American painter. He worked mainly in Missouri (where he held several political posts), painting the life of the frontier people. Except for a short period studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, he was self-taught. His finest canvases, particularly the celebrated Fur Traders Descending the Missouri
(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1845), distil visual poetry from the commonplace, but after a trip to study in Dsseldorf in 1856-58 his work lost much of its racy freshness and charm, becoming overlaid with sentimentality.
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