Wood, Joseph - portrait of a man

This unsigned miniature portrait of an unknown man was originally attributed to Anson Dickinson (1779-1852).

However, after more consideration, the attribution has been changed to Joseph Wood (1778-1830). Wood was born in Clarkston, NY and established himself as a miniature painter in NYC in 1800.

Johnson comments on Wood's style; "The technique is similar to Malbone's, although Wood's brushwork is slightly grainier and the paint is applied in something closer to a wash technique. In Wood's mature work the backgrounds, like Malbone's, as light and shaded by dark patches or painted to resemble sky. However, Wood's portraits are more sharply defined than Malbone's, showing stronger contrasts and deeper shadows, with dark outlines around the eyes. Gum arabic is used liberally, and at times the works are even varnished."

"The hair is brilliantly and airily rendered, often in the coup de vent style popular at the time. Heads are usually smaller than those by Malbone, and the subject is often placed off centre or low on the ivory. Like Malbone's, Wood's subjects are self-assured; their presentations, however, are more varied and offer fully characterisations."

"Later works by Wood, although skilful, are not as forceful as those of his best period; the drawing is more hesitant, the brushwork is broader, and the backgrounds are somewhat darker."

If the attribution is correct, this may be one of Wood's later works. 842

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