Charles Mortimer French

Charles Mortimer French
This full-length portrait of six-year-old Charles Mortimer French is one of Powers' more intriguing and successful compositions. The artist's keen instinct for composition and color more than compensate for his unfamiliarity with naturalistic anatomy and perspective, and work to create a painting of extraordinary vitality. The back and seat of the bright yellow-painted chair in which French is seated are at impossible angles, as is the small table top on which the squeak toy precariously rests. Of further visual interest is the top of the painted footstool, which has an unnatural curvature seemingly to accommodate the sitter's feet. The result is a vigorous, chaotic group of interactive forms. The loose painting style of Powers' early career is evident throughout the portrait, particularly in the sitter's baggy suit and thickly painted face and hands. The heavy gray shading of the boy's features contributes to his haggard, aged appearance. Charles Mortimer French was born probably in Vermont in 1826 or 1827. He died in Floyd County, Iowa on January or June 11, 1859, at the age of thirty-two years and six months, and was buried at Proctorsville New Cemetery in Cavendish, Vermont. From Paul S. D'Ambrosio and Charlotte M. Emans, "Folk Art's Many Faces: Portraits in the New York State Historical Association," Cooperstown: NYSHA, 1987, pp. 131-132.
Physical dimensions: 
depth 4.25 in ; height 39.75 in ; width 25.5 in