About

About the business

Joan R. Brownstein/American Folk Paintings is a business which specializes in finding, researching, and selling New England folk art paintings of the 18th. and early 19th. centuries that are of exceptional quality in terms of concept, design, and state of preservation. Folk art portraits, schoolgirl art, and portrait miniatures are particular interests.


About Joan

I have always defined myself as a painter. My interest in American landscape painting underpins my own abstract work, and it has been through abstraction that I have come to understand and appreciate American folk art. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in art and art history.

Art history extends beyond chronological and regional style development. It is also about the role of the creative artist in society, the function of art as a cultural product, and the ways in which aesthetics reflect their time. In order to appreciate and evaluate objects they need this context.

During the past three decades I have been a college studio art and art history teacher, worked in museum education, administered a publicly funded arts organization, and written extensively on the arts. My own paintings are in numerous corporate, public, and private collections.

In 1980 I started this business and have since exhibited at major antiques shows throughout the North East. I am a member of the Antiques Dealers of America, of which I was a board member. I have 'vetted' paintings for the organization. Every item I sell comes with a written guarantee.

The gallery, located in Newbury, MA., operates as a joint shop with my husband, American furniture dealer Peter Eaton.


  • 1970, BFA in Painting, Cornell University, College of Architecture, Art and Planning
  • 1972, MA in Fine Art, Hunter College, City University of New York.  Thesis on the development of atmospheric space in early landscape painting.
  • 1974, Post graduate work in Arts Administration, Harvard Business School
  • MFA, Boston, two stints working in the Department of Public Education under grant projects-one to set up a gallery used by groups as an intro area to the Museum, the other teaching docents how to talk about art in other than strictly art historical terms.
  • College teaching jobs in studio art and art history.
  • Director of a county arts council in NY State
  • Art reviewer for Worldwide Books, and other free lance writing on the arts
  • Working artist for 30 years
  • Antiques dealer specializing in American folk paintings since 1980.  Particular interest in folk portraits, small and miniature portraits, schoolgirl watercolors, family records and memorials.
Peter & Joan's home
A contempoary setting for our shop and home
Peter & Joan at the Winter Antiques Show
At the Winter Antiques Show in January 2013
Joan in her studio
In my studio with some of my works