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Family Portraits

The Portrait of Mark, Abigail, and Lois Susan Demeritt, 1835 depicts several members of the Demeritt family from Farmington, New Hampshire including father, mother and newborn daughter. Other Demeritt family members were also painted by artist Joseph Davis, though such a sizable number of commissions from one family was rare. (Davis was reported to have earned only $1.50 per portrait!) The Demeritts are shown in profile and face one another. Mark Demeritt, a magistrate, selectman and member of the state legislature, holds the New Hampshire Patriot, while his wife Abigail holds the baby. On the table in front of him is a top hat, while she sits before a vase of flowers. The artist’s selection of objects in each work reflects the gender specific roles of men and women of the day. On the wall behind them is a landscape painting, probably invented by the artist, rather than based on observation. Often these scenes enhanced the cozy domesticity of Davis’ family portraits.




Joseph H. Davis, Portrait of Mark, Abigail and Lois Susan Demeritt, 1835
Joseph H. Davis, Portrait of Mark, Abigail and Lois Susan Demeritt, 1835
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