John C. Grimes (American, 1804-1837), ca 1830-35, oil on canvas, inscription in l.r. with what appears to be sitter's name, with a clearly written D for the first name, and appears to end in ano; 24 x 20 in.
An important portrait of an early and prominent shaper of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky history, Cowan's is pleased to offer this rendering, along with an earlier miniature, of Major Daniel Gano (1794-1873) from family descendents.
Major Daniel Gano was born in Cincinnati, and was the grandson of the famous Reverend John Gano (1727-1804), an early Cincinnati resident and best known for his Baptist preaching efforts in Central Kentucky. Reverend John Gano's greatest claim to fame, perhaps, was his supposed baptism of George Washington (although there has been much speculation as to its validity).
Major Gano served as Clerk of Courts in Cincinnati during most of his career, and was a prominent civic leader. Some notable accomplishments include the construction of the "Carneal House" in Covington, Kentucky, still standing and an architectural feat for 1815. Gano also held a well publicized reception for Marquis de Lafayette at his home, when visiting Cincinnati in 1824. His interest in equestrian pursuits were also well known - his "home farm" was one of the first in America to raise Arab horses and silkworms. Finally, Gano Alley, in the heart of Cincinnati between 5th and 6th Streets, was a stetch of land donated by Daniel Gano, originally a canal and converted to an alleyway.
A strong case can be made for an attribution of the rendering presented here to John C. Grimes, an itinerant portrait painter with roots in Lexington, Kentucky who studied under Matthew Harris Jouett. Circumstantial evidence suggests that Grimes would have been a candidate as artist - he arrived in Cincinnati in March of 1830 with some publicity- "Mr. Grimes is a gentleman of exceedingly fine taste, the delineaments of whose pencil are of the first order, and whose likenesses withal are invariably striking..." (Cincinnati American, Mar. 25, 1830). Gano's age in the portrait corresponds with Grimes' visit, and the Major's affiliation with a Kentucky painter could be imagined, given his family connections there.
Few extant works by Grimes are known, though they all have some consistent stylistic elements, most notable the large facing ear, with an especially large and disproportionate lobe. Major Gano's ear is similar to the portrait of Laurence Whipple, another attributed Grimes offered in these salesrooms in February of 2010. In addition, the enlarged ear was a feature commonly associated with Matthew Harris Jouett, of whom Grimes was a pupil.
Condition: Very minor craquelure, relined with wax method, professionally restored. A few older spots of inpainting.