Joseph Whiting Stock (American, 18151855)
Oil on canvas; 50 1/4 x 40 in. (127.6 x 101.6 cm)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1966 (66.242.19)
When the Museum acquired this portrait, the sitters were mistakenly identified as the artist's children; however, Stock, a paraplegic injured in an accident when he was eleven years old, never married. He painted only five portraits of this size before 1846, when his diary entries cease. One such canvas, almost certainly this one, depicted "John & Louisa Stock in group." The children are thought to be those of the artist's younger brother Isaac C. Stock and his wife Sarah Hunt Stock of Springfield, Massachusetts. The 1850 census for that city gives the ages of John (born ca. 1838) and Louisa (born ca. 1840), who, it can be deduced, would have been seven and five, respectively, when this work was painted. The family moved between Springfield and Boston before settling in New Haven in 1852. Little is known of the children, other than that John was listed intermittently in the city directories as a messenger for Adams Express, a baker, and a clerk. Stock's meticulous attention to decorative pattern and detail make the work a document of nineteenth-century dress and furnishings. His somewhat awkward, untutored drawing is compensated for by his appealing characterization of the sitters.