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 Samuel P. Howes  (1806 - 1881)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: portrait, working class genre, folk art

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Ad Code: 3
Samuel P Howes
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of a Dark-Haired Young Woman
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Whistler House Museum of Art:
The following is from Peter Kostoulakos, ISA ˜ Fine Art Consultant,

Samuel P. Howes


Samuel P. Howes, portrait painter, was probably born in Plympton, MA on June 25, 1806 and died of peritonitis in Lowell, MA on February 25,1881. He painted the every-day people of the greater Boston area — including Lowell mill girls and laborers. His career as a folk art painter of portraits, miniatures and landscapes flourished from 1829 to 1835 and, in subsequent years, Howes added daguerreotype miniatures, historical and non-historical subjects for economical purposes. Howes visited Lowell in 1835, at a time when the demand for painted portraits was in a decline due to the invention of the daguerreotype. He planned to stay in this young, industrial city — incorporated as a town in 1826 and a city in 1836 — for only a few days, but stayed in Lowell for the rest of his life.

As a young man Howes began divinity studies but, because of his changing views, this ended and, in 1829, he moved to Lewis' Wharf, Boston, MA to begin a career as a painter. Other Boston studio listings are 32 Dock Square, 1831 and 1832; and 65 Cornhill in1834— where he is first listed as a portrait painter in the city directory. Boston residential addresses include 7 Stillman Place, 1832; 33 Prince Street, 1833; and 39 Brattle in 1834. Martha Averill and Samuel P. Howes were married in Boston on April 3, 1832 and had their first two children, Samuel Jr. and George, before moving to Lowell and having their third child.

When the Howes' family arrived in Lowell in 1835, it was a fast growing industrial area — attracting mill workers and the crafts and small businesses needed to care for the rapidly growing population. For an artist, Lowell offered a fast growing, prospective clientele without the portrait competition of a large city.

Advertisements list Howes' Lowell studios as 4 Central St. in 1835; the Mansur Building; 112 Merrimack St. from 1845 to 1879; and in 1879, he moved his studio to 224 Middlesex St., Room 19. Lowell residential addresses include the Lowell Hotel in 1836; 17 Adams St. in 1837; and on High St. in 1839. Census records show Howes living on High St. with his wife and three children in 1840 but by 1844, he moved to Gorham St. Sometime between 1840 and 1844 Howes divorced his first wife and married Catherine Bennett on November 10,1844 in Lowell. Census records of 1850 show Howes living with Catherine and two of his children from his previous marriage — Samuel Jr. and George. In 1853, Howes moved his residence from Gorham St. to Central St. and, then in 1858 to 35 Walnut St. Howes and his second wife had two children — Frank Walter was born in 1850 and Mary Frances was born in 1852. Frank died in 1852 of croup. After 1865, Howes changed residences many times until, in 1875, he and Catherine moved in with their daughter Mary and her husband, Lewis Gumb, at 11 Robinson St. in Lowell.

The years from 1835 to 1845 were Howes' most productive years as a portrait painter. After 1845, he began listing himself as a "daguerreotypist and portrait painter" in the city directories. He began painting historical and non-portrait subjects to support his family: "Washington at Dorchester Heights" and " Historical Panorama of the American Republic" are two such examples. From 1846 to 1865 he was very aggressive in advertising his daguerreotype business and, in the early 1860s, he made a partner of James F. Evans. During the 1860s patriotism was popular and Howes painted a number of famous people including Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman and Abraham Lincoln. Just before his death, Howes completed a portrait of the former president of the Appleton Bank, John A. Knowless.

Howes' work is represented in the collections of the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA; the New Hampshire Antiquarian Society in Hopkinton, NH; the Heritage Plantations of Sandwich, Inc. in Sandwich, MA; the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier, VT; the Fitchburg Historical Society in Fitchburg, MA; the Pollard Memorial Library in Lowell, MA; the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, NY; the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA; the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, NH; the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA; and the Galleria Musee in Rockport, MA;

References: Davenport's Art Reference 2001/2002, page 938; Mantle Fielding, 1986, page 427; Dealer's Choice Biographical Encyclopedia of American Painters... page 664; Whistler House Museum of Art files.

Peter Kostoulakos, ISA — Fine Art Consultant

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