Noah North


North portrait artist, ornamental painter, daguerreotypist, and farmer, lived in western New York State and Ohio during the nineteenth century. The son of Noah and OliveHunger-ford North, the artist was born on June 27, 1809, in Alexander, Genessee County, New York. Possibly exposed to the work of artist Ammi Phillips (1788– 1865), whose brother was North’s uncle by marriage, he may have received significant instruction in portraiture in the early 1830s from artist Milton William Hopkins(1789–1844). A man 20 years North’s senior, Hopkins was in the area generating commissions and advertising his services as an art instructor. His work and North’s bear such stylistic similarities that the two artists’ compositions have often been confused. Art historian Jacquelyn Oak hypothesizes that the men must have been in professional partnership, or else interacted in a student-teacher relationship.Only a handful of North’s signed compositions have been located, and nearly all date from between 1833 and 1836. They principally depict residents of Genessee,Orleans, and Monroe Counties in New York. The portraits of Abijah W.Stoddard and his wife are among the artist’s earliest documented portraits. Both signed, theyare dated 1833, and according to their inscriptions each originally cost seven dollars and fifty cents. Produced only one year later, the portrait of Sarah Angelina SweetDarrow shows a marked level of improvement in North’s artistic skill, possibly reflecting, in part, Hopkins’ tutelage. Anatomical features are developed morenaturalistically, and greater depth of form is achieved on the two-dimensional surface of the canvas.Probably encouraged by construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal in 1832, linking the Ohio River with Lake Erie, North migrated west, in 1836, to Ohio City, Ohio.According to the Cleveland and Ohio City directories, by 1837–1838 North was working as a portrait painter. Unconfirmed reports indicate that he also madesojourns to Cincinnati and Kentucky during this period. In June 1841 he had returned to New York State, where he married his neighbor, Ann C. Williams of Darien.During the 1840s he appears to have worked intermittently as an artist, supplementing his income with farming, as well as house, sign, carriage, and ornamental painting, paper hanging, and window glazing. He even tried his hand at making daguerreotypes. Having spent most of his life in a three-county area of western New York, Northdied in Attica, New York, on June 15, 1880, at the age of 70.