Portraits of a Young Couple (pair), oil on canvas, 31" x 25" (image; oval), 40" x 34" (with frame), signed & dated 1843 verso
|Shepard Alonzo Mount was born in 1804 in the Long Island village of Setauket, one of five children. His younger brother William Sidney Mount would become one of the most acclaimed artists of his age. With Mount’s father’s death in 1814, his mother moved the family to the parental farm in Stony Brook. Shepard began his professional career apprenticed to a carriage maker in New Haven, but in 1827 moved with the firm to New York City, where he was reunited with his two artist brothers. Shortly afterward he left the carriage trade and began classes at the newly founded National Academy of Design.
In 1829, Shepard and William opened a portrait studio in NYC, but the business was not successful, and the brothers moved to Athens, Pennsylvania. Shepard returned to New York in the early 1830’s to study portraiture with Henry Inman. The study proved decisive, and he was elected an Associate to the National Academy in 1833. Although he longed to paint landscapes, he continued painting portraits to support his burgeoning family.
The artist’s life took a tragic turn in the early 1860’s when his beloved daughter died of consumption and one son, who was living in Mississippi, was drafted in the Confederate army, captured, and imprisoned. In 1864, Mount, with the help of artist Frank Bicknell Carpenter and poet William Cullen Bryant, prevailed upon President Lincoln to order his release. In 1868, the artist became ill with cholera and died in Stony Brook. (Source: “Shepard Alonzo Mount” by Deborah J. Johnson)
Shepard Mount’s work can be found in the Delaware Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the New York Historical Society, and the White House.