Thomas Skynner

Artist (United States)
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Virtually nothing is known about Thomas Skynner, although a significant body of 19th-century work is now associated with his name. The attribution to Skynner of two pairs of portraits at the National Gallery (John Stone, 1953.5.55; Eliza Welch Stone, 1953.5.56; Portrait of a Man, 1967.20.4; Portrait of a Woman, 1967.20.5) was made on the basis of stylistic similarity to another pair of portraits depicting Mr. and Mrs. Moses Pike of New Hampshire (present location unknown), that are inscribed on the reverse, T. Skynner, Painter and dated 17 September 1846. More recent documentation of another pair of portraits, those of Jeremiah and Mary Eighmie, has established the artist's full name. They are signed on their backs by Thomas Skynner and dated 14 June 1847. A fifth pair of oils, depicting Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Conklin is, like those in the National Gallery, neither signed nor dated.

All five pairs of portraits are by the same hand. In every pair the husband and wife are similarly posed and turned slightly inward toward each other, indicating that they were meant to be hung with the man on the left and the woman on the right. In addition to a similarity of pose and format, the portraits share an unusual treatment of anatomical features, and a final link is the treatment of the costumes.

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