4 in. (91.4 x 149.2 cm)

M. M. Manchester
American

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gallery Purchase
Accession Number: 1941.30
Location: Currently on view
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This grand portrait might have been a focal point in Judge and Mrs. Yates’s parlor. Judge Yates built the first steam saw mill in Tioga County, and was justice of the peace and postmaster.

Whether the furnishings, book, and clothing accurately depict the Yates’s possessions is impossible to say. They are meant to convince us of the pair’s position within the local gentry. Yards of satiny fabric held in place by a curtain holdback speak of luxury. Mrs. Yates’s jewelry, lace collar, cuffs and trimmed handkerchief, were the accoutrements of a lady of means. Judge Yates holds a book by English theologian William Paley entitled Natural Theology, a text regularly consulted by well-read gentlemen of the 19th century. While we know very little about Mr. Manchester, the artist, we can safely say that he was familiar with the grand tradition of portraiture that frequently placed subjects within ennobling, but not always authentic, settings.

[Gallery label text, 2002]

Marks
Artist's signature, verso: M. M. Manchester/Artist./AD. 1840


Provenance
Commissioned by Judge Arthur Yates, Waverly, NY; to his son, Arthur Yates, Rochester, NY; to his wife, Virginia L. Yates, Rochester, NY; to her son, Frederick W. Yates, Rochester, NY; (estate of Frederick W. Yates); purchased by the Gallery in 1941

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About Face: Copley’s Portrait of a Colonial Silversmith About Face: Copley’s Portrait of a Colonial Silversmith explores the lives and work of two artists within colonial Boston prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution: painter John Singleton Copley and silversmith Nathaniel Hurd. In addition to focusing upon paintings by Copley and silver pieces by Hurd, these works and other objects put into context the daily life of colonial Boston. Primary source documents (art works, objects, and written texts) provide students with a view of the experiences of men and women who were alive around the time of the American Revolution.

Students will develop critical looking and thinking skills as they gain experience in interpreting historical documents; analyze different interpretations of a key political turning point in American history through the study of visual and written documents of the Boston Massacre; explore important social issues through portraiture.; and evaluate the colonial American economy through primary source documents, like Nathaniel Hurd’s Table of Conversions and a colonial coin.


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