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The Old Ellison Homestead

ca. 1880
Origin: America, Massachusetts, Amesbury (see label)
Overall (Trapezoidal in shape): 20 3/4 x 31 3/4in. (52.7 x 80.6cm)
Oil on wood panel
Gift of Dana Corporation
Acc. No. 1997.102.1
An oil painting on a irregular, roughly trapezoidal-shaped wood panel that is believed to have started life as a sleigh dashboard. The scene is a farmhouse and outbuildings with a fenced enclosure for livestock. A man stands in front of the house, and a black cat is crouched on the doorstep. A woman is working in front of the barn upper right side. The sky is filled with dark clouds; the effect is of a dark, somber day.
The panel is not framed.
Label:Orrin Bancroft Ellison is said to have created this picture of his grandparents' Barrington, New Hampshire, farm by working from memory, at a time when he himself was living in Amesbury, Massachusetts.

The homestead's rocky site evidently left an indelible impression, for the artist noted several stone fences, as well as oversized boulders left in place in the fields. The cat on the doorstep, the flowerbeds in front of the house, the carefully tended garden plot, and the routine activities of cow herding and chicken feeding create an atmosphere of cozy prosperity. Such an image may have been colored by nostalgia, however; the elder Ellison was known in his day as an eccentric domestic tyrant.
Provenance:In 1944, in Spinney ("Bibliography"), the painting was published as "owned by Mrs. Henry H. Thompson." When acquired by AARFAC, it bore the gallery label of "Hirschl & Adler Folk" (851 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10021) and that gallery's inventory no. of "K 1238 D". AARFAM's donor, Dana Corp., is presumed to have acquired the painting from Hirschl & Adler Folk.
Inscription(s):Printed in white paint in block style letters in the center of the lower edge is "THE OLD ELLISON HOMESTEAD. BY OBE."