John Quidor (1801-1881)
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John Quidor was an American artist, known for painting historic subjects. Quidor was born in New Jersey but spent much of his life in New York City. He studied painting under John Wesley Jarvis and Henry Inman and left New York City mid-life to live on a farm near Quincy, Illinois. Quidor enjoyed the pastoral setting of Illinois but eventually returned to New York City in 1851.
Quidor never had financial success with his work and subsequently made a meager living by painting the panels of stagecoaches and fire engines. Quidor’s reputation, as a great American artist, was not established until after his death in 1881.
Despite Quidor’s setbacks he worked diligently and passionately. His paintings often illustrated literary and historical subjects and many were inspired by the literature of his friend, Washington Irving. Quidor made four pieces in response to Irving’s A History of New York. These pieces include Dancing on the Battery, Peter Stuyvesant’s Wall Street, Voyage of the Good Oloff up the Hudson, and The Voyage from Communipaw to Hell Gate.
Quidor was interested in mysterious and dark-humored themes. The Headless Horseman Pursuing by Ichabod Crane is one of Quidor’s better known pieces and is now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Little information is known regarding Quidor’s personal life. None of his stagecoach banners survived, but his paintings are in museums and private collections across the United States. Much of Quidor’s work is currently located in New York City and Washington, D.C.
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