Item/Auction Attributes

charcoal and pencil on paper,
Circa 1830.
Laid on scrapbook page, some very light foxing.
5 1/4" x 3 1/4" sheet.
Provenance: Property of the Renalds family, Plains Mill, Rockingham Co., VA. Recently discovered in a Henkel family scrap book that descended from Maggie Henkel at Plains Mill and associated with Siram Henkel, who operated the mill for his father.
Catalogue Note: The present portrait is possibly a preliminary study for the finished portrait of Dr. Miller in the collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley as outlined below. It is part of a relatively large group of folk art profile portraits mostly executed in the Valley of Virginia during the second quarter of the 19th century. Long associated with the Henkel family of New Market in Shenandoah County, with the discovery of two signed examples, one sold by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates, 6/18/2016, lot 544, and the other in the collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (JSE&A, 4/5/2014, lot 299), these portraits can now be attributed to Silon Amos Henkel (1813-1844), son of Dr. Solomon Henkel. Silon was an eccentric itinerant artist, evangelist, doctor, and inventor who is thought to have completed many of these works for patrons while traveling with members of his family on circuit riding trips up and down the Valley. Adding a new dimension to the group, the examples of Sneed and Craven family members from Nelson and Albemarle Counties (sold by JSE&A in 2016), broaden the artist's range to east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Another example, now in the collection of the George Washington Foundation at Kenmore, depicting a Lewis family member from Culpeper County is another recorded example from east of the Blue Ridge. Additionally, a growing number of Henkel-attributed portraits with Southwestern Virginia histories, of which an example depicting Martha Ann Cunningham of Washington Co. is included, indicates that the artist's range extended far beyond his native Shenandoah County and down the Great Wagon Road into Southwestern Virginia, and possibly beyond. Overall, the known group of Silon Amos Henkel portraits represents some of the finest Southern Backcountry folk art portraits from the period, and we all anticipate that more information about the group and the artist will be forthcoming.