Joseph Whiting Stock


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Painter. Known chiefly for portraits, he created an unusually large number depicting children, who generally are shown standing in full length, often with their pets or toys. He also painted miniatures, landscapes, and other subjects, but of these only a few miniatures survive. For a self-taught country painter, his career is unusually well documented. His journal, painting records, will, and estate inventory together provide many insights into his circumstances and aspirations. By extension, the written record also sheds light upon the numerous untrained professionals who roamed the country in his day. Stock was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, which remained his home base until he died there of tuberculosis. Paralyzed from the waist down in an accident when he was eleven, he began painting in 1832. A local artist explained technical rudiments of the craft, and Stock turned for models of achievement to prints and illustrations, which he assiduously copied. Already beginning to receive commissions, in 1834 he achieved freedom from home confinement. A sympathetic doctor designed a wheelchair that even allowed him to travel by train to the East Coast and into New York State. In his prolific mature work, Stock employed strong outlines, bright colors, and decorative patterning to create genial likenesses. Faces usually show greater modeling than other elements, and his frequently ambitious compositions include accessories related to the sitter, as well as interior furnishings and occasional background landscapes.

Subjects: Art.

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