John Poe (1785 - 1859)
Sarah Threet (1794 - 1861)
The original was composed of charcoal on paperboard 16 x 20 inches. It was displayed in an oak frame with painted plaster molding. In the early 1990s the paperboard crumbled into dust. Luckily, professional negatives were made in 1986. This digital image is a scan of a print from the 1986 negative
This portrait, along with the portrait of William Threet Poe, hung in the Benton, Arkansas home of Sarah Alma Poe Walton (1883-1969), great-granddaughter of John and Sarah. Alma likely had possession from 1929, when her father, William Elkin Poe, died until they were given in the 1940s to her brother (my grandfather), Samuel Arthur Poe (1882-1947). Since that time, the images have been in my family’s possession. For Alma and my grandfather, there was no doubt that the image of the double portrait represents the parents of the man in the single image and that they were direct ancestors. Given the analysis below, suggesting that the portrait of John and Sarah was manufactured in the 1890s, I believe that my great-grandfather, William Elkin Poe (1852-1929) had both images made by a studio Little Rock shortly after relocating there from the Belfast Community about 1892. The portraits would have been based on older images he possessed, the whereabouts of which are unknown.
Given the family history of the portraits, there can be little doubt about the identity of the people they portray.
Analysis in March 2004, by Maureen Taylor, a columnist with Family Tree Magazine, suggests in an article published in the March 2004 issue of the magazine that this image was produced in the 1890s. She bases this conclusion on the garment worn by the woman in the image, which Ms. Taylor states is a style worn in the 1890s. An unfinished portrait by the studio lends credence to this analysis. Another bit of evidence that I observe, suggesting that the garment was added to the portrait, is that the rendering around the woman’s neckline is done in crude black lines, as if the artist did not know how to work the shading that would result on the neck from such an outfit, or that the garment was added to the face in a “paper doll” manner. It is possible the artist even updated the hairstyle as the one presented is said my Ms. Taylor to be more common to the 1890s.
Ms. Taylor describes these types of charcoal enhanced images in her article at this link: