Oil on canvas
54 H x 76 3/4 W
Inscribed upper-right corner: John Fondey, June AE42 / Cornelia Fondey 40 / Sara Fondey 19 / Isaac Fondey 17 / Maria Fondey 15 / William Fondey 12 / Stephen Fondey 8 / Drawn one fourth less than life / by Ezra Ames 1803; On tombstone in background: Cornelia Fondey/ obt 24 October 1797/ ae 21 days
No nineteenth-century painter is more associated with Albany than Ezra Ames. He was the city's premier portraitist for more than forty years, with over 700 recorded pictures. He specialized in portraits of the city's leading families, the Fondeys among them. Although the artist portrays the family members in a simple, classical arrangement, he departs from the traditional way families are shown by not giving much prominence to the head of the family. He (the father, John) sits holding a book in the center left, while the group listens to a speech by son Isaac (who, although he appears to have grey hair, is only seventeen). Ames recorded the identity and ages of the subjects of this painting in an amazing piece of trompe-l'oeil (French for "fool the eye") work, the curling paper in the upper right that appears to hang down in front of the picture proper. The tomb in the background commemorates a daughter who died soon after birth.