James Goodwyn Clonney


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Painter and lithographer. A specialist in genre subjects, he also executed landscapes and portraits, some in miniature format. Uncluttered compositions, limpid light, and a finely detailed technique characterize his typically small genre paintings. He usually chose outdoor, rural subjects for benign, lightly idealized, and often amusing interpretations of American life. Like other contemporary genre painters, he sometimes employed ostensibly unproblematic themes to carry overtones of political or social commentary, particularly in those images including African Americans. Probably born in Liverpool, by 1830 he was working in the United States as a professional lithographer. During the next several years, he produced both reproductive and original illustrations for major publishers in New York and Philadelphia. By 1833 he had begun studies at the National Academy of Design. In developing his approach to genre subjects during the 1830s, he must have been aware of precedents in the work of both English and American painters, particularly William Sidney Mount. Although he showed his work regularly in New York, he apparently took little part in the art life of the city, choosing to reside elsewhere in New York State during most of his career. Before he moved to Cooperstown in 1852, he lived in Peekskill, New Rochelle, and possibly other locations as well. Toward the end of his life, he relocated to Binghamton, where he died.

Subjects: Art.

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