In the eighteenth century, itinerant artists traveled through New England painting “landskips” for overmantels, doors, and walls. These pictures, often derived from prints after landscapes by English and French artists or even wallpaper designs, were often embellished with local references to buildings or landscapes. The Bayou Bend example was once part of the woodwork of a second-story bedroom in the Hawkes house on Washington Street in Marblehead. It features a variety of structures, specifically, two three-story homes, both with columned porticoes, as well as a rolling topography dotted with trees, ducks, cows, birds, and various human figures. These—a reclining male, a young male with a dog and horse, a strolling woman, another young male, and a seated couple, one of whom drinks from some sort of stemware—are delightfully out of scale and proportion to one another. A prototype print, if the artist worked from prints, and the identification of the buildings or estates are not known.

RELATED EXAMPLES: Perhaps the same hand produced the overmantel for the Jeremiah Lee Mansion in Marblehead. Massachusetts (Marblehead Historical Society).

Book excerpt: Warren, David B., Michael K. Brown, Elizabeth Ann Coleman, and Emily Ballew Neff. American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection. Houston: Princeton Univ. Press, 1998.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Overmantel Painting
c. 1750–1775
Oil on wood
Panel: 23 1/2 × 53 3/8 in. (59.7 × 135.6 cm)
Credit Line

The Bayou Bend Collection, museum purchase funded by The Friends of Bayou Bend

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Removed from its original setting at the Hawkes House on Washington Street in Marblehead, Massachusetts; to Childs Gallery, Bost on; to the Bayou Bend Collection, on June 2, 1977.