All we know is that "SPENCER" was likely a nomadic portraitist traveling the Southern United States after the Civil War through the turn of the twentieth century, perhaps through the 1920s and 1930s. We have other information suggesting that he was active in Georgia and Richmond 1865-1872 capturing the images of ordinary people and well-known Abolitionists active during the tragedy of this most unfortunate period in history.
We have sold two other paintings by SPENCER and are very pleased to present this portrait (and another). We know of approximately eight portraits that were found in a Georgia estate, all depicting African American subjects: most signed SPENCER in brick red paint [this one in oyster white paint]. The sitters were ministers, church related; a woman celebrating her beauty, and a soldier. A group of three portraits of Abolitionists were in the "Freedmen's Bureau, 10th Street Chapter" of Richmond, Virginia: these were portraits of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman. The extant portraits that we have represented other than a gentleman's portrait painted on sheet iron were found in the previously mentioned Georgia estate; we have a copy of the old-time collector's obituary which may lead to a possible journey of discovery.
Date: Likely Circa 1900
Measurement: Frame: 17.75 x 13.75"; view: 13.75" x 9.75"
Material: Oil on academy