John F. Francis was born in Philadelphia to French‑born parents. Little is known of his early training and career, but by the 1830s he was an itinerant portraitist who was active throughout the mid‑Atlantic states, Tennessee, and Ohio. In addition to portraits, he painted meticulously detailed “luncheon piece” still lifes, animal pictures, and signs. Francis exhibited at the Artists Fund Society, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
, the Philadelphia Art Union, and the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and sold some of his fruit pieces through the American Art Union. References: David B. Dearinger, “Glorification of the Specific: The Still‑Life Paintings of John F. Francis (1808‑1886)” (Ph.D. diss., Graduate School of the City University of New York, 1986); David Dunn, A Suitable Likeness: The Paintings of John F. Francis, 1832‑1879
(Lewisburg, Pa.: The Packwood House Museum, 1986); Alfred Frankenstein, “J. F. Francis,” Antiques, vol. 59 (May 1951), pp. 374‑77; George L. Hershey, A Catalogue of Paintings by John F. Francis
(Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University, 1958); Bruce Weber, Who Was John F. Francis?
(New York: Berry‑Hill Galleries, 1990)