1801 (Tappan, New York)
1881 (Jersey City, New Jersey)
New York/New Jersey
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literary novel illustrator, narrative genre
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|Biography from R.H. Love Galleries:|
|John Quidor was from a French-Swiss background; his grandfather Pierre
Quidor was a Revolutionary War patriot. John Quidor was born in
1801 in Tappan, New York and when he was nine, the family moved to New
York City. He became apprenticed to a portrait painter, John W.
Jarvis, and was inspired to a degree by his fellow pupil Henry
Inman. Quidor exhibited Ichabod Crane Pursued by the Headless Horseman
at the National Academy of Design in 1828. The painting, now in the
Yale University Art Gallery, indicates the direction Quidor would
pursue exclusively, which was the genre of American literature
especially for novels by Washington Irving. |
apparently did not sell, and he made his living from painting banners
and fire engine panels. The portrait painter Charles Loring
Elliott admired the 'Ichabod Crane' and went to Quidor for
instruction. In 1833, Quidor exhibited Leatherstocking Meets the Law, again at the NAD.
the destruction of his studio by fire in 1835, Quidor relocated to
Columbus, Illinois. He tried farming but was not successful, and
he continued sending paintings to New York exhibitions. A
minister named Smith commissioned Quidor to execute religious works
that were to be shown on tour. Three paintings were completed by
1847 in a new studio in New York, and the other four, two years
later. Around 1850, Quidor was back in New York permanently but
at the age of sixty-six, Quidor stopped painting and moved to Jersey
City, New Jersey.
John Quidor interpreted Washington Irving's
stories freely. His landscape settings are indebted to the
British picturesque tradition: gnarling, blasted and uprooted trees
with "gesticulating" branches, spiky, overgrown weeds and shrubbery in
the foreground areas, and frequent moonlight effects predominate. The Money Diggers (1832; The Brooklyn Museum) is a masterpiece of American Romantic painting. Based on Irving's Tales of a Traveller,
the scene features a dark, moonlit forest clearing with a cavern-like
hole where Wolfert, a Dutch farmer, discovers a treasure chest.
At the sudden appearance of an apparently drowned pirate in the upper
right-hand corner, Wolfert expresses astonishment in a Baroque,
theatrical pose, while the knock-kneed Dr. Knipperhauser is pure
An equally famous Quidor image is The Return of Rip Van Winkle
(c.1849; National Gallery of Art). It is a figure composition in
which the disoriented Van Winkle comes back to town after his long
sleep, only to confront a jeering mob. Some have suggested that
Quidor identified himself with Rip Van Winkle, an alienated member of
society. The painting's rich golden-brown tonalities remind one
of Dutch genre painting. His Voyage to Hell Gate from Communipaw (ca. 1855; Wichita Art Museum) has been cited as a visual source for Albert Pinkham Ryder.
Submitted March 2005 by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.
R.H. Love Galleries, Chicago
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