Little is known about the artist John Usher Parsons. The few examples of his work that are known today are distinguished by a sense of abstraction and decorative playfulness reminiscent of the work of Vermont artist Ashael Powers. The artist may be the John Usher Parsons born in Parsonsfield, Maine, who married Emeline Prewett in 1840. He was the son of Thomas Parsons, a New Hampshire native, and Anna Lougee. His portraits communicate a nervous energy through animated outlines and a wavy definition of drapery folds. The figures, entirely two-dimensional and highly decorative, give the impression of early cutout dummy boards rather than fully modeled portraits. Faces are set in three-quarter view and have sharp noses, rosy cheeks, and bright eyes. In more than one portrait, the artist delineated women's hair in a stylized manner similar to the terminating scrolls on the top rails of Windsor chairs.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Woman in Pink," in American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 327.