Marcus Mote


The nature of the acceptance or perception of art between the Society of Friends has always been tucked away among many archives, and the principal irresolute. “Early records indicate that the first generation of Friends disapproved of portraits,” and this can be further supported when the Society of Friends founder, George Fox, has no portrait left in his stead (Lapsansky and Verplank 122). “However, there appear to be no formal disciplines banning paintings or portraits” (Lapsansky and Verplank 123). Scanning through the history of the Society of Friends, once will notice that there were numerous Quakers who displayed art in their homes, indicated an interest in the arts, and even reinforced it. Post Civil War America brought about a period of drastic changes to Friends, and many Quakers rejected, and even “repudiated,” the traditional ideas of complete silence in worship and strict plainness as to “embrace revivalism” (Lapsansky and Verplank 33). “Lucretia Mott… demonstrated her modernity by supporting the Philadelphia College of Art” (Lapsansky and Verplank 34). Friends left much of the judgment of the arts up to the individuals, as they did so in other aspects of Quakerism, and its moral standing and interpretation was to be decided by one’s conscience. It is distinguished that many “Friends commissioned portraits that represented their lavish existence… as a testimony to their diligence and God’s favor… [while] other Friends’ portraits embody their preference for moderation” (Lapsansky and Verplank 146). Mote’s portraits are noted to be very simple, and this is thought to be his reflection of Quaker simplicity. While Mote did paint an eclectic of subjects, his pictures always seemed to maintain a charming, simple element to them, and through this, his faith is reflected.