(born between 1765 and 1774–1821)
was a portrait painter who worked in oil on canvas in the Middle Atlantic states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia, as well as Kentucky from theearly 1790s until his death. His work was rediscovered in the later half of twentieth century, and is regarded as representative of the itinerant limners or portrait paintersactive in the American South.Little is known of the artistic training of this painter. His life can be traced through the signed and dated portraits he created, as well as land and estate records inFranklin and Cumberland Counties in Pennsylvania. His family had ties to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and it is speculated that he worked from there and east to New Jersey during his early painting career. His father moved to Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and by the mid-1790s the artist had followed, and was also travelingto the adjoining states of Maryland and Virginia seeking commissions. In successive visits in 1799, 1800, and 1801, he visited Winchester and Alexandria, Virginia, painting portraits of local innkeepers and merchants, including members of the Lauck and McKnight families. The Shenandoah Valley and nearby counties of Virginiawas a region to which he returned over the next few years. In 1803 he worked in Warrenton, Virginia, and two years later he was back in Winchester. Like many of his contemporaries in the region, Frymire’s movements followed the westward population shift, and in 1806 he was working in Woodford County, Kentucky, depictingfamilies with ties to the valley regions he had earlier frequented, suggesting a system of recommendations conveyed by the artist as he moved from place to place.Frymire owned property in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, where he resided with his wife, Sarah, and his growing family. His later years appear to have been spentfarming land inherited after his father’s death in 1816. He was taxed not only as a farmer but also a limner, in both Franklin and Cumberland Counties, between 1807and 1820. His will, written two months before his death in July of 1822, is a document of kindness and sensitivity, providing care for his wife and nine children as wellas a tenth child, who was born after the artist’s death.
Painting, American Folk
Simmons, Linda C.
Jacob Frymire: An American Limner.
Washington, D.C., 1975. ——. “Early Nineteenth-Century Non-Academic Painting in Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and the Carolinas.”
The Southern Quarterly,
vol. 24, no. 1 (1985): 32–55. ——. “Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Artists Active in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.”
Winchester-Frederick County (Virginia) Historical Society Journal,
vol. 4, (1989): 48–110.