"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Daniel Boone

This portrait of Daniel Boone by Chester Harding hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
"When historian Frederick Jackson Turner formulated his 'Frontier Thesis' to explain American history and character, he began the progress of settlement with the 'Lone Scout,' a harbinger of the civilization to follow. For this concept, Turner likely had Daniel Boone in mind. Boone spent his life pushing westward, always dissatisfied with where he was and always moving on; he ended up in Kentucky, opening that area for white settlement. One reason Boone kept moving was that when the government caught up with him on the trail he had blazed, it usually voided his land claims and expelled him. Although the reality of Boone's career did not embody the romantic legends that others applied to it, the persistence of Boone as a symbol indicates how strongly the idea of the lone frontiersman has shaped American consciousness and history." -- National Portrait Gallery
Profile magazine (Winter 2002) published by the NPG gives this history of the then recently acquired painting.
"When the young artist Chester Harding first encountered Daniel Boone on the Missouri frontier in June 1820, the legendary frontiersman was cooking venison wrapped on a ramrod over a fire. On learning that the artist had come to paint his portrait, Harding said, he 'hardly knew what I meant.' Nevertheless he agreed to pose. The Gallery’s recently acquired version of Harding’s Boone was originally a full-length image, which later became severely damaged. But the face remained unscathed, and in 1860 Harding mounted it on a fresh canvas, where he made it the focal point of a simpler head-and-shoulders likeness."
 This engraving after a painting by Alonzo Church appears in Evert Duyckinck's National Portrait Gallery, 1862.

But, as with his fellow frontiersman, Davy Crockett,  many of us remember Daniel Boone as portrayed by Fess Parker.

Fess Parker as Daniel Boone, Wikipedia

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