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American Treasures at the Fenimore Art Museum

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Record 105/116
Copyright New York State Historical Association and/or The Farmers' Museum, Inc.
Object ID N0411.1955
Title Justice's Court in the Back Woods
Artist Matteson, Tompkins Harrison
Object Name Painting
Early Date 1850
Exhibit label line3 "Justice's Court in the Back Woods" is a celebration of American democracy and justice. Tompkins Harrison Matteson's depiction of a shoemaker, who is also Justice of the Peace and postmaster, suggests the versatility and self-reliance required of those living in rural America.

In this painting, the Justice is hearing an assault case, as the lawyers for the plaintiff (with bandaged head, leaning on the table at right) and the defendant (sitting by the window at left being consoled by a woman) argue strenuously. Enhancing the painting is Matteson's detailed rendering of incidental objects, particularly the tools of the shoemaker's trade in the foreground.

Largely self-trained, Matteson painted the majority of his works while living in rural upstate New York. Matteson opened a studio and painted portraits and genre scenes, but he made his reputation as an historical painter.
Description Justice's Court in the Back Woods Marks: Signed and dated lower left: "T. H. MATTESON/1850."
Classification Academic Art--Painting/Drawing--Scene--Genre
Dimensions H-32 W-44 D-1 inches
Material Oil on canvas
Makers mark Marks: Signed and dated lower left: "T. H. MATTESON/1850."

Prior written permission is required for any reproduction, redistribution, publication, or other use of the images in any media, including but not limited to, printed or electronic media. Contact the Office of the Registrar, New York State Historical Association, PO Box 800, Cooperstown, NY 13326, (607) 547-1444, to request permission.    
Last modified on: November 04, 2005