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Painting by Randall [Randolph] Palmer: Self-Portrait, represented by Childs Gallery

Randall [Randolph] Palmer

American (1807-1845)

Oil on canvas

Leigh Keno label verso. In original wood grained frame with gold leaf inner and outter moldings. In fine condition.

Randall Palmer, the artist and man, emerges from the research of Laurence B. Goodrich as “a lover of the out-of-doors, of horses, and of hunting, [Palmer] often embarked on excursions carrying both gun and brushes.” Palmer was born in 1807 as the second of nine children of Joel and Amy Randall Palmer in Oneida County, New York. While working at Seneca Falls, Palmer traveled to surrounding towns, taking on pupils and painting. By 1838, Palmer had moved to Auburn, New York where he completed at the time well known portraits of the Rev. J Hopkins and the local pirate Bill Johnston. Palmer continued to take on pupils and advertising in the Auburn Journal and Advertiser, February 11, 1841 as expert not only in oil painting, but additionally miniature painting and daguerreotype. Palmer continued painting in Auburn until his death in 1845 at the age of 38 due to a hunting accident.

This painting belongs to a very small, but significant group of itinerant artist self-portraits. This portrait, however, may be the most impressive itinerant painter’s self-portrait of all. It’s scale and complexity, which includes not only the portrait of the artist with his easel, palette and calipers, but also, furniture, drapery, a landscape with cattle and an individualized dog portrait, is unusual in itinerant portraits except in very specialized examples, such as the Moore Family by Erastus Salisbury Field. Palmer’s portraits are larger in format than many other folk paintings and more intricately detailed, usually showing a full-length figure surrounded by objects of interest to the sitter. A near pendent portrait of a woman is in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg. Palmer’s portraits resemble the “plain” style of portraits painted by M. W. Hopkins and Noah North.