Sidebar: Mystery of the Potter Portrait

March-April 2011

Mystery of the Potter Portrait

New England Artist Ethan Allen Greenwood was a noted American painter and around 1818 established the New England Museum in Boston. In 1819, Greenwood wrote that he had done a painting of “Potter the Ventriloquist,” one of the performers at his museum, in “8 hours.” The painting was last seen in the 1870s in Boston and, like one of Potter’s “mysterious experiments,” has since “disappeared.” It is an important link to Potter, and if found it will show us what he looked like. Since he was painted as a performer at the museum, it should also show his performing costume and perhaps some of his props. It is hoped that readers of this article may come across the painting and will pass that information on to us to share with Robert Olson, a historian of Potter.