Monday, January 3, 2011

Nelson A. Primus

Portrait of Lizzie May Ulmer, 1876 27 1/8x 22"oil on canvas , Connecticut Historical Society

Portrait of Nehemiah Gibson, 1883 oil on canvas

Nelson A. Primus ( 1842-1916) was most known for his of portraits. He was born in Hatford, Connecticut and at age of 15 studied with portrait painter George Francis and later studied with Elizabeth Gilbert Jerome.

In 1864 he move to Boston where he lived and worked for the next 30 years. Here he did paintings of portraits and carriages, while gaining some praise and acclaim for his work. Sales were sporadic though, so to gain extra income he even worked as a books salesman.

In 1895 Primus left Boston and moved west to San Franciso. Here in painted and worked as a model at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. He found himself much in the same financial hardships as he was in Boston. Here he lived in the culturally rich Chinese community, were they helped and embraced him. Primus painted Chinatown scenes from this period during the gold rush. He died in 1916 in San Fransico of tuberculosis.