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James Sanford Ellsworth

Also Known as: Ellsworth, J. S. Ellsworth, Ja. S. Ellsworth, James S. Ellsworth

Born:
Windsor, Connecticut 1802

Died:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1874

Luce Artist Biography

James Sanford Ellsworth tended to paint his miniatures on paper rather than ivory. He was considered a leading folk-art painter of the region, and all of his miniatures share the same stylized chair and cloud-filled backgrounds to accent each sitter's profile. His early marriage failed within two years, prompting Ellsworth to travel west, supporting himself as an itinerant artist. He matured as an artist after returning to Connecticut in the late 1830s, and between 1840 and 1860 developed his signature portrait style, which features his sitters in a Victorian armchair. Art historian Lucy Mitchell described Ellsworths paintings as "nebulous floating platters on which he presented and preserved our 'air-borne' and 'chair-borne' ancestors" (Art in America, Autumn 1953).