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 Joseph Alexander Ames  (1816 - 1872)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/New York/New Hampshire      Known for: portraits of notables, figure and genre painting

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Joseph Alexander Ames
from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Self taught, Joseph Ames became noted for portrait and genre painting, especially portraits including at least nine depictions of Daniel Webster, famous American colonialist.  Ames was born in Roxbury, New Hampshire, and by age twelve was attempting portraiture.  In 1841, he moved to Boston, where he stayed for the next 25 years.  There he was much influenced by the "Old Master" painting technique of Washington Allston, who used many layers of glaze that "mellowed and enriched underlying color."  Ames' paintings created quite a sensation among his peer artists, most of whom had not seen first hand results from that method of painting.

In 1848, Ames went to Rome, Italy, where he saw Old Master paintings first hand.  He also painted a "celebrated portrait of Pope Pius IX", which was exhibited in New York at the National Academy of Design in 1850.  (It was 1869 before his name appeared again in annual Academy exhibition listings.)

He returned to Boson in 1848, and received numerous portrait commissions.  From the 1850s, his career is difficult to trace as he had various addresses including New York City, Newport Rhode Island and Boston.  In New York he had a studio at the prestigious Tenth Street Studio Building, but during this period, his professional affiliations were primarily in Boston.  He held memberships in the Boston Art Club, which he served as its first president, and also the Allston Club and Boston Artists' Association. 

In 1869, the New York City Directory lists him as a resident of Manhattan.  He was elected to Associate membership in the National Academy of Design in 1969, and the next year to full membership.  However, Joseph Ames lived in New York for only three years as he died of "brain fever".  Surviving was his wife, Sarah Fisher Clampitt, a sculptor, and several children.

John Davis, "Joseph Alexander Ames", essay.  Painting and Sculpture in the Collection of The National Academy of Design, David Dearinger, Editor, pp. 15-16.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:

A portrait and genre painter, Joseph Ames worked in Boston from 1841 to 1847 and then went to Italy where he painted a portrait of Pope Piux IX.  On his return, he worked primarily in Boston for several decades.  By 1870, he was in Baltimore and then in New York where he died in 1872.

Source: Dictionary of Artists in America by George Groce and David Wallace

Additional note courtesy of Henry Taves:

He was born in Roxbury, New Hampshire.  The  town's earliest vital records book has an entry for him (Sept. 6, 1816 - actually names Joseph Emes at birth.  He later changed his name).

Roxbury is a tiny town in NH and has produced few persons of note,  but Ames was one.  For a reference in print, he is in Samuel Wadsworth, Historical Notes, Keene and Roxbury New Hampshire, 1932.

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