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watercolor, gouache, pencil, bronze paint, gold foil, silk ribbon and paper collage on paper
25 1⁄4 x 20 1⁄2 in.
Sotheby's, New York, 27-30 April 1977, lot 666
Stephen Score, Essex, Massachusetts
Acquired from above, September 1985
Helen Kellogg, "Found Two Lost American Painters," Antiques World (December, 1978), p. 38, no. 86.
Jean Lipman and Tom Armstrong, American Folk Painters of Three Centuries (New York, 1980), p. 164.
Jean Lipman, Robert Bishop, Elizabeth V. Warren and Sharon L. Eisenstat, Five Star Folk Art (New York, 1990), p. 37.
Allison Eckardt Ledes, "Current and Coming," The Magazine Antiques (October 1990), p. 616.
Elizabeth V. Warren, "Five Start Folk Art," Antiques and Arts Weekly, 19 October 1990, p. 1.
Peter Goodman, Notebook, no. 844.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, American Folk Painters of Three Centuries, 26 February-13 May 1980.
New York, Museum of American Folk Art, Five Star Folk Art, August-December 1990.

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Cara Zimmerman
Cara Zimmerman Head of Americana and Outsider Art

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Lot Essay

A masterpiece of color, shape and design, this portrait of a woman with two canaries is a fine example of the work of Samuel Addison Shute (1803-1836). A doctor and freemason of Weare, New Hampshire, Shute painted portraits with his wife Ruth Whittier. However this piece appears to be the hand of only Samuel. Shute-attributed portraits feature two very different types of facial drawing, suggesting that husband and wife each had their own style. Many depict a frontal face with heavy shading around the nose and mouth, a contrast to the three-quarter pose with virtually no shading seen in the portrait offered here. A portrait of Joseph Gilman Parker with a face rendered in the first style is inscribed Drawn by R.W. Shute / and / Painted by S.A. Shute (American Folk Art Museum, acc. no. 2001.17.1). This suggests that the heavily shaded faces were the work of Ruth and the minimally-shaded faces in outline illustrate Samuel’s hand. The faces on these portraits are delicately delineated and lack contrast. The large glove-like hands pictured here are also characteristic of Samuel. The portraits of Dr. and Mrs. Charles Chandler illustrated in Lipmans American Folk Painters of Three Centuries (p. 167) display the same treatment of the hand in the male portrait. This pair is also attributed to Samuel.

Virtually unknown until the piece was brought to market in 1977 by a schoolteacher who had purchased it at a church sale for 35 cents, this portrait has many features distinctive of Shute works. The striated wash background and use of mixed media are elements that have become synonymous with the Shutes work. The overwhelming presence of the figure in the frame, distinctive almond shaped eyes and use of linear abstraction also point towards the work of the Shutes. Girl Holding Blossom and Basket of Roses (Currier Museum of Art, acc. no. 1932.1.135) painted by both Ruth and Samuel exhibits similar use of color, exaggerated sleeves and negative space, but the treatment of the face and hands is very different pointing toward the influence of Ruth. The Shutes had a brief but prolific painting career that was cut short by Samuel's death in 1836. Ruth remarried and continued to travel and paint.
For additional information see Jean Lipman and Tom Armstrong, American Folk Painters of Three Centuries (New York, 1980), p. 164 and Suzanne Rudnick Payne and Michael R. Payne, “Portraits, Purpose and Perceptions,” The Magazine Antiques (July/ August 2021), pp. 72-81.

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