John Quidor was born in Tappan, New York, in 1801, and nine years later his family moved to New York City. He received his only artistic training, at the age of seventeen, in a brief apprenticeship to the successful portrait painter John Wesley Jarvis. In the mid-1820s he began to produce romantic paintings based on literary themes, most notably Washington Irving’s short stories “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” and James Fenimore Cooper’s book The Pioneers. He started to exhibit his work at the National Academy of Design in 1827. One of his paintings inspired by Irving’s tales, Ichabod Crane Pursued by the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, [SAAM, 1994.120] was first exhibited at the academy the following year. Because his romantic portrayals of literary subjects found little popular acceptance, Quidor derived his principal income in New York from painting decorative panels for fire engines.
National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)