Eunice Pinney


Pinney created sensitive and refined watercolors that have been admired by folk art scholars and enthusiasts since the 1940s. Pinney was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, toElisha Griswold and Eunice Viets Griswold. Her parents came from prominent local families. She apparently had an extensive education and was considered in her owntime to be very well-read and influential in her community. Pinney’s first marriage, to Oliver Holcomb of Granby, Connecticut, produced two children, Oliver Hector and Sophia. In 1797, sometime after Holcomb’s death, she married Butler Pinney of Windsor, Connecticut, and had three more children: Norman, Emeline Minerva,and Viets Griswold. The Pinneys may have lived in Windsor or Simsbury, as the artist is mentioned as living in the latter village in 1844.Pinney began to paint in watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper about 1805 and continued until at least 1826, the date of the last known extant work. Much of her subject matter reflects her interest in classic literature and poetry, including scenes from Goethe’s Sorrows of Werther, Homer’s Iliad, and Robert Burns’s “TheCotter’s Saturday Night.” She is also known for her mourning pictures and scenes of everyday life; Pinney probably used print sources for much of her work.Pinney’s painting style was dominated by a strong sense of design—solid forms with sure-handed, bold draftsmanship and bright colors. She frequently emphasizedvisual patterns in the repetition of decorative shapes on floor coverings, costumes, drapery, or trees. Pinney also used ink and pencil to delineate facial features andother small details. Her use of published sources, particularly eighteenth-century English prints, can be seen in the painted oval framing device she often employed, andin the late-eighteenth-century costumes worn by her figures.