John Quidor (kĬdôr, January 26, 1801 – December 13, 1881) was an American painter of historical and literary subjects.
For years Quidor lived on a farm near Quincy, Illinois, but he returned to New York City in 1851. Little appreciated in his own time, he was obliged to support himself by painting the panels of stage coaches and fire engines. He apparently stopped painting in 1868, and died in 1881 in abject poverty. In 1942, an exhibition of his works at the Brooklyn Museum of Art led to his rediscovery as an important figure in American art.
The Devil and Tom Walker (1856) by John Quidor, oil on canvas, 68.8cm x 86.6cm
His paintings establish a mysterious romantic setting for scenes in which he mingled macabre elements with an earthy humor. Many of his works, such as Ichabod Crane Pursued by the Headless Horseman, in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, were inspired by the writings of Washington Irving, who was a personal friend. Irving's A History of New York gave Quidor the subjects for the four paintings in the Brooklyn Museum of Art: Dancing on the Battery (c. 1860), Peter Stuyvesant's Wall Street Gate (1864), Voyage of the Good Oloff up the Hudson (1866), and The Voyage from Communipaw to Hell Gate (1866). These show Quidor's characteristic mellow and harmonious color, poetic imagination, and naïve humor.
Also in the Brooklyn Museum of Art are his three paintings: Dorothea, Money Diggers, and Wolfert's Will. He sometimes painted religious subjects, such as Jesus Blessing the Sick.