Joseph Henry Hidley


is best known for his five highly detailed bird’s-eye views of Poestenkill, New York, documenting that village’s appearance over a period of about twenty years. Hidleywas born near Wynantskill, New York, to George and Hannah Hidley, and was the only one of their four children to survive to adulthood. After the death of his father in about 1834, family tradition holds that Hidley was raised by his maternal grandparents, Christian and Patience Simmons, of Sand Lake. Hidley moved to Poestenkillin 1850, the same year that his mother moved to Monroe County, New York. He married Caroline Matilda Danforth in 1853. Their house, at the center of the village,appears in several of Hidley’s views of Poestenkill. The couple had five daughters and a son.Hidley began painting in 1850, and from that time until his death he painted the graining of interior woodwork, floral scenes for architectural panels, and religious andallegorical subjects based on prints, genre scenes, and townscapes of Poestenkill and surrounding villages. He was also a house and sign painter as well as ataxidermist, and his daughter Emmeline claimed that he made shadowboxes with dried flower arrangements. Hidley’s painting style is exacting and precise, full of specific details regarding the appearance and daily life of the villages he painted. Although the obvious skill with which Hidley painted strongly suggests that he receivedsome form of artistic instruction, no documentation of any such training has come to light. Working in oil on canvas or wood panel, he was also capable of rendering thesurrounding landscape with realistic color and mood in a variety of seasons. Hidley painted fine portraits of family members as well.
See also

Painting, Landscape; Religious Folk Art
Rumford, Beatrix T., ed.
American Folk Paintings: Paintings and Drawings Other Than Portraits from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center.