BRADLEY, John

1801 - c.1847

John Bradley of Suffolk, is probably the John Bradley who was born at Sapiston, 8 miles from Bury St Edmund's, Suffolk, on 24 September 1801, son of Francis and Sarah Bradley. The other Bradley's born around this time were either dead or still in England in 1851. John Bradley's known artistic career ranged from 1827 to 1847, this earlier date of 1827 is based on the October 2005 discovery of a painting of a Prize Cow in a Field, signed 'Drawn by I. Bradley, Honington, Suffolk 1827' and a pair of child portraits, signed 'I. Bradley, Limner, Suffolk 1830' that were taken to the Athenaeum in Bury St Edmund's on 15 June 2005, and were consigned to auctioneers Bonhams in Ipswich, 'from a deceased estate.' This evidence substantiates that he was a resident of East Anglia and did not arrive in America aboard the 'Carolina Ann' from Ireland in 1826 as suggested by Mary Childs Black and Stuart P. Feld in their extensive study in 1966 and quoted in several other written accounts on Bradley. The first picture that definitely places him in America is a portrait of Asher Androvette, who is holding a copy of the 'The New York and Richmond County Free Press' dated 29 November 1832, and is signed and dated 'I. Bradley Delin. 1832', the painting places Bradley working with a Staten Island resident therefore the date for his arrival in America has to be between 1830 and November 1832. After an investigation of passenger ship lists, four individuals named John Bradley arrived in New York between 1830 and 1832: one on 27 March 1832, aboard the ship 'Citizen' out of Liverpool, age 21, listed as Irish and a 'laborer'; another on 14 June 1832, abbreviated as Jno. Bradley, on the ship 'Robert Peel' out of Hull, age 20, listed as from Great Britain and a farmer; another on 27 August 1832, on the ship 'America' out of Liverpool, age 20, listed as from Ireland and a 'labourer' and a boy, aged 15, listed as Irish and a farmer aboard the 'William Byrnes' on 14 August 1832. Yet none of these passengers, due to either age or occupation, seem likely candidates. A search of Boston and Philadelphia port records and a search of original U.S. naturalization papers with 'John Bradley' signatures also produced inconclusive results. Since he was a professional painter in Great Britain prior to his arrival, why is there no record of an immigrant named Bradley, recording his occupation on the ship's passenger list as 'portrait painter' or 'limner'? possibly the ship's records have been lost. It is known that thirty-three of his oil-on-canvas paintings were created in America in the metropolitan area and three in Suffolk, England, the signatures of these three interim paintings are identical. On one Petition of Naturalization with the name 'John Bradley' dated 3 November 1846, his witness, a John Delaney, lived at '80 Hammersly St, N.Y.C.' The signature, however, is in script, while his painting signature is printed. 'Former nationality' on the application is listed as English, but occupation, birth date, and port and date of arrival are left blank. One had to be a resident for five years before applying for citizenship. From 1837-1844, the Directory lists him as a 'por & min. painter' working at 128 Spring Street, and between 1844-1847, at 134 Spring Street as a 'portrait painter.' after 1847, there is no record of Bradley in New York City or elsewhere. Bradley marked eleven paintings '128 Spring Street' and three paintings '134 Spring Street.' Since Black and Feld's study, seventeen additional portraits have surfaced, which now makes thirty-nine portraits. (John Bradley, Folk Artist by Milton Trexler)









Works by This Painter