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Monday, November 20, 2017

Ruby Devol Finch: Recent Discoveries

Ruby Devol Finch: Recent Discoveries by Donald R. Walters
by Donald R. Walters

Unidentified photographer Portrait of Ruby Devol, ca. 1860 “Little Gem” hand-tinted ferrotype in embossed brass mount Inscribed on the reverse side: “Ruby”; 1 x 3/4 inches Courtesy, a Massachusetts Collector
Fig. 1: See Checklist (below) #16
Ruby Devol (Finch) (1804–1866) of Westport, Massachusetts, was the subject of an in-depth article more than thirty years ago.1 While one signed portrait (Checklist, 2 ) came to light shortly after the initial publication in 1978, it was not until recently that additional works have been discovered.

Jim and Barbara Faria, antiquarians living in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, have long had nineteenth-century folk artist Ruby Devol on their radar. Jim Faria, who grew up in the vicinity of neighboring Westport, was employed in the 1970s by antiques dealer George Considine, owner at the time of two watercolors by Devol (Checklist, 6 and 8). In 2005 the Farias had hopes of unearthing fresh clues to Ruby’s life and, conceivably, artwork, when they were asked by a sixth-generation Westport resident (and Devol family relation) to advise on the dispersal of what remained from generations of accumulated household belongings. Included in this material were goods originally from a Devol family farm, which was located across the road from yet a second Devol farm. Ascertaining that these were the farms where Ruby Devol had lived, the Faria’s painstakingly began processing hundreds of household objects, photographs, and documents. Over the course of several months they unearthed the only known photographic image of Ruby Devol (Fig. 1, Checklist, 16) and four unrecorded works that had been protected from light for over 150 years. In conjunction with the Farias’ findings, my recent research has made it possible to provide for the first time a checklist of Ruby’s known works and resulted in the reexamination of Ruby Devol, one of the most uniquely creative female American folk artists of her time.

Aruba (Ruby) Brownell Devol was born in Westport, Massachusetts, on November 20, 1804, one of two children of Benjamin Devol Jr. and Elizabeth Rounds.2 Town records show that Ruby married William Finch of New Bedford, Massachusetts, on November 8, 1832.3 Five years before her marriage she gave birth to her only child, a daughter named Judith, born August 10, 1827, in Westport. Judith’s birth was not recorded but is known from her death record in New Bedford, where she died on March 25, 1912.4 Not only is Judith’s natural father a mystery, her stepfather, William Finch, does not turn up again in local records, census records, or probate records before or after his marriage to Ruby Devol. “Ruby B. Finch” is recorded as having died a widow on July 7, 1866, at age 61, on Grape St. in New Bedford, close to where her daughter, Judith, and husband, Otis Pierce, a brick and stonemason, were living at 1 Spruce Street. Her death record lists New Bedford as her place of residence but Westport, eight miles away, as her place of burial. Although a marked tombstone has not been located, a secluded Devol family cemetery on the grounds of one of the Devol family farms east of “Devol Pond” and west of what is now called Sodom Road is the most logical site in Westport for Ruby’s interment.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Double Portrait (presumed to be Ruby Devol and William Finch), ca. 1832 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 15 x 12-1/8 inches Courtesy, a Virginia Collector
Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Double Portrait (presumed to be Ruby Devol and William Finch), ca. 1832 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 15 x 12-1/8 inches Courtesy, a Virginia Collector
Figs. 2–5: See Checklist (below) #13

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Double Portrait (presumed to be Ruby Devol and William Finch), ca. 1832 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 15 x 12-1/8 inches Courtesy, a Virginia Collector Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Double Portrait (presumed to be Ruby Devol and William Finch), ca. 1832 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 15 x 12-1/8 inches Courtesy, a Virginia Collector Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Double Portrait (presumed to be Ruby Devol and William Finch), ca. 1832 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 15 x 12-1/8 inches Courtesy, a Virginia Collector
The recorded facts of Ruby Devol Finch’s life are slim but her artwork reflects a telling network of ties to friends, neighbors, and community. Recent genealogical research has fleshed out the connections between the subjects and/or benefactors of Ruby Devol’s recorded artistic production, indicating that geographically the distance between Ruby Devol and her subjects was less than ten miles, some distances easily traversed by walking, others by horseback or carriage.

In her lifetime, Ruby Devol Finch produced a thoroughly remarkable body of work. Some of her compositions are additionally valuable in that they offer accurate visual documents of fashion, furniture, architecture, and even dance in Westport in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The drawings as a whole possess a decorative quality in their use of color, charm in their use of original verse, and personal sentiment that was a reflection of Ruby’s connections to her friends and neighbors. What makes the Devol family drawings discovered by the Farias artistically significant as a group is the fact that three of them augment established themes or elements seen in her more elaborate compositions, while the fourth, a double portrait, unveils an approach to portraiture not found in Ruby Devol Finch’s other works

DOUBLE PORTRAIT
Of the four newly discovered drawings, perhaps the most curious is the large Double Portrait (Figs. 2–5, Checklist, 13). This oversized work, at one time folded in eighths, was found tucked into a bundle of Civil War newspapers among the Devol family possessions. It appeared never to have been framed, and, consequently, the colors are bright and the paper is untoned. Characteristic Devol details are the lobed floral motif on the woman’s dress, apron, and fichu (fig. 3);5 the fleur-de-lis variation decorating her hair ribbons and his inner lapels (figs. 4, 5); the stylized, often oversized, ear in profile; and the coarse patterning of stockings. This drawing exhibits more obvious graphite work and shading than most of Devol’s other drawings, and there is a partial trial graphite sketch on the reverse side.

Based on the provenance and dating of the costume worn by the female in the portrait, the drawing can be dated to 1832, the year of Ruby’s marriage to William Finch, and the “special occasion” finery (including matching brooches), worn by the couple, suggest that this is a wedding portrait of Ruby Devol and her husband. The parallel discovery of the photographic image of Devol makes for a supportive comparison of facial type. The unique full-face positioning of the figures — in a body of work comprising profile portraiture — supports the conclusion that this is indeed a meaningful exception and a more personalized work. On the other hand, because nothing is known of William Finch, it has not been possible to verify (or rule out) that he had military associations that would warrant the wearing of a uniform. In general, the uniform suggests a land-based light cavalry unit somewhat earlier in style than the female’s 1830–1835 costume; it’s unclear how much of the uniform is based on accurate observation and how much on artistic fantasy.6 While varying degrees of stylization, distortion, and simplification are generally found in folk art, Ruby Devol as a rule consistently strove for a measure of specificity in her portraiture.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) An Equestrian Figure, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 12-1/4 x 15-1/4 inches Courtesy, a Virginia Collector
Fig. 6: See Checklist (below) #14

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) An Equestrian Figure, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 12-1/4 x 15-1/4 inches Courtesy, a Virginia Collector
Fig. 7: See Checklist (below) #14

AN EQUESTRIAN FIGURE
The second drawing (Fig. 6, Checklist, 14) was found wrapped in a bed covering in an eighteenth-century blanket chest among the Devol family possessions. Framed sometime in the 1930s and afterwards stored, its colors are vivid and condition excellent. It is almost identical in paper size to Double Portrait and similarly outlined with a ruled ink border. Graphite and ink are used in the shading of the horse’s body and the unidentified man’s head. The subject bears the classic Devol “cauliflower” ear (Fig. 7). The manner in which Ruby Devol portrayed the texture of men’s hats of the period is also a signature detail, as is the low “slipper” with pronounced heel, the predominant style of men’s and women’s shoes in all her drawings.

The most striking frame of reference for this work is a panel from one of her two versions of The Prodigal Son (Fig. 8, Checklist, 9), the biblical parable as conveyed by her in contemporary dress and settings. This narrative panel shows the prodigal son bidding farewell to his father and older brother before departing on horseback. The chain of “S” motifs on the saddle blanket trim, the rippled profile of the horse’s mane, and the striated shading of the horses’ profiles are identical in both works (figs. 6, 8, Checklist, 9 and 14).

Since it bears no identifying inscriptions, one can only speculate whether An Equestrian Figure depicts an actual neighbor or friend. Given that Ruby Devol, in at least two other instances, copied select episodes from her two multi-paneled versions of The Prodigal Son as detached and complete drawings, it is just as likely that this figure represents the “departure of the prodigal son” rather than one of her contemporaries.7

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) The Prodigal Son, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 18-3/7 x 22-11⁄16 inches Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg  Foundation, Williamsburg, Va. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (36.301.1)
Fig. 8: See Checklist (below) #9

THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS
Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) The Prodigal Son Returns, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 7-1/4 x 5-7/8 inches Courtesy, a Maryland Collector
Fig. 10: See Checklist (below) #12
The Prodigal Son Returns (Fig. 9; Checklist, 12) is the third of the drawings extracted from the Devol family household belongings. Although unframed when found, a wide yellow watercolor border surrounds the composition, confirming that this piece is not a fragment of a larger scheme. The four lines of verse at the top are written in Ruby Devol’s own hand and are apparently of her own creation, and are analogous to her verses integrated into The Prodigal Son in the American Folk Art Museum (Checklist, 10). The lines of text that provide the background script for the version in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum (Checklist, 9) are taken verbatim from the Bible (Luke 15:11–32).

Here the father is wearing distinctive high boots, which in the American Museum of Folk Art version differentiate his costume from the other figures. This vignette displays the most exaggerated specimens of quintessential Ruby Devol ear anatomy (Fig.10).

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) The Prodigal Son Returns, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 7-1/4 x 5-7/8 inches Courtesy, a Maryland Collector
Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) The Prodigal Son Returns, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 7-1/4 x 5-7/8 inches Courtesy, a Maryland Collector
Fig. 10: See Checklist (below) #12

FEDERAL STYLE HOUSE
Federal Style House (Fig. 11, Checklist, 15), the last of the four newly discovered drawings, is a presentation piece for a relative, inscribed on the back in graphite, “For Mary A. M. Wood, Westport Mass in the year 1838.” The Wood and Devol families intermarried in 1798, and eventually the Devol farms, where these drawings were found, passed through to descendants of George Wood. Modest in size, this drawing is significant in that once again Ruby Devol has extracted an element from her two large versions of the prodigal son parable, which also include precise architectural elements such as door, window, or shutter treatments.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) A Presentation Piece: Federal Style House, ca. 1838 Watercolor and ink on paper, 2-1/2 x 3-1/8 inches Inscribed in graphite on reverse: “For Mary A. M. Wood, Westport Mass in the year 1838” Courtesy, a Maryland Collector
Fig. 11: See Checklist (below) #15

This reexamination has brought to light some new techniques that Devol used in her artistic methods, but fresh facts relative to whom she was as a person have been expanded primarily only to the extent that we now have a photographic image of her. What can be deduced from a few tidbits about her daughter’s birth adds to the frustration of learning nothing new about her husband. For scholarly purposes additional background material emerged in the course of researching the subjects of her portraits, making it possible to correct or expand here what had previously been written, while providing a checklist of her known works, all reproduced in color for the first time in one source.

The complete research files for this article have been deposited with the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va.


Checklist of works signed by or attributed to Ruby Devol Finch
Checklist of works signed by or attributed to Ruby Devol Finch.

Note: all watercolors by Ruby Devol Finch were executed in Westport, Mass.;
all measurements are paper size.

Signed and Dated Work

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Kirby Family Record, dated 1831 Signed and inscribed: “Drawn by Ruby Devel [sic] of Westport November 19th 1831 Silas Kirbys Family Record Forever” Watercolor and ink on paper, 20-1/2 x 16-1/4 inches Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va. (58.305.25)
1.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
Kirby Family Record, dated 1831
Signed and inscribed: “Drawn by Ruby Devel [sic] of Westport November 19th 1831 Silas Kirbys Family Record Forever”
Watercolor and ink on paper, 20-1/2 x 16-1/4 inches
Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va. (58.305.25)


Signed Work

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Portrait of Ann Potter (1809–1844), ca. 1830 Signed: “Ann Potter’s Profile drawn by Ruby Devol“ Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 9 x 11 inches (framed) Courtesy, Arthur Kern;  Image courtesy, Walters-Benisek Art and Antiques The inscription reads: “Can love for me inspire your tender breast/Dare I to hope and with that hope be blest.” This portrait incorporates a design element found in three other works (Checklist, 1, 6, and 10): stylized columns composed of potted attenuated floral vines between which an arch or banner area is formed. Ann Potter was born in Westport May 21, 1809 (daughter of Joshua and Elizabeth Potter); she married James Macomber on November 30, 1828; she died, listed as a housekeeper, May 20, 1844. See Vital Records of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, To The Year 1850 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1929).
2.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
Portrait of Ann Potter (1809–1844), ca. 1830
Signed: “Ann Potter’s Profile drawn by Ruby Devol“
Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 9 x 11 inches (framed)
Courtesy, Arthur Kern;
Image courtesy, Walters-Benisek Art and Antiques
The inscription reads: “Can love for me inspire your tender breast/Dare I to hope and with that hope be blest.”

This portrait incorporates a design element found in three other works (Checklist, 1, 6, and 10): stylized columns composed of potted attenuated floral vines between which an arch or banner area is formed. Ann Potter was born in Westport May 21, 1809 (daughter of Joshua and Elizabeth Potter); she married James Macomber on November 30, 1828; she died, listed as a housekeeper, May 20, 1844. See Vital Records of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, To The Year 1850 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1929).


Attributed

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Portrait of Elijah (1786–1861) and Hannah (1788–1849) Robinson, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, gouache, pencil and ink on paper, 7 x 9 inches Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va. (66.300.1)
3.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
Portrait of Elijah (1786–1861) and Hannah (1788–1849) Robinson, ca. 1830–1835
Watercolor, gouache, pencil and ink on paper, 7 x 9 inches
Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va. (66.300.1)

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Portrait of Abner Davis (1778–1858) and Portrait of Betty (Betsy) Davis (1778–1876), ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper adhered to wooden panels, 13-1/4 x 8 inches Current whereabouts unknown (formerly in the Bertram K. Little and Nina Fletcher Little Collection) Courtesy, Sotheby’s, New York
Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Portrait of Abner Davis (1778–1858) and Portrait of Betty (Betsy) Davis (1778–1876), ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper adhered to wooden panels, 13-1/4 x 8 inches Current whereabouts unknown (formerly in the Bertram K. Little and Nina Fletcher Little Collection) Courtesy, Sotheby’s, New York
4. and 5.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
Portrait of Abner Davis (1778–1858) and Portrait of Betty (Betsy) Davis (1778–1876), ca. 1830–1835
Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper adhered to wooden panels, 13-1/4 x 8 inches
Current whereabouts unknown (formerly in the Bertram K. Little and Nina Fletcher Little Collection)
Courtesy, Sotheby’s, New York

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Memorial Portrait of Tillinghast Tripp (1771–1836), ca. 1836 Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 8 x 5-1/4 inches Courtesy,  New Bedford Whaling Museum Gift of George L. Considine (1984.35.4)
6.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
Memorial Portrait of Tillinghast Tripp (1771–1836), ca. 1836
Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 8 x 5-1/4 inches
Courtesy, New Bedford Whaling Museum
Gift of George L. Considine (1984.35.4)

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Portrait of Susannah Tripp (1777–1866), ca. 1836 Watercolor, gouache, pencil and ink on paper, 8-1/4 x 6-1/4 inches Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va. (66.300.2)
7.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
Portrait of Susannah Tripp (1777–1866), ca. 1836
Watercolor, gouache, pencil and ink on paper, 8-1/4 x 6-1/4 inches
Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va. (66.300.2)

 Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) Memorial Portrait of Sally Allen (1805–1893), dated 1843 Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 7-1/4 x 5-1/4 inches Courtesy,  New Bedford Whaling Museum. Gift of George L. Considine. (1984.35.3) The inscription reads: “My arm in mercy would extend/To all impartially/Especially unto those the poor /Who are dependants here of me/Drawn in memory of Sally Allen Keeper of the board /in the almshouse 1843 aged 38 Born April 12 1805.”  An incorrect assumption regarding the words “in memory of” was made in Walters, “Out of Anonymity: Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866),” Maine Antique Digest (June 1978, section C). It is now known that Sarah (aka Sally) Allen actually died fifty years later (August 20, 1893), well after Ruby Devol’s 1843 portrait was painted; “in memory of” should be taken to mean “in honor or recognition of.” Sally Allen married Thomas Allen (1807–1880) on October 5, 1826, in Dartmouth, Mass., where they both were born. See Vital Records of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, To The Year 1850 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1929). Husband and wife, both Quakers, are buried in the Padanaram Cemetery (known earlier as the Sherman Burial Ground) in Dartmouth, although they both were employed for a time (approximately 1841–1859) by the Town of Westport to manage the almshouse on Drift Road, now a historic property owned by the Town of Westport.
8.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
Memorial Portrait of Sally Allen (1805–1893), dated 1843
Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 7-1/4 x 5-1/4 inches
Courtesy, New Bedford Whaling Museum. Gift of George L. Considine. (1984.35.3)
The inscription reads: “My arm in mercy would extend/To all impartially/Especially unto those the poor /Who are dependants here of me/Drawn in memory of Sally Allen Keeper of the board /in the almshouse 1843 aged 38 Born April 12 1805.”

An incorrect assumption regarding the words “in memory of” was made in Walters, “Out of Anonymity: Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866),” Maine Antique Digest (June 1978, section C). It is now known that Sarah (aka Sally) Allen actually died fifty years later (August 20, 1893), well after Ruby Devol’s 1843 portrait was painted; “in memory of” should be taken to mean “in honor or recognition of.” Sally Allen married Thomas Allen (1807–1880) on October 5, 1826, in Dartmouth, Mass., where they both were born. See Vital Records of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, To The Year 1850 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1929). Husband and wife, both Quakers, are buried in the Padanaram Cemetery (known earlier as the Sherman Burial Ground) in Dartmouth, although they both were employed for a time (approximately 1841–1859) by the Town of Westport to manage the almshouse on Drift Road, now a historic property owned by the Town of Westport.

9. (see Figure 8)

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
The Prodigal Son, ca. 1830–1835
Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 18-3/7 x 22-11⁄16 inches
Courtesy, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg
Foundation, Williamsburg, Va.
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (36.301.1).

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) The Prodigal Son, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, gouache, ink and pencil on paper, 12-3/8 x 14 inches Courtesy, American Folk Art Museum, New York Promised gift of Ralph Esmerian (P1.2001.262) Photography by John Bigelow Taylor, New York, © 2000
10.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
The Prodigal Son, ca. 1830–1835
Watercolor, gouache, ink and pencil on paper, 12-3/8 x 14 inches
Courtesy, American Folk Art Museum, New York
Promised gift of Ralph Esmerian (P1.2001.262)
Photography by John Bigelow Taylor, New York, © 2000


Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866) The Prodigal Son Returns: The Celebration, ca. 1830–1835 Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 5-7/8 x 7-1/2 inches Courtesy, Kendra and Allan Daniel
11.

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
The Prodigal Son Returns: The Celebration, ca. 1830–1835
Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 5-7/8 x 7-1/2 inches
Courtesy, Kendra and Allan Daniel


12. (see Figures 9 & 10)

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
The Prodigal Son Returns, ca. 1830–1835
Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 7-1/4 x 5-7/8 inches
Courtesy, a Maryland Collector

13. (see Figures 2–5)

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
Double Portrait (presumed to be Ruby Devol and William Finch), ca. 1832
Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 15 x 12-1/8 inches
Courtesy, a Virginia Collector

14. (see Figures 6 & 7)

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
An Equestrian Figure, ca. 1830–1835
Watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, 12-1/4 x 15-1/4 inches
Courtesy, a Virginia Collector

15. (see Figure 11)

Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866)
A Presentation Piece: Federal Style House, ca. 1838
Watercolor and ink on paper, 2-1/2 x 3-1/8 inches
Inscribed in graphite on reverse: “For Mary A. M. Wood, Westport Mass in the year 1838”
Courtesy, a Maryland Collector

Checklist #12–15: Period frames but not original to works.


Photograph

16. (see Figure 1)

Unidentified photographer
Portrait of Ruby Devol, ca. 1860
“Little Gem” hand-tinted ferrotype in embossed brass mount
Inscribed on the reverse side: “Ruby”; 1 x 3/4 inches
Courtesy, a Massachusetts Collector


Donald R. Walters is co-owner with Mary Benisek of Walters-Benisek Art & Antiques, Plainfield, Mass. He was curator of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum from 1971 to 1978.

The author is greatly indebted to Jim and Barbara Faria for their considerable contributions in locating and researching the Devol material. Appreciation also extends to Arthur Kern for his genealogical skills; Mr. and Mrs. George Dean and Martha Guy, historians; and numerous others who contributed their time and expertise.


1. Donald R. Walters, “Out of Anonymity: Ruby Devol Finch (1804–1866),” Maine Antique Digest (June 1978, section C). See www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/index.html?id=2103.

2. It was incorrectly stated in Walters, MAD, that Ruby Devol was one of seven children; in fact she had only one sibling, an older sister, Freelove, born May 15, 1800. See Vital Records of Westport, Massachusetts, To The Year 1850, (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1918), 40.

3. Vital Records, 152.

4. Deaths Registered in the City of New Bedford Nineteen Hundred and Twelve, New Bedford Public Library, 22, number 485. “In this register her father is listed as “Unknown.”

5. See this same motif in these works: Checklist, 1, 3, 7, 8, 11 and 13.

6. Hanging with the sword is a sabretache (a leather case or pocket worn by cavalry at the left side, suspended from the sword belt), an accoutrement worn exclusively by Hussars, ornately uniformed, primarily European, units of light cavalry. The hat, a chapeau de bras, was not typically worn by Hussar units, but were worn on some occasions. The single epaulette (in Europe) indicates a subaltern, equivalent to a 2nd lieutenant. Also, Hussars often carried sabers with a scimitar-like curve. The author is indebted to military specialists at Antiques Associates of West Townsend, West Townsend, Mass., for the analysis of this uniform.

7. The Prodigal Son Returns: The Celebration (Checklist, 11), is a variation on the central panels of both full versions of The Prodigal Son (Checklist, 9 and 10). Noteworthy is the inclusion of an African-American figure as well as Ruby Devol’s continued struggle with rendering the perspective of the legs and stretchers of a chair. What she captures perfectly is the animation and attitudes of the dancers and fiddle player.

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