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Portrait of William Sewell

Hays, Barton Stone (American, 1826-1914)

The simple, direct manner, combined with firm brushwork and the careful attention to detail in the sitter's beard, hair and glasses, is evidence of Hays' skill as a portrait painter.

Much of Hays' renown came from his having tutored William Merritt Chase, but his reputation rested on the quality of his portraits and fruit still lifes.

The artist to the Sewells; Mrs. William Wallace Luke (wife of Eusebia's youngest sibling); Mrs. Donald Ferguson (grand-daughter of William Wallace Luke); Gift of Ms Miriam L. Luke of Covington, Indiana (second grand-daughter of William Wallace Luke)


Barton Stone Hays

Portraits of Eusebia and William Sewell, 1881

oil on canvas

27 x 22 inches

Gift of Miriam L. Luke, Grandniece of Eusebia A. (Luke) and William C.B. Sewell

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Barton Hays was raised in a religious home in Ohio that had only one book containing pictures.  Hays drew on barn walls with charcoal and saw his first oil painting at age twenty.  He moved to northern Indiana, where after painting portraits of family and friends, he began accepting portrait commissions to earn a living.  In 1858, Hays moved to Indianapolis, where he became a partner in a photography firm.  He tinted photographs and painted over enlarged prints.  Hays was one of the first art teachers in Indianapolis. Among his students were John Washington Love and William Merritt Chase.  Much of his renown came from his ability to convince Chase’s father to allow his son to continue his studies in New York City.  Hays was successful in receiving the commission to paint governor William Harrison’s portrait.  He was one of the original members of the Art Association of Indianapolis, the founders of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The Sewells, residents of Covington, Indiana, were painted using the dark tonalities and unadorned background typically found in nineteenth-century portraiture.  The meticulous rendering of the sitters’ glasses, the careful delineation of William Sewell’s thinning hair and full beard and Eusebia Sewell’s delicate lace collar with its prominent cameo pin exemplify the quality and attention to detail typical of Hays’ portrait style.


Mary Burnet. Art and Artists of Indiana, Roswell, GA: Whippoorwill Publications, 1985. ISBN-13: 978-1443773805

Object Information

Hays, Barton Stone (American, 1826-1914)
creation date
oil on canvas
27 x 22-1/4 in. (canvas)
36-7/8 x 31-3/4 x 4-3/4 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of Miriam L. Luke, Grandniece of Eusebia A. (Luke) and William C.B. Sewell
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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