Monday, November 11, 2013

American Folk Art - Susan Catherine Moore Waters 1823-1900



Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) The Lincoln Children 1845

Susan Catherine Moore Waters was born in Binghamton, New York, on May 18, 1823, the daughter of Sally Camp Moore (1788-a 1880) & Lark Moore (1790-1871). Susan's only sibling Amelia was born 2 years later. The Moores moved near Friendsville, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, when the girls were children & lived on a farm, which Susan painted as a landscape about 1843. Susan Waters & her sister Amelia attended female seminary of The Susquehanna Academy. Recruited by her teachers to create drawings, Water’s received tuition help for both herself & her sister. Using fabrics of cotton or mattress ticking as her medium when linen was not available, Waters demonstrated that her work was technically sound, as she painted copies of specimens for the class in natural history. She was considered a prodigy by her teachers.


Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Woman in Black Dress

In 1841, she married William Waters, a Quaker, who encouraged her talent. She painted a number of her early portraits in southern New York state, including Cannonsville, Berkshire, Richford, Kelloggsville, & Oxford. Susan became a successful itinerant portrait artist; a supporter of women's rights & the humane treatment of animals; a photographer; & a deeply religious Quaker. She is well known for her portraits of inhabitants of the southern New York done between the years 1843 & 1850, but she was also a successful still-life & animal painter in her later life.


Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Brothers 1845

Faced with a dwindling market for portraits due to the invention of the camera, Waters continued in her chosen field by teaching drawing & painting. However, both she & her husband learned photography as well. After her husband's health faltered, they decided to stop traveling & established themselves in the business of taking fine ambrotypes & daguerreotypes. They settled in Bordentown, New Jersey, where she taught & painted there & in nearby cities. They built a cottage on Mary Street which was later sold. Susan traveled & painted & then returned to Bordentown, to repurchase her former house. For 27 years, Mrs. Waters painted pictures in her quiet studios there encouraged by her husband. In 1876, Waters was honored with an invitation to show 2 of her paintings at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.


Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Man in Black

Perhaps driven by a change in public demand for fashionable paintings as parlor ornaments, Waters began to paint primarily animals; still lifes; maritime & landscapes; & religious images. This shift in her practice may be evidence of Waters’ ongoing artistic development. Like other late 19th century still-life, some of her works depict objects hung on boards & doors, in a realistic manner. In several instances she combined traditional fruit subjects with incidental animals such as rabbits & squirrels. Waters real specialty, however, was painting farm animals, cattle & particularly sheep. She kept sheep in a pen behind her house.


Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Young Boy with Knife

After her husband's death in 1893, she devoted herself entirely to her art, living alone most of the time. At the end of the decade, she boarded at the Friends' Home home in Trenton, and faithfully attended the Friends meetings. On June 6, 1900, she reported on the census; that she had borne 2 children, but that neither was living. She died on July 7, 1900, & was buried in a cemetery at Bordentown, New Jersey.


Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Girl with Dog in a Grape Arbor



Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Portrait of a Lady Reading



Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Mary E Kingman 1845



Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Lyman Kingman



Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Helen Kingman



Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Henry L Wells 1845



Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Young Woman Holding a Rose



Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Nicholas Catlin 1852


Probably by Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Probably Girls from The Lincoln Family, because the dog is the same as in the above identified portrait.

I am posting only one of her later paintings, because I am most interested in her early portraits.


Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Barn with Livestock

For more information on Susan Catherine Moore Waters see:

Bice, Arlene S. Bordentown. Portsmouth, NH: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. p. 61.

Heslip, Colleen C. “Susan C. Waters.” The Magazine Antiques. vol. 115 (1979): 769-777.

Gerdts, William H. Painting and Sculpture in New Jersey. Princeton, NJ: 1964. pp. 109-112.

Strass, Stephanie. “Susan Waters.” American Women Artists, 1819-1947. The Neville Strass Collection, 2003.

Waters, Susan C. and Paul D. Schweizer. “A Letter by Susan Waters Provides New Information on Her Career.” American Art Journal. Vol. 19, No. 1 (1987): 76-77.


Susan Catherine Moore Waters (American artist, 1823-1900) Photograph from Newark Valley Historical Society


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