Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day - Couples by Sheldon Peck 1797-1868 in 19C Anerica

Sheldon Peck (American artist 1797-1868). Samuel and Eunice Judkins of Ulster County, NY

Sheldon Peck, son of Jacob and Elizabeth Peck, was born in Cornwall, Vermont. He married Harriet Corey in 1824.  Peck was an itinerant, self-taught painter. In 1828, he moved to a farm in Jordan, Onandaga County, New York, and began to paint with brighter colors. He continued to paint half & three-quarter length portraits on wood panels and often added highly detailed settings and an occasional landscape in the background. In 1836, Sheldon moved to Chicago. It was here that Sheldon tried to find success as a portraitist, but the economy was working against his success in Chicago.

Sheldon Peck (American painter, 1797-1868) Portrait of the Crane family, Aurora, Illinois

The economic panic of 1837 left few clients for Peck. It was then that the Peck family sold their Chicago property for a wagon & a team of oxen and they moved 20 miles west of Chicago to a town called Babcock's Grove, the former name of Lombard . The family pre-empted approximately 80 acres of land, eventually gaining a land grant signed by President John Tyler in 1843, having purchased it for $1.25 an acre. Here Peck became a farmer and community leader opening a school for his own & other children. Peck was an abolitionist; and there is some evidence, that his house was a stop on the underground railroad. At the end of the farming season, he traveled painting portraits, and used canvas instead of wood panels. He also made many of his own frames.

Sheldon Peck (American painter, 1797-1868) Mr and Mrs William Vaughan of Aurora, Illinois

Art historians tell us, that Peck had three distinct artistic periods: The Vermont period (1820-1827), The New York period (1828-1836) and the Illinois period (after 1836). While in Illinois, Peck found success as a farmer, a community education leader and portraitist.  An 1840 census listed Sheldon Peck's occupation as farmer. The 1850 census recorded his occupation as a portrait painter, as he was working on portraits for a family named Tharp in Pekin, Illinois. Harriet Peck, his wife, was known to produce cheese for the local market. By 1853, the family had grown to 10 children. Peck lived on the family farm, until he died of pneumonia on March 19, 1868.