A Charming Mid 19thC American Naïve School Oil on Canvas; Doves Amongst a Landscape

Origin: American
Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1840-60
Height: 17.75 inches
Width: 9.5 inches

The rectangular shaped unframed oil on canvas fragment of a larger work, showing a country house in the background with a pair of stylised turtle doves to the foreground amongst foliage and amidst a lake, the whole painted in the naïve style, surviving from mid nineteenth century America.

The picture is in fairly sound condition, she sits on a pine stretcher, and has two or three very small areas of paint loss from her surface. She shows an even amount of craquelure to her surface commensurate with age and remains un-cleaned. The painting is unsigned, unsurprising as it is most likely cut down from a larger composition. This is not certain however, and it may be that the painting has simply been separated from its frame and much of American folk art is unsigned. The picture could be professionally cleaned and or varnished if so desired.

The presence of the turtledoves in the artwork is of course hugely significant, they are symbols of peace and love, maternity, femininity and prophecy. The Eastern Mourning Dove is Wisconsin's official symbol of peace and the bird is also Michigan's state bird of peace and references to Mourning Doves appear frequently in Native American literature. Forming strong pair bonds, doves are above all an emblem of devoted love and in the New Testament, two turtle doves are mentioned to have been sacrificed for the Birth of Jesus. The picture is therefore almost certainly a devotional painting to a loving husband and wife, who dwelled in matrimony in the house yonder.

This is thoroughly charming naïve school primitive folk art that is a testament to the enduring symbolism of doves and of a love story that will surely forever remain a mystery to the contemporary viewer.