Horace Bundy


itinerant portrait artist, landscape painter, and preacher, worked principally in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, during the mid-nineteenth century. Bornon July 22, 1814, in Hardwick, Vermont, Bundy began his career as a carriage maker in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1836. The following year the artist executed his firstrecorded portraits of residents of Nashua, New Hampshire. Over the next twenty years, between 1837 and 1859, the man once described in a testimonial of his work as a “backwoods Vermont artist” painted approximately one hundred known portraits. His most recognized canvases today include a painting titled
Vermont Lawyer
(1841) as well as a monumental, full-length group portrait depicting eight members of the Parsons family.Bundy’s enthusiasm for the portrait business may have been inspired in part by his desire to generate the income that would enable him to pursue his passion for theministry. In 1842 he joined the Adventist faith, becoming a “Millerite,” and subsequently traveled as both a revival-meeting preacher and as an artist. In addition toselling portraits, in the 1850s Bundy also made and sold painted copies of wellknown landscape and genre scenes by acclaimed artists, such as William Sidney Mount(1807–1868) and Jasper Cropsey (1823–1900).Although no information has been found to indicate why the artist stopped painting in 1859, Bundy may have become more involved in his ministerial work. In 1863he accepted an appointment as pastor of the Second Advent Church in Lakeport, New Hampshire, although he continued to be listed as an artist in the state’s citydirectories into the 1880s. His obituary of 1883, however, which describes him as a widely known portrait and landscape painter, indicates that even in his later yearshe was still recognized for his artistic talent.Advances in photography, including the announcement of the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, clearly influenced Bundy’s portrait work. In the likeness titled
Girl with Dalmatian,
the artist portrayed his young subject and her furry companion in a large, oval spandrel reminiscent of an oversize daguerreotype case. Thelanguage the artist used in his advertisements also reflected his awareness of the new technology’s encroaching competition. According to art historian LaurenB.Hewes, Bundy’s claim in the 1850s that he painted likenesses based on daguerreotypes was meant to assuage the customer’s fear of the tiresome sittings required of portraits in oil. Further, lifelike coloring, animated facial expression, and the use of a large-scale format were perceived to be hallmarks of Bundy’s line of business thatcould not be attained easily through contemporary photography methods.
See also
Painting, American Folk; Painting, Landscape; Photography, Vernacular
Hewes, Lauren B.
Painting and Portrait Making in the American Northeast, Annual Proceedings of the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife.
Boston, 1994 ——. “Horace Bundy, Itinerant Portraitist.”
The Magazine Antiques
(October 1994).Shepard, Hortense O. “Pilgrim’s Progress: Horace Bundy and His Paintings.”
The Magazine Antiques
(October 1964): 445–449