Born in June of 1809 in Alexander, New York, Noah North was the third of eight children. He began painting in the early 1830s and was a relatively unknown portraitist whose career lasted about a decade. He is known to have painted in the areas of Alexander, Holley and Rochester, New York as well as in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, and into Kentucky. His work, executed in simple linear painting style associated with earlier New England limners, shows a remarkable similarity to that of Milton William Hopkins. Hopkins was most likely North's painting instructor. The two men lived in close proximity to each other in Genesee and Orleans counties and as Jacquelyn Oak has proposed, census records suggest North may have boarded in the Hopkins household during his training (see Jacquelyn Oak, Face to Face: M.W. Hopkins and Noah North (Lexington, MA, 1988), p. 23).
This family group represents one of the most fully developed works by North. It shows great confidence in composition and places the family within a highly decorated interior. It exhibits key details that are often associated with North’s panting style such as sharply delineated facial features, long, narrow fingers with blunt nails and very detailed ribbon, lace and jewelry (see Nancy C. Muller and Jacquelyn Oak, “Noah North (1809-1880),” The Magazine Antiques (November, 1977), p. 943). While the identities of the sitters are unknown, the book open on the shelf is Common Sense, suggesting that this family was linked to the American Revolution. Their elaborate dress and the large scale picture suggest that this family held a prominent social position.