Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - The Family

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Image of The Family

George Henry Story , (Jan 22, 1835–Nov 23, 1923)

The Family

38 in. x 48 in. (96.52 cm x 121.92 cm)

Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of the Leland Stillman Foundation in memory of Thomas Cochran (PA 1890) in recognition of the Gallery's 25th Anniversary
Accession Number: 1957.2


Enoch Wood Perry (1831–1915)
Preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner, 1872 oil on canvas
museum purchase

George Henry Story (1835–1923)
The Family, 1872
oil on canvas 1957.2
gift of the Leland Stillman Foundation in memory of Thomas Cochran (PA 1890) in recognition of the Gallery’s 25th Anniversary

George Henry Story’s portrait of a family in their dining room and Enoch Wood Perry’s genre scene of a family preparing Thanksgiving dinner in their kitchen, both executed in 1872, provide two contrasting glimpses into late-nineteenth-century domestic life. George Story, a painter specializing in portraits (famously, several of Abraham Lincoln), genre scenes (many of genteel interiors), and landscapes, was working in New York at the time of this painting, the subject of which is the affluent Boston banker Abner I. Benyon in his fashionably furnished residence in Newton, Massachusetts. His wife and eight children join him, leisurely gathering around the linen- draped dining table, with figured carpet under their feet and paintings on the paneled walls, including the portrait of a deceased child over the marble mantel. Enoch Wood Perry, who like Story was a painter with European academic training and skill, chose to paint a more rustic scene of a generic multigenerational family. The woman in the center of the painting industriously rolls out dough as children cluster around the table where she works. In the background an elderly man entertains a toddler as he plucks a turkey and another woman inserts a dish in the oven at the hearth. It is a happy, if romanticized scene. Elements such as the bare wood floor, enormous cooking fireplace, and furnishings—a grandfather clock, an antique mirror, a slant-top desk—reflect the post- Civil War’s Colonial Revival nostalgia for simpler times. The two paintings, one an actual scene, the other an imaged one, give testament to how different families furnished their homes and led their lives.

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