Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thomas Sully

This painting is called “Torn Hat.” It was painted in 1820 and you can find it at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I don’t know why I like it so much, but it just makes me feel good when I look at it. It makes me think of summer vacation as I look at this young boy enjoying life in his favorite old hat.

It was painted by Thomas Sully, the artist I have chosen for June 2010. He was a well known portrait painter. He was born in England on June 19, 1783. His family moved to America when he was young. His dad and mom were actors and he had eight brothers and sisters. They settled in Virginia but Sully spent most of his adult life in Philadelphia. He is considered an American artist since he spent most of his life in America.

He was a realist painter. Since we study portraits as one of our drawing units, I thought you might like to see some portraits from the 1800s in America. If you click on the National Gallery you can see 20 of his paintings of people. Several of them are famous Americans and several are of children. #2 is a painting of Andrew Jackson and #10 is one of John Quincy Adams.

Since it is summer vacation, you could get a sketch book or some paper and draw some portraits. Your family would be a great place to start. Or you could sit down in front of a mirror and do a self-portrait. You could also use paint, markers, pastels, chalk, or colored pencils (whatever you have) to add color. We don’t spend as much time on portraits in school due to our time limits.

Below is a self-portrait by Thomas Sully painted in May of 1821 when he was 37 years old. He died in Philadelphia, PA on November 5, 1872 at the age of 89.