American Folk Art, Lovingly Collected

Portrait of the Farley Children of Groton

July 15 - November 29, 2015
PDP Gallery and American Decorative Arts Gallery

Above: Portrait of the Farley Children of Groton, Zedekiah Belknap (American, 1781–1858), about 1835, oil on canvas

Explore the rich folk art tradition that flourished in the mid-19th-century in more than 40 works from an important private collection based in central Massachusetts, recognized as one of the best of its kind in existence. The exhibition features an array of paintings and furniture, many on display for the first time, with a particular emphasis on portraits of children, which illustrate the folk artists' unique approach to using color and towards the figurative treatment of their subjects.

Examined in the light of the growing economic development in New England during the 1800s, American Folk Art, Lovingly Collected showcases the work of home-grown artists, who traveled from town to town to paint portraits for rural families of their loved ones. The artists represented in the exhibition showcase a distinctive folk-art practice that grew out of a popular demand for personal keepsakes, and include John Brewster, Zedekiah Belknap, Ruth Henshaw Bascom, William Matthew Prior, and Sturtevant Hamblin, among others.

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Related Event

Master Series Worcester Art Museum

Master Series Third Thursday
Thursday, September 17, 6pm

John Brewster, Jr. Portrait of Mary Coffin: John Brewster Jr. (1766-1854) was a prolific, deaf itinerant painter, who produced many portraits of New England families, especially their children. Learn more about this fascinating portrait and its artist.

Speaker: Paul D'Ambrosio, President and CEO at Fenimore Art Museum & The Farmers' Museum

Exhibition Catalog


To purchase an exhibition catalog, please call the Museum Shop at 508.793.4355.


"American Folk Art, Lovingly Collected" - NECN Video
Family in folk art at Worcester Art Museum - The Boston Globe