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 T. Des Combes  (early 19th century)

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Lived/Active: Ohio      Known for: itenerant portrait painter

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An itinerant German painter in Ohio, T. Des Combes was the competition for Thomas Cole when he began his painting career in America, having emigrated from England.  In 1822, Cole was living in Ohio, and set out to be an itinerant portrait painter.  When he reached St. Clairsville, he learned that Des Combes (first name unknown) had already siphoned off potential business.  Cole examined his rival's work and saw a double portrait of "a very large man and his little wife.  The painter had complimented the fair lady: she was painted twice as large as her husband.  I determined to compete with this German master."(6)

The presence of the two artists led to much debate in St. Clairsville about their comparative talents, and a small indication of victory for Cole was that he received a dollar, his only earnings in the town, for refining a portrait painted by Des Combes.  However Des Combes outsmarted Cole financially in that he charged five dollars per portrait, which included board and room at the home of his client and an agreement that he could keep any food leftover from meals.  Cole, on the other hand, charged ten dollars per portrait, but had to pay board and room out of that money.

Moving onto Zanesville, Des Combes and Cole again encountered each other.  Tired of the competition relationship, they agreed not to speak negatively.  According to notes left by Thomas Cole, Des Combes reportedly said to Cole:  "If you will say notink apout ma bigture, I will say notink about yours."  They then shook hands.  Some time after that, Des Combes gave up portrait painting to become a preacher.


Source:
James Flexner, History of American Painting, That Wilder Image, Vol. III, pp. 6-7

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