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Displaying items by tag: Ruby Devol Finch

Thursday, 26 January 2012 05:42

Ruby Devol Finch: Recent Discoveries

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.
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