Portrait of Dr. Lewis D. Lyons

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
36 x 28 in. 40 5/8 x 32 3/8 x 3 in. (framed)
Credit line
Gift of Roger Gould Wolcott
Accession number
51.48
Collection
Not Currently On View

The seated half-length figure, plain background and emphasis on hands and face are elements of early American portraits.

Hoosier artist Barton Hays began his career tinting photographs and painting over enlarged prints.

Purchased by Roger Gould Wolcott at an auction in 1951 where the contents of the Lyon's home were sold in Attica. Recods state that it was in the collection of Minnie Parker of Attica.
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Indiana

Barton Stone Hays

Portrait of Dr. Lewis D. Lyons, about 1855

oil on canvas

38 x 28 inches

Gift of Roger Gould Wolcott.

Learn More

Barton Hays was raised in a religious home in Ohio that had only one book containing pictures.  Hays drew on barn walls with charcoal and saw his first oil painting at age twenty.  He moved to northern Indiana, where after painting portraits of family and friends, he began accepting portrait commissions to earn a living.  In 1858, Hays moved to Indianapolis, where he became a partner in a photography firm.  He tinted photographs and painted over enlarged prints.  Hays was one of the first art teachers in Indianapolis. Among his students were John Washington Love and William Merritt Chase.  Much of his renown came from his ability to convince Chase’s father to allow his son to continue his studies in New York City.  Hays was successful in receiving the commission to paint governor William Harrison’s portrait.  He was one of the original members of the Art Association of Indianapolis, the founders of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Hay’s likeness of Dr. Lyons is typical of early American portraits.  The seated half-length figure is placed against a plain background.  His hands and face are emphasized by contrasting the skin tones and the white shirt against the dark setting.  Facial features are carefully rendered in firm brushstrokes.  The sitter holds a book on his lap as a symbol of higher learning and his own accomplishments.

Reference

Mary Burnet. Art and Artists of Indiana, Roswell, GA: Whippoorwill Publications, 1985. ISBN-13: 978-1443773805