Portrait Attributed to Sheldon Peck, ca. 1835
I have had the picture for about ten years. We call her Granny Grump because she's kind of sour. It belonged to my godfather and before that, his mother and his grandmother in a small town in Kentucky called Louisa at their farmhouse called the Bird's Nest. That's about all I really know about her, other than the fact that about 25 years ago, a gentleman who worked for a museum in Atlanta saw it and, at that time, because it had hung over the fireplace for so many years, it was so smoke-covered that all you could really see was the face. Well, he made this concoction and he took cotton balls and he started in little, tiny circles-- little, tiny areas-- and he cleaned the whole area. We weren't even aware of the fact that she had this either bow or hat on, and at first we could only tell that she had a little bit of this white sort of bib on. And it just opened up the whole picture.
What you said about Granny Grump is exactly what drew me to the picture in the first place. I think this is the artist Sheldon Peck. And one of the characteristics of Sheldon Peck is this pinched or scowly expression and this penetrating gaze in the sitter's eyes. And I found it fascinating that you said that she was from Kentucky, because Sheldon Peck was an itinerant painter who began his career in Vermont, and in Vermont, he painted on panel and when he moved to Illinois he painted on canvas and this is oil on canvas.
One thing that I find a bit different about this is her costume is a little out of character but maybe some sort of special regional characteristic or a celebration collar. What you do have-- I think it was probably painted in the 1830s-- are these big, muttonchop sleeves with this great detail of black paint. The plain background is also characteristic of his work. What you see in her hair is not a hat, but a tortoise comb, which is very fashionable. A tortoise comb.
Very fashionable for a lady of that time. So Granny Grump was also very stylish, as we can tell by her manner of dress. I also think the frame is probably original to the stretcher. Given that she's a single portrait with a plain background, the price at auction would probably bring around $30,000.
Wow! I'm impressed. It's going to go right back where it was and is going to stay there.
Granny Grump is worth a lot of money.
Thank you, Granny.
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