Sunday, November 29, 2020

John Wesley Jarvis, Portrait Factory

John Wesley Jarvis (1781-1839) was an American portrait painter who streamlined his process so that he could produce six portraits a week.

Self Portrait by John Wesley Jarvis

With studios based in New York and Baltimore, "he received six sitters a day at his painting room and limited each sitting to one hour. In that time he was able to do the face. Then the portrait was handed over to an assistant who painted in the background and the drapery," 

Quote is from a book called Hawkers and Walkers in Early America: Strolling Peddlers, Preachers, Lawyers, Doctors, Players, and Others, From the Beginning to the Civil War, 1927.

John Wesley Jarvis on Wikipedia


My Pen Name said...

I wonder if having a similar or preset set of backgrounds and poses also helped. It makes sense- I am sure people have had similar experiences with regular jobs- a report or task that you get better and better at and can do in 1/4 the time a few years on the job.

I think regular 'creatives' can take queues from the efficiency of old time magazine cover illustrators and other deadline driven tasks.

Stephen and Nyree said...

Wow, the face in an hour, then onto the next?!!? That is skill and no doubt represents a heap of practice.