William Major of "Fairview" Plantation, Culpeper County, Virginia (Primary Title)

Thomas Jefferson Wright, American, 1798 - 1846 (Artist)

oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 28 1/8 × 24 in. (71.44 × 60.96 cm)
Framed: 32 3/8 × 28 3/8 in. (82.23 × 72.07 cm)
Set "Elizabeth Thatcher Corbin Major of "Fairview" Plantation, Culpeper, Virginia" (88.61.2)
In his portrayal of a prosperous couple from Culpeper County, Virginia, Wright produced a dynamic record of individual personalities and middle-class mores of the 1830s. While betraying the itinerant artist’s lack of training, the portraits nevertheless convey a sense of strength and stability in his sitters. They also reveal the emerging notion of separate gender spheres, which associated men with public and women with private life. Two views occupy the corners of the paintings. William Major, who is given a man’s outside perspective, is connected to the wider world of business and politics through his newspaper. Elizabeth Major’s accompanying view locates her firmly in the home. Within its white gates, however, this mother of nine exerts moral authority over the domestic realm; her folded glasses and hand lay atop the Bible.
signed at lower right in white rectangle: "Jeff: Wright / Painter 1831."
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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