Artist: Thomas Hovendon
Title: Dem Was Good Ole Times, 1882
Oil on canvas
1/8 x 12 1/8 in. (41 x 30.8 cm)
Museum Purchase with funds provided by the Chrysler Museum Landmark Communications Art Trust: an anonymous donor: Mr. and Mrs. Richard M. Waitzer; and Mr. and Mrs. Richard F. Barry III; and the Museum’ accession fund
Thomas Hovendon thoroughly studied the face of his African-American subject and neighbor, Samuel Jones. Over two years, the artist captured Mr. Jones’ spirit in pencil sketches, oil paintings, and etchings. As is common for this period, he is seen as a stereotypical elderly man of color, projecting a pleasant demeanor despite great hardship. Though he was a free man when this portrait was painted, Jones witnessed slavery and involuntary servitude in his lifetime. Even after the abolition of slavery, Americans of color were not treated equally and faced discriminatory voting practices. Eventually, these actions were deemed illegal and not supported by the Constitution.