Signed E. Clarkson Phila 1859 for Edward Clarkson (American, 1827-1908)
Oil on canvas, period birds-eye maple frame
19.25” x 21”

Edward S. Clarkson was a mid-19th century Philadelphia animal portrait painter, engraver and lithographer. He was listed as an engraver and artist intermittently in the Philadelphia directories from about 1839 until 1869. As a young man, he worked for the historian and lithographer John F. Watson in Philadelphia who published several natural history books. In about 1850 a lithograph was struck from Clarkson’s portrait of the trotter Andrew Jackson Jr. by the Baltimore lithographic firm A. Hoen & Co.

In addition to his work in printing, Clarkson produced horse portraits in oil during his years in Philadelphia. Several other known paintings by Clarkson survive, all of which depict trotters on the road. In the years 1855 and 1856 Clarkson exhibited horse paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The subject of this intimate portrait is a fine black racehorse and his young groom, both of which are focused on activity beyond the painting.  Attention was paid to the musculature of the horse, and the alert intelligence of the horse’s expression.  In contrast the groom appears quite nonchalant. In the background Clarkson has sketched in the race attendees, a pen of loose horses and the grandstand with an American flag at the roof.

On the reverse of the canvas is printed with the stamp for Theodore Kelley, Artist and Colorman, an emporium for artist’s materials at 18 South Eighth Street in Philadelphia.  By 1860 Kelley had moved several doors down the street to 22 South Eighth, so presumably the canvas was purchased in the year inscribed on the front of the painting, 1859 or earlier.

By 1880 Clarkson and his wife Eliza (b.1831) were living in Bucks County and he was a farm laborer, an occupation he kept for the remainder of his life.  He died in 1908 in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.


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