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Portrait of Amos Morrow (?-?)

ca. 1800
Origin: America, Virginia, prob Jefferson County (n. 1)
Other (Unframed): 28 1/8 x 25 1/8in. (71.4 x 63.8cm) Framed: 31 3/8 x 28 7/16 x 1 3/8in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of M. Knoedler and Company, Inc.
Acc. No. 1957.100.11
A bust-to-half-length portrait of a man turned slightly towards the viewer's left, his hands and lower arms not shown, the figure set within feigned, black-painted spandrels, with a pulled red drape running diagonally from upper left to lower right behind him. The man has curling, collar-length brown hair cut short over his forehead; two nodules, or scalp growths, show through his hair, one of them considerably larger than the other and prominently positioned front and center, just beyond his hairline. He has pale blue eyes. He wears a dark blue coat with a white shirt and white neck cloth and a yellow-and-white decoratively striped waistcoat. The background beyond the subject is a shaded, grayish-brown.

The 2 1/8-inch black-painted molded frame has a gilt liner and is possibly original.


Label:Little is known about Amos Morrow, but he apparently had no problem being captured for posterity as he really was, scalp tumors and all. Artist Charles Peale Polk needed to please his client in order to get paid, so Morrow must have been satisfied with the final image. In addition to Amos Morrow, Polk painted portraits of his wife, Matilda, and the couple’s two daughters.

The training Polk received from his famous uncle, Charles Willson Peale, is easily seen in these two likenesses. The swagged red curtain used as a backdrop and the oval framing appear in many of Polk’s pictures. He drew upon his experience in the Peale household for the multiple commissions he received throughout the western areas of Virginia and Maryland, including his time with the Morrows in Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia).

Provenance:Notes now in the archives of the Maryland Historical Society and originally made by historian J. Hall Pleasants about 1955, based on entries in a Worthington family bible, provide the basics for the following line of descent which, however, contains some gaps and has not yet been verified:

from the subject to his granddaughter, Sarah Burch Morrow Worthington (Mrs. Robert Worthington)(1786-1821); to her daughter, Sarah Worthington Hawks (Mrs. Wells Joseph Hawks); to her husband, Wells Joseph Hawks (1814-1873); to his son (by his previous marriage to Sarah Smith), Arthur Wells Hawks (1848-1933); to his son, Arthur Worthington Hawks (1878-1949); to his wife, Rachel Marshall Hawks (Mrs. Arthur Worthington Hawks)(d. 1964); to dealer Robert Carlen, Philadelphia, Pa; M. Knoedler & Co., New York, NY, which was CWF's source.