Monadnock Moments No. 79: Joseph Ames, Portrait Painter

Cheshire County has been the home of many fine artists over the years, some of which have gained national recognition for their work.  One local artist who was well known in his day, but has been virtually forgotten by today’s residents of the region was portrait painter Joseph Ames.
Ames was born in the small town of Roxbury in 1816, the son of Robert and Sarah Ames.  Young Ames received his early education in Roxbury’s district schools.  He showed artistic ability at a young age and began portrait painting early in life.  Ames attained some success as a painter in New Hampshire and soon moved to Boston where he opened a studio.  He quickly earned a favorable reputation, painting portraits of several well known citizens.  He was entirely self taught in his profession.
After saving some money, Ames traveled to Rome to study.  While he was there he became the first American allowed to paint a picture of Pope Pius IX.
After his return to the United States, Ames opened studios in Baltimore and later in New York. He was extremely successful in New York where he painted portraits of several nationally known individuals.  His works were included in several important exhibitions and he was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1870.  By the time of his death in 1872, Joseph Ames, the former Roxbury schoolboy, had earned a reputation as one of the country’s foremost portrait painters.