ARTIST: The “Guilford Limner” is the working name assigned to an unknown watercolor artist, most of whose attributed works were painted in Guilford County, North Carolina in 1826 and 1827. Typical features of the Guilford County likenesses include faces with large, luminous eyes with eyelashes, decorative architectural backgrounds, and sitter names and dates inscribed in block lettering. Later North Carolina portraits, probably painted between 1828 and 1832, are of subjects living in Mecklenburg, Iredell and Rutherford Counties. These differ from the Guilford County portraits in that they do not include decorative interiors or inscribed names, but do include a radiating background behind the figures.
In addition to the North Carolina portraits, nineteen examples of the Limner’s work have been identified with Kentucky histories from Breckenridge, Clark, Bourbon, Franklin, Green, Washington and Lincoln Counties, dated between 1818 and 1825, providing ample evidence that the artist worked in Kentucky before coming to North Carolina. Five South Carolina portraits are known, three of subjects from Union County (Spartanburg), and two from Fairfield County, the latter of which are dated 1832, confirming the Guilford Limner’s working dates from 1818-1832.
DESCRIPTION: Watercolor portrait of Jacob Foust, 1827. Portrait of a young man in a exterior setting with pine trees on either side and white rocks to left and right with vines, leaves, tendrils and red and green and blue round fruit or berries. The figure is centered, focusing forward wearing black coat, blue trousers, black shoes, holding a cane in the hand to the left and a top hat in the hand to the right. Above the figure the sitter’s name and the date are inscribed in large block letters in painted in black and outlined with red. Pencil lines defined the upper and lower edges of the inscription.
RELATED OBJECTS: One of three Foust family portraits by the Guilford Limner, two of which–Jacob and Mary (Clapp) Foust–are at MESDA (5753.1-2). Daniel Foust, Mary’s husband and Jacob’s father, is in a private collection. A reproduction of Daniel’s portrait is at MESDA. MESDA’s sulfur-inlaid chest of drawers (MESDA acc. 5568) was owned by Daniel Foust’s parents George Foust (1756-1836) and his wife Barbara (Kivett) Foust (1761-1837)