The Thom enigma
James Crawford Thom is the first American painter who arrived in Ecouen in 1859. He took the courses of Pierre Edouard Frere, Henri-Pierre Picou (1824-1895) and Jean-Baptiste Corot (1796-1875). During this period, he discovered the “genre painting”. Before then, in the US, he was only doing portraits, more profitable business for young painters waiting for fame. Thanks to an American member of our Association, one of his early paintings, recently rediscovered, confirmed this.
The enigma came-up when we rediscovered the Ecouen census of 1861 where his name appears, strongly distorted as “Tom” for his family name and “Croquefort” (bite strong, in French) as his first name. His age shown in the following column is 24. The name “Boston” appears on the following row as family name, followed by the “idem” sign for the first name and artist as occupation. The age shown in the following column is 26.
Firstly, we thought Boston was indicating a city by the confused person doing the census, not being an English expert. Finally, the facts were eliminating this option.
James Crawford is born in New York and, on top of it, the age of 26 seemed to be relative to another person, why not a brother? Strangely, James Crawford, born in 1835, was 26 in 1861 creating even more confusion.
Up to this day, our investigations did not help to find any Boston Thom who probably never existed.
If you would like to investigate furthermore, don’t hesitate to follow the lead!

The 3 Sisters
Children with rabbit
1861 census abstract