Folk and Self-Taught Art

Delaware folk artists contributed considerably to the flourishing of vernacular arts that began in the 1790s. Folk painting frequently emphasizes decorative patterns, color and material details—such as clothing and jewelry—at the expense of anatomical accuracy and fashionable notions of beauty. While most portrait painters of this period trained with established “masters,” folk artists often began their careers painting signs and carriages. Many painters of the late 1700s were itinerant artists who moved from place to place to find work. Folk decorative art preserves ethnic traditions and often favors bright colors, exaggerated proportions, and elaborately painted surfaces.