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American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: Francis William Edmonds, American, 1806–1863

The Organ Grinder (The Strolling Musician)

ca. 1848

Oil on canvas

31 3/4 × 42 1/8 in. (80.6 × 107 cm)
Gift of Teresa Heinz in memory of her husband, H. John Heinz III, B.A. 1960

Transforming an outdoor street subject into a domestic interior, Francis William Edmonds depicts a strolling organ grinder–likely an Italian immigrant–and his monkey performing before a full household. Detailed and carefully rendered, the scene invites viewers to vicariously share the painting’s sounds, sights, and even tastes. Edmonds, a successful banker as well as an artist, specialized in themes of rural everyday life. Influenced by similar scenes in English and Dutch art, his often humorous works were seen as distinctly American and found a wide audience.

Made in Hudson, New York, United States
On view
19th century

Alexander Nemerov, “The Pleasure of Conversation,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2003): 45, fig. 4.

Patricia Johnston, “”I” is for “Italian”: Francis W. Edmonds and the Image Peddler in Nineteenth-Century American Visual Culture,” American Art 35, no. 2 (Summer 2021): 65, 68, fig. 15.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.