Asahel Lynde Powers


Powers a portrait painter of Vermont and New York, was born in Springfield, Vermont, the eldest son of seven children. His earliest known portrait, dated 1831, indicates thathe had developed his signature painting style by the age of eighteen. From 1835 to 1837, Powers entered into a business partnership with a Mr. Rice, probably the bookseller, writer, and publisher Daniel Rice of Springfield. The nature of the partner hip is not known, although several portraits from this period are inscribed “Powers & Rice.” Powers moved to New York State in 1839 and painted in Franklin andClinton counties. He moved with his parents to Olney, Richland County, Illinois, in 1841, seemingly leaving a wife, Elizabeth M.Powers, behind in New York. It is notknown whether Powers pursued painting in Illinois, as no portraits of his from this period are extant. Powers died in Illinois.Powers’s extant body of work numbers more than seventy likenesses. These are painted in a style marked by flowing, swirling lines; crisp black outlines; andmultiple perspective. Adult subjects are often shown close to the picture plane, in half-length or three-quarter-length poses. Children are often depicted in full-length poses. Powers painted in oil on wood panel until the mid-1830s, when he began working in oil on canvas. His early portraits have vibrant, decorative lines of paint inthe background, vaguely resembling drapery. Subsequent works, in the late 1830s, are increasingly naturalistic and subdued, probably influenced by the realism of photography.