Tuesday, May 3, 2011

American Artist John MacKay or M'Kay flourished 1788-1791

John Mackay or M'Kay, Hannah Ackley Bush (1767-1807) of New York, 1791

These late 18th-century paintings are something of a puzzle. Several things seem apparent. The artist does not seem to feel at ease portraying hands, but he has absolutely no problem with rather daring color schemes. I don't usually include portraits of men, but here is an exception; because Mr. Bush was reported to be a rather unusual character. He was known to cut quite a figure, and he had 3 wives.

The portraits of the Bushes are clearly signed with both the name MacKay and the name M'Kay, but the identity of the artist has remained elusive.

A John MacKay/M’Kay listed himself as a glazier and ornamental painter, an artist who could have painted portraits, in New York City directories in 1790, but there seem to be no ads in newspapers for his business.

John Mackay or M'Kay, John Bush (1755-1816) of New York, 1791

1791 John MacKay or M’Kay, Catherine Brower Mrs Stephen Hyde of New York (1783-1865) 1791

John MacKay or M’Kay, Ruth Stanley Mrs John Mix of Connecticut 1788