Samuel Moon Portraits

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Express-Times Photo | SUE BEYERSamuel Moon paintings on display at the Sigal Museum.

Historical Treasures is a new feature that spotlights local artifacts found in local museums. It will appear every Sunday in the Connect section of The Express-Times.

Paintings by artist Samuel Moon at the Sigal Museum, 342 Northampton St., Easton

Samuel Moon was born Feb. 22, 1805, in East Caln Township (Downingtown), Pa., to a Quaker family whose ancestors arrived from Wales in 1682.

He showed exceptional talent and creativity. He liked to wander in the woods and fish from the banks of the Brandywine Creek. More often than not, he lost track of the fishing and drew the wonders he saw instead. There is a story that, during Quaker meetings, he sketched the congregants’ portraits on the high backs of the pews. It is said that they were so lifelike that they were allowed to remain there for a long time.

In 1827, Moon relocated to New Hope. He became a noted painter. His copy of David’s “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” was exhibited in Doylestown, Pa. It took him three months to complete because it was so large, measuring 6 feet by 4 feet. This work launched him to success at age 22.

Moon painted religious scenes, as well as landscapes, portraits, miniature portraits and copies of old masters. He painted a portrait of George Washington and a religious painting, “Resurrection of Lazarus,” that was his largest at 8 feet by 12 feet.

Moon moved in 1830 to Easton, where he set up an art studio in the Insurance Building on Centre Square. There was no other portrait painter in Easton at the time.

He married Matilda Lehn White, daughter of William (Chippy) White, in 1835 and they had eight children. Moon lived in Easton for 30 years and made his living painting portraits of wealthy people from Easton, Philadelphia, and Bucks and Chester counties.

The Sigal Museum has a large collection of Moon portraits, many of which are on exhibit in its decorative arts gallery. The museum’s entire collection was exhibited as a body when the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society held its Moon Harvest in 1990.

According to the 1855 city directory, the Moons’ first address was 9 N. Third St. Some time before 1860, they moved to 5 Lehn’s Court. When Moon died, June 14, 1860, Dr. V.K. Swayze purchased all of the paintings in Moon’s gallery. He exhibited them in the Insurance Building on Centre Square. 

Samuel and Matilda Moon are buried at Easton Cemetery.

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