The following information was submitted by James McCormick, Professor Emeritus of Art whose research about the artist resulted in an exhibit, A Bostonian Painter in Kentucky - Asa Park, (1790-1827) held from October 19 -November 30, 2006. The exhibit was sponsored by the Georgetown & Scott County Museum in collaboration with the Georgetown College Art Department, both in Georgetown, KY.
Asa Park was primarily a portrait painter. He also did sign and ornamental paintings. He was born in Newton, Massachusetts to Joshua and Lois Fuller Park on August 2, 1790. He was a student of John Rittoe Penniman. Park worked in the Boston area for a time, around Newton. A signed still life of feathers was painted on the lid of a box In 1807. It is now in the Robert Hall Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Signed portraits of Park's brother and sister-in-law were painted in Dorchester, MA in 1814. They were formerly in the Nina Fletcher Little Folk Art Collection.
Park maintained that he had studied in Gilbert Stuart's studio. Perhaps during this time, he painted the life size (84" X 60") portrait of George Washington in which the head in particular shows the Stuart influence. This portrait is now in the collection of Georgetown College, and some historians feel it is the best monumental 19th century portrait in Kentucky.
After studying with Stuart, Park headed west, arriving in Pittsburgh where he advertised in the newspaper in April of 1816. One signed portrait from his months in Pittsburgh has survived.
By November 10, 1816, Park was in Lexington. He advertised in the local papers that he was available for portrait painting. Park stated in the ads that he was, "under the patronage of the celebrated Stuart and Penniman". A number of portraits of people in Lexington and the vicinity were done over the next few years. Park was the first trained artist to come to Lexington and set up a permanent studio.
In April 20, 1820, Park advertised in Cincinnati newspapers of his availability to paint portraits and ornamental work. No work from his time in Cincinnati has been found.
Park returned to Lexington later in 1820 and died there in 1827. Over the years, Park had been a good friend of the Edward West family whose son was the artist, William Edward West. Park was buried on the West property.
Park painted a large transparency of an Eagle as part of the decorations for the reception honoring General Lafayette's visit to Lexington in 1825 . The piece was very well received.
Park painted a portrait of President James Monroe in Danville, Kentucky in 1819 which Monroe declared to be the most admirable likeness ever taken of him . (Now lost).
Institutions that hold Asa Park paintings:
Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington,VT; Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY; The Speed Museum, Louisville,KY; Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, PA; Duncan Tavern DAR State Headquarters, Paris, KY.