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As a painter of portraits and genre studies, Jeremiah P. Hardy was a sensitive barometer of Bangor’s cultural aspirations. During his career, which spanned sixty-two years, he painted hundreds of portraits, then shifted to genre painting a course reflecting both national trends and the altered meanings of gentility in Bangor. In this article, Molly Mulhern Gross provides other reasons for Hardy’s mid-career change and explains why The Smelt Seller might have appealed to its cultured viewers. Ms. Mulhern Gross met The Smelt Seller while working as a research associate at the Farnsworth Art Museum in 1992. Her research was part of the program in American and New England Studies at the University of Southern Maine, where she received her M.A. in 1994. She has two children, lives in Camden, and is Director of Editing Design, and Production for Ragged Mountain Press/Intemational Marine.