Pair of Portraits
Possibly Richard and Rebecca Crump
By Richard Crump (1805?- 185?)
Oil on Canvas
Signed on Verso: Woman – “Richd Crump 1839”
Signed on Verso: Man – “Painted by Richd Crump 1838”
These are the only recorded signed portraits by Crump that we have been able to locate.
The man holds a copy of the Louisville Journal dated December 16[?] 1838 and points with his finger to text in the newspaper which reads “Richard Crump /Portrait Painter”.
The artist Richard Crump remains a stubbornly mysterious figure about whom little is presently known. With so little hard information available on his life and career and few if any portraits surviving that can be definitively attributed to his hand, this pair of boldly signed portraits take on considerable importance as historical and artistic documents. It is intriguing to speculate that Crump produced a self portrait and so identified it as such by having the subject point to his name and “portrait artist” as printed in the copy of the Louisville Journal that he holds. The woman (his wife?) is stylishly dressed with large jeweled pendant ear rings, a broach pinned to her gathered bodice and a long gold chain necklace.
Virginia records reveal a Richard Crump (one of several) born in 1804 in Bedford County. He is listed in Ancestry.com as having married Elizabeth Guthrie in Mercer County Kentucky in 1824 and may be the artist although other sources (Whitley) state that his first wife was Rebecca (d.1841). Estill Pennington gives Crump’s life dates as c.1816? – after 1852?, (in Kentucky: The Master Painters) but provides little additional biographical data although he discusses at length Crump’s portrait of The Morris Family c.1840 in the collection of the Speed Museum. Additional research may provide more clarity.
It is well documented however that Richard Crump established himself as a portrait artist in Louisville as early as 1836 when his studio was listed on the east side of 3rd street between Main and Market. His residence was listed at that time as on 1st between Green and Walnut. Crump moved several times over the next decade but continued to be listed as artist and portrait painter in Louisville until at least 1852. Following the death in 1841 of Rebecca from tuberculosis Crump seems to have remarried since the 1850 census lists him, wife Elizabeth and six children as residing in Louisville’s Ward 8. The 1860 census lists Elizabeth and three non-adult children but not Richard.