William Matthew Prior
William Matthew Prior worked in New England, though he traveled widely in search of painting commissions. He painted oil portraits and a few landscapes, as well as reverse glass portraits of famous people, such as George and Martha Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Napoléon Bonaparte. Prior advertised his services in New England newspapers in the 1820s, indicating that he did oil painting, bronzing, oil gilding, varnishing, and mechanical drawings, though he primarily worked as a portraitist.
What are the joys of childhood?
Isaac and William were descendants of John Hand, who emigrated from England to Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1635. Both sons were born in Lynn, and this double portrait celebrates the joys of childhood in early America. While many early American portraits of children included toys, Prior depicted the Hand brothers and their kite and drum with particular delight. The landscape view, with its brushy, highlighted trees and pink sunset sky, is characteristic of Prior’s portrait commissions.
Gift of Roger Sturtevant