HOWES, SAMUEL P.
lived and worked in Lowell, Massachusetts, from 1835 until his death, painting portraits of residents and visitors in the new industrial city. Howes was born inPlympton, Massachusetts, and may have pursued divinity studies before turning to painting. He worked as a painter in Boston from 1829 to 1835, after he had traveledto Lowell with the intention of staying only a few days. Instead, Howes set up a studio and remained in the town permanently, working in oil on canvas as well as painting miniatures on ivory. His first marriage ended in divorce, and he later married a mill worker, Catherine Bennett, in 1844. In the 1840s Howes addeddaguerreotype likenesses to his portrait business, and advertised his photographic skills more aggressively than he did his portrait painting. His studio on Merrimack Street, where he also sold pianofortes, was a fixture in the Lowell business community for more than forty years.In the 1850s and 1860s Howes increasingly turned to historical and patriotic subjects, completing a monumental
Historical Panorama of the American Republic
as well as likenesses of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S.Grant, and William T.Sherman. Howes advertised performances of the narrated panorama extensively in the local paper, and included piano-forte music in the presentation.Howes’ style is consistent and easily recognizable. His sitters are often portrayed in half-length, seated poses with stiff, upright postures, triangular sloping shoulderswith long, attenuated arms, and a draped hand. Facial features exhibit an awkward turn of the nose, with the far nostril drooping downwards, as well as an upward archto the eyelids along with vertically elongated irises. The artist continued to paint portraits until at least 1879, at times basing his compositions on photographs. Howesdied of peritonitis in Lowell in 1881.
Miniatures; Painting, American Folk;
D’Ambrosio, Paul S.
Samuel P.Howes: Portrait Painter.
Lowell, Mass., 1986.D’Ambrosio, Paul S., and Charlotte Emans.
Folk Art’s Many Faces: Portraits in the New York State Historical Association.
Coopers-town, N.Y., 1987