Portrait of a Woman

Accession Number

Portrait of a Woman

Jacob Maentel

Object Creation Date
19th century

Medium & Support
watercolor on paper

11 5/8 in. x 8 11/16 in. ( 29.5 cm x 22.1 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of The Daniel and Harriet Fusfeld Folk Art Collection

Label copy
Throughout his life, Jacob Maentel had several careers, not only as a painter but also a farmer and a physician. Born in Kassel, Germany he served as a solider and a secretary under Napoleon. It was during his time in Germany that he obtained his physician’s license. Sometime during the 1830's Maentel emigrated to the U.S. where he and his wife became part of the Harmonist movement. This new community was something similar to the Amish communities; both communities were guided by religious beliefs held by the occupants and everyone worked for the community as a whole. Maentel would remain here until his death.
Maentel painted portraits usually depicting the sitter in profile as was the fashion. "Maentel endowed his rural subjects with tiny feet and narrow bodies so that the costumes and profiles might be dominant against diminutive pastoral landscapes" art historian Mary Black commented. The profile portrait follows this formula. The figures are dainty and appear fragile with tiny features. The costumes are simple and quiet, and the backgrounds are subtle, subdued landscapes. In Maentel's portraits there is not any strong sense of individuality or emotion among the subjects. All subjects are similar in appearance with common features and characteristics. Occasionally there are some personal elements added as to the identity of the sitter. Due to his simple, direct style, Maentel’s works remain easily recognizable.
Denise Patterson
Modern and Contemporary Intern

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6 Related Resources

Folk, Self-taught, Amateur, and Visionary Art
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
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(Part of: Writing + Art Enrichment Activities)
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