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From the collection of The Worcester Art Museum 




Vice-President of the National Academy of Design 

Author of the History of the American Theatre 

Biography of G. F. Cooke, etc. 


Edited, with additions by 









v, I 


STATES, by William Dunlap, was published in 1834 and has 
ever since served as a primary source of information for the 
student of early American art. "As the work of Vertue, the 
historian of the arts in England," says Dunlap, "has been 
made perfect by Walpole and Dallaway, so we may hope that 
in process of time, this work will have additions made to it by 
those who may discover more than has been yielded to our 
researches. " Dunlap's opportunity for gathering facts regard- 
ing the artists who had preceded him was limited, and his own 
judgment in many instances was biased by the professional 
opinions and personal envy of others. He did, however, have 
as contemporaries many men who stood high in their pro- 
fession: West, Copley, Stuart, Trumbull, Peale, Fulton, Sully, 
Morse, Harding, and Allston. These not only gave particulars 
of their own careers but in some instances contributed much 
that was valuable about those of others. Necessarily, he relied 
upon sources of this character. 

The peculiar nature of Dunlap's work its faulty compo- 
sition, irregular orthography, duplications, irrelevancies and 
prolixity have made the editors' office a difficult one. Two 
courses seemed open: the first, to reprint the work verbatim et 
literatim as a historical document; the second, to give the 
text essentially as originally printed, but with judicious prun- 
ing and corrections of conspicuous errors. We have chosen 
the latter course as more consistent with our plan of making 
the book useful for reference to the present-day student. To 
further this plan we have compiled addenda comprising brief 
accounts of several hundred painters, engravers, sculptors, and 
architects. This includes all of those working before 1835 
that have come to our attention, though no effort has been 





made to discover information concerning artists of purely local 
reputation. Our additions in correction or elucidation of the 
text have taken the form of footnotes, which are distinguished 
from the original notes by a numerical sign instead of dagger 
and asterisk. A bibliography of the subject has also been 

If the reader of the first edition should in this one miss some 
passages, including a few extraneous anecdotes of Stuart and 
Jarvis, verses by Allston, a technical treatise on miniature 
painting by Cummmgs, and various notes of small value or 
ephemeral interest, we trust he will find the new matter, far 
exceeding these omissions in importance, a sufficient com- 

It is particularly true of art criticism that the judgment of 
a contemporary is not likely to be a safe guide. Each artist has 
his own standard, be it high or low, and his opinions follow 
this standard. The passage of time lends the required per- 
spective so that the editors have been able to suggest by com- 
ment and illustration how Dunlap misjudged the merits of 
some of his predecessors and contemporaries. Nevertheless, 
the pioneer in a work of this character deserves the fullest 
credit for his contribution to the history of the subject and 
although time has proved much that Dunlap wrote to be in- 
correct both in fact and conclusion the substance of his work 
still retains its value. 

For assistance in our research to correct, explain or amplify 
the original text we are under obligations to fellow-workers 
who have generously co-operated and to whom we return 
thanks, particularly to Charles Henry Hart, John H. Edmonds, 
Daniel Edwards Kennedy, Robert Fridenberg, T. Hovey 
Gage, Horace Welles Sellers, Mantle Fielding, Walter K. Wat- 
kins, Ernest Spofford, Lawrence Park, L. Earle Rowe, Clarence 
S. Brigham, Frank Bulkeley Smith, Charles K. Bolton, C. H. 
Taylor, Jr., Julius H. Tuttle, Miss Lucy D. Tuckerman and 
Miss Ellen M. Burrill. 

We also wish to acknowledge our obligations to the many 
art museums, historical societies, private owners and dealers 


who have generously granted us permission to reproduce their 
pictures. Finally, although of secondary interest in this work, 
we must recognize our dependence for data regarding engravers 
on David McNeely Stauffer's "American Engravers on Copper 
and Steel" and on the supplementary volume recently com- 
piled by Mantle Fielding. 



Editors' Preface v 

Introductory John Watson ..... 1 


John Smibert Nathaniel Smibert Blackburn Williams 

R. Feke Green Theus . 17 

Benjamin West 32 

Benjamin West (Continued) . . . . . . 56 

Benjamin West (Concluded) . . . . . . 94 

Duffield Claypoole Pratt Copley Taylor Cain . 110 


Hesselius Frazier Mrs. Wright. Charles Willson Peale 

Winstanley Benbridge Alexander Woolaston 

Manly Smith Durand ..... 150 

Engraving ......... 170 


The Three Parissiens Kilbrunn Delanoy Stuart . 190 




Stuart (Continued) .218 

Stuart (Concluded) Earl Campbell . . . 229 


History of Miniature Painting Ramage James Peale 

Brown Duche Fulton Coram .... 265 

Autobiography of the Author, William Dunlap . . . 288 


Autobiography Continued . . . . .311 

Autobiography Concluded ...... 344 


Joseph Wright Rush Pine Savage James Trenchard 

Houdon Malcom Dixey ..... 370 


Dean George Berkeley Frontispiece 

From a painting by John Smibert 


John Watson . . . . . . . . .6 

From a painting by an unknown artist 

WiDiam Keith . 1* 

From a painting by John Watson 

John Lovell ......... 22 

From a painting by Nathaniel Smibert 

General Joseph Dwight . . . . . . . 24 

From a painting by Blackburn 

Mrs. James Pitts ........ 26 

From a painting by Blackburn 

Robert Feke 28 

From a painting by himself 

Mrs. Gershom Flagg . ..... SO 

From a painting by Robert Feke 

James Bowdoin . .... 32 

From a painting by Robert Feke 

Mrs. James Bowdoin ....... 34 

From a painting by Robert Feke 

George Washington . . .... 36 

From a painting by William Williams 

Mrs. Catherine Van Vporhees Van Beuren . . . 38 

From a painting by Jeremiah Theus 

Benjamin West .... ... 42 

From a painting by Matthew Pratt 

Thomas Mifflin . . 48 

From a painting by Benjamin West 

Mrs. Benjamin West ....... 56 

From a painting by Matthew Pratt 


John J. Sedley ...... 88 

From a painting by Benjamin West 

Death on the Pale Horse ... 96 

From a painting by Benjamin West 

James Claypoole ...... 108 

From a painting by an unknown artist 

Matthew Pratt . . .110 

From a painting by himself 

The American School . . . . . . .112 

From a painting by Matthew Pratt 

John Singleton Copley . . . . . .116 

From a painting by himself 

Rev. Myles Cooper . . . . . . . 118 

From a painting by John Singleton Copley 

Gustavus Hesselius . . . . . . . .150 

From a painting by himself 

Mrs. Gustavus Hesselius ....... 152 

From a painting by Gustavus Hesselius 

Mrs. Patience Wright . . . . . . .154 

From a drawing by an unknown artist 

George Washington . . . . . . . .156 

From a portrait in wax by Patience Wright 

Charles W r illson Peale ....... 158 

From a painting by himself 

Charles Willson Peale (In his Museum) . . . .160 
From a painting by himself 

Rev. Joseph Pilmore ... ... 162 

From an engraving by Charles Willson Peale after 
his own painting 

Henry Benbridge . . . . . . . .164 

From a painting by himself 

John Parke and Martha Custis . . . . .168 

From a painting by John Wollaston 

Nathaniel Kurd ...... 172 

From a painting by John Singleton Copley 



Paul Revere .... .... 174 

From a painting by Gilbert Stuart, engraved by S. 
A. Schoff 

H-ds-n's Speech from the Pillory 176 

From an engraving by Nathaniel Kurd 

A Warm Place Hell . 180 

From an engraving by Paul Revere 

A View of the Town of Concord 182 

From a drawing by Ralph Earl, engraved by Amos 

The Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, D.D. . . . . .184 

From a portrait painted and engraved by Richard 
Jennys, Jr. 

Gilbert Stuart : ... 192 

From a painting by hjmself 

James Ward ... 198 

From a painting by Gilbert Stuart 

Matilda Caroline Cruger . 248 

From a painting by Gilbert Stuart 

Ralph Earl 260 

From a drawing by an unknown artist 

Abigail Burr ... 262 

From a painting by Ralph Earl 

James Peale . 266 

From a painting by himself 

Mather Brown 270 

From a painting by himself 

Thomas Dawson, Viscount Cremorne .... 272 

From a painting by Mather Brown 

Thomas Spence Duche . . . . . . . 274 

From a painting by himself 

Rev. Jacob Duche and Wife 276 

From a painting by Thomas Spence Duche 

Robert Fulton .... .... 278 

From a painting by Charles Willson Peale 

Robert Fulton 282 

From a painting by himself 



William Dunlap 288 

From a lithograph by an unknown artist 

Mrs. Thomas A. Cooper . ... 296 

From a painting by William Dunlap 

Robert Snow . . ' . . '.344 

From a painting by William Dunlap 

Joseph Wright and Family . . . . . . ' 370 

From a painting by Joseph Wright 

Benjamin Franklin 372 

From a painting by Joseph Wright 

William Rush .... ... 374 

From a lithograph by Max Rosenthal 

Congress Voting Independence ...... 376 

From an unfinished engraving by Edward Savage, 
after a painting by Robert Edge Pine and Edward 

Edward Savage . . 380 

From a painting by himself 

The Washington Family 382 

From a painting by Edward Savage, engraved by 

David Rittenhouse .... ... 384 

From a painting by Charles Willson Peale, en- 
graved by Edward Savage 

John Paul Jones .386 

From a bust portrait by Jean Antoine Houdon 






THE author calls this work a history, without presuming to 
place himself in the rank of professed historians. His history 
shall be given by a chain of biographical notices, with all the 
discursiveness and license of biography; but, in the first place, 
he solicits the attention of the reader to some general remarks 
on the subjects of which he treats, the arts of design and 
their professors. 

The fine arts are all of one family; but it is only a part of 
this family that falls within our limits. "The Arts of Design" 
form of themselves a field sufficiently wide for us to travel over, 
nay, too wide, and it will be found that we shall, from neces- 
sity, neglect much that would come with propriety under the 
title. Sculpture, Painting, Engraving, Architecture, and their 
professors, will occupy us almost exclusively; and the second in 
the order above given must fill the greater number of our pages. 

Poetry, as we are told, excites images and sensations through 
the medium of successive action, communicated by sounds and 
time. The same may be said of music; but painting and her 
sister arts of design rely upon form displayed in space. 

Design, in its broadest signification, is the plan of the whole, 
whether applied to building, modelling, painting, engraving, 
or landscape gardening; in its limited sense it denotes merely 
drawing; the art of representing form. Man has fully con- 
vinced himself that the human is the most perfect of all forms, 
and has found that its representation is the most difficult 
achievement of design. The sculptors of ancient Greece 
alone attained the knowledge of this form in its perfection, and 



the power to represent it. Happily for us their works were 
executed in such materials as have defied time, the elements, 
and even ignorance, more destructive than either: happily 
the architecture and sculpture of Greece have come down to 
us, for we have no standard of beauty, but that which is 
derived from the country of Homer and Phidias. The sculp- 
tors and architects of Greece are our teachers to this day, in 
form; and he most excels who most assiduously studies the 
models they have left us. This seems to contradict the precept 
that bids the artist study nature alone. But it must be remem- 
bered that we speak only of that form, the perfection of which 
the ancients saw in nature, and embodied in their religion. 
That natural perfection which they saw under their bright 
skies, at the games instituted in honor of their gods, they 
combined in the statues of those gods; diversified according 
to their several attributes. The contemplation of these attri- 
butes added action and expression to individual form. This 
appears to be the source from which the wonders of Praxiteles 
and Phidias sprung the Jupiter, the Minerva, the Hercules, 
the Venus, the Apollo. The contemplation of these forms 
led to the improvement of Egyptian architecture by the Greek 
colonists of Asia Minor. Schlegel has said, that by contemplat- 
ing the Belvidere Apollo, we learn to appreciate the tragedies 
of Sophocles. Such is the alliance of poetry and the arts of 

The arts of design are usually considered as commentators 
upon history and poetry. Truly they are the most impressive 
of all commentators. But to consider them only as such, is to 
degrade them. To invent, belongs to the artist as well as to 
the poet; and a Sophocles may catch inspiration from a Phid- 
ias, as an Apelles may be inspired by an Euripides. The poet 
is never more a poet than when describing the works of art, 
and the poetic artist delights to seize the evanescent forms of 
the poet, to fix them immovably in motion palpable in 
all their beauty brought before the physical eye; but it is no 
less his to invent the fable than to illustrate it. 

The progress of the arts of design is from those that are 


necessary to those that delight, ennoble, refine. Man first seeks 
shelter from the elements, and defence from savages of his own, 
or the brute kind. In his progress to that perfection destined 
for him, by his bountiful Creator, he feels the necessity of re- 
finement and beauty. In this progress architecture is first in 
order, sculpture second, painting third, and engraving follows 
to perpetuate by diffusing the forms invented by her sisters. 

The mechanic arts have accompanied and assisted the fine 
arts in every step of then* progress. To the sciences they have 
been indispensable handmaids. In all the ameliorations of 
man's earthly sojourn, the mechanic and fine arts have gone 
hand in hand. The painter, the sculptor, the engraver, and 
the architect, will all acknowledge their obligations to the 
mechanic arts, and the mechanic will be pleased by the con- 
sciousness that he has aided the arts of design in arriving at 
their present state of perfection. 

Of the four arts of design, to which our attention is directed, 
architecture alone is the offspring of necessity; but before it 
became one of the fine arts, sculpture, and perhaps, painting, 
had existence. The first effort of man, in the imitative arts, 
is probably to model in clay, the second to cut in wood, and 
then in ivory or stone. The rude efforts of the aborigines of 
our country may be adduced to prove this. We find speci- 
mens of their modelling in baked clay, the terra cotta of Italy, 
and sculptured figures in wood and stone; but no attempt to 
represent round objects on a flat surface by lights and shadows. 
The late travellers, who have penetrated the terra incognita of 
Africa, tell us of figures sculptured as ornaments to the rude 
architecture of the negroes, but they saw no painting. 

In that extremely interesting portion of the globe, Polynesia, 
we find sculpture existing in the rude forms of their idols, the 
elegant ornaments of naval architecture, and on the weapons of 
destruction; but no attempt at drawing, unless tattooing 
figures by lines and dots on their own bodies engraving in 
flesh may be so called. The graphic art was unknown, as 
much in its connection with pictorial form, as it was in that 
more common and still more precious form to mankind letters. 


In Central America, near the village of Palenque, ruins and 
monuments are found, proving, as is supposed, the existence 
of a nation or people in a remote age, far surpassing in civili- 
zation the Mexicans or Peruvians, when visited by the Span- 
iards. Statues, and works in high and low relief, ornamented 
their buildings but no paintings. The pictures formed by 
feathers, or otherwise, which were found among the Mexicans, 
at the time when treachery, bigotry, murder, and rapine put a 
stop to their progress towards civilization, were not designs 
representing the round on the flat, but a species of hieroglyphic 
writing; undoubtedly having a near affinity to the graphic 
art, and approaching it in the same degree that the people ap- 
proached the blessings of civilized life. It was not drawing or 
writing, but was leading to both. At what period the nations 
of the East attempted painting, we know not, but doubtless 
they carved their idols, and daubed them with colors, before 
they made any pictorial representations of the monsters. To 
this moment they neither invent nor imitate anything in paint- 
ing. They copy. There is nothing in which their barbarism 
is more apparent than in the deficiency of the arts of design. 
If the progress of the arts was from Egypt to India, and thence 
to Greece, they, on their arrival at the latter country, were a 
chaos without form and void. It required a more perfect state 
of the human mind to extract form from the chaotic mass. 
The Grecian sculptors discovered form, and perfected the 
mode of representing historical events by high and low relief; 
their painters followed; and although they arrived at the per- 
fection of form, as well as then* masters, we believe that they 
never went much beyond them in that which, in modern times, 
is the glory of the arts of design composition. They told 
their stories as their masters had done, by a line of figures. 
The Greeks taught us beauty and expression; modern art 
has added color, chiaroscuro, perspective, composition 
all by which distance, space, air, light, color, transparency, 
solidity may be brought before the eye on a flat surface. 
The painter knows no limits but time and place, and even the 
last has been burst by Raphael and by Tintoret; but it is only 


the author of the " Transfiguration," and the " Adoration of 
the Golden Calf," or men like them, that may break through 
the limit of locality. 

Of the many elements of art and science, which must com- 
bine to produce these almost miraculous effects, it is not our 
immediate province to speak; neither to give the history of 
the progress of painting and her sister arts in Europe. The 
writers before the public are many and good. We will men- 
tion a few, as the names are suggested to memory Vasari, 
De Piles, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Durer, Du Fresnoy (with 
notes by Reynolds), Winkleman, Mengs, Reynolds, Opie, 
Fuseli, Pilkington's Dictionary (with additions by Fuseli, 
who has, in all his works, immense learning on the subjects of 
which he treats, though sometimes displayed rather than used), 
and we must not forget Shee and Burnet. The remarks of Sir 
Martin Archer Shee, touching the writings and writers on the 
subject of the arts, appear to us so just and so essential to the 
correction of error and prejudice, that we insert them, not- 
withstanding that there may be an appearance of assumption 
in so doing. They are addressed to the students of the Royal 
Academy of England. 

"There is, perhaps, no subject so unmanageable as that of 
the arts, in the hands of those who bring to its discussion only 
the superficial acquirements of amateur taste and mere literary 
talent. As it is an alluring theme, however, to all who are 
disposed to wander in the regions of virtu, more flimsy and 
unsubstantial speculation has been hazarded on topics con- 
nected with the fine arts, than is found to encumber the path of 
the student in any other profession. The tracts of science, of 
law, and of physic, are too rough and thorny to be frequented 
by those who would traverse them as an amusement, rather 
than as an occupation: but the flowery domains of taste invite 
the approach of the idlest loungers of literature; they are 
considered as common ground, where all may claim free 
manor, and range at large, without any apprehension of ex- 
posure or punishment, either as pretenders or trespassers. 
The fine arts appear to be the only pursuit in which the au- 


thority of the professor is undervalued by those who derive all 
their knowledge from his works. But you must not allow 
yourselves, gentlemen, to be influenced by prejudices of this 
kind. To the writings of artists alone can you look with any 
confident hope of obtaining valuable instruction or useful 
knowledge in your profession." 

In our mode of giving the history of the progress of art in 
this country, principally by a chronological series of biograph- 
ical notices, we shall undoubtedly speak of men who in no 
wise aided that progress; but, we hope, by giving as complete 
a view of the subject as can now be obtained, to place in the 
hands of the future historian, many valuable facts, which would 
otherwise have been lost; and to leave information respecting 
those professors of the arts who have failed, as well as those 
who have attained to honorable distinction information 
which may guide the present and future student on his way to 
the wished-for goal. 

Horace Walpole gives, as the reason for calling his work 
"Anecdotes of Painting in England," instead of the "Lives 
of English Painters," that the greatest men England could 
boast, as professors of the art in that country, were foreigners. 
Not so with us. In the commencement of our history as colo- 
nies, every painter was from beyond sea; but no sooner did 
native artists appear than their works exceeded in value im- 
measurably, the visitors who had preceded them. Although 
this is strictly true in regard to our painters, it will not yet 
fully apply to the professors of all the sister arts. We are 
happy to record foreign artists in our work, and acknowledge 
their influence on the progress of the arts; but while England 
claims our artists as her own, because thrown on her shores, 
or invited by her liberality, we are content to call those only 
American, exclusively, who were born or educated as artists 
within our boundaries. 

It is matter of surprise to many, that the land of our fore- 
fathers should have been behind the rest of the civilized world 
in the conveniences and decorations which attend the expan- 
sion of mind and the progress of science. It will be explained 



by the consideration, that, although of late the freest and best 
governed country in Europe, and brilliant with art and science, 
it was the seat of barbarism with episcopal and military aris- 
tocracy to a later period than those lands which have since 
fallen behind her in the march towards perfection. While the 
artist was honored on the continent, he was in the island of 
Great Britain considered as an appendage to my lord's tailor. 

The curious may see in Walpole's " Anecdotes of Painting in 
England," that my lord of Warwick in Henry VI's time "con- 
tracted with his tailor for the painter's work that was to be 
displayed" on his clothing, and the pageantry thought neces- 
sary, at that period, when going abroad. Walpole says, "the 
art was engrossed by, and confined to, the vanity or devotion 
of the nobility. The arms they bore and quartered, their mis- 
sals, their church windows, and the images of their idols were 
the only circumstances in which they had any employment for 
a painter." The more esteemed painters were called limners, 
and were those who limned or illuminated missals, books or 
manuscripts, with miniatures; that is, small pictures done in 
minium or red lead, from which the word now appropriated 
principally to small pictures on ivory, is derived. Such was 
the state of painting in the land of our fathers when Raphael 
flourished in Italy. 

It will hardly be credited in times to come nay, it can 
hardly be credited now only that we have English books of 
high authority to bear us out in the assertion, that in the 
eighteenth century the fine arts, and their professors, depended 
in that country upon patrons and patronage for subsistence 
that the descendants of the military robbers who conquered 
the land; or the minions, mistresses, or spurious offspring of 
their kings, revelling in the hereditary spoils of the people, 
should be sought and acknowledged as the necessary pro- 
tectors of those whose knowledge or skill is now the boast of 
England. We will give a few extracts, or our readers, who 
are not conversant with the subject, may not believe what 
appears so monstrous. 

A noble author, speaking of an artist who died so late as 


1756, after Benjamin West began his career by painting por- 
traits in this country, Walpole, in the last edition of his work, 
published in the nineteenth century, gives this character of 
Vertue, 1 an eminent artist and exemplary man. Speaking of 
his modesty, he says, "the highest praise he ventured to 
assume is founded on his industry" "if vanity had entered 
into his composition, he might have boasted the antiquity of 
his race." By that industry which was never intermitted, he 
solaced the age of his parents; and, at his father's death, was 
the support oi his widowed mother and many children. When 
not occupied by his professional labors, he practised music, 
and acquired foreign languages. His works were admired 
and sought after. "Many persons," says Walpole, "were de- 
sirous of having a complete collection." He gratified them by 
making up sets, which, after his death, sold for more than 
double the price he received for them. He was one of the first 
members of the first Academy of Painting known in his coun- 
try. He was a learned antiquary. He was indefatigable in 
his researches after that knowledge which enabled him to 
compose his great work "the History of the Arts in Eng- 
land." "His scrupulous veracity" is eulogized justly. "His 
merit and modesty still raised him friends." "He lost his 
friends (by death), but his piety, mildness, and ingenuity 
never forsook him." "He died July 24th, 1756, and was buried 
in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey," 

" With manners gentle, and a grateful heart, 
And all the genius of the graphic art, 
His fame shall each succeeding artist own, 
Longer by far than monuments of stone." 

This man so gifted, so pure, whose company and conversa- 
tion conferred instruction on the wise, and honor on the dig- 
nified, is spoken of in the latter part of the eighteenth century, 
by Walpole, who acknowledged his virtues and admired his 
talents, in terms, when his name is connected with the rich 

1 George Vertue, born in London in 1684, was one of the foremost engravers of his 
time from an historical standpoint and his antiquarian researches and writings were of 
the highest importance. His collection of notes formed the basis for the "Anecdotes 
of Painting in England" by Horace Walpole. 


and titled, that would in this country, at this time, be thought 
degrading to any the lowest and most ignorant member of 
our happy republican society. The earl of Oxford saw the 
merits of the artist, purchased his works, and gave them their 
due praise. This is called the "bounty of the patron." "An- 
other patron was the earl of Winchelsea." How did he pro- 
tect him, and from whom or what? The artist "painted and 
engraved" his picture. He gratified the earl's wishes, per- 
haps his vanity, and rescued his effigies from oblivion. Thus 
the artist conferred the favor, but the lord is called and 
acknowledged as the protector of the man whose knowledge 
and skill he sought, for his own gratification and improve- 
ment. "Lord Coleraine," says Walpole, "is enumerated by 
Vertue, among his protectors." He is represented as travel- 
ling with Lord Oxford as making the journeys he took with 
him and others, "more delightful, by explaining, taking 
draughts, and keeping a register of what they saw"; and then, 
drawing up "an account of this progress and presenting it to 
his patron." He is represented as "humble before his superi- 
ors." Who were they? The men who possessed castles and 
palaces, and looked to him for an explanation of the treasures 
their libraries, cabinets, and galleries con tamed. The earl of 
Oxford died. He and the artist had been friends; and the 
artist, according to the custom of the time, felt that the earl 
was his superior, and lamented the loss as if he had been left 
without "support, cherisher," or "comfort." "He was a 
little revived," says Walpole, "by acquiring the honor of 
the Duke of Norfolk's notice." "The Duke of Richmond and 
Lord Burlington did not forget him among the artists they 
patronized." But in 1749 he found a yet more exalted pro- 
tector. "The prince of Wales sent for him, and finding him 
capable of the task of explaining to his ignorance, the his- 
tory of those treasures of art his hereditary fortune had put in 
his possession; and of pointing out the mode of making his 
collection more valuable" -What followed? "The artist," 
says Walpole, "often had the honor of attending the prince; 
was shown his pictures by himself, and accompanied him to 


the royal palaces." And he had the further honor of being 
"employed" by his protector, "in collecting prints for him, 
and taking catalogues, and sold him many of his own minia- 
tures and prints." 

Such was the manner of thinking and speaking in Great 
Britain in the eighteenth century. There are individuals 
in America who, without due reflection, or, from residing too 
long in England, or, perhaps, being foreigners, and not under- 
standing the nature of our institutions, and the manner of 
thinking which those institutions induce, sometimes talk of 
patronage and protection; but from the very first settlement 
of this country, the germs of republican equality were planted 
in our soil; they grew with the growth of the colonies, and 
were nursed into maturity by the blood of our fathers. The 
laws are here the only protectors. Industry, virtue, and 
talents, the only patrons. The ignorant, the afflicted, the 
weak, the unfortunate may want aid, instruction, protection, 
from the strong, and the rich, and the wise; but the artist 
the man who possesses the genius, skill, and knowledge which 
entitles him to that name will look to be honored and es- 
teemed by his fellow-citizens; not seeking protection, 
from them; or acknowledging superiority, except in superior 

Happy ! thrice happy country ! where the lord, the prince, or 
the king, on touching your shores, becomes a man, if he 
possesses the requisites for one : or, if not, falls below the level 
of the men who surround him; where the man of virtue and 
talents is the only acknowledged superior, and where the man 
possessing those requisites of an artist, needs no protector and 
acknowledges no patron. The artist who feels the necessity of 
patronage, must do one of two things abandon his high and 
responsible character, bow to the golden calf that he may par- 
take of the bread and wine set before the idol, or abandon his 
profession grasp the axe and the plough, instead of the 
crayon and pencil. The agriculturist, the mechanic, the sailor, 
the cartman, the sawyer, the chimney-sweeper, need no pro- 
tectors. When they are wanted they are sought for so 


should it be with the artist; at least let him be as independent 
as the last. 

The artists who visited the colonies found friends and em- 
ployers; they did not need protectors. They exchanged the 
product of their skill and labor for the money of the rich, and 
received kindness and hospitality "in the bargain." Our first 
visitors were probably all from Great Britain; and none staid 
long. The pilgrims who sought refuge from oppression, and 
the other pioneers of colonization, had their thoughts suffi- 
ciently employed on the arts of necessity, and the means of 
subsistence or defence. Their followers brought wealth and 
pictures, and imported from home the articles of luxury, and 
the materials for ornamental architecture. As wealth increased, 
art and artists followed; and as the effects of that freedom 
which the colonists enjoyed were felt, native artists sprang up, 
and excelled the visitors from the fatherland. 

As the work of Vertue, the historian of the arts in England, 
has been made perfect by Walpole and Dallaway, so we may 
hope that in process of time, this work will have additions 
made to it by those who may discover more than has been 
yielded to our researches. We have rescued many facts from 
oblivion which would otherwise have been lost, and perhaps 
opened the way for the discovery of more. Many of the art- 
ists who first visited the colonies, have left no traces that we 
can as yet discover. We, therefore, begin our history of the 
arts of design as introduced into the country now called the 
United States of America, with the name of a man who chose 
for his place of residence the native town of the writer. Prob- 
ably many of the pioneers who led the way, and opened a 
path for the arts in our country, had little merit as artists, 
but they are objects of curious inquiry to us of the present 
day; for as we earnestly desire to know every particular rela- 
tive to the first settlers who raised the standard of civilization 
in the wilderness; so the same rational desire is felt, espe- 
cially by artists, to learn who were their predecessors; who 
raised and who supported the standard of taste, and decorated 
the social column with its Corinthian capital. 



Came to the colonies in 1715, and set up his easel in the capi- 
tal of New Jersey, Perth Amboy. This gentleman was a 
native of Scotland. The precise place of his birth we do not 
know; the year in which he was born is found by the date of 
his death engraved on his tombstone, and the age at which he 
died. He was born in 1685. 

The commanding and beautiful point on which the settlers 
and proprietors of New Jersey fixed for the site of their capital, 
has a fine harbor, sheltered by Staten Island on one side, and 
the hills of Monmouth on the other, and receiving the waters 
of the Raritan from the west, and those of the Pesaic and 
Hackensack through Arthurkull Sound, from the north. In 
the eyes of the colonists of that day, it was viewed as the seat 
designed by nature for the great commercial metropolis of 
the middle colonies. Time has shown how baseless were their 
hopes. Commerce has centered at the meeting of a greater 
river, with a more extensive arm of the sea; but the capital of 
New Jersey, notwithstanding the vicinity of New York, was in 
1715, and long after, a place of commercial and political con- 
sequence; it will ever be in situation and capabilities one of 
the pleasantest and most healthy places on the seaboard. 

Mr. Watson fixed upon this city as the place of his sojourn, 
purchased land, and built houses. He was a Scotchman, and 
by profession a portrait painter. He lived long in the land of 
his choice, and died in extreme old age. 

The writer remembers well the child's wonder that was 
caused in his early life, by the appearance of the house this 
artist once owned (for he was then dead), and the tales that 
were told of the limner in answer to the questions asked. His 
dwelling-house had been pulled down by his heir, but a smaller 
building which adjoined it, and which had been his painting 
and picture house, remained and attracted admiration by the 
heads of sages, heroes, and kings. The window-shutters were 
divided into squares, and each square presented the head 
of a man or woman, which, if memory can be trusted at this 
distant period, after an interval of more than sixty years, rep- 




resented personages in antique costume, and the men with 
beards and helmets, or crowns. In answer to the questions 
elicited by this display of art, the inquirer was told that the 
painter had been considered in the neighborhood, and was 
handed down traditionally, as a miser and an usurer words of 
dire portent probably meaning that he was a prudent, per- 
haps a wise man, who lived without ostentation or superfluous 
expense, and lent the excess of his revenue to those who wanted 
it, and who could give security for principal and interest, 
instead of locking it up as a useless idol in his strong box, or 
risking it on the fluctuating waves of commercial enterprise. 
"The story ran" that old Mr. Watson painted many portraits 
and lent his money to those who employed him, thus procuring 
employment from those who could secure payment, and, ac- 
cording to English phraseology, patronizing his patrons. At 
all events, like Jacob's flocks and Shylock's ducats, his riches 
had increase. 

"This was a way to thrive, and he was blest, 
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not." 

Mr. Watson never was married, and having no children he 
prevailed upon several relatives, notwithstanding that attach- 
ment to their soil which distinguishes his countrymen, to leave 
Scotland, and settle in Perth Amboy, made dear to them by 
one of its names, and the report of the painter's riches. He 
had a nephew who was a midshipman in the British navy, but 
even that comparatively eligible home was abandoned, on 
promise of inheriting his uncle's wealth. Mr. Alexander Watson, 
the son of the painter's brother, accordingly became a resident 
with his uncle, superintended his business when he became too 
infirm to paint or even to examine bonds and mortgages, and 
shared his frugal fare with the cheering hope of a blessed 
change when the old man should "shuffle off this mortal coil." 

But "hope deferred maketh the heart sick." The painter 
became blind, and deaf, and bedrid, but still he lived. In 
this condition the old man remained several years. The 
nephew, anticipating the hour in which he was to become lord 
of money and houses, and lands, used to speak of this as that 


which must soon come "in the course of nature, you know," 
but in the meanwhile had no power over the revenue. During 
this period, which is called proverbially the time of "waiting 
for dead-men's shoes," the house wanted repairing; but the 
bedrid man turned his deafest ear to any proposal involving 
the expenditure of money, for that or any other purpose. The 
hand grasped the world's idol with the greater intenseness as 
the hour approached on which its hold must be relaxed forever. 
The nephew, trusting to the uncle's incapability of moving or 
hearing, and finding tradesmen willing to trust to the kind 
course of nature, determined to prevent the decay of the 
property he felt an heir's affection for, and concluded his bar- 
gain with the carpenters for a new roof, to be paid for "in the 
course of nature, you know." Accordingly, the house was 
unroofed, and re-roofed, while the owner was living in it, per- 
fectly unconscious of the important operation which was in 
progress over his head. The strokes of hammers, however, 
occasionally reached his ear, and penetrated through the ob- 
stacles interposed by art and nature, and the heir was startled 
by the question, "What is the meaning of that pecking and 
knocking that I hear every day?" The nephew taken by sur- 
prise, answered, "pecking! pecking? oh, ay! it's the 
woodpeckers they are in amazing quantities this year 
leave the trees, and attack the roofs of the houses. There is no 
driving them off." The roof was finished, and the saucy birds 
ceased pecking. 

"In the course of nature" the old man at length died, but 
not until between eighty and ninety years of age. After his 
first visit to America, in 1715, the painter had returned to 
Europe, and had brought from thence to his adopted country, 
many pictures, which, with those of his own composition, 
formed no inconsiderable collection in point of number; of 
their value we are ignorant. It is, however, a curious fact, 
that the first painter, and the first collection of paintings of 
which we have any knowledge, were planted at the place of 
the writer's nativity Perth Amboy. 

We have been told that many of Mr. Watson's pictures were 


portraits, real or imaginary, of the kings of England and 
Scotland; and this agrees with the awe-inspiring, inveterate 
heroes we remember to have seen on his window-shutters. 
The painter's heir very naturally took part with the loyal ad- 
herents of his former master, and fled from the storm which 
gathered in New Jersey threatening the invader, who came with 
fire and sword to keep the "king's peace," in 1776. The 
rebels, a motley mass of half-armed militia, under General 
Mercer (soon after killed at the battle of Princeton), made a 
show of opposition to the regulars of Britain, who were divided 
from them by the waters of Arthurkull Sound. Of course 
the deserted house and collection of paintings were left at the 
mercy of the undisciplined yeomanry, and this first cabinet of 
the fine arts was broken up, and the treasures dispersed by 
those who probably took delight in executing summary justice 
on the effigies of the Nimrods of the fatherland. 

An excavation, the remains of a cellar, marks the site of 
Watson's house, and proves that his taste for the picturesque 
was not despicable. On an elevation which gradually sloped 
to the verge of the bank, the painter had seated himself; the 
beautiful point of Staten Island in front, over which he looked 
to the sea and to the highlands of Navesink, so dear to the 
mariner; to the right the spacious bay is bounded by the un- 
dulating hills of Monmouth, and the rich lowlands of Middle- 
town. Such in life was the artist's situation his remains lie 
in the cemetery of the venerable brick Episcopal church, a 
little south of his chosen residence. 

His grave is near the southeast corner of the churchyard, 
and has a tombstone with the following inscription: 

"Here lies interred the body of Mr. John Watson, who de- 
parted this life August 22d, 1768, aged 83 years." 

None of the pictures brought into this country or painted 
by him can now be found ; l yet that he had and continues to have 
an influence on the progress of the arts in the United States, 

1 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has two drawings by John Watson 
probably made between 1717 and 1728. They are in India ink of Governor Keith and 
his wife. 


will not be doubted by any who have duly considered the sub- 
ject of cause and effect. It perhaps would not be too much 
to attribute the writing of this book to the emigration of Mr. 
John Watson; it is to be seen whether our efforts will forward 
the progress of the arts it treats of. 

Of the next painter who visited America, we have many 
interesting particulars. 




(For so he has spelled his name on the picture of Dean Berke- 
ley and family, now at Yale College), 1 had a powerful and last- 
ing effect on the arts of design in this country. We see the 
influence of Smibert and his works upon Copley, Trumbull, 
and Allston. Copley was a youth of thirteen years of age at 
the time of Smibert's death, and probably had instructions 
from him certainly from his pictures. Trumbull, having 
retired from the army in the winter of 1776 or spring of 1777, 
because his commission as deputy-adjutant-general, was dated 
in September, instead (as he thought it ought to be) in June, 
resumed his study of painting in Boston in 1777, amidst the 
works of Copley, and in the room "which had been built by 
Smibert, in which remained many of his works." And Allston 

1 Notwithstanding the statements made in the letter to Dunlap written by Pro- 
fessor C. A. Goodrich of Yale College in 1834 the signature on the portrait group of 
Berkeley and his family is "Jo Smibert 1729" and appears on the edge of the book 
lying flat and serving as a rest for the open book. Dunlap 's error in spelling the name 
Smybert has been repeated by Tuckerman and other writers on early American Art. 
The signature of Smibert also appears on the portrait of Dean Berkeley belonging to 
the Worcester Art Museum. The following letter from the Secretary of the Yale 
School of Fine Arts at New Haven shows conclusively that Dunlap was in error in 
spelling the name Smybert. 

November 20, 1917. 
Mr. Frank W. Bayley, 
Boston, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

Answering your inquiry regarding the Smibert signature, I have examined the 
picture and find the name spelled Smibert. 

Very truly yours, 

George H. Langzettel. 


In this edition, therefore, the corrected spelling of Smibert's name will appear, 
except in the printing of Professor Goodrich's letter. 



says, in a letter to a friend, after speaking of the pictures of 
Pine, "But I had a higher master in the head of Cardinal 
Bentevoglio, from Van Dyck, in the College library (Cam- 
bridge), which I obtained permission to copy, one winter va- 
cation. This copy from Van Dyck was by Smibert, an Eng- 
lish painter, who came to this country with Dean, afterwards 
Bishop Berkeley. At that time it seemed to me perfection, but 
when I saw the original, some years afterwards, I had to alter 
my notions of perfection; however, I am grateful to Smibert 
for the instruction he gave me his work rather." 

It is thus that science, literature and art are propagated ; and 
it is thus that we owe, perhaps, the coloring of Allston to the 
faint reflection of Van Dyck in Smibert. West, as we shall 
see, was out of the sphere of Smibert's influence. 

We owe the introduction of Smibert to one of the best of 
men Dean Berkeley. Gratitude requires that we should not 
in this work pass by his name with slight notice, and we can- 
not better pay the debt than by quotations from the "histor- 
ical discourse" of our distinguished fellow-citizen, Gulian 
C. Verplanck: 

"With all this metaphysical subtility, Berkeley was equally 
distinguished for the depth and variety of his knowledge, the 
exuberance and gracefulness of his imagination, the elegance 
of his conversation and manners, and the purity of his life. It 
was about the fortieth year of his age, that, wearied out by 
these fruitless speculations, in which the most vigorous mind 
'can find no end, in wandering mazes lost,' he conceived the 
project of founding a university in the island of Bermuda on 
so liberal a scale as to afford the amplest means of diffusing 
scientific and religious instruction over the whole of the 
British possessions in America. Dr. Berkeley, at that time, 
held the richest church preferment in Ireland, and had the 
fairest prospects of advancement to the first literary and ec- 
clesiastical dignities of that country, or even of England. All 
these, with a disinterestedness which excited the astonishment 
and sneers of Swift and his literary friends, he proposed to 
resign for a bare maintenance as principal of the projected 


American University. His personal character and influence, 
and the warmth of his benevolent eloquence, soon subdued or 
silenced open opposition. He obtained a charter from the 
crown, and the grant of a large sum of money, to be raised 
from the sale of certain lands in the island of St. Christopher, 
which had been ceded by the treaty of Utrecht to the British 
government, but had afterwards been totally forgotten or 
neglected, and of the real value of which he had with great 
industry acquired an accurate knowledge. 

"To describe Berkeley's confident anticipations of the 
future glories of America, we must have recourse to his own 

' The Muse, disgusted at an age and clime 

Barren of every glorious theme, 
In distant lands now waits a better time, 
Producing subjects worthy fame. 

In happy climes where from the genial sun 

And virgin earth such scenes ensue, 
The force of art by nature seems outdone, 

And fancied beauties by the true: 

In happy climes, the seat of innocence, 

Where nature guides and virtue rules; 
Where men shall not impose for truth and sense 

The pedantry of courts and schools: 

There shall be sung another golden age, 

The rise of empires and of arts, 
The good and great, inspiring epic rage, 

The wisest heads and noblest hearts. 

Not such as Europe breeds in her decay, 

Such as she bred when fresh and young, 
When heavenly flame did animate her clay, 

By future poets shall be sung. 

Westward the course of empire takes its way; 

The four first acts already past, 
A fifth shall close the drama with the day 

Time's noblest offspring is the last.' 

"I have quoted these fine lines at length because I do not 
recollect to have seen or heard them referred to in this country. 
They were written fifty years before the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence; and to the patriot who may now exult with un- 
doubting hope, in the great and sure destinies of our nation, 


they may well seem to revive the old connexion between the 
prophetic character and that of the poet: 

' For, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name 
Of poet and of prophet were the same.' * 

"Confiding in these glorious auguries, and animated by the 
pure ambition of contributing to hasten forward this 'rise of 
empire and of arts,' he sailed from England in 1728. He came 
first to Rhode Island, where he determined to remain for a 
short time, for the purpose of purchasing lands on this con- 
tinent as estates for the support of his college, as well as in 
order to gain a more intimate knowledge of the northern 
colonies. Here he soon became convinced that he had erred 
altogether in his choice of Bermuda; and he applied for an 
alteration of his charter, empowering him to select some place 
on the American continent for the site of the university, which 
would, probably, have been fixed in the city of New York or 
in its vicinity. But in the succeeding year all his sanguine 
hopes were at once extinguished by an unexpected court in- 
trigue; and a large sum (90,000 sterling in all), that had 
been paid into the treasury from the funds pointed out by 
Berkeley, and part of which had been solemnly appropriated 
to the projected institution, by a vote of parliament, was seized 
by Sir Robert Walpole to pay the marriage portion of the 
Princess Royal; an additional proof, if proof were needed, of the 
truth of the old republican adage, that the very trappings of a 
monarchy are sufficient to support a moderate commonwealth. 

"The two years and a half of Berkeley's residence in Rhode 
Island, had not been idly spent. It was there that he composed 
his 'Minute Philosopher,' a work written on the model of the 
' Philosophical Dialogues ' of his favorite, Plato, and, like them, 
to be admired for the graces which a rich imagination has 
carelessly and profusely scattered over its pages, as well as for 
novelty of thought and ingenuity of argument. The rural 
descriptions which frequently occur in it, are, it is said, ex- 
quisite pictures of some of those delightful landscapes which 
presented themselves to his eye at the time he was writing. 



"Berkeley returned to Europe, mortified and disappointed; 
but as there was nothing selfish or peevish in his nature, the 
failure of this long cherished and darling project could not 
abate the ardor of his philanthropy. 

"The rest of his history belongs more to Ireland than to 
America. Never had that ill-governed and injured country a 
purer or more devoted patriot. His " Querist," his " Letters to 
the Roman Catholic Clergy," and his other tracts on Irish poli- 
tics, are full of practical good sense, unbounded charity, and 
the warmest affection for his country. 

"Such was the strong and general sense of the usefulness of 
these labors, that, in 1749, the body of the Irish Roman 
Catholic clergy, in a formal address to Dr. Berkeley, who was 
then Protestant Bishop of Cloyne, returned him 'their sincere 
and hearty thanks,' for certain of these publications, assuring 
him that 'they were determined to comply with his advice in 
all particulars'; they add, 'that every page contains a proof 
of the author's extensive charity, his views are only towards 
the public good, and his manner of treating persons, in their 
circumstances, so very uncommon, that it plainly shows the 
good man, the polite gentleman, and the true patriot.' ' 

He died at Oxford, in 1763, 1 in his seventy-third year. His 
epitaph in the cathedral church of that city, deserves to be 
cited for the dignified and concise elegance with which it 
records his praise. 

On a stone, over his grave, is the often quoted line of Pope, 

"To Berkeley every virtue under heaven"; 

and above it, after his name and titles, 


Seu ingenii et eruditionis laudem 

Seu probitatis et beneficentise spectemus, 

Inter primus omnium aetatum numerando. 

Si Christianus fueris 

Si amans patrise 

Utroque nomine gaudere potes 


1 Dunlap is in error in giving the date of Berkeley's death; he died on January 14, 


Swift, in a letter to Lord Carteret, says 

"There is a gentleman of this kingdom just gone for Eng- 
land; it is Dr. George Berkeley, Dean of Derry, the best 
preferment among us, being worth eleven hundred pounds a 
year. And because I believe you will choose out some very 
idle minutes to read this letter, perhaps you may not be ill en- 
tertained with some account of the man and his errand. He 
was a fellow of the university here, and going to England very 
young, about thirteen years ago, he became the founder of a 
sect there, called the Immaterialists, by the force of a very curi- 
ous book upon that subject. Dr. Smallridge and many other 
eminent persons were his proselytes. I sent him secretary 
and chaplain to Sicily, with my Lord Peterborough; and 
upon his lordship's return, Dr. Berkeley spent above seven 
years in travelling over most parts of Europe, but chiefly 
through every corner of Italy, Sicily, and other islands. When 
he came back to Ireland, he found so many friends that he 
was effectually recommended to the Duke of Grafton, by whom 
he was made Dean of Derry. Your excellency will be fright- 
ened when I tell you all this is but an introduction; for I am 
now to mention his errand. He is an absolute philosopher 
with regard to money, titles, and power; and, for three years 
past, has been struck with a notion of founding a university 
at Bermudas, by a charter from the crown. He has seduced 
several of the hopefullest young clergymen and others here, 
many of them well provided for, and all of them in the finest 
way of preferment; but in England his conquests are greater, 
and I doubt will spread very far this winter. He showed me a 
small tract which he designs to publish; and there your excel- 
lency will see his whole scheme of a life academico-philosophi- 
cal (I shall make you remember what you were) of a college 
founded for Indian scholars and missionaries; wherein he most 
exorbitantly proposes a whole hundred pounds a year for him- 
self, forty pounds for a fellow, and ten for a student. His 
heart will break if his deanery be not taken from him and left 
to your excellency's disposal. I discouraged him by the cold- 
ness of courts and ministers, who will interpret all this as im- 



From the collection of Harvard University 


possible, and a vision; but nothing will do. And, therefore, 
I humbly entreat your excellency either to use such persuasions 
as will keep one of the first men in this kingdom, for virtue 
and learning, quiet at home; or to assist him by your credit to 
compass his romantic design; which, however, is very noble 
and generous, and proper for a great person of your excellent 
education to encourage." 

And Dr. Blackwall thus speaks of the wonderful variety 
and extent of Berkeley's knowledge: 

"I would with pleasure do justice to the memory of a very 
great, though singular sort of man, Dr. Berkeley, better 
known as a philosopher and intended founder of a university 
in the Bermudas than as Bishop of Cloyne, in Ireland. An 
inclination to carry me out on that expedition as one of the 
young professors, on his new foundation, having brought us 
often together, I scarce remember to have conversed with him 
on that art, liberal or mechanic, of which he knew not more 
than ordinary practitioners. He travelled through a great 
part of Sicily on foot, clambered over the mountains, and 
crept into the caverns to investigate its natural history and 
discover the causes of its volcanoes; and I have known him 
sit for^hours in forgeries and foundries, to inspect their suc- 
cessive operations. I enter not into his peculiarities, either 
religious or personal, but admire the extensive genius of the 
man, and think it a loss to the western world, that his noble 
and exalted plan of an American university was not carried 
into execution." 

The reader will not think that too many pages devoted to 
the arts have been appropriated to a man so singular, and to 
whom America owes so much, both in her arts and her litera- 
ture; for Berkeley, in his benevolent project for spreading 
knowledge in America, did not neglect the important agency 
of the arts of design, and having experience of the character 
and talents of Smibert, who had been his fellow-traveller in 
Italy, chose him as the professor of drawing, painting, and 
architecture for his intended institution. 

"Smibert," as Mr. Verplanck justly observes, "was not an 


artist of the first rank, for the arts were then at a very low ebb 
in England; but the best portraits which we have of the emi- 
nent magistrates and divines of New England and New York, 
who lived between 1725 and 1751, are from his pencil. 

"Horace Walpole, in his 'Anecdotes of Painting, in England,' 
gives some account of him. Walpole was a man of fashion 
and pleasure, of wit and taste, and withal a most expert 
hunter of antiquarian small game; but he had no heart for 
anything generous or great, and he speaks of Berkeley's plans 
as might be expected from such a man; though he may be 
pardoned, for slurring over, as he does, his own father's conduct 
in the business. 

" 'John Smibert, of Edinburgh, was born about 1684, 1 and 
served his time with a common house painter; but eager to 
handle a pencil in a more elevated style, he came to London, 
where, however, for subsistence, he was forced to content him- 
self, at first, with working for coach-painters. It was a little 
rise to be employed in copying for dealers, and from thence he 
obtained admittance into the academy. His efforts and ardor 
at last carried him to Italy, where he spent three years in copy- 
ing Raphael, Titian, Van Dyck and Rubens, and improved 
enough to meet with much business at his return. When his 
industry and abilities had thus surmounted the asperities of 
his fortune, he was tempted, against the persuasions of his 
friends, to embark in the uncertain, but amusing, scheme of 
the famous Dean Berkeley, afterwards Bishop of Cloyne, 
whose benevolent heart was then warmly set on the erection of 
a universal college of science and arts, for the instruction of 
heathen children in Christian duties and civil knowledge. 
Smibert, a silent, modest man, who abhorred the finesse of 
some of his profession, was enchanted with a plan that, he 
thought, promised him tranquility and honest subsistence in a 
healthful Elysian climate, and in spite of remonstrances, en- 
gaged with the Dean, whose zeal had ranged the favor of the 

1 John Smibert, son of John Smibert, was born in Scotland in April, 1688, and came 
to America in company with Rev. George Berkeley (whose portrait is reproduced 
signed and dated 1728) in 1728 o. a. He painted in Rhode Island and Boston, where 
he died in 1751. 



From the collection of Mr. Charles Scdgwick Rackemann 


court on his side. The king's death dispelled the vision. Smi- 
bert, however, who had set sail, found it convenient, or had 
resolution enough, to proceed, but settled at Boston, in New 
England, where he succeeded to his .wish, and married a woman 
with considerable fortune, 1 whom he left a widow with two 
children, in 1751.' 

"Walpole adds, 'We may conceive how a man, so devoted 
to his art, must have been animated, when the Dean's enthusi- 
asm and eloquence painted to his imagination a new theatre of 
prospects, rich, warm, and glowing with scenery which no 
pencil had yet made cheap and common by a sameness of 
thinking and imagination. As our disputes and politics have 
travelled to America, is it not probable that poetry and paint- 
ing, too, will revive amidst those extensive tracts as they in- 
crease in opulence and empire, and where the stores of nature 
are so various, so magnificent, and so new?' This was written 
in 1762. 

There is at Yale College a large picture, and, from its sub- 
ject, an interesting one, representing Berkeley and some of his 
family, together with the artist himself, on their first landing 
in America. I presume that it is the first picture of more than 
a single figure ever painted in the United States." 

We find the following passage in a letter from Ramsay, 
the author of the "Gentle Shepherd," to Smibert, dated 

"My son Allan has been pursuing his science since he was 
a dozen years auld; was with Mr. Hiffdig in London for some 
time, about two years ago; he has since been painting here 
like a Raphael; sets out for the seat of the beast beyond the 
Alps within a month hence, to be away two years. I'm sweer 
to part with him, but canna stem the current which flows from 
the advice of his patrons, and his own inclination." 

Even this scrap has become interesting. But the follow- 
ing letter from Professor Goodrich, of Yale College, with 
the extract from President Stiles, are incomparably more 

1 John Smibert and Mary Williams were married in Boston July 30, 1730. 


"Yale College, April 20, 1834. 

"SiR I embrace the earliest opportunity in my power to 
answer your inquiries respecting Smybert's painting of Bishop 
Berkeley and family, which forms a part of the gallery belong- 
ing to this college. 

"This institution had a peculiar interest in possessing some 
memorial of that distinguished man, because he was among 
our early benefactors. He came to this country in the year 
1728, to carry into effect a project which he had long enter- 
tained, of founding a college in Bermuda, 'for converting 
the savage Americans to Christianity.' A large grant was 
promised him for this purpose, by the British government; 
and while waiting for its arrival, he resided, about two years, 
at Newport, R. I., where he had purchased a farm. Here the 
painting in question was executed by Smybert, who had 
attended Bishop Berkeley to this country as a member of his 
family, which likewise embraced a young lady of the name of 
Handcock, and two gentlemen of fortune, Mr. James and Mr. 
Dal ton. Being disappointed in receiving the money promised 
by the government, he abandoned the project, but before his 
return to England, being made acquainted with the condition 
and wants of this college, he presented it with some valuable 
books, to which he added after his return, a donation of a 
thousand volumes, 'the finest collection of books,' President 
Clapp says, in his History, 'that ever came .together at one 
time to America.' He sent also a deed of his farm on Rhode 
Island, which he directed to be held in trust for 'the mainte- 
nance, during the time between their first and second degree/ 
of three students of the college, who should be found on ex- 
amination to be most distinguished for their attainments in 
the Latin and Greek languages; and in default of applicants at 
any time, to the purchase of Latin or Greek books, as premi- 
ums for Latin compositions in the several classes. This farm 
now produces about one hundred and fifty dollars a year, and 
the proceeds are regularly applied to the objects designated 
by the donor. 

"About the year 1800, the late President Dwight, being on 



From the collection of Mr. Lendall I'itU 


a tour to the southeastern part of Massachusetts, met with 
Smybert's picture of the Berkeley family in what place I 
cannot exactly learn. It was but little prized, however, by 
its possessor; and had been thrust aside and neglected until it 
had suffered considerable injury, though not in any important 
part. I have never heard how a painting of so much value 
came into such a situation. Dr. D wight was naturally de- 
sirous to obtain it for the college; and through the interven- 
tion of Dr. Waterhouse, of Cambridge, succeeded in his object. 
It is to this gentleman chiefly that we are indebted for our 
knowledge of the details of this picture. It is nine feet long, 
and six wide, and represents Bishop Berkeley as standing 
at one end of a table, which is surrounded by the other mem- 
bers of his family. He appears to be in deep thought, his 
eyes slightly raised; one hand resting on a folio volume (a 
copy of Plato, his favorite author) which stands on the table 
before him; and is engaged in dictating to his Amanuensis 
(who is seated at the other end of the table) part of the * Minute 
Philosopher,' which is said to have been commenced during 
his residence at Newport. The figure of the Amanuensis, 
which is an uncommonly fine one, represents Sir James Dalton. 
Miss Handcock, and Mrs. Berkeley, with an infant in her arms, 
are seated on one side the table, whose two ends are occupied 
in the manner just described, while Mr. James, and a gentle- 
man of Newport, named John Moffat, stand behind the ladies. 
The painter has placed himself in the rear, standing by a 
pillar, with a scroll in his hand; and beyond him opens a very 
beautiful water scene, with woods and headlands, the original 
of which probably once existed on the shores of the Narra- 
gansett Bay. Dr. Dwight used to state though I know not 
his authority, that the sketch of this picture was originally 
made at sea; and was enlarged and finished at a subsequent 
period after his residence at Newport. The Mr. Moffat men- 
tioned above, is said, by Dr. Waterhouse, to have been a 
dealer in paints, a Scotchman, brother to Dr. Thomas Moffat, 
who was well known at Newport, and afterwards at New 


"Of Smybert I know nothing. Dr. Water-house mentions 
that he married a daughter of Dr. Williams, who was the Latin 
schoolmaster of the town of Boston for fifty years. 

"I enclose an extract from a sermon of President Stiles, 
respecting Smybert. 

"The name on the painting is spelled with a y. 1 

"I am, sir, with much respect, yours, etc., 


"Mr. Smibert, the portrait painter, who in 1728 accom- 
panied Dr. Berkeley, then Dean of Derry, and afterwards 
Bishop of Cloyne, from Italy to America, was employed, while 
at Florence, by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, to paint two or 
three Siberian Tartars, presented to the duke by the Czar of 
Russia. This Mr. Smibert, upon his landing with Dr. Berkeley 
at Narragansett Bay, instantly recognized the Indians here 
to be the same people as the Siberian Tartars, whose pictures 
he had taken." 

Thus we see that Smibert married respectably, and we know 
that he lived in Boston in high estimation until the year 1751, 
leaving two children. One of the children of John Smibert, 
was a son of the name of Nathaniel, who was born and died 
in America. We have the following notice of him from our 
valued correspondent, Judge Cranch, of Washington, District 
of Columbia. 


"There was a young painter in Boston, the particular 
friend of my father, about the year 1755, whose name should 
not be omitted in the list of American artists; as he bade fair 
to be one of the first of the age. His name was Nathaniel 
Smibert. I have an original letter of friendship from him to 
my father (the late Judge Cranch of Quincy, in Mass.), dated 

1 See note on p. 17. 

1 Nathaniel Smibert, son of John and Mary Williams Smibert, was born in Boston 
January 20, 1734, and died there November 3, 1756. His obituary notice appeared 
in the Boston Gazette for November 8, 1756. 



'Boston, August 5, 1755,' and a copy of my father's answer, 
in which he says, 'When I consider the ease with which your 
hand improves the beauty of the fairest form, and adds new 
charms to the most angelic face, I do not wonder that your 
riper imagination should fly beyond your pencil, and draw the 
internal picture of your friend so much fairer than the original.' 
"In a letter from my father to the late Dr. John Eliot, of 
Boston, dated 'Quincy, July 20th, 1809,' he says 'Mr. Na- 
thaniel Smibert, whom you mention, was one of the most 
amiable youths that I ever was acquainted with; but he came 
forth as a flower and was cut down. I cannot now, after an in- 
terval of more than fifty years, recollect the time of his birth 
or his death. I remember that Mr. Peter Chardon, who took 
his degree in 1757, was then one of our acquaintance; and I 
think that Mr. Smibert died about that time. I do not recol- 
lect that he left any writings. He received his grammar instruc- 
tion under the famous master John Lovell, 1 but did not proceed 
to a collegiate education. He engaged in his father's profes- 
sion of painting, in which he emulated the excellencies of the 
best masters; and had his life been spared he would probably 
have been, in his day, what Copley and West have since been, 
the honor of America in the imitative art. I remember that 
one of his first portraits was the picture of his old master 
Lovell, drawn while the terrific impressions of the pedagogue 
were yet vibrating upon his nerves. I found it so perfect a 
likeness of my old neighbor, that I did not wonder, when my 
young friend told me that a sudden, undesigned glance at it 
had often made him shudder.' ' Of 


All we know is, that he was nearly contemporary with John 
Smibert, and painted very respectable portraits in Boston. Of 

1 The portrait of John Lovell by Nathaniel Smibert is reproduced. It is now at 
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. 

2 Little that is authentic is known of Blackburn other than his portraits made 
between 1754 and 1761. He executed portraits in Boston, Portsmouth, N. H., and 
other New England towns. In all probability he was a visitor from the mother country, 
leaving America with no record of his entry or departure. . 



Who painted in Philadelphia at the time Smibert flourished in 
Boston, we know little more than of Blackburn. This gentle- 
man would have escaped our notice, but that Benjamin West 
remembered him with gratitude, as the man who put into his 
hands, when a boy, the first books he had ever read on the 
subject of painting, and showed him, in specimens from his 
own pencil, the first oil pictures he had ever seen. 

Mr. Williams was an Englishman, and was employed by 
the inhabitants of Penn's city, in 1746-7, and perhaps after. 
That he sought knowledge in his art we know, or he could 
not have lent to the boy, West, the works of Fresnoy (of 
course the translation) and of Richardson; of his attainments 
as exemplified in his pictures, we know nothing. The instruc- 
tion that Benjamin West received from his conversation, his 
books, and his paintings, entitles him to a place among those 
who assisted in forwarding the progress of the arts of design 
in our country. 


Is the name of a painter inscribed on a portrait of Mrs. Welling, 
with the date of 1746, of course contemporary with Williams. 

1 William Williams may have been a native of New York, but little is known of his 
origin or life. A William Williams advertised in a Philadelphia paper in January, 
1763, that he had "returned from the West Indies and was to be found in Loxley court 
where he was prepared to do painting in general." He painted the scenery for the old 
Southwark Theatre in Philadelphia and his portrait of Samuel Shoemaker is said to 
be the first portrait Benjamin West ever saw. In the Cope Collection of Mezzotints 
there was a proof before letter of Pether's portrait of West after Lawrensen with this 
inscription, doubtless in the hand of Williams, " Benjamin West, Esq. Painter to King 
George III A.D. 1776. The gift of Benj. West Esq. Painter to his much obliged friend 
William Williams, Painter." A William Williams is noted by Redgrave as receiving a 
medal of the Society of Arts in 1759. He was probably the same William Williams 
who made the portrait of Washington signed and dated 1794 which is now hanging in 
the lodge room of Washington Lodge of Masons at Alexandria, Va. 

1 Robert Feke appeared at Newport, R. I., as a portrait painter about 1726. Under 
a lithographic copy of his own portrait the date of his birth is given as 1705 and the 
date of his death as 1750. Feke it is supposed died in the Barbadoes. He worked in 
Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Dr. Alexander Hamilton who met Feke at 
Newport in 1744 says in his " Itinerarium " : " This man had exactly the phiz of a painter, 
having a long pale face, sharp noze, large eyes withe which he looked upon you stead- 
fastly, long curled black hair, a delicate white hand, and long fingers." (See the 
portrait reproduced.) 





Is the name of a portrait painter, who visited the colonies 
nearly about the same time.* 

The next name we can record is that of 


A gentleman of this name painted portraits in South Caro- 
lina, certainly as early as 1750. The faces (as we are informed) 
were generally painted with great care. Our correspondent's 
expression is, "beautifully painted"; but he had not the art 
to give grace and picturesque effect to the stiff brocades, 
enormous ruffles, and outre stays and stomachers of our grand- 
mothers; or the wigs, velvet coats, and waistcoats, with buck- 
ram skirts and flaps, and other courtly appendages to the dig- 
nity of our grandfathers. His pictures were as stiff and formal 
as the originals, when dressed for the purpose and sitting for 
them. Our valuable correspondent, Charles Fraser, Esq. of 
Charleston, says, "I own one of his pictures, which independ- 
ently of its claims as a family portrait of 1750, I value for its 

* Our friend John F. Watson, to whom the public is indebted for researches into 
the antiquities of our recent country, informs us that he has seen a portrait of Samuel 
Carpenter, a primitive settler of Philadelphia, a leader, and one of its ablest improv- 
ers. The portrait, he says, is well painted. This Samuel Carpenter was the original 
owner of the house in which William Penn lived in 1700, and in which John Penn, the 
only one of the race born in America, first saw the light. Carpenter's portrait is a 
little under the size of life, and is now (1833) with a descendant, Isaac C. Jones, Eighth 
Street, Philadelphia. This portrait may have been painted before Carpenter left 

1 John Green. The pencil portrait of him reproduced is from a drawing by Ben- 
jamin West belonging to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 

* Jeremiah Theus. The first introduction we have of Theus is a notice by him in 
the Charleston, S. C., Gazette of August 30, 1740, that "Gentlemen and Ladies may 
have their pictures drawn." He was one of three brothers who came to South Carolina 
from Switzerland about 1739. He painted about thirty-five years in South Carolina, 
where he died at Charleston May 18, 1774. 



THE next painter, in chronological order, is indigenous. 
We no longer seek darkling for any of the events we wish to 
record. His virtues and his talents have shed a lustre around 
his name, and we view him by a light radiating from himself. 
His influence on the art he professed will never cease. 

Benjamin West commenced portrait-painting in the year 
1753, and is therefore the next subject for the reader's consid- 
eration. We shall show his early efforts in his native country, 
and accompany him to the land which old Allan Ramsay called 
"the seat of the beast," but which West found a pure fountain 
of instruction for to the pure all is pure the land of 
Buonorotti and Raphael the land of color and form, and of 
all those associations which make and delight the poet and 
the painter. From thence we shall follow him to the land of 
his fathers, and show the effects of his unsullied life as a man, 
and unrivalled skill in historical composition, upon the arts 
of both hemispheres. The picture copied from Van Dyck 
by Smibert produced effects on the progress of art in 
America, of which it is difficult to ascertain the limits ; but the 
effects of the fame and the instructions of West are literally 

In the year 1753, and at the age of fifteen, Benjamin West 
commenced portrait and historical painting. The first portrait, 
regularly undertaken as such from a sitter, was that of Mrs. 
Ross, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But it is our duty to go 
back to an earlier period, and to seek from every source the 
facts appertaining to his family and early life. 

Honest Allan Cunningham gives us the following account 
of the painter's ancestors : 




From the collection of Bowiloin College 


"John West, the father of Benjamin, was of that family 
settled at Long Crendon, in Buckinghamshire, which produced 
Colonel James West, the friend and companion in arms of 
John Hampden. Upon one occasion, in the course of a con- 
versation in Buckingham Palace, respecting his picture of 
the Institution of the Garter, West happened to make some 
allusion to his English descent; when the Marquis of Buck- 
ingham, to the manifest pleasure of the late king (George III), 
declared that the Wests of Long Crendon were undoubted 
descendants of the Lord Delaware, renowned in the wars of 
Edward the Third and the Black Prince, and that the artist's 
likeness had therefore a right to a place among those of the 
nobles and warriors in his own piece." 

Benjamin West has found a most injudicious biographer in 
John Gait, but still we may rely upon certain portions of his 
book, although we dismiss the puerilities of the performance, 
and the absurd tales and speeches of general officers, Quaker 
preachers, Indian actors, and Italian improvisalori, which we 
find in it, as altogether unworthy. West never could have 
given Mr. Gait a long harangue as Washington's, addressed 
to a woman who brought him a letter from parson Duche to 
persuade him to renounce the cause of his country and join 
the arms of England. A letter which agitated the general 
much, as Gait writes, and, as is intimated, caused indecision as 
to the course he should pursue; for the writer says, "Having 
decided with himself, he stopped" from walking "backwards 
and forwards," "and addressed her in nearly the following 
words." Among other absurdities, he is made to say, "I am 
here intrusted by the people of America with sovereign au- 
thority," and continues to justify his conduct in a strain of 
stupid bombast that would disgrace a schoolboy. Neither is it 
to be believed that Mr. West furnished his biographer with the 
speeches of the Quaker preachers, or of the Mohawk Indian 
who found another Mohawk Indian an actor on the stage at 
New York. Such passages are almost enough to make us 
disbelieve the whole of Mr. Gait's book; but as I hope I can 
separate the poetry from the facts, I will make use of the work 


in combination with such truth as I can collect from other 
sources, or possess of my own knowledge. 

Benjamin West, the youngest son of John West and Sarah 
Pearson, was born near Springfield, in Chester county, in the 
province of Pennsylvania, on the 10th of October, 1738. Ten 
years after Smibert, as before stated, visited America in com- 
pany with Dean Berkeley. 

The town of Springfield owes its name to the farm on which 
the painter was born, which was the original settlement of his 
maternal grandfather; and in clearing the first field a spring 
of fine water was discovered, which gave name to the farm, 
and subsequently to the township. Thus is the name of the 
town associated with West, and derived from one of his 

The family of West were Quakers, and emigrated to America 
from England in the year 1699, but left John, the father of 
Benjamin, at school in the land of his nativity. He did not 
join his relations until 1714. 

After having taken unto himself a wife, he found it con- 
venient to leave her with her relatives, while he explored the 
land of promise. During this visit of pioneering, his wife died 
in childbed. The child lived, and was adopted by its mother's 
relations, all Quakers. The father determined to settle in 
Pennsylvania, and wrote to have the child sent to him. Those 
who had charge of the boy had become attached to him, and 
John at length consented that his first born should remain in 
England. As we shall never again, probably, mention this 
brother of the painter, we shall refer the reader to his portrait 
in the West family picture, which has been engraved, where 
he is represented sitting by the side of his venerable father, 
both in Quaker costume. 

Of this family picture Mr. Leslie in a letter to us says : 

"WTien John West, the father of Benjamin, accompanied 
Miss Sewell to England, as the affianced bride of the painter, 
the old gentleman met his eldest son, who was a watchmaker 
settled at Reading, and at that time forty years of age." 

Benjamin West, although born in humble life, was essen- 




From the collection of Bowdoin College 


tially well-born; though not of parents who by riches or station 
could insure, or even promote his views of ambition. His 
father a man of sense, his mother affectionate and exemplary. 
He was not spoiled by indulgence or soured by thwartings. 
His natural inclinations were good ; and they were not poisoned 
by bad education or evil example. The most precious part 
of his education was not intrusted to ignorant and vicious 
menials; and all who surrounded him were temperate, pure, 
and happy. The sordid sufferings of poverty were unknown 
to him, neither was he pampered in the lap of luxury. As the 
youngest child of the family, he was the favorite of his 
parents, and equally so of his brothers and sisters. His phys- 
ical advantages were great from nature, and the occupations 
of rural life in childhood tended to strengthen and perfect 
them. He was taught in the school of realities. He became 
acquainted with things as they are. The knowledge which he 
gained in the school of experience was not blasted by any 
untoward circumstances. His genius was developed by the 
friends his manners and his virtues gained him. West may be 
said to have been the favored of fortune as well as nature, 
and to have been so led to the height he attained, that men 
might say "we know not whether genius or virtue placed him 
there." This we know; vice or folly did not counteract genius. 
It is stated that before the age of seven, Benjamin, being 
left in charge of a child sleeping in a cradle, made his first 
essay at drawing by attempting to represent the infant on a 
piece of paper with pen and ink. However imperfect such 
an attempt must have been, it is a remarkable fact, if taken in 
connexion with the state of society among Quakers in a vil- 
lage of the new world; for it may be supposed that those pic- 
tures which ornament books, and are so attractive to children, 
often stimulating to imitation, would be unknown among the 
followers of Penn in the year 1745, and it is almost a certainty 
that other pictures did not exist in the houses of these primi- 
tive people, although many and good were in various parts of 
the country. It would seem, then, that there was an intuitive 
desire in the individual to express by lines the images of things 


as they appeared in his eyes. If the child had not seen any 
prints or pictures, the circumstance above noticed must be 
considered very extraordinary; and even if he had, the attempt 
to draw from nature, at six or seven years of age, is an indi- 
cation of an uncommon observation of forms, and still more 
uncommon quickness, that could lead to attempt their resem- 
blance on a flat surface. 

The success of the child's efforts excited the admiration of 
his fond parents ; and their admiration encouraged his attempts. 
The consequences were that in the Quaker habitation, rude 
images of flowers and birds and other things which struck 
the boy's fancy were stuck upon the walls and exhibited to 
the neighbors. We all know that engravings and paintings 
had been brought into the colonies long before this time, 
and that painters had visited the cities and plantations, exer- 
cising their art; still Springfield probably had seen none of 
these wonders or wonder-workers, and those of its inhabitants 
who were natives of Europe had probably as little knowledge 
of the fine arts as the aborigines. Among such a population 
the scratchings of little Ben would produce the exciting effect 
which even the admiration of ignorance causes in men as well 
as children at this day. 

"I find," says a friend, "on a page of Pilkington's 'Dic- 
tionary of Painters,' this note, in the handwriting of Mr. 
Hamilton, viz. 'General Wayne's father, who lived in Spring- 
field, Chester county, when B. West was a lad, took a liking 
to six heads in chalk drawn by him, and presented him with 
six dollars for them. These chalk productions were among Mr. 
West's first performances, and he was so much pleased with 
their producing so large a price, as to be thereby chiefly 
induced to adopt for his means of support the profession of a 
painter. This anecdote Mr. West told me in London in 1785, 
and said also, that he believed that Mr. Wayne the elder had 
given the heads to one of the Penrose family (in Philadelphia) 
into which a son of Mr. Wayne had married.' ' 

Such was the commencement of Benjamin West's drawing. 
Of coloring he could know nothing; and however much the 



From the collection of the Washington Lodge of Matons, Alexandria, Va. 


tints of the birds, the flowers, the fields and the skies, might 
delight him, neither color nor coloring material was found 
in the houses of his father or his neighbors, excepting profane 
indigo to tinge the starch of the women's caps and kerchiefs 
all else was holy drab. 

Mr. Lewis, the American biographer of West, says, that the 
"colors he used were charcoal and chalk, mixed with the 
juice of berries"; and further, that "with such colors laid on 
with the hair of a cat drawn through a goose quill, when about 
nine years of age he drew on a sheet of paper the portraits of 
a neighboring family, in which the delineation of each individ- 
ual was sufficiently accurate to be immediately recognized by 
his father, when the picture was first shown to him. When 
about twelve years old he drew a portrait of himself, with his 
hair hanging loosely about his shoulders." 

Fortunately for little Ben the children of the forest who saw 
no crime in decorating themselves in the colors which deco- 
rated all around them, were yet in the habit of visiting the pur- 
chasers of their land, and from the Mohawk or the Delaware 
the boy procured the red and yellow earths used by them at 
their toilets. Mrs. West's indigo pot supplied blue, and the 
urchin thus gained possession of those primitive colors which 
he afterwards knew to be the materials whose combined min- 
glings, in their various gradations, give all the tints of the 

Drawing and painting were thus introduced to the being 
who never ceased to cultivate their acquaintance; but still he 
had no brushes, and on being told that they could be made by 
inserting hair into a quill, West manufactured his first pencils 
from the geese and the cat of the establishment. 

As West's English and Scotch biographers have an anec- 
dote related by him, marking his early ambition, we must not 
omit it. 

"One of his schoolfellows allured him on a half -holiday 
from trap and ball, by promising him a ride to a neighboring 
plantation. 'Here is the horse, bridled and saddled,' said 
his friend, 'so come, get up behind me.' 'Behind you!' said 


Benjamin; 'I will ride behind nobody.' 'Oh, very well,' 
replied the other, 'I will ride behind you, so mount.' He 
mounted accordingly, and away they rode. 'This is the last 
ride I shall have,' said his companion, 'for some time. To- 
morrow I am to be apprenticed to a tailor.' 'A tailor!' ex- 
claimed West; 'you will surely never be a tailor?' 'Indeed, 
but I shall,' replied the other; 'it is a good trade. What do 
you intend to be, Benjamin?'- -'A painter.' 'A painter! 
what sort of a trade is a painter? I never heard of it before.' 
'A painter,' said this humble son of a Philadelphia Quaker, 
'is the companion of kings and emperors.' 'You are surely 
mad,' said the embryo tailor; 'there are neither kings nor 
emperors in America.' 'Ay, but there are plenty in other 
parts of the world. And do you really intend to be a tailor?' 
'Indeed I do; there is nothing surer.' 'Then you may ride 
alone,' said the future companion of kings and emperors, 
leaping down; 'I will not ride with one willing to be a tailor.' ' 

When directing our friend Sully how to find the house in 
which he was born, the old gentleman, in describing the road, 
pointed out the spot where he abandoned the intended 

The arrival of a merchant from Philadelphia, on a visit to 
the family, added another link to the chain which united the 
boy to the fine arts. Mr. Pennington, seeing the effects of 
little Benjamin's persevering efforts, promised him a box of 
paints and brushes; and, on his return to Philadelphia, not 
only performed his promise, but accompanied the materials for 
painting with several pieces of canvas prepared for their 
reception, and "six engravings by Grevling." 

The delight which such a child would feel at the reception 
of such a present, can be better imagined than described. The 
consequence was imitation of the engravings in colors on the 
canvas, with such success as delighted his parents, and as- 
tonished their neighbors. The result of this boyish effort to 
combine figures from engravings, and invent a system of color- 
ing, was exhibited sixty-seven years afterwards, in the same 
room with the "Christ Rejected." 



From the collection of Mr. Frank Bulkeley Smith 


In the building erected to receive " The Healing in the 
Temple," presented by West to the Pennsylvania Hospital, 
may now (1833) be seen two of those juvenile performances 
painted on panel. The largest is his own composition, and 
consists of a white cow, who is the hero of the piece, and sun- 
dry trees, houses, men, and ships, combined in a manner per- 
fectly childish: the other is a sea-piece, copied from a print, 
with a perfect lack of skill, as might be expected. 

Shortly after these first attempts to paint with painters' 
materials and tools, the boy was permitted to accompany the 
donor of the treasures to the metropolis of Pennsylvania. 
With Mr. Pennington the youth resided, and after the novelty 
of a city had ceased to distract his attention, he commenced 
his second picture in oil coloring, for his friend and relative. At 
this time Mr. Samuel Shoemaker, who, though a Quaker, had 
employed Mr. Williams, an artist then residing in the city, to 
paint a picture for him, desired the painter to carry it to Mr. 
Pennington's, that young West might see it. This is the first 
notice we have of any oil painting being seen by Benjamin, 
save his own; and his admiration of Williams's work was 
similar to that which his own produced at Springfield. Mr. 
Williams was interested in the lad, and finding that his read- 
ing did not extend beyond the Bible, lent him the works of 
Fresnoy and Richardson, invited him to see his pictures and 
drawings, and may be called the first instructor of West. 

These books West was permitted to carry home when he 
left the city; and Fresnoy and Richardson not only confirmed 
the boy's ambition to become a painter, but to aspire to the 
fellowship of kings and emperors. We have seen that he would 
not ride on the same horse with a schoolmate who was content 
with the prospect of becoming a tailor. 

The first money received by West for his works as an artist, 
was from Mr. Wayne, hi exchange for drawings made on poplar 
boards; and Dr. Jonathan Morris made him a present of "a 
few dollars to buy materials to paint with." At the house of 
Mr. Flower, the boy first became acquainted with books of 
profane history, and from an English lady, the governess of 


Mr. Flower's children, he received instruction from the 
historians and poets of his friend's library. 

At Lancaster he made his first essay as a painter of portraits, 
and, as may be supposed, gained admiration and custom. A 
gunsmith, of the name of Henry, employed him to paint the 
death of Socrates, an event he had not at the time heard of. 
The gunsmith read the story to him, and left him the book, 
and one of the workmen stood as a model for one of the figures. 
This led to the study of the human form, and showed the 
youth the importance of anatomy as connected with the arts 
of design. 

While West was at Lancaster, Dr. Smith, provost of the 
college at Philadelphia, visited the place, and seeing the result 
of the boy's efforts, warmly interested himself in his welfare. 
He proposed to the elder West to send his son to the capital, 
and offered to instruct him in English classical literature. 
This liberal offer was gladly accepted, and Benjamin sent to 
reside with his brother-in-law, Mr. Clarkson, where he pur- 
sued his studies and became an associate of Francis Hopkin- 
son, Thomas Godfrey, Jacob Duche, and Joseph Reid, then, 
like himself, unknown to fame. Of these schooldays West 
makes incidental mention in a letter, when speaking of the 
long-venerated tree under which Penn concluded his treaty 
with the Indians, a tree which the painter introduced into 
his picture on the subject. He says, "This tree, which was 
held in the highest veneration by the original inhabitants of 
my native country by the first settlers and by their descend- 
ants and which I well remember about the year 1755, when 
a boy, often resorting to it with my schoolfellows (the spot 
being a favorite one for assembling in the hours of leisure), 
was in some danger during the American war of 1775, when the 
British possessed the country, from the parties sent out in 
search of wood for firing; but the late General Simcoe, who had 
the command of the district where it grew, from a regard for 
the character of William Penn, and the interest which he took 
in the history connected with the tree, ordered a guard of 
British soldiers to protect it from the axe. This circumstance 


the General related to me, in answer to my inquiries concern- 
ing it (the tree), after he returned to England." See for this 
letter of West's the "Memoirs of the Historical Society of 
Pennsylvania, 1825," p. 97. 

Provost Smith directed West's studies with a view to the 
profession he had chosen; and his reading of history conduced 
most to the attaining that knowledge which would be more 
serviceable to the painter than to the politician or man of the 
world. It is said, that while the son was preparing himself for 
the brilliant career destined for him, the father had some 
Quaker-qualms on the subject, and held a consultation with the 
wise men of the Meeting of Friends, which resulted in a per- 
mission given contrary to the principles of the sect, for the 
youth to pursue the bent of his inclination, and to administer 
to those vanities their religious tenets told them to eschew as 
the snares of the evil one. We must not doubt this incident, 
given on such authority, but the argumentative speeches which 
led to this curious anti-religious conclusion we may consider 
in the light of such as might have been suggested to the mind of 
John Gait, rather than such as were actually delivered. 

Mr. Gait relates an adventurous enterprise of an elder 
brother of Benjamin West, and Cunningham transcribes it 
from Gait, and substitutes Benjamin for his brother as the 
military hero of the story. He says, 

"Being now left more to the freedom of his own will, West 
deviated into a course not at all professional, but for which 
the accommodating eloquence of a John Williamson might 
have conceived a ready apology. He became a soldier. The 
Friends had not included this among those pure and pious 
pursuits which they ascribed to the future painter of history; 
they expressed, however, neither surprise nor sorrow for this 
backsliding in Benjamin, nor did they either admonish or re- 
monstrate. He took up a musket inspired with his enthu- 
siasm young Wayne, afterward a distinguished officer and 
joining the troops of General Forbes, proceeded in search of 
the relics of that gallant army lost in the desert by the unfortu- 
nate General Braddock. 


"To West and his companions were added a select body of 
Indians; these again were accompanied by several officers of 
the Old Highland Watch the well-known forty-second, com- 
manded by the most anxious person of the whole detachment, 
Major Sir Peter Halket, who had lost his father and brother 
in that unhappy expedition. Though many months had 
elapsed since the battle, and though time, the fowls of the air, 
the beasts of the field, and wild men more savage than they, 
had done their worst, Halket was not without hopes of finding 
the remains of his father and his brother, as an Indian warrior 
assured him that he had seen an elderly officer drop dead be- 
neath a large and remarkable tree, and a young subaltern, 
who hastened to his aid, fall mortally wounded across the body. 
After a long march through the woods, they approached the 
fatal valley. They were affected at seeing the bones of men, 
who, escaping wounded from invisible enemies, had sunk down 
and expired as they leaned against the trees, and they were 
shocked to see in other places the relics of their countrymen 
mingled with the ashes of the savage bivouacs. 

"When they reached the principal scene of destruction, the 
Indian guide looked anxiously round, darted into the wood, 
and in a few seconds raised a shrill cry. Halket and West 
hastened to the place the Indian pointed out the tree a 
circle of soldiers was drawn round it, while others removed the 
leaves of the forest which had fallen since the fight. They 
found two skeletons one lying across the other Halket 
looked at the skulls, said, faintly, 'It is my father!' and 
dropped senseless in the arms of his companions. On recov- 
ering, he said, 'I know who it is by that artificial tooth.' 
They dug a grave in the desert, covered the bones with a 
Highland plaid, and interred them reverently. This scene, 
at once picturesque and pious, made a lasting impression on 
the artist's mind. After he had painted the * Death of Wolfe,' 
he proposed the finding of the bones of the Halkets, as an his- 
torical subject; and, describing to Lord Grosvenor the gloomy 
wood, the wild Indians, the passionate grief of the son, and 
the sympathy of his companions, said, he conceived it would 



From the collection of The Pennsylvania Acmlem y of Fine Arts 


form a picture full of dignity and sentiment. His lordship 
thought otherwise. The subject which genius chooses for 
itself is, however, in most cases, the best. The sober imagina- 
tion of West had here a twofold excitement he had witnessed 
the scene, and it was American and had Lord Grosvenor 
encouraged him to embody his conception, the result would, I 
doubt not, have been a worthy companion to the * Death of 
Wolfe.' ' 

Now, as far as the painter is concerned, the story is pure 
fiction. And as a subject, for historical composition, it is 
utterly unworthy of being classed with the Battle of Quebec, 
on the Plains of Abraham. The one, though picturesque and 
pathetic, is a private event, and without consequences; the 
other, one of the most influential causes of mighty effects 
which the world has known. The victory gained by Wolfe, 
annihilated the power of France on this continent, and estab- 
lished reformed religion, English language, arts and literature, 
and more than English liberty from Mexico to the north 
pole, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. 

In the year 1756 the mother of the young painter died, and 
in August of that year he took his leave of Springfield, and 
went again to reside in Philadelphia, under the roof of his 
brother-in-law. He now had full employment as a portrait- 
painter, and gained a portion of that facility of execution 
which was remarkable in his after life. He enjoyed still the 
instruction of Dr. Smith, and while his days were devoted to 
his easel, his evenings were probably employed in listening to 
his preceptor, or reading the books he pointed out for his pe- 
rusal. As his mind strengthened, and the powers of discrimi- 
nation increased as his eyes became open to the beauties of 
nature, and his power of imitating those beauties increased, the 
perception of his deficiencies likewise increased, with the ardent 
desire to examine the wonders of art which could at that time 
only be seen by visiting Italy. This desire stimulated the in- 
dustry, and added to the self-denying frugality of the virtuous 
and gifted youth. He looked forward to the time when the 
product of his industry would enable him to transport himself 


to the land of his wishes, the land of the fine arts. Such pic- 
tures as had been brought to the provinces, and fell within the 
limited range of the boy's observation, while they added to 
his knowledge of the art, added tenfold to his anxiety for the 
time to arrive when he could drink at the fountain from which 
these scanty streams were derived. Governor Hamilton had a 
collection of pictures which were placed at West's disposal as 
objects of study, and among them a Murillo which had been 
captured in a Spanish prize. This picture, a St. Ignatius, was 
copied by the youth, and added to his reputation and his skill. 
Dr. Smith suggested the idea of combining historical and por- 
trait painting, and West painted the provost in the attitude 
and style of St. Ignatius. This is a false taste. Every por- 
trait ought to convey a portion of the history of its own times. 
The value of the portraits of Van Dyck and Reynolds, is in- 
creased by the knowledge they convey of the costume and 
manners of the time at which they were painted; and a grocer 
of Thames Street as a Caesar or Hector or a doctor of divin- 
ity as a martyr or saint, may cause the admiration and con- 
found the ideas of the ignorant, but can only excite the ridicule 
of the well-informed beholder. All this practice tended to 
improve the young artist and extend his fame. Mr. Cox em- 
ployed him to paint an historical picture. " The Trial of Susan- 
nah " was the subject chosen and executed. Mr. Gait says, "it 
is not known what has become of this picture." It is, how- 
ever, known to us, and although the artist in his old age had 
forgotten the circumstances attending the composition, and 
the assistance he received therein, it appears that he made 
ample use of a print on the subject, which had fallen in his way. 
At this time the remuneration of West for his portraits was 
two guineas and a half for a head, and five for a half-length. 
He visited New York with a view to the increase of his prices, 
that the object for which he desired money might the sooner be 
placed within his grasp improvement. In New York he 
painted many portraits, but few have been preserved from 
those tombs of the Capulets destined for the works of the mass 
of painters the nursery, where urchins set them up as marks 


for their puny archery; or the garret, where cats litter among 
the satins of our grandmothers, or mice feast on the well 
powdered wigs of our grandsires. Some three or four of West's 
immortal works of this date, may be found in America, by 
industry, perseverance and much labor, and when found can 
scarcely be seen through a mass of dinginess, or will be found 
defaced by careful scouring, with here and there a hole, patched 
or unpatched, received in a May-day moving, or while exposed 
to the incidents of the cock-loft. 

In our researches we were directed, by the honorable Ed- 
mund Pendleton, to a portrait of one of his maternal ancestors, 
Mrs. Dinah Bard (born Marmion), which we found at Tren- 
ton, New Jersey, at the residence of one of her descendents, 
Mr. Charles Fraser. This picture was painted in a style which 
justifies in part the eulogiums recorded by Gait, as bestowed 
upon West's first head finished in Rome. It had been firmly 
painted and well drawn, and the drapery carefully made out; 
but it is injured by time, and had received two bullets or bay- 
onet wounds during the War of the Revolution, which had never 
been cured, though patched up. Her husband's portrait 
(Peter Bard, Esq.) is returned "missing." There are older 
portraits in Mr. Eraser's house by other hands, no trace of 
the artist's name remaining, and nothing in the work indicating 
a name worth preserving. 

We found at Germantown a portrait painted in West's 
youth, of a gentleman of the Morris family. This was in 
better preservation than the above, and a still better picture. 
Judicious cleaning and lining would preserve it, and it is well 
worth preserving. 

The young painter pursued his professional labors eleven 
months in New York, at prices double those he received in 
Philadelphia, and had accumulated nearly enough, by his in- 
dustry, to waft him to the "land where the orange trees 
bloom," and where the fine arts have left a lasting impression 
of the time they did flourish, when he heard that a ship was 
about to sail from his own homely country to carry food to the 
inhabitants of Italy, who have in modern as well as ancient 


times been more abounding in marbles than bread. Mr. Allen, 
of Philadelphia, was loading a ship with flour for Leghorn, 
and West, who was painting the picture of Mr. Kelly, of New 
York, when he heard the news, mentioned it to his sitter, with 
his intention to take advantage of this extraordinary occur- 
rence. Kelly's portrait being finished, and the ten guineas 
paid for it, he gave a letter in charge to the painter for his 
agents in Philadelphia, which, on delivery, proved an order 
for fifty guineas, to assist the youth in his projected journey 
and intended studies abroad. In the meantime Mr. Allen had 
determined that his son should have the benefit of travel, by 
accompanying the flour; and West's invaluable friend, Provost 
Smith, had obtained permission for the young painter to ac- 
company the young merchant. Thus everything seemed to 
conspire for the furtherance of the youth's advancement in the 
road to wealth and honor. He found friends eager to assist 
him at every step. Was it not because it was seen by all that 
every step was in the right path that his mind was as deeply 
imbued with the love of virtue as with the love of his art? 
Such was the character of West through life; and through 
life his success was uniform. He met in his way false friends, 
detractors and libellers, but he never turned aside; and as he 
approached that height at which he aimed from childhood, the 
hands of those who had attained or had been seated on the 
high places in his upward way, were stretched forth to wel- 
come him. We see the undeviating tribute paid to worth and 
genius in its ascending progress, whether in the homely en- 
couragement given by Henry the gunsmith, of Lancaster, the 
refined and well-directed friendship of Provost Smith, the 
frank liberality of the merchants Kelly and Allen, the enlight- 
ened admiration of the men of fortune who received him with 
open arms at Rome, as we have yet to mention, and finally in 
the smiles of the nobles and the sovereign of England, who 
hailed his arrival with joy in the land of his fathers. 

Mr. West, in the reminiscences communicated to his biog- 
rapher, mentions, that while he was waiting for the sailing of 
the ship, which was to bear him to the land he longed to see, 


he again met his friend Henry the gunsmith, and the artist's 
grateful recollections of this man is in common with his pure 
and virtuous character. Henry had introduced him to his first 
knowledge of history, by lending him Plutarch, and excited 
him to attempt his first historical picture by employing him, 
and aiding him to paint the death of Socrates, in the year 

At the age of twenty-one, Benjamin West embarked with 
young Allen, and soon arrived at Gibraltar, where the ship 
stopped for convoy. Captain Kearny, commanding the ships 
of war on the station, was a friend of young Allen's father, and 
the young man, with his companion, being invited to dine on 
board his ship, West was introduced favorably to the officers, 
with whom he proceeded up the Mediterranean. Messrs. 
Rutherford and Jackson were the correspondents of Mr. Allen, 
and the young painter, having delivered his credentials to them 
at Leghorn, was furnished with letters to Cardinal Albani and 
other distinguished characters at Rome. Under these favorable 
auspices the Quaker painter proceeded on his journey in 
charge of a French courier, who had been engaged by his 
Leghorn friends as his guide and interpreter, and gained his 
first view of the immortal city from a height at eight miles dis- 
tance. It is easy to imagine the impression such a prospect, 
and its attendant anticipations, would make upon an American 
youth of that day, and it is much safer to leave the subject to 
the imagination of the reader than to obtrude upon him the 
surmises of the writer. Suffice it to say, that the unsophisti- 
cated Yankee arrived safe at the great metropolis, and was 
introduced to the remains of her ancient taste and splendor, 
scarcely more the object of his admiration, than he was of at- 
tention to the nobles of Italy, and the illustrious strangers 
with whom the city swarmed. An American had come to 
study painting, and that American a Quaker! This was a 
matter of astonishment, and when it was found that the young 
man was neither black nor a savage, but fair, intelligent, and 
already a painter, West became emphatically the lion of the 
day in Rome. 


It was on the 10th of July, 1760, that the French courier 
deposited the youth at an hotel in the great city, and spread 
the strange story abroad that a Quaker and an American had 
come to study the fine arts in Italy; this appeared so extraor- 
dinary to an English gentleman, Mr. Robinson, that he imme- 
diately sought him, and insisted on his dining with him. The 
letters brought by West proved to be for Mr. Robinson's 
friends, and the artist had the advantage of an immediate 
introduction to the best society of Rome. 

At the house of Mr. Crespigne he was presented to Cardi- 
nal Albani, who although blind, "had acquired, by the ex- 
quisite delicacy of his touch, and the combining powers of his 
mind," we quote Mr. Gait, "such a sense of ancient beauty, 
that he excelled all the virtuosi of Rome in the correctness of 
his knowledge of the verity and peculiarities of the smallest 
medals and intaglios." To this virtuoso Mr. Robinson intro- 
duced the Quaker as "a young American, who had come to 
Italy for the purpose of studying the fine arts"; and the query 
of the cardinal was, "Is he black or white?" 

West, among the many advantages derived from nature, 
possessed a fine form, and a face as fair as artists paint angels, 
or lovers their mistresses. At the age of fifty he was remark- 
able for comeliness; and it is presumed that at the period of 
which we treat, his appearance must have been very prepos- 
sessing, and not the less for the flowing locks and simple attire 
of his sect. The cardinal being satisfied that the painter was 
as white as himself (that being his next inquiry), received him 
graciously, examined his face and head, with his fingers, ex- 
pressed his admiration, and made up a party to witness the 
impression which the sight of the chef d'ceuvres of antiquity, 
would make upon a native of the new world. The Apollo 
was first shown him, and his exclamation was, "How like a 
young Mohawk warrior!" 

The Italians, on having the words translated by Mr. Robin- 
son, were mortified, but when West, at that gentleman's 
request, described the Mohawk in his state of native freedom, 
as seen in those days, his speed, his vigor, his exercise with 


1744 1800 

From the collection of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania 


the bow, when Mr. Robinson interpreted the words, "I 
have seen a Mohawk standing in that very attitude, intensely 
pursuing with his eye the flight of the arrow just discharged 
from the bow," his auditory were delighted by the criticism of 
the stranger, and applauded his untutored acumen. 

Gait tells a story very seriously of an Italian improvisatore 
and his rodomontade about America and West, which Cun- 
ningham treats as a quiz upon the young Quaker painter. We 
had the story from another source many years ago, and pub- 
lished it in a short-lived periodical which we then called "The 
Monthly Recorder." (See No. 3, p. 172.) 

" The following anecdote is related by an American traveller 
who, calling to see Mr. West, found him in conversation with 
an Italian gentleman on the subject of the improvisator!, and 
is one among the many thousand instances of the profound 
ignorance in which Europeans generally remain respecting 
this country. While we, as descendants from one of the 
proudest and most enlightened nations of the world, enjoy- 
ing their institutions, and improving upon their improvements, 
know and feel our high standing in society; we see a vagabond 
Italian rhymster treating us as savages, and looking forward 
to our future illumination as the effects of a ray from the sun 
of science blazing in modern Rome. We give it in the words 
of the writer, in a letter to his friends. 

"'There was an Italian gentlemen with him, to whom he 
was talking about the improvisatori, or itinerant poets, who 
recite verses extempore. Mr. West said that soon after his 
arrival in Rome, while he was sitting in the English coffee- 
house, with an American gentleman, one of these poets, who 
was very celebrated at that time, and went by the name of 
Homer, came in, and walking up to Mr. West's friend, who 
knew him, requested him to give him a subject, as was cus- 
tomary. The gentleman said he had a new subject for him 
there, said he, is a young American, arrived in Rome to study 
the fine arts (for Mr. West was the first of our countrymen 
who had gone there for such a purpose). The improvisatore 
proceeded to prepare himself for his task, and sitting directly 


opposite to Mr. West, began tuning his guitar, which was an 
enormous one, bending his body from side to side until he 
worked himself (as Mr. West said) in perfect tune with the 
instrument; he then began his poem, and described the Al- 
mighty as having determined to enlighten those nations of the 
world that were yet in darkness. For this purpose he had 
sent out an Italian (Americus Vespucius) to civilize the inhabi- 
tants, and establish manufactures, useful arts, etc., on the 
vast continent of America. That when civilization had con- 
siderably advanced through succeeding ages, God shed a ray 
of divine light upon genius, which before was but a dormant 
material there; it instantly kindled and lighted up a flame in 
the breast of this young savage (Mr. West) while a guiding 
star appeared to direct his steps to Italy, to seek for improve- 
ment he had followed it until it had led him to Rome. Here 
the poet entered into a warm eulogium on his native country, 
and the treasures of art it possessed; and concluded by 
prophesying that the young savage should be the first to trans- 
plant the arts to America, and that in time she would become 
the greatest nation on earth.' ' 

We presume this is no uncommon way for the pauper-poet 
to put a little coin in his pocket. West, of course, could not 
understand him, and West's companion gave him a trifle as a 
compensation for his flattery. Mr. Leslie, in one of his letters 
to us, gives the story of the blind cardinal immediately from 
West. "You recollect that Mr. West's complexion was re- 
markably fair; even in extreme old age it was so. He was a 
very handsome old man. He told me that soon after his ar- 
rival in Italy he was introduced to a cardinal who was blind. 
His reverence was accustomed to pass his hand over the faces 
of strangers who were presented to him, in order to judge of 
their countenances. On doing so to Mr. West, he said, 'This 
young savage has very good features, but what is his com- 
plexion?' The reply was that it was fair. 'WTiat,' said the 
cardinal, with astonishment, 'as fair as I am?' Mr. West 
had the greatest difficulty to refrain from laughing, for the 
cardinal's complexion was of the darkest brown of Italy, and 


possibly some shades darker than many of the American 

The effect produced by the works of art in pictures or statues, 
by the palaces and churches, by the splendor of social inter- 
course or of religious ceremonies, upon a youth from our 
country at that time, can hardly be conceived by us at this 
day. We have our galleries of paintings and statues, our 
marble domes and column-faced temples, erected to luxury, 
wealth and religion; and the Quaker boy who now leaves 
America may be familiar with the pomp of papal ceremonies, 
and the overpowering excellence of Italian music, so far as 
not to be astounded by the novelty of the objects which will 
meet his view in Europe. Upon such a youth as Benjamin 
West, new from such a country as this then was, the effect of 
such objects must be left to the imagination of the reader. 
"But neither the Apollo, the Vatican, or the pomp of the 
Catholic ritual" made such an impression on the American 
youth, or excited his feelings to so great a degree, as the spec- 
tacle of poverty, nakedness, filth and disease, which met his 
eye at every turn, and the cries for relief urged in the names 
he had in his own happy country only heard in the prayers of 
the sanctuary. The contrast which such scenes present between 
American and European society, happily, for one party, may 
appear as striking now as in the time of the first visit of a 
painter from the new to the old world. 

It is related by Mr. Gait that West's first specimen of paint- 
ing in Europe, a portrait of Mr. Robinson, was said to be 
better colored than the works of Mengs, at that time the 
greatest painter in Rome, and that the young American was 
pronounced the second in rank in that capital. This asser- 
tion does not accord with the fact that few of West's pictures 
previous to that time appear to have merited preservation. 
Many of Copley's works painted before he left his country are 
yet to be seen and admired. We have been obliged to search 
diligently for any specimen of West's portrait painting before 
he left America, and when we have found it, it has hardly been 
worth the search. This, however, we can say, that we have 


found none better among the works of his predecessors. They 
are not such as we should expect would rival Mengs in coloring 
or anything else; we have previously mentioned those of Mr. 
Bard and Mr. Morris, and we may not have seen the best 
he painted at that early period. On the other hand, we know 
that West during the four years he passed in Italy, painted 
pictures which gained him academical honors, and the applause 
of the public; we know that his copy of Corregio's " St. 
Jerome," executed at Parma, is a perfect specimen of color- 
ing; and we know that on his arrival in England he took his 
stand immediately as the first historical painter in the kingdom. 

Mengs 1 and Pompeo Battoni were at this period the great 
painters of Rome. Of the latter, in connection with our sub- 
ject we have been favored with the following from Mr. Allston, 
as related to him by Mr. West. "Battoni was at that time 
'in full flower,' dividing the empire of art with Mengs. He 
received Mr. West very graciously in his painting room, and 
after some questions respecting his country, concerning which 
he seemed to have had no very distinct notion, said ' And so, 
young man, you have come how far is it?' 'Three thousand 
miles.' 'Ay, three thousand miles from the woods of America 
to become a painter! You are very fortunate in coming to 
Rome at this time, for now you shall see Battoni paint.' He 
thereupon proceeded with his work then in hand, a picture of 
the Madonna; occasionally exclaiming, as he stepped back, to 
see the effect, ' e viva Battoni! ' ; 

Mengs very liberally applauded the effort of the young 
artist, which had been compared to his own masterly produc- 
tions, and traced out a plan for his studies and travel. "See 
and examine everything deserving of your attention here, and 
after making a few drawings of about half a dozen of the best 
statues, go to Florence, and observe what has been done for 
art in the collections there. Then proceed to Bologna, and 
study the works of the Caracci; afterwards visit Parma, and 
examine attentively the pictures of Corregio; and then go to 
Venice, and view the productions of Tintoretto, Titian and 

1 Anton Rafael Mengs. 


Paul Veronese. When you have made this tour, come back 
to Rome, and paint an historical composition to be exhibited 
to the Roman public." 

The excitements of Rome produced fever, and before West 
could avail himself of this judicious advice, his friends and 
physicians advised a return to Leghorn for the restoration of 
health. Here he was received into the hospitable mansion of 
Messrs. Rutherford and Jackson, and by their care, recovered 
so far as to return to his studies in Rome, but was soon 
again forced by a relapse to fly once more to Leghorn, when 
the fever left him with an affection of the ankle, which 
threatened the loss of the limb. His constant friends Jackson 
and Rutherford sent him to Florence, and placed him under 
the care of a celebrated surgeon, who produced a radical cure, 
after a confinement of eleven months. 

Even during this season of pain and disease, the artist pur- 
sued his studies, and was encouraged by the attentions of men 
of taste and influence, both natives and travellers. When 
recovered so as to bear the fatigues of travelling, he had the 
good fortune to obtain as a companion on the tour recom- 
mended by Mengs, a man of extraordinary accomplishments 
and acquirements. A gentleman of the name of Matthews, 
connected with Messrs. Rutherford and Jackson, visited Flor- 
ence and agreed to accompany the young painter in his visit 
to the most celebrated repositories of Italian art. 

In the meantime, that good fortune which attended West's 
conduct throughout life, was operating in his favor on the shores 
of the western world. The applause bestowed on the portrait 
of Mr. Robinson, was mentioned in a letter from Rutherford 
and Jackson to Mr. Allen, of Philadelphia, and the letter read 
by him to an assemblage of gentlemen at his dinner table, 
among whom was Governor Hamilton. Allen mentioned the 
sum deposited with him, by West before his departure, adding, 
"as it must be much reduced, he shall not be frustrated in 
his studies for want of money: I will write to my corrhspon- 
dents to furnish him with whatever he may require." This 
generous declaration produced a demand from the governor, 


that "he should be considered as joining in the responsibility 
of the credit." The consequence was, that while West was 
waiting at Florence for the sum of ten pounds for which he had 
written to his friends at Leghorn, he received notice from their 
bankers that they were instructed to give him unlimited credit. 

It is not always that talents, when backed by good conduct, 
produce such effects upon mankind; and some may perhaps 
exclaim, "Surely mankind are less inclined to obey the gener- 
ous impulses of nature now, than they were a century ago." 
But it is not so. Talents ever command admiration, and 
good conduct solicits good will. But both or either may be 
obscured by circumstances. They may exist separately, and 
not be deserving of friendship. They may be united, and their 
effect destroyed by personal defect in the possessor, timidity, 
false shame, false pride or excessive sensitiveness and as 
far as these defects have influence, the effects of good con- 
duct are weakened, obscured or destroyed. West had talents, 
virtue, youth, beauty, and prudence. He appears to have 
possessed no quality to counteract their influence, and cir- 
cumstances independent of his own good qualities seemed uni- 
formly to favor his progress. 

From Florence Mr. West proceeded to Bologna, and after 
inspecting the works of art, he went on to Venice. Here the 
style and coloring of Titian were his principal study. After 
completing the tour recommended by Mengs, he returned to 
Rome, and pursued his studies again in that great centre of 
taste. He at this time painted his pictures of Cimon and 
Iphigenia, and Angelica and Medora. These established his 
reputation as an historical painter, and obtained him the aca- 
demical honors of Rome. 

By the advice of his father he determined to visit England 
before returning home, and again he had the advantage of 
travelling with a man of taste and refinement, Dr. Patoune, 
who was returning to Great Britain. The doctor proceeded 
to Florence, while the painter went to take leave of his friends 
at Leghorn. The travellers afterwards stopped at Parma, 
while West finished his copy of "St. Jerome." This beautiful 


picture is in the possession of the family of Mr. Allen, one of 
the painter's earliest friends, and in America. Here again the 
novelty of an American Quaker painter procured him the atten- 
tion of the great; and the Friend kept on his broad brim when 
introduced to the court of Parma, very much to the astonish- 
ment of the prince and his courtiers perhaps not a little to 
their amusement. 

Genoa and Turin were taken in the route to France, and 
the peace of 1763 having been but lately concluded, the travel- 
lers as Englishmen, were only protected by a magistrate from 
a, mob, who had not yet ratified the treaty. In Paris, West 
visited, as everywhere else, the collections of paintings and 
sculptures, but the inferiority of France to Italy was at that 
time more apparent than at this, and the American had little 
to learn in Paris, who had studied in, and gained the appro- 
bation of the academies of Italy. 


ON the 20th of June, 1763, West arrived in London. He 
had while in Rome, painted his pictures of Cimon and Iphi- 
genia, and Angelica and Medora, and proved that he needed 
no longer the instruction of modern Italy. Raphael he would 
willingly have studied all his life, if Raphael could have been 
transported by him to the land in which he was to abide. He 
says, " Michaelangelo has not succeeded in giving a probable 
character to any of his works, the Moses, perhaps, excepted. 
The works of Raphael grow daily more interesting, natural 
and noble." 

Wherever West went, circumstances combined for his ad- 
vantage. His friends, Allen, Hamilton, and Smith had arrived 
before him in London, and received him with joy and triumph. 
The portrait of Governor Hamilton, painted at this time, is 
in Philadelphia now. Thus he found warm friends ready to 
introduce him to the best and most powerful of the land of his 
fathers. His merit insured him a favorable reception, and he 
was soon induced to determine upon taking rooms, and trying 
to establish himself as an historical painter in the metropolis of 

The state of the art of painting in that country, is thus 
described by Mr. Cunningham: "Reynolds was devoted to 
portraits. Hogarth was on the brink of the grave; Barry 
engaged in controversaries in Rome; Wilson neglected; Gains- 
borough's excellence lay in landscape; " Wilson mentioned 
above only painted landscape; Hogarth's genius led him into 
another path: the heroic had no charms for him, and the 
beau ideal was probably unknown and unfelt simple every- 
day nature satisfied him, he worshipped her, and the goddess 
smiled upon him. In fact England had no distinguished his- 




From the collection of The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 


torical painter, and circumstances again placed West where he 
was formed best to thrive. 

In a work called "The Percy Anecdotes," it is said, that 
on the arrival of Mr. West in England, he "soon displayed 
his powers in historical painting, in a most excellent picture; 
the subject was that of Pylades and Orestes, one of his very 
best works." The author dilates on the curiosity excited and 
the admiration elicited by the work, and proceeds, "but the 
most wonderful part of the story is, that notwithstanding all 
this vast bustle and commendation bestowed upon this justly 
admired picture, by which, Mr. West's servant gained up- 
wards of thirty pounds for showing it, no mortal ever asked 
the price of the work, or so much as offered to give him a 
commission to paint any other subject. Indeed there was one 
gentleman, who was so highly delighted with the picture, and 
spoke of it with such great praise to his father, that the latter 
immediately asked him the reason he did not purchase what he 
so much admired; when he answered, "What could I do, if 
I had it? You would not surely have me hang up a modern 
English picture in my house, unless it was a portrait?" 

This is a good satire upon those who buy up old pictures, 
and despise the efforts of artists who are producing excellent 
works in their presence. 

We will here quote a passage from a letter of Mr. Leslie's: 
"The following account of the commencement of Mr. West's 
career in London I had from Sir George Beaumont; as I 
have not either Gait's or Allen Cunningham's life of West by 
me, I do not know whether or not they have related it in the 
same way. When Mr. West arrived in London, the general 
opinion was so unfavorable to modern art that it was scarcely 
thought possible for an artist to paint an historical or fancy 
picture worthy to hang up beside the old masters. Hogarth 
had produced his matchless pictures in vain. The connoisseur 
who would have ventured to place the inimitable scenes of the 
'Marriage a la mode,' on his walls (I mean the pictures, the 
prints were in great request), would have hazarded most 
fearfully his reputation for taste. This prejudice against living 


genius continued until the arrival of West, and it must have 
required some courage in a young man at that time to make 
his appearance in England, in the character of an historical 
painter. One of the first pictures, if not the very first he pro- 
duced, was from the story of Pylades and Orestes (there is an 
admirable copy of it in this country, painted by Mr. Sully). 
This picture attracted so much attention, that Mr. West's ser- 
vant was employed from morning till night in opening the 
door to visitors, and the man received a considerable sum of 
money by showing it, while the master was obliged to content 
himself with empty praise. All admired, but no one dared to 
buy it. It was curious enough, however, that the reputation 
of this picture raised him into high favor as a portrait painter, 
for portrait painters were employed. I know not how long 
the picture remained on the artist's hands, but when I first 
saw it, it was in the collection of Sir George Beaumont. He 
gave it with nearly all his pictures to the government, who 
were induced by so magnificent a present to purchase the 
Angerstein collection, and united the two, to form a National 
Gallery. Hogarth's merit as a painter is now acknowledged, 
and the six pictures of the 'Marriage a la mode,' were hang- 
ing in the same room with the 'Pylades and Orestes' when 
I left London." 

Those who have read Cunningham's "Lives of Painters" 
(and that is all readers of taste), will know something of Sir 
George Beaumont; for he was not only a man of the highest 
standing in fortune and fashion, but he was a painter. He was 
truly a patron, not only of the art, but of individuals who had 
merit and wanted assistance; he was the protector, supporter, 
adviser, of the poor youth who evinced genius, but had not 
the means of procuring the instruction necessary to his well- 
doing. Jackson, one of the greatest portrait painters England 
boasts, was an apprentice to a tailor. His talent for drawing 
gained him the attention of Lord Mulgrave, who happened to 
reside near him in Yorkshire; his Lordship and Sir George 
Beaumont purchased the lad's freedom from the shop-board 
and the goose, and he immediately presented himself as if by 


instinct, before Beaumont in London and expressed his wish 
to study in the Royal Academy: "You have done wisely," 
said Sir George, "London is the place for talents such as 
yours." He then gave him a plan of study and concluded, 
"To enable you to do all this, you shall have fifty pounds a 
year while you are a student, and live in my house; you will 
soon require no aid." This is the patronage of friendship, 
the protection of the rich, the good, and the wise, afforded to 
the meritorious poor, seeking support and instruction. 

Mr. West sent his pictures of Angelica and Medora, Cimon 
and Iphigenia and others finished since his arrival, to the 
public exhibition room, at that time in Spring Garden. His 
success was complete, and he attracted the notice "of somt of 
the dignitaries of the church. He painted for Dr. Newton the 
Parting of Hector and Andromache, and for the bishop of 
Worcester, the Return of the Prodigal Son. His reputation 
rose so much with these productions that Lord Rockingham 
tempted him with the offer of a permanent engagement, and a 
salary of seven hundred pounds a year, to embellish with his- 
torical paintings his mansion in Yorkshire. West consulted 
his friends concerning this alluring offer they were sensible 
men they advised him to confide in the public: and he fol- 
lowed, for a time, their salutary counsel. 

"This successful beginning, and the promise of full employ- 
ment, induced him to resolve on remaining in the Old Country. 
But he was attached to a young lady in his native land 
absence had augmented his regard, and he wished to return to 
Philadelphia, marry her, and bring her to England. He dis- 
closed the state of his affections to his friends, Smith and Allen; 
those gentlemen took a less romantic view of the matter, ad- 
vised the artist to stick to his easel, and arranged the whole 
so prudently that the lady came to London accompanied by 
a relation whose time was not so valuable as West's and 
they were married on the 2d of September, 1765, in the church 
of St. Martin's in the Fields." I 

This relation was West's father, Miss Shewall having agreed 
to leave America on that condition. "The venerable figure 


of the old Quaker is conspicuous in Penn's treaty, in the family 
picture of West, and in a large allegorical painting in St. 
George's Hospital, London. The reasons given by West for 
not crossing the Atlantic, appeared sufficient in the eyes of 
his betrothed and her friends, and unlike the bride of a king, 
she came to the youth who had gained her heart, accom- 
panied by his father, and was united to the man who in her last 
stage of life, she declared to have been all his days without 
fault. On receiving from Mr. Leslie the anecdote of Benjamin 
West's oldest brother, left in England as above related, and 
first seen by his father at the age of forty, I inquired of my 
excellent correspondent for his authority. He answered, " The 
information respecting Mr. West's elder brother, I had from 
a quarter I can thoroughly rely on. It was given me by my 
venerable friend, William Dillwyer, a Quaker gentleman and 
a native of Philadelphia. He had known Mr. West from his 
youth, and indeed I think their acquaintance commenced 
before either of them left America. Raphael West remembers 
his grandfather and uncle, and confirms Mr. Dillwyer's ac- 
count of the latter being a watchmaker and settled at Read- 
ing. Mr. Dillwyer was intimate with Wilberforce and Clark- 
son, and took an active part with them in their great work of 
the abolition of the slave trade. He told me that Mr. West 
accommodated the committees with the use of his large rooms 
in Newman Street. Raphael West remembers his grandfather 
as being very neat in his dress. Mr. West told me that on 
asking the old gentleman how he was struck with the appear- 
ance of London after his long absence, he replied, 'The streets 
and houses look very much as they did, but can thee tell me, 
my son, what has become of all the Englishmen? When I left 
England forty years since, the men were generally a portly, 
comely race, with ample garments, and large flowing wigs; 
rather slow in their movements, and grave and dignified 
in their deportment: but now they are docked and cropped, 
and skipping about in scanty clothes, like so many monkeys.' ' 
"I believe," continues Mr. Leslie, "Mr. West has introduced 
the portraits of his father, and half brother in his picture of 


Perm's treaty. This picture is in the possession of John Penn, 
Esq. of Stoke, the lineal descendant of William Penn. Mr. 
West told me that he introduced his father and some other 
Quakers from Philadelphia to a private audience with George 
the Third at the request of the king. On this occasion the 
Prince of Wales remarked, rather irreverently that 'the king 
had always been fond of Quakers ever since he kept that 
little Quaker w .' " 

This is a specimen of the "finest gentleman in England" 
We give another, connected with West, when this fine gentle- 
man was George the Fourth. "An anecdote connected with 
Benjamin West has just occurred to my memory," says Les- 
lie, "I cannot vouch for its truth, but it was current among 
the artists, and I think it highly probable that it is true. You 
most likely know that one room in Windsor Castle is entirely 
filled with his pictures, consisting of a series of subjects from 
the history of Edward the Third; the surrender of Calais; 
the battles of Cressy and Poictiers, the Installation of the 
Knights of the Garter, etc., etc. George the Fourth, who 
amused himself during the last years of his life in making 
alterations in the castle, took it into his head to consign all 
these pictures to the lumber room. Fortunately, however, he 
consulted Sir Thomas Lawrence on the subject. Lawrence who 
was considered in general to be sufficiently complaisant to his 
majesty, had the courage on this occasion to differ from him, 
and told him he thought these pictures formed a most appro- 
priate ornament to the castle, and that if they were removed, 
there was no living artist capable of supplying their place 
with similar subjects! His opinion saved the pictures." 

"In portraits," says an English author, "we saw Reynolds 
rise eminently superior, while West chose for the exercise of 
his pencil the heroes and heroines of antiquity." "Struck 
with the superior merits of an historical design by Mr. West, 
then a very young man, his majesty commissioned him to 
paint a composition for the royal collection, and with that deli- 
cate consideration that unites the true gentleman with the 
patron, left the subject to the painter's choice. Mr. West 


selected one of the most interesting events in ancient history, 
and produced a picture which, added to a knowledge of all 
the executive properties of painting, exhibited a pathos worthy 
of the awful dignity of the story. Regulus, a Roman general, 
prisoner to the Carthaginians, and then on his parole at Rome 
had patriotically determined to return to captivity, and sacri- 
fice his life for the benefit of his country. The moment chosen 
is, when surrounded by his supplicating friends, and rejecting 
their entreaties, he is resigning himself to the ambassadors of 
Carthage. The excellence of the picture, for which his ma- 
jesty gave the artist one thousand guineas, is the best com- 
ment on the judgment of his royal employer. One apartment 
in Buckingham House was afterwards entirely appropriated to 
productions from the pencil of Mr. West. Among these are 
the Death of General Wolfe; the Death of Chevalier Bayard; 
and perhaps the finest of all, Hamilcar Swearing the Infant 
Hannibal at the Altar." 

"Dr. Drummond, the Archbishop of York, a dignified and 
liberal prelate, and an admirer of painting, invited West to 
his table, conversed with him on the influence of art, and on 
the honor which the patronage of genius reflected on the 
rich, and opening Tacitus, pointed out that fine passage where 
Agrippina lands with the ashes of Germanicus. He caused 
his son to read it again and again, commented upon it with 
taste and feeling, and requested West to make him a painting 
of that subject. The artist went home, it was then late, but 
before closing his eyes he formed a sketch, and carried it early 
next morning to his patron, who, glad to see that his own 
notions were likely to be embodied in lasting colors, requested 
that the full-size work might be proceeded with. Nor was 
this all that munificent prelate proposed to raise three 
thousand pounds by subscription, to enable West to relinquish 
likenesses and give his whole time and talents to historical 
painting. Fifteen hundred pounds were accordingly sub- 
scribed by himself and his friends; but the public refused to 
co-operate, and the scheme was abandoned. 

"The archbishop regarded the failure of this plan as a 


stigma on the country; his self-love too was offended. He 
disregarded alike the coldness of the duke of Portland and the 
evasions of Lord Rockingham, to whom he communicated his 
scheme sought and obtained an audience of his majesty, then 
young and unacquainted with cares informed him that a de- 
vout American and Quaker had painted, at his request, such a 
noble picture that he was desirous to secure his talents for the 
throne and the country. The king was much interested with 
the story, and said, 'Let me see this young painter of yours 
with his "Agrippina' as soon as you please." The prelate retired 
to communicate his success to West. A gentleman came from 
the palace to request West's attendance with the picture of 
Agrippina. 'His majesty,' said the messenger, 'is a young 
man of great simplicity and candor; sedate in his affections, 
scrupulous in forming private friendships, good from principle, 
and pure from a sense of the beauty of virtue.' Forty years' 
intercourse, we might almost say friendship, confirmed to the 
painter the accuracy of these words. 

"The king received West with easy frankness, assisted him 
to place the 'Agrippina' in a favorable light, removed the at- 
tendants and brought in the queen, to whom he presented our 
Quaker. He related to her majesty the history of the picture, 
and bade her notice the simplicity of the design and the beauty 
of the coloring. 'There is another noble Roman subject,' 
observed his Majesty, 'the departure of Regulus from Rome 
would it not make a fine picture?' 'It is a magnificent sub- 
ject,' said the painter. 'Then,' said the king, 'you shall 
paint it for me.' He turned with a smile to the queen, and 
said, 'The archbishop made one of his sons read Tacitus to 
Mr. West, but I will read Livy to him myself that part where 
he describes the departure of Regulus.' So saying, he read 
the passage very gracefully, and then repeated his command 
that the picture should be painted. 

" West was too prudent not to wish to retain the sovereign's 
good opinion and his modesty and his merit deserved it. 
The palace-doors now seemed to open of their own accord, 
and the domestics attended with an obedient start to the wishes 


of him whom the king delighted to honor. There are minor 
matters which sometimes help a man on to fame; and in these 
too he had his share. West was a skilful skater, and in America 
had formed an acquaintance on the ice with Colonel, after- 
ward too well known in the colonial war as General Howe; 
this friendship had dissolved with the thaw, and was for- 
gotten, till one day the painter, having tied on his skates at 
the Serpentine, was astonishing the timid practitioners of Lon- 
don by the rapidity of his motions and the graceful figure 
which he cut. Some one cried 'West! West!' It was Colonel 
Howe. 'I am glad to see you,' said he, 'and not the less so 
that you come in good time to vindicate my praises of American 
skating.' He called to him Lord Spencer Hamilton and 
some of the Cavendishes, to whom he introduced West as one 
of the Philadelphia prodigies, and requested him to show them 
what was called 'The Salute.' He performed his feat so much 
to their satisfaction, that they went away spreading the praises 
of the American skater over London. Nor was the consider- 
ate Quaker insensible to the value of such commendations; 
he continued to frequent the Serpentine and to gratify large 
crowds by cutting the Philadelphia Salute. Many to their 
praise of his skating added panegyrics on his professional 
skill, and not a few, to vindicate their applause, followed him 
to his easel, and sat for their portraits." 

More than twenty years after, the writer skated with the 
great painter and his oldest son on the Serpentine, and West 
was the best, though not the most active then on the ice. 

The "Departure of Regulus" placed Benjamin West on 
the throne of English art. Thus a youth, by the force of 
talent, guided by prudence, found himself at the pinnacle he 
aimed at, when, as a child, he read in Richardson and Du Fres- 
noy of painters who were cherished and honored by kings. 

In a late publication, " The Cabinet of Natural History," 
published 1830, by Doughty, Philadelphia, West has been repre- 
sented to his country, by one of his most favored pupils, as a 
man of moderate genius, arriving at excellence by persever- 
ance and industry. Perseverance and industry in well-doing 


cannot be too much praised. West was industrious and perse- 
vering. But God had endowed him with uncommon physical 
and mental powers; and those powers were not only fitted for 
the art he loved, but circumstances of a peculiar nature turned 
the course of his genius into the track leading to brilliant 
excellence. It would appear from this publication, that West's 
success was only derived from persevering industry; but the 
fact of West's complete success at the age of twenty-five, when 
perseverance and industry had not had time to do more for 
him than for hundreds of his pupils, contradicts this assertion. 

"While West was painting the 'Departure of Regulus,' the 
present Royal Academy was planned. The Society of Incor- 
porated Artists, of which he was a member, had grown rich 
by yearly exhibitions, and how to lay out this money became 
the subject of vehement debate. The architects were for a 
house, the sculptors for statues, and the painters proposed 
a large gallery for historical works, while a mean and sordid 
member or two voted to let it lie and grow more, for it was 
pleasant to see riches accumulate. West, who happened to 
be a director, approved of none of these notions, and with 
Reynolds withdrew from the association. The newspapers of 
the day noticed these indecent bickerings; and the king, 
learning the cause from the lips of West, declared that he was 
ready to patronize any association formed on principles calcu- 
lated to advance the interests of art. A plan was proposed 
by some of the dissenters, and submitted to his majesty, who 
corrected it, and drew up some additional articles with his own 

"Meanwhile the incorporated artists continued their debates, 
in total ignorance that their dissenting brethren were laying 
the foundation of a surer structure than their own. Kirby, 
teacher of perspective to the king, had been chosen president: 
but so secretly was all managed, that he had never heard a 
whisper in the palace concerning the new academy, and in his 
inaugural address from the chair, he assured his Companions 
that his majesty would not countenance the schismatics. 
While West was one day busy with his 'Regulus,' the king 


and queen looking on, Kirby was announced, and his majesty 
having consulted his consort in German, admitted him, and 
introduced him to West, to whose person he was a stranger. 
He looked at the picture, praised it warmly, and congratu- 
lated the artist; then, turning to the king, said, 'Your majesty 
never mentioned anything of this work to me; who made the 
frame? it is not made by one of your majesty's workmen; it 
ought to have been made by the royal carver and gilder.' To 
this impertinence the king answered, with great calmness, 
'Kirby, whenever you are able to paint me such a picture as 
this, your friend shall make the frame.' 'I hope, Mr. West,' 
said Kirby, 'that you intend to exhibit this picture?' 'It is 
painted for the palace,' said West, 'and its exhibition must 
depend upon his majesty's pleasure.' 'Assuredly,' said the 
king, 'I shall be very happy to let the work be shown to the 
public.' 'Then, Mr. West,' said Kirby, 'you will send it to 
my exhibition.' 'No!' interrupted his majesty, 'it must go 
to my exhibition to that of the Royal Academy.' The presi- 
dent of the associated artists bowed with much humility and 
retired. He did not long survive this mortification, and his 
death was imputed by the founders of the new academy to 
jealousy of their rising establishment, but by those who knew 
him well, to a more ordinary cause, the decay of nature. The 
Royal Academy was founded, and in its first exhibition 
appeared the 'Regulus.' 

"A change was now to be effected in the character of British 
art; hitherto historical painting had appeared in a masking 
habit: the actions of Englishmen seemed all to have been per- 
formed, if costume were to be believed, by Greeks or by Ro- 
mans. West dismissed at once this pedantry, and restored 
nature and propriety in his noble work of 'The Death of Wolfe.' 
The multitude acknowledged its excellence at once. The 
lovers of old art, the manufacturers of compositions called 
by courtesy classical, complained of the barbarism of boots, 
buttons, and blunderbusses, and cried out for naked warriors, 
with bows, bucklers, and battering rams. Lord Grosvenor, 
disregarding the frowns of the amateurs, and the, at best, cold 


approbation of the Academy, purchased this work, which, in 
spite of laced coats and cocked hats, is one of the best of our 
historical pictures. The Indian warrior, watching the dying 
hero, to see if he equalled in fortitude the children of the 
deserts, is a fine stroke of nature and poetry. 

"The king questioned West concerning the picture, and put 
him on his defence of this new heresy in art. To the curiosity 
of Gait we owe the sensible answer of West : ' When it was 
understood,' said the artist, 'that I intended to paint the 
characters as they had actually appeared on the scene, the 
Archbishop of York called on Reynolds, and asked his opinion; 
they both came to my house to dissuade me from running so 
great a risk. Reynolds began a very ingenious and elegant 
dissertation on the state of the public taste in this country, and 
the danger which every innovation incurred of contempt and 
ridicule, and concluded by urging me earnestly to adopt the 
costume of antiquity, as more becoming the greatness of my 
subject than the modern garb of European warriors. I answered 
that the event to be commemorated happened in the year 
1758, in a region of the world unknown to Greeks and Romans, 
and at a period of time when no warriors who wore such cos- 
tume existed. The subject I have to represent is a great battle 
fought and won, and the same truth which gives law to the 
historian should rule the painter. If instead of the facts of the 
action I introduce fictions, how shall I be understood by pos- 
terity? The classic dress is certainly picturesque, but by 
using it I shall lose in sentiment what I gain in external grace. 
I want to mark the place, the time, and the people, and to do 
this I must abide by truth. They went away then, and re- 
turned again when I had the painting finished. Reynolds 
seated himself before the picture, examined it with deep and 
minute attention for half an hour; then rising, said to Drum- 
mond, 'West has conquered; he has treated his subject as it 
ought to be treated; I retract my objections. I foresee that 
this picture will not only become one of the most popular, but 
will occasion a revolution in art.' 'I wish/ said the king, 'that 
I had known all this before, for the objection has been the 


means of Lord Grosvenor's getting the picture, but you shall 
make a copy for me.' ' 

From the following anecdote, communicated by my friend 
Charles Fraser, Esq., it will appear that West, notwithstand- 
ing his acquaintance with the savages of Pennsylvania, who 
first made him master of red and yellow pigments to combine 
with the contents of his mother's indigo-bag notwithstand- 
ing his familiarity with the Indians, who visited the early set- 
tlers, and brought their baskets to exchange for the European 
wares of their Quaker neighbors, notwithstanding all this in- 
tercourse with American savages, was unacquainted with the 
peculiar toilet of the warrior, when arrayed for the exercise 
of the tomahawk and the scalping-knife. West not having seen 
an Indian in his war dress (although Mr. Cunningham has 
made him lead a "select body of Indians" on a war expedition 
into the wilderness, as we have seen above), notwithstanding 
his desire to represent the true costume of the figures intro- 
duced as present at the death of Wolfe, erred through igno- 
rance of the Indian warrior's appearance on the field of battle. 
"When Col. Henry Laurens," says Mr. Fraser, "was in London 
during the American War of the Revolution, Mr. West showed 
him the picture of the death of General Wolfe. After admiring 
it, he asked the artist's permission to make one criticism on 
it, which, however, was not connected with its merits as a 
work of art. He then observed that the Indian on the front 
ground was represented with naked feet; whereas an Indian 
warrior was never known to go into battle without his moc- 
casins, they being considered a necessary part of his military 
equipment. This information came with authority from one 
who had himself served against the American Indians. Mr. 
West expressed much regret at his ignorance of the fact, but it 
was too late to make any alteration in the picture. 

"West had now obtained the personal confidence of the 
king and the favor of the public; his commissions were numer- 
ous, but of course the works for the palace had precedence. 
His majesty employed him to paint the death of Epaminondas, 
as a companion to that of Wolfe, the death of the Chevalier 


Bayard, Cyrus liberating the family of the king of Armenia, 
and Segestes and his daughter brought before Germanicus." 

Established as the favorite painter of the king of Great 
Britain, Mr. West suggested to the king a series of pictures on 
the progress of revealed religion: a splendid oratory was pro- 
jected for their reception, and half a dozen dignitaries of the 
church were summoned to consider the propriety of introduc- 
ing paintings into a place of worship. "When I reflect," said the 
king, "that the Reformation condemned religious paintings in 
churches, and that the parliament in the unhappy days of 
Charles the First did the same, I am fearful of introducing any- 
thing which my people might think popish. Will you give 
me your opinions on the subject?" After some deliberation 
Bishop Hurd delivered in the name of his brethren and him- 
self their unanimous opinion, that the introduction of religious 
paintings into his Majesty's Chapel would in no respect violate 
the laws or the usages of the Church of England. 

The painter, with his usual assiduity and love for his art, 
devoted himself to this great study. He divided his subject 
" into Four Dispensations the Antediluvian, the Patriarchal, 
the Mosaical, and the Prophetical. They contained in all 
thirty-six subjects, eighteen of which belonged to the Old Tes- 
tament, the rest to the New. They were all sketched, and 
twenty-eight were executed, for which West received in all 
twenty -one thousand seven hundred and five pounds. A work 
so varied, so extensive, and so noble in its nature, was never 
before undertaken by any painter." 

During the progress of this work, he painted many other 
pictures, some of them for hi royal friend. The king, queen, 
princes, and princesses, sat for their portraits, sometimes singly 
and sometimes in groups, and he received for nine pictures of 
this description, two thousand guineas. These portraits are 
far inferior to the works in that branch of the art, of Reynolds 
or Copley, or many others. One of the finest pictures of West 
is the "Battle of La Hogue." It is said that when he Was paint' 
ing this picture, an admiral took him to Spithead, and to give 
him a lesson on the effect of smoke in a naval engagement, 


ordered several ships of the fleet to manoeuvre as in action, 
and fire broadsides, while the painter made notes. It was a 
maxim with West to paint nothing without studying the ob- 
ject, if it was to be obtained. The originality of this great 
picture cannot be questioned, yet we have a print before us (of 
the same size with Woollet's print from La Hogue) which has 
points of similarity that make us think West must have seen 
it. It is from a picture by Langendyk, a Dutch painter, and 
represents the destruction of the English fleet in the Thames 
by De Ruyter and De Witt, in the year 1667. The "Royal 
Charles" is strikingly like the nearest French ship in West's 
picture; and indeed the treatment of the whole subject is in a 
manner analogous. 

To paint great pictures, and to live, even with prudence and 
without ostentation as befitting the friend of royalty, required 
many thousand guineas. Benjamin West, when he began his 
career in London, had no fortune, and had to rely on the 
product of his individual exertion; for it was only after his es- 
tablishment, that he could employ pupils and inferior artists, 
to assist in the mechanical part of the labor. He had debts 
to pay. He had a house to build for his family, and galleries 
and work-shops, spacious and lofty for pictures designed for 
royal chapels. To purchase ground in the west part of the 
metropolis and erect such buildings as the painter boldly, yet 
wisely, constructed in Newman Street, necessarily incurred a 
great debt. "When," said Gilbert Stuart, "I had finished a 
copy of a portrait for my old master, that I knew he was to 
have a good price for, and he gave me a guinea, I used to 
think it hard but when I looked on the establishment around 
me, which with his instruction I enjoyed, and knew it was yet 
to be paid for, I fully exonerated West from the charge of 
niggardliness, and cheerfully contributed my labor in return 
for his kindness." 

The following painter's gossip was communicated by Mr. 
West to Allston, and by him to us. " Before the Royal Academy 
was formed, the Society of Painters (as I think they were 
then called) held then* annual exhibition in Spring Gardens. 


On a certain year Mr. West and Mr. Wilson happened to be 
appointed joint hangers. It was a memorable year for the 
crudeness of the performances, in consequence, I suppose, of 
an unusual number of new adventurers. WTien the pictures 
were all up, Wilson, with an expressive grin, began to rub his 
eyes, as if to clear them of something painful. 'I'll tell you 
what, West/ said he after a while, 'this will never do; we 
shall lose the little credit we have: the public can never stand 
such a shower of chalk and brick-bats.' 'Well, what's to 
be done? We can't reject any pictures now.' 'Since that's 
the case then, we must mend their manners.' 'What do you 
mean to do?' 'You shall see,' said Wilson after a pause, 
'what Indian ink and Spanish liquorice can do.' He accord- 
ingly despatched the porter to the colorman and druggist 
for these reformers, and dissolving them in water, actually 
washed nearly half the pictures in the exhibition with this 
original glaze. 'There,' said he, * 'tis as good as asphal- 
tum with this advantage: that if the artists don't like 
it, they can wash it off when they get the pictures home.' ' 
And Mr. West acknowledged that they were all the better 
for it. 

West proceeded steadily in the execution of the great work 
from the Scriptures (occasionally painting other historical 
subjects), to the increase of his reputation, and the satisfaction 
of his royal friend. 

In the month of June, 1784, the writer of this memoir arrived 
in England, for the purpose of studying the art of painting, 
having assurances of the aid of Mr. West, before leaving New 
York. When introduced to the painter, he was working on an 
easel picture for the Empress Catharine of Russia. It was 
Lear and Cordelia. 

The impression made upon an American youth of eighteen 
by the long gallery leading from the dwelling-house, to the 
lofty suite of painting rooms a gallery filled with sketches 
and designs for large paintings the spacious room through 
which I passed to the more retired atelier the works of his 
pencil surrounding me on every side his own figure seated 


at his easel, and the beautiful composition at which he was 
employed, as if in sport, not labor; all are recalled to my 
mind's eye at this distance of half a century, with a vividness 
which doubtless proceeds in part, from the repeated visits to, 
and examination of, many of the same objects, during a resi- 
dence of more than three years in London. But the painter, 
as he then appeared, and received me and my conductor (Mr. 
Effingham Lawrence, an American, like himself of a Quaker 
family, and no longer a Quaker in habits and appearance), the 
palette, pencil, easel, figure of Cordelia, all are now before me 
as though seen yesterday. 

Many of the pictures for the Royal Chapel of Windsor were 
then in the apartments, particularly I call to view the "Moses 
Receiving the Law." 

The pictures mentioned below by Mr. Cunningham, were 
not painted for some years after; although recorded by him 
as preceding the works on Revelation. 

"The painter expressed his regret that the Italians had 
dipped their pencils in the monkish miracles and incredible 
legends of the church, to the almost total neglect of their 
national history ; the king instantly bethought him of the victo- 
rious reign of our third Edward, and of St. George's Hall in 
Windsor Castle. West had a ready hand; he sketched out 
the following subjects, seven of which are from real and one 
from fabulous history: 

" 1. Edward the Third embracing the Black Prince, after 
the Battle of Cressy. 2. The Installation of the Order of the 
Garter. 3. The Black Prince receiving the King of France 
and his son prisoners, at Poictiers. 4. St. George vanquishing 
the Dragon. 5. Queen Phillipa defeating David of Scotland, 
in the Battle of Neville's Cross. 6. Queen Phillipa interceding 
with Edward for the Burgesses of Calais. 7. King Edward 
forcing the passage of the Somme. 8. King Edward crowning 
Sir Eustace de Ribaumont at Calais. These works are very 
large. They were the fruit of long study and much labor, and 
with the exception of the 'Death of Wolfe' and the 'Battle of 
La Hogue,' they are the best of all the numerous works of this 


artist." Yet these are the pictures George IV consigned to 
the lumber room. 

Previous to the writer's visit to Europe, Mr. West had 
afforded instruction and the most paternal encouragement to 
many pupils, American and English. Those of this country 
will frequently be brought before the reader of this work. 
Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Joseph Wright and 
John Trumbull, were among the American students. Peale 
was under his guidance from 1771 to 1774; Stuart, Wright 
and Trumbull, during portions of the American Revolutionary 
War, and the last mentioned was established with him at the 
time of the visit above noticed, as a pupil, and remained such 
for some years after. 

It has been a subject of speculation with many, to determine 
how West managed to keep the favor of his friend George 
the Third, during the contest his ministers and armies were 
carrying on against the native land of the artist, and at the 
same time preserve the love of country, and declare his attach- 
ment to the cause of liberty. 

Cunningham says, "He was not, according to his own ac- 
count, silent; he was too much in the palace and alone with 
his majesty to avoid some allusion to the strife; the king 
inquired anxiously respecting the resources of his foes and the 
talents of their chiefs, and the artist gave, or imagined he 
gave, more correct information concerning the American lead- 
ers and their objects than could be acquired through official 
channels. How he contrived both to keep his place in the 
king's opinion, and the respect of the spirits who stirred in 
the American Re volution, he has not told us, but it is not difficult 
to guess." 

As we are Yankees, we may perhaps guess as well as a 
Scotchman. West had been many years from his native land 
before the contest took place. He had no connexion with, or 
knowledge of, most of the leaders in his country's cause. He 
was prudent and known to be an honest man. George the 
Third was an honest man, and perfectly relied upon the paint- 
er's sincerity. Why should he quarrel with him for honest 


opinions, which did not interfere with his attachment to the 
sovereign who was his friend, or influence any of his actions? 

One of our best and most intelligent artists, Samuel F. B. 
Morse, president of the National Academy, has mentioned to 
the writer an anecdote connected with this subject. He says, 
that on one occasion, when he entered Mr. West's painting 
room, long after the death of George the Third, he found the 
artist engaged in copying a portrait of that king, and as he 
sat at his work, and talked according to his custom, "this pic- 
ture," said he, "is remarkable for one circumstance; the king 
was sitting to me for it, when a messenger brought him the 
Declaration of American Independence." It may be sup- 
posed, that the question "how did he receive the news?" was 
asked. "He was agitated at first," said West, "then sat silent 
and thoughtful, at length, he said, 'Well, if they cannot be 
happy under my government, I hope they may not change it 
for a worse. I wish them no ill.' " If such was George the Third, 
we find no difficulty in reconciling his attachment to Benjamin 
West, with the American's honest love of his native land. 

It is recorded of West, that he used to say, "you could 
always tell the highest nobility at court, from their profound 
humility to the king. The others kept at a distance, and did 
not seem to care about it. The first thought the higher they 
raised the prince, the higher they raised themselves." This 
is not only a proof of the painter's keen eye for observation of 
manners, as well as forms among mankind, but of a philosophi- 
cal spirit and a happy power, by which to communicate his 
thoughts by words. 

On the death of Reynolds, the choice of the Academy fell 
on West for their president, and the king gave his ready assent. 
The Royal Academy consists solely of artists, who elect their 
own members and officers, and manage their own affairs. The 
king from its establishment gave it his patronage and conferred 
such titles on its presidents or members, as are considered hon- 
ors in a monarchy. This circumstance has been used as an 
argument in support of the patronage of a body of merchants, 
lawyers and physicians, and of such patrons having control 


over an Academy' of Fine Arts in this country, directing its 
measures, and guiding its elections. Such absurdities can be 
advocated by men otherwise rational! and in a republic! In 
monarchies men need the patronage of those who lord it over 
them, and are supported by their labors. In republics there is 
no protector but the law. That spirit of benevolence with 
which our bountiful Creator has endowed us, and which, 
breaking through the sordid crust of worldliness with which 
we surround it, shines forth in acts of kindness, encourage- 
ment, liberality, and philanthropy, is not what is meant by 
patronage in the common acceptation of the word; it is the 
opposite of that patronage which the supercilious presume they 
are affording to those they employ but it is the real patron- 
age, which protects the weak and encourages the meritorious 
by support and advice; it is that love of our neighbor which is 
the essence of religion; it is the love of good, which is the 
essence of morality. 

On the 24th of March, 1792, Mr. West delivered his inau- 
gural discourse. His discourses were distinguished for prac- 
tical good sense. He advised the students "to give heart and 
soul wholly to art, to turn aside neither to the right nor to the 
left, but consider that hour lost in which a line had not been 
drawn, nor a masterpiece studied." "Observe," he said, "with 
the same contemplative eye the landscape, the appearance of 
trees, figures dispersed around, and their aerial distance as 
well as lineal forms. Omit not to observe the light and shade 
in consequence of the sun's rays being intercepted by clouds 
or other accidents. Let your mind be familiar with the char- 
acteristics of the ocean; mark its calm dignity when undis- 
turbed by the winds, and all its various states between that 
and its terrible sublimity when agitated by the tempest. 
Sketch with attention its foaming and winding coasts, and 
that awful line which separates it from the heavens. Replen- 
ished with these stores, your imagination will then come forth 
as a river collected from little springs spreads into might and 
majesty. If you aspire to excellence in your profession, you 
must, like the industrious bee, survey the whole face of nature 


and sip the sweet from every flower. When thus enriched, 
lay up your acquisitions for future use, and examine the great 
works of art to animate your feelings and to excite your emu- 
lation. When you are thus mentally enriched, and your hand 
practised to obey the powers of your will, you will then find 
your pencils or your chisels as magic wands, calling into view 
creations of your own to adorn your name and country." 

Mr. West's advice was always replete with practical good 
sense. "Don't shut yourself up from visitors when engaged 
on any great work. Hear their remarks and encourage their 
criticisms. From the various opinions something useful may 
be gathered to improve your picture." His practice corre- 
sponded with his advice. He would continue his work though 
surrounded by company. When Trumbull was painting 
under his roof and direction, he consulted him as to expung- 
ing a part of a picture he was composing, in order to substi- 
tute other figures, but the master advised him rather to take a 
fresh canvas and paint the whole anew. He said he had 
found this the shortest and least troublesome way of proceeding 
to alter a picture. 

One of Mr. West's discourses has been illustrated by the 
pencil of his successor in the presidency. A subscription hav- 
ing been raised in New York to pay Lawrence for a full length 
of West, the portrait painter judiciously chose to exhibit the 
president in the act of delivering a discourse on color to the 
students of the academy. Of this discourse, and of Lawrence's 
picture, Mr. Leslie says: "Your mention of the rainbow in 
Lawrence's picture, reminds me that Sir Thomas intended 
that picture to represent Mr. West in the act of delivering a 
lecture, which he once did at Somerset House to the academi- 
cians and students, for the purpose of explaining to them his 
theory of color. It was not one of the discourses read by him 
as president, on the occasion of delivering the medals, but 
it was given by his own appointment in the middle of the 
day, and was extemporaneous. I was present as a student, 
and I remember he exhibited a board, on which were painted 
a globe and a rainbow. From these he illustrated what he 


conceived to be the principle on which the composition of the 
colors in Raphael's Cartoons was conducted, large copies of 
which, by Thornhill, were hanging round the room. Law- 
rence has dressed Mr. West in a gown he only wore in his 
painting room, as more picturesque than a coat and waistcoat. 
I think you will observe that besides the rainbow, he has in- 
troduced a part of the cartoon of the 'Death of Ananias.' 
It is a pity that Sir Thomas in this fine portrait has exagger- 
ated the proportions of Mr. West's figure. Sir J. Reynolds 
would not have done so. He painted men as they were, and 
gave dignity without making them taller. The head, however, 
isi very like, and in Lawrence's best style." 

We fully concur in opinion with this eminent artist and able 
critic. Lawrence's biographer, Williams, has roundly asserted, 
and Cunningham has repeated the falsehood, that this por- 
trait of West was presented by Sir Thomas to the American 
Academy of Fine Arts upon being made a member. Now the 
knight made no present whatever. He was employed by a 
number of subscribers, and paid $2000. The originator of 
the subscription was Mr. Waldo. The picture was placed 
under the care of the directors of the American Academy, and 
they gave public notice that no one should copy it! ! This 
was their way of encouraging the progress of art. 

It is remarkable that Mr. Cunningham, when speaking of 
West, always represents him as a Quaker, although he has with 
most poetical liberty made him a soldier, and a captain leading 
soldiers, in an enterprise of danger. We are told, that "he 
went from his gallery in Newman Street to Windsor, and back 
again, with the staid looks of one of the brethren going to, 
and returning from, chapel." Now this is as purely fiction as 
his captain's commission, and his military achievements. In 
Newman Street, or at Court, West looked and dressed like 
other gentlemen of the time. 

Cunningham says, that the father of West was of that family 
settled at Long Crendon, in Buckinghamshire, which pro- 
duced Colonel James West, the friend and companion in arms 
of John Hampden. This family were undoubted descendants 


of the Lord Delaware, renowned in the wars of Edward the 
Third, and the Black Prince. 

When in consequence of West's being elected to the presi- 
dency of the academy, the king offered him the honor of 
knighthood, he respectfully declined the empty title, yet to this 
day we hear him called Sir Benjamin. Surely every American 
will rejoice that he rejected the nickname. "West" is all- 
sufficient for his fame any addition would be deformity. 

In an address delivered to the students of the National 
Academy of Design, New York, in 1831, it was said, 

"When Holbein visited England, Henry the Eighth was 
probably as accomplished a gentleman, compared with his 
subjects, as George the Fourth was in comparison with the 
Englishmen of the present day. Holbein received no mark 
of honor, and the beastly tyrant in the all-sufficiency of right- 
divine, power and patronage, prescribed to the artist the mode 
in which he should design the portrait of his patron. The 
painter probably fearing for his life, submitted to be dictated 
to by the barbarian, and represented the burly murderer with 
face and body full in front, as may be still seen on the covers 
of the Harry the Eighth playing cards. The contemporary of 
this Harry, Francis the First of France, proved his superiority, 
by the memorable speech to his murmuring nobles, who were 
dissatisfied that he preferred the society of a painter to that 
of his courtiers: 'I can make a thousand nobles with a word,' 
said the heroic monarch, 'but only God can make a da Vinci.' 
Francis, though perhaps unknown to himself, felt an undefined 
conviction of the folly, if not blasphemy, of the flattery which 
tells kings that they are the fountains of honor. He felt, 
perhaps, as we feel, that God alone is the fountain of honor, 
as of all good. While contemplating this reproof to the nobles 
of France, so glorious to Francis, let us remember that da 
Vinci was not only an artist, but an accomplished and learned 
man. The progress of civilization in England is marked by 
the attentions and honors paid to Rubens by Charles the First, 
who, though not as far advanced as his subjects in the science 
of political justice, was one of the most accomplished men of 


his time. He made the painter, Sir Peter Paul. But the 
painter was, and still remains, Rubens. From that time, it 
appears to have been a matter of course, to confer the title of 
knight on the most distinguished painter in England, and I 
am proud that I can say that Benjamin West was the only 
man who refused the supposed honor. When a child, he 
aspired to such distinction, as he then childishly thought it; 
as a man, he firmly, though respectfully, declined the honor 
which his friend, for such George the Third was, intended 
him. He knew that the name of West could receive no lustre 
from a title." 

This assertion respecting West, is thus noticed by the editor 
of a very respectable journal, devoted to the Fine Arts, pub- 
lished in London, in which the address is copied, "We honor 
the principles of the republican professor, but he is mistaken 
in giving West credit for contemning honors. The knighthood 
was probably declined from religious scruples, but he evidently 
had no disinclination to a baronetage, and had the vanity 
to boast of his descent." We have reason to believe that 
George the Third intended to create West a baronet, and to add 
the means of supporting the distinction; and the painter had 
no objection to such distinction for his family. Is it vanity 
to be proud of descent from the companion in arms of Hamp- 
den? of descent from a leader of patriots, armed and bleeding 
in defence of their country's rights and liberty? of a man 
who risked fortune and life to repel tyranny? But where is 
the proof of West's boasting? Certainly not in the incident 
relative to his picture of the "Order of the Garter." As to the 
religious scruples, the editor no doubt, like many others, views 
West as a Quaker. But the writer knows that the painter had 
no religious scruples of the kind. He was not a Quaker in 
manner, dress, conversation, or conduct after his arrival in 
England, at least we can speak of our own knowledge after 
the year 1783, and was as un-Quaker-like in his appearance 
as any man in Great Britain. 

Cunningham says, "The grave simplicity of the Quaker 
continued to the last in the looks and manners of the artist." 


This might induce any one to picture West to himself as a 
broad-brimmed, drabbed-colored sectarian but he was noth- 
ing like it. His countenance was surrounded by the powder 
and the curls, considered decorations at the time, and his well- 
formed limbs covered by garments of texture and color such 
as were worn by other gentlemen. His liberal mind did not 
even prohibit the study or practice of his liberal profession on 
the day set apart for the cessation of labor. To study or 
exercise his high calling was no labor to him. It was the 
pleasant exertion of powers given by his Creator, to lift his 
fellow creatures from the pits and quagmires of ignorance. 

We have said that when West was elected president of the 
Royal Academy, George the Third wished to confer the title 
upon him which his predecessor had borne. The Duke of 
Gloucester "called on West from the king to inquire if this 
honor would be acceptable. 'No man,' said Benjamin, 'en- 
tertains a higher respect for political honors and distinctions 
than myself, but I really think I have earned greater eminence 
by my pencil already than knighthood could confer on me. 
The chief value of titles is to preserve in families a respect for 
those principles by which such distinctions were originally ob- 
tained but simple knighthood to a man who is at least as 
well known as he could ever hope to be from that honor, is 
not a legitimate object of ambition. To myself then your 
royal highness must perceive the title could add no dignity, 
and as it would perish with myself, it could add none to my 
family. But were I possessed of fortune, independent of my 
profession, sufficient to enable my posterity to maintain the 
rank, I think that, with my hereditary descent and the station 
I occupy among artists, a more permanent title might become 
a desirable object. As it is, however, that cannot be; and I 
have been thus explicit with your royal highness that no mis- 
conception may exist on the subject.' The duke took West 
by the hand, and said, 'You have justified the opinion 
which the king has of you; he will be delighted with your 
answer.' ' 
^ From this we are justified in saying, as in the address to 


the students, that "he firmly, though respectfully, declined 
the honor, which his friend, for such George the Third was, 
intended him. He knew the name of West could receive no 
lustre from a title." The words, "I really think I have earned 
greater eminence by my pencil already, than knighthood 
could confer upon me," appear very plainly to indicate the 
painter's sense of the relative value of his art, and the honors 
it is supposed princes can bestow by a title not hereditary and 
unaccompanied by wealth. He seems to have said, "If my 
posterity could be distinguished among men by a mark or title 
derived from me, and wealth to support that rank among their 
countrymen to which wealth is supposed essential, I might 
wish that the remembrance of that by which the distinction 
was obtained might be so perpetuated. But for myself a title 
is not a legitimate object of ambition." 

Mr. Leslie, in one of his letters, says, "Raphael West told 
me that his father was led to expect a baronetcy as soon as the 
great works he was engaged on for the chapel of Windsor 
Castle were completed; but these works were all stopped when 
the king lost his senses." 

"Mr. West was, as you know, at all times delighted to 
receive Americans, and no subject of conversation interested 
him more than the present greatness and future prospects of 
the United States. His political opinions were known to be 
too liberal for the party who governed England during the 
regency and the reign of George IV. Whether owing to this 
cause or not, he was certainly out of favor with the court 
during all the time of George Ill's long seclusion from the 
world. It was to the credit of that monarch, that he never 
allowed the political opinions of Mr. West to interfere with 
his admiration of him as an artist, and his friendship for him 
as a man. The king died while Mr. West was confined to his 
bed with his last illness. Raphael West endeavored to keep 
the newspaper from him, but he guessed the reason, and said, 
"I am sure the king is dead, and I have lost the best friend I 
ever had in my life." 

The feeling that West ought to receive that title which the 


vulgar consider as bestowing honor, was and is so prevalent 
both in England and America, that in both countries he is 
occasionally called Sir Benjamin to this day. Memes, in a 
recent English publication on the fine arts, calls him Sir Ben- 
jamin; and Hazlitt, in his book called "Conversations of 
James Northcote," has this passage in relating circumstances 
attending a trial in which West was subpoenaed as a witness. 
"West was then called upon to give his evidence, and there 
was immediately a lane made for him to come forward, and 
a stillness that you could hear a pin drop. The judge (Lord 
Kenyon) then addressed him: 'Sir Benjamin, we shall be 
glad to hear your opinion.' Mr. West answered, 'He had 
never received the honor of a title from his majesty'; and 
proceeded to explain the difference between the two engrav- 
ings which were charged with being copies the one of the 
other, with such clearness and knowledge of the art, though 
in general he was a bad speaker, that Lord Kenyon said, 
when he had dcme, 'I suppose, gentlemen, you are perfectly 
satisfied I perceive that there is much more in this than I 
had any idea of, and I am sorry I did not make it more my 
study when I was young!' ! 

The reader will please to remark that it is Mr. Hazlitt who 
speaks of "two engravings which were charged with being 
copies the one of the other," which is phraseology not suffi- 
ciently clear for our Yankee comprehension, though we are 
bound to believe it good English, on the authority of a popular 
writer, and a beautiful London edition from the hands of 
Colburn & Bentley. 

I find, and my readers may be pleased to know, that the 
ancient crest of the Wests, Lords Delaware, was a bird's 
head argent, charged with a fess dancette sable. 

In the answer West gave to the offer of knighthood, Cun- 
ningham observes, "there was certainly very little of the 
Quaker. Possibly he was not without hope that the king would 
confer a baronetcy, and an income to support it, on one who, to 
the descent from the lords of Delaware, could add such claims 
of personal importance. No further notice, however, was 


taken of the matter; he went to the palace as usual, and as 
usual his reception was warm and friendly. 

"From 1769 till 1801 West had uniformly received all 
orders for pictures from his majesty in person. They had 
settled the subject and price between them without the inter- 
vention of others, and, in addition to his one thousand pounds 
a year paid on account, he had received whatever more, and 
it was not much, might be due upon the pictures actually 
painted. A great change was near. A mental cloud fell upon 
the king, and the artist was the first to be made sensible that 
the sceptre was departed from his hand. The doors of the 
palace, which heretofore had opened spontaneously like those 
of Milton's Paradise, no longer flew wide at his approach, 
but turned on their hinges grating and reluctantly. What this 
might mean he was informed by Mr. Wyatt, the royal archi- 
tect, who called and said he was authorized to inform him that 
the pictures painting for the chapel at Windsor must be sus- 
pended till further orders. 'This extraordinary proceeding,' 
says Gait, 'rendered the studies of the best part of the artist's 
life useless, and deprived him of that honorable provision, the 
fruit of his talents and industry, on which he had counted for 
the repose of his declining years. For some time it affected 
him deeply, and he was at a loss what steps to take. At last, 
however, on reflecting on the marked friendship and favor 
which the king had always shown him, he addressed his ma- 
jesty a letter, of which the following is a copy of the rough 
draft, being the only one preserved.' After mentioning the 
message to suspend the paintings for the chapel, it proceeds: 

"Since 1797 I have finished three pictures, begun several 
others, and composed the remainder of the subjects for the 
chapel, on the progress of Revealed Religion. Those are sub- 
jects so replete with dignity of character and expression, as 
demanded the historian, the commentator, and the accom- 
plished painter, to bring them into view. Your majesty's 
gracious commands for my pencil on that extensive subject 
stimulated my humble abilities, and I commenced the work 
with zeal and enthusiasm. Animated by your commands, I 


burned my midnight lamp to attain that polish which marks 
my Scriptural pictures. Your majesty's zeal for religion and 
love of the elegant arts are known over the civilized world, and 
your protection of my pencil had given it celebrity, and made 
mankind anxiously look for the completion of the great work 
on Revealed Religion. In the station which I fill in the Acad- 
emy I have been zealous in promoting merit; ingenious artists 
have received my ready aid, and my galleries and my purse 
have been opened to their studies and their distresses. The 
breath of envy or the whisper of detraction never defiled my 
lips, nor the want of morality my character; and your majesty's 
virtues and those of her majesty have been the theme of my 
admiration for many years. 

' 'I feel with great concern the suspension of the work on 
Revealed Religion if it is meant to be permanent, myself 
and the fine arts have much to lament. To me it will be ruin- 
ous, and it will damp the hope of patronage in the more re- 
fined departments of painting. I have this consolation, that 
in the thirty-five years during which my pencil has been 
honored with your commands, a great body of historical and 
Scriptural works have been placed in the churches and palaces 
of the kingdom. Their professional claims may be humble, 
but similar works have not been executed before by any of 
your majesty's subjects. And this I will assert, that your 
commands and patronage were not laid on a lazy or an un- 
grateful man, or an undutiful subject.' 

"To this letter, written on the 26th of September, 1801, 
and carried to the court by Wyatt, West received no answer. 
On his majesty's recovery, he sought and obtained a private 
audience. The king had not been made acquainted with the 
order for suspending the works, nor had he received the letter. 
'Go on with your work, West,' said the king, kindly, 'go on 
with the pictures, and I will take care of you.' He shook him 
by the hand and dismissed him. 'And this ? ' says Gait, 'was 
the last interview he was permitted to have with his early and 
constant, and to him truly royal, patron. But he continued 
to execute the pictures, and, in the usual quarterly payments, 


received his 1000 per annum till his majesty's final superan- 
nuation; when, without any intimation whatever, on calling to 
receive it, he was told that it had been stopped, and that the 
paintings for the chapel, of Revealed Religion, had been sus- 
pended. He submitted in silence he neither remonstrated 
nor complained.' 

"The story of his dismissal from court was spread with 
many aggravations; and the malevolence of enemies which his 
success had created there are always such reptiles was 
gratified by the circulation of papers detailing an account of 
the prices which the fortunate painter had received for his 
works from the king. The hand which had drawn up this 
injurious document neglected to state that the sum of thirty- 
four thousand one hundred and eighty-seven pounds was 
earned in the course of thirty-three laborious years: and the 
public, looking only to the sum at the bottom of the page, 
imagined that West must have amassed a fortune. This no- 
tion was dispelled by an accurate statement of work done and 
money received, with day and date, signed with the artist's 
name, and accompanied by a formal declaration of its truth; 
a needless addition, for all who knew anything of West knew 
him to be one of the most honorable of men." 

This disgraceful spirit, originating in disappointment, envy, 
and all the base feelings which ignorance of our true interests, 
and the imperfections of our social systems engender in the 
bosoms of men, may be traced in the publications of the days 
in which West lived; and unfortunately some of the slanders 
are embalmed in the works of genius, and will descend to pos- 
terity. Wolcott strove to pull down West, that Opie might be 
exalted on his ruins; and the talents of the poet may preserve 
the falsehoods which were harmless at the time, notwithstand- 
ing the popularity of Peter Pindar. The infamous Williams, as 
Anthony Pasquin, shot his feeble arrows against West, and 
against all who were distinguished for talents or virtue. Fuseli, 
the caricaturist of nature, was the caricaturist of West. Hazlitt 
relates the sarcasms of Northcote, a pupil of Reynolds in 
short, it is painful to observe, that (notwithstanding West's 


acknowledged purity of moral character, active benevolence, 
simplicity of manner, great kindness to all artists who sought 
his instruction, unwearied readiness to assist and advise, equa- 
bility of temper that dulness could not disturb, or impertinence 
ruffle) such a man was a butt for the shafts of envy, malice, 
and uncharitableness, pointed by men of learning, wit, and 

Of the very many artists with whom we have associated, who 
had known Mr. West personally, we never heard but one 
speak otherwise of him, except as of a benefactor and friend, 
and that one acknowledged that he had been more than a 
father to him for thirty years. Mr. Allston, in a letter before 
us, says, he "received me with the greatest kindness. I shall 
never forget his benevolent smile when he took me by the 
hand; it is still fresh in my memory, linked with the last of 
like kind which accompanied the farewell shake of the hand 
when I took leave of him in 1818. His gallery was open to 
me at all times, and his advice always ready and kindly given. 
He was a man overflowing with the milk of human kindness. 
If he had enemies, I doubt if he owed them to any other cause 
than this rare virtue, which (alas for human nature!) is too 
often deemed cause sufficient." 

"Whenever," says the eloquent and judicious Verplanck, 
"the historical inquirer can thus efface the stains left by time 
or malice upon the fame of the wise and good, he effects many 
of the grandest objects of history." 

Fuseli writes to Roscoe: " 'There are,' says Mr. West, 'but 
two ways of working successfully, that is, lastingly, in this 
country, for an artist the one is to paint for the king; the 
other, to mediate a scheme of your own.' The first he has 
monopolized; in the second he is not idle: witness the prints 
from English history, and the late advertisement of allegorical 
prints to be published from his designs by Bartolozzi. In imi- 
tation of so great a man, I am determined to lay, hatch, and 
crack an egg for myself too, if I can." By marking the words 
"so great a man" in italics, the envious Swiss has only marked 
his own irritation at seeing the prosperity and popularity of the 


amiable American. It reminds us of his single vote against the 
otherwise unanimous election for West as president of the 
Academy. Fuseli did "lay, hatch, and crack an egg" for him- 
self: he produced his splendid Milton Gallery, which totally 
failed, notwithstanding the efforts of the Academy to support 
it, who not only gave it the high encomiums it deserved, but 
got up a dinner in the gallery at fifteen shillings a head for 
the painter's benefit. The pictures were principally pur- 
chased by the painter's private friends, to help him out of 
the undeserved difficulties his project had generated. The 
reader will see more on this subject in our biography of Allston, 
a man who loved and was loved by West, and found ample 
encouragement for his pencil in London, although he did 
not paint for a king or bespatter the king's painter with 
scurrilous abuse, miscalled wit. By no means meaning to 
deny that Fuseli had wit; but when wit is prompted by envy 
and jealousy, it loses its character, and takes the ugly features 
of the demons who incite it. Real wit is always accompanied 
by truth, if not by good nature. Fuseli had extraordinary 
talents as a man independent of his art, and was perhaps the 
most learned of modern painters. But the enmity of Fuseli 
and Barry toward each other, though both eminently high in 
their profession, the hostility of both against West, and of 
Barry towards Reynolds, with the jealousy and envy at one 
time displayed generally against West form a disgusting 
portion of the history of English art. 

That armistice which was denominated the Peace of Amiens 
took place in 1802, when West was dismissed from employ- 
ment by the unworthy successor of George the Third. The 
continent of Europe had been virtually shut against the Eng- 
lish for ten years, and all ranks rushed to Paris, with curiosity 
on tiptoe to see the wonders there accumulated by the great 
military robber, and the no less wonder, the robber himself. 
That the president of the Royal Academy should seize this 
opportunity to view in one great collection those gems, which 
in his youth he had studied in their peaceful homes, from 
whence the spoiler had dragged them, was to be expected. He 


visited Paris, and took with him his sublime composition, on a 
small scale, of "Death on the Pale Horse." His reception was 
cordial, and the admiration of his work enthusiastic. Mr. Cun- 
ningham says, " Minister after minister, and artist after artist, 
from the accomplished Talleyrand, and the subtle Fouche, to 
the enthusiastic Denon, and ferocious David gathered around 
him, and talked with unbounded love of historical painting 
and its influence on mankind." All this is attributed by the 
Scottish biographer to "wily" politics, hypocrisy and flattery. 
We believe men of all civilized nations at present pretty much 
the same, and the professions of a Frenchman worth as much 
as those of a Briton, south or north. That West was pleased 
with his reception among a gallant and polished people, is 
certain. He had two or more interviews, as we are informed, 
with the First Consul ; and it must be remembered that at this 
time, Bonaparte had restored prosperity to distracted France, 
and peace to Europe. That although a military robber, he was 
only more successful, not more atrocious than other military 
robbers who have been glorified by deluded mankind. That 
he had not divorced a faithful wife. That he had not developed 
the enormous plans of self-idolatry, which overthrew the hopes 
of the friends of man, and deluged the world in blood. West 
saw in him a great man, and an interesting gentleman, who had 
taste for, and knowledge of the arts, in which the painter 
delighted and excelled. He saw him, and was pleased. It is 
said, that he ventured to recommend to Napoleon, the example 
of Washington, if he did so, it is a greater proof of his simplicity 
than any Gait or Cunningham have recorded. 

Among the distinguished visitors of Paris, were Charles 
Fox and Sir Francis Baring. West met them in the Louvre, 
and expatiated upon the advantages which the arts would 
derive from the circumstance of the chefs d'ceuvre of the world 
being collected in one place. 

"He concluded by pointing out the propriety, even in a 
mercantile point of view, of encouraging to a sevenfold extent 
the higher departments of art in England. The prospect of 
commercial advantages pleased Baring, and Fox said, with 


From the collection of Mr. Walter Jenoin 


much frankness, and with that sincerity which lasts at least for 
the moment, ' I have been rocked in the cradle of politics, and 
never before was so much struck with the advantages, even in 
a political bearing, of the fine arts, to the prosperity as well 
as to the renown of a kingdom; and I do assure you, Mr. 
West, if ever I have it in my power to influence our government 
to promote the arts, the conversation which we have had today 
shall not be forgotten.' They parted, and West returned to 

"Old age was now coming on him; but his gray hairs were 
denied the repose which a life of virtue and labor deserved." 
So says his biographer, Cunningham. 

The academicians who had bowed to the president, while 
he was the favored of the court, now assailed him in his declin- 
ing and unprotected age. West retired from the president's 
chair, and Wyatt was elected in his stead. "This distinction!" 
says Cunningham, "the court architect had merited by no 
works which could be weighed in the balance with the worst 
of his predecessor's; and West persuaded himself that his own 
splendid reception in France had been at the root of all the 

Mr. Cunningham goes on to say, "In a short time, how- 
ever, the academy became weary of Wyatt, displaced him, and 
restored the painter, by a vote which may be called unanimous; 
since there was only one dissenting member supposed to be 
Fuseli who put in the name of Mrs. Moser for president. 
Ladies were at that period permitted to be members, and the 
jester no doubt meant to insinuate that a shrewd old woman 
was a fit rival for West." 

So much for Mr. Fuseli. West, though he had been deserted 
by the court of Great Britain, and the artists of the Royal 
Academy, never deserted himself. Those who had driven him 
from the president's chair, we hope, were ashamed of their 
dirty work. The venerable artist regained his place at the head 
of the academy (he was always at the head of all its artists), 
and as president exerted himself for the benefit of the arts, 
until death closed his virtuous and useful career. 


Martin Archer Shee, Esq., in his excellent work, "Elements 
of Art," thus speaks of West: 

"The claims of the present president of the academy are 
not more generally understood than those of his predecessor, 
and his merits have been as inadequately appreciated as they 
have been rewarded by the public. Notwithstanding the large 
space which he fills hi his art, and although his brethren have 
justly and honorably placed him at their head, he has good 
ground of complaint, against the undiscriminating criticism 
of his day, and may be said to be, in a great degree, ' defrauded 
of his fame.' Posterity will see him in his merits as well as 
his defects; will regard him as a great artist, whose powers place 
him high in the scale of elevated art; whose pencil has main- 
tained with dignity the historic pretensions of his age, and 
whose best compositions would do honor to any school or 

The same artist and author thus speaks of the encourage- 
ment afforded by the public to this great painter: 

"What will be thought of the protection and encourage- 
ment afforded to genius in this great and wealthy empire, 
when it is stated, that the unremitting exertions of this distin- 
guished artist, in the higher department of painting, during 
the period of forty-eight years (almost half a century), have 
not, exclusive of his majesty's patronage, produced to him the 
sum of six thousand pounds! ! !" 

He endeavored "to form a national association for the 
encouragement of works of dignity and importance, and was 
cheered with the assurance of ministerial, if not royal, patron- 
age. But many of those who countenanced the design were 
cautious and timid men, deficient in that lofty enthusiasm 
necessary for success in grand undertakings, and whose souls 
were not large enough to conceive and consummate a plan 
worthy of the rank and genius of the nation. The times, too, 
were unfavorable: Englishmen had in those days need enough 
to think of other matters than paintings and statues. Mr. 
Pitt, who had really seemed disposed to lend his aid to this 
new association, soon died. Mr. Fox, who succeeded him, 


declared, 'As soon as I am firmly seated in the saddle, 1 
shall redeem the promise I made in the Louvre ' but he also 
was soon lost to his country. The pistol of an assassin pre- 
vented Percival from taking into consideration a third memo- 
rial, which West had drawn up, and the president at last relin- 
quished the project hi despair." Yet his efforts were not 
unavailing as the British Institution was formed out of the 
wreck of his magnificent plan. 

In the year 1809, Mr. West, in a letter to one of his early 
pupils (Charles Willson Peale), thus expresses himself: 

"When I was in Italy in the year 1760, the stupendous pro- 
ductions in the fine arts which are in that country, rushed on 
my feelings with their impetuous novelty and grandeur; and 
their progress through the world from the earliest period, ar- 
rested my attention when I discovered they had accompanied 
empire, as shade does the body when it is most illuminated, 
and that they had declined both in Greece and Italy, as the 
ancient splendor of those countries passed away. 

"In England I found the fine arts, as connected with paint- 
ing and sculpture, had not taken root; but that there were great 
exertions making by the artists to prepare the soil, and sow 
the seeds. It was those artists who invited me to appear 
among them, with a few essays of my historical compositions 
in their annual exhibitions of painting, sculpture and archi- 
tecture. Those exhibitions became an object of attraction to 
men of taste in the fine arts; the young sovereign was inter- 
ested in their prosperity; and the artists were by his royal char- 
acter raised into the dignity, the independence, and, as it were, 
the municipal permanency of a body corporate; in which body 
I found myself a member, and a director; but party and jeal- 
ousy in two or three years interrupted the harmony and finally 
dissolved that society. At this period his majesty was gra- 
ciously pleased to signify his commands to four artists, to form 
a plan for a royal academy, in which number I had the honor 
to be included. His majesty was graciously pleased to ap- 
prove the plan, and commanded it to be carried into effect. 
Thus commenced the institution of the Royal Academy of 


Arts in London. An institution of proud importance to the 
sovereign; and to this, as a manufacturing country, of more real 
and solid advantage than would have been the discovery of 
gold and silver mines within her earth; as it taught delinea- 
tion to her ingenious men, by which they were instructed to 
give taste to every species of manufactories, to polish rudeness 
into elegance, and soften massiveness into grace; and which 
raised the demand for them to an eminence unknown before in 
all the markets of civilized nations throughout the world. 

"At that time the breast of every professional man glowed 
with the warmth and energy of genius, at the establishment of 
the Royal Academy, and at the pleasing prospect it held out in 
the higher department of art historical painting. The experi- 
ment was then to be made, whether there was genius in the 
country for that department of art, and patronage to nourish 
and stimulate it. The sovereign, the artist, and a few gentle- 
men of distinguished taste were solicitous for its success. With 
respect to genius, I have to speak from observation, that the 
distinguished youths who have passed in review before me 
since the establishment of the academy, in the three depart- 
ments of art which constitute its views, would have been found 
equal to attain unrivalled eminence in them: and I know of 
no people since the Greeks so likely to attain excellence in 
the arts as the people of England; if the same spirit and love 
for them were diffused and cherished among them, as it was 
among the subjects in the Grecian states. 

"Your communication respecting your son being about to 
embark again for France, and to study painting, and collect 
the portraits of eminent men in that country as well as in 
other parts of Europe, gives me sincere pleasure; I honor his 
enterprise; but I hope he will, when surrounded by the great 
examples which are now at Paris, of Grecian and Italian art, 
I hope he will direct his mind to what are their real, and im- 
mutable excellencies, and reflect upon the dignity which they 
give to man, and to the countries where they were produced. 
Although I am friendly to portraying eminent men, I am not 
friendly to the indiscriminate waste of genius in portrait paint- 


ing; and I do hope that your son will ever bear in his mind, 
that the art of painting has powers to dignify man, by trans- 
mitting to posterity his noble actions, and his mental powers, 
to be viewed in those invaluable lessons of religion, love of 
country, and morality; such subjects are worthy of the pencil, 
they are worthy of being placed in view as the most instructive 
records to a rising generation. And as an artist, I hope he 
will bear in his mind, that correctness of outline, and the just- 
ness of character in the human figure are eternal; all other 
points are variable, all other points are in a degree subordi- 
nate and indifferent such as color, manners and costume : 
they are the marks of various nations: but the form of man 
has been fixed by eternal laws, and must therefore be immut- 
able. It was to those points that the philosophical taste of the 
Greek artists was directed; and then* figures produced on those 
principles leave no room for improvement, their excellencies 
are eternal." 



THE undaunted painter now between sixty and seventy years 
of age, commenced a series of great works solely relying upon 
himself for their success. The first he exhibited to the public 
was his "Christ Healing the Sick," designed as a present to 
the hospital of the metropolis of Pennsylvania, his native state. 
A noble memorial of his love to the country of his birth, and 
her institutions. Not given to "aid in creating a hospital for 
the sick in his native town," as his biographer has said, for 
Philadelphia was not his native town, and the Pennsylvania 
Hospital in that city, had been built and in operation for half a 

When the "Healing of the Sick" was exhibited in London, 
the rush to see it was very great, and the praise it obtained 
very high. "The British Institution," says his English biog- 
rapher, "offered him three thousand guineas for the work: 
West accepted the offer, for he was far from being rich but 
on condition that he should be allowed to make a copy, with 
alterations." This copy, with not only alterations, but an 
additional group, was received by the trustees of the hospital, 
and placed in a building erected according to a plan trans- 
mitted by the donor, in which it stands a monument to his 
honor as a man and an artist. The receipts from the exhibition 
in the first year after its arrival were four thousand dollars. 

We are sorry to record anything discreditable, relative to 
any man or body of men, but we will not hide any transaction 
connected with the arts or artists of our country which appears 
to us necessary or belonging to the historical memoirs we have 
undertaken. We know that Mr. West, when he made this 
noble present to the Pennsylvania Hospital, intended that it 
should be free to students and artists, for he justly thought 



that as a model, it would promote the progress of painting in 
his native country. He expressed this wish and intention to 
the managers of the hospital, but it has not been complied with. 
It is the only exhibition of painting in the United States 
where money is received from the artist or the student. Yet 
this is the free gift of an American artist, who delighted in 
pointing the way to excellence in the arts. We, while on the 
subject, will object to these managers, that they do not give 
due credit to the picture presented to them, by their statements 
of receipts and expenditures in its exhibition. They charge 
against the receipts from the picture $14,000 for the building 
in which it is placed, as if that building was appropriated to 
that use alone, whereas it is used for other purposes in such 
manner and proportion, as ought to reduce the sum to one- 
half. We hope these gentlemen will in both these respects do 
justice to their benefactor. 

"It ought to be known, if it is not," says Mr. Leslie, in one 
of his letters to us from West Point, "that at the time Mr. 
West made his noble present to the Pennsylvania Hospital, his 
pecuniary affairs were by no means in a prosperous condition. 
He was blamed by those who did not know this, for selling the 
first picture he painted for them; but he redeemed his pledge 
to them, and I can bear witness of his great satisfaction, when 
he heard that the exhibition of it had so much benefited the 
institution. He had begun his own portrait to present to the 
hospital. It was a whole length on a mahogany panel; he 
employed me to dead color it for him. He had also made 
a small sketch of a picture of Dr. Franklin, to present with it. 
The doctor was seated on the clouds, surrounded by naked 
boys, and the experiment of proving lightning and electricity 
to be the same was alluded to." 

The success of the "Healing in the Temple," encouraged the 
painter, and he produced in rapid succession, *' 'The Descent 
of the Holy Ghost on Christ at the Jordan,' ten feet by fourteen 
'The Crucifixion,' sixteen feet by twenty-eight 'The 
Ascension,' twelve feet by eighteen and 'The Inspiration of 
St. Peter,' of corresponding extent." The great painting of 


"Christ Rejected," and the still more sublime "Death on the 
Pale Horse," enlarged and altered from the picture, which he 
had carried to Paris in 1802. 

"Domestic sorrow mingled with professional disappoint- 
ment. Elizabeth Shewall for more than fifty years his kind 
and tender companion died on the 6th of December, 1817, 
and West, seventy-nine years old, felt that he was soon to fol- 
low. His wife and he had loved each other some sixty years 
- had seen their children's children and the world had no 
compensation to offer. He began to sink, and though still to 
be found at his easel, his hand had lost its early alacrity. It 
was evident that all this was to cease soon; that he was suffer- 
ing a slow, and a general, and easy decay. The venerable 
old man sat in his study among his favorite pictures, a breath- 
ing image of piety and contentment, awaiting calmly the hour 
of his dissolution. Without any fixed complaint, his mental 
faculties unimpaired, his cheerfulness uneclipsed, and with 
looks serene and benevolent, he expired llth March, 1820, 
in the eighty-second year of his age. He was buried beside 
Reynolds, Opie, and Barry, in St. Paul's Cathedral. The 
pall was borne by noblemen, ambassadors, and academicians; 
his two sons and grandson were chief mourners; and sixty 
coaches brought up the splendid procession." 

Benjamin West was not (as his biographer has asserted) 
above the middle size. He was about five feet eight inches in 
height. Well made and athletic. His complexion was re- 
markably fair. His eye was piercing. Of his manners and 
disposition we have already spoken, but may be allowed to 
relate an anecdote from one of his pupils. He had frequently 
a levee of young artists asking advice on their productions, 
and it was given always with encouraging amenity. On one 
occasion a Camera Lucida, then a new thing, had been left 
with him for inspection: it was the first he had ever seen, and 
Stuart coming in, West showed it to him, and explained its 
use. Stuart's hand was always tremulous. He took the deli- 
cate machine for examination, let it fall, and it was dashed to 
fragments on the hearth. Stuart stood with his back to West, 






525 B 

O * 




looking at the wreck in despair. After a short silence, the 
benevolent man said, "Well, Stuart, you may as well pick up 
the pieces." This was of course in early life, but old age made 
no change in him. Mr. Leslie says, "Mr. West's readiness 
to give advice and assistance to artists is well known. Every 
morning before he began to work he received all who wished 
to see him. A friend of mine called at his house the day after 
his death. His old and faithful servant, Robert, opened the 
door, and said, with a melancholy shake of the head, "Ah, sir! 
where will they go now?" And well might he say so; for 
although I can affirm with truth, that I know of no eminent 
artist in London, who is not ready to communicate instruction 
to any of his brethren who need it, yet at that time there was 
certainly no one so accessible as Mr. West, and I think I may 
say so admirably qualified to give advice in every branch of 
the art. 

Ninety-eight of his pictures were exhibited in a gallery de- 
signed by himself, and erected by his heirs. 

Cunningham says, "In his 'Death on the Pale Horse/ and 
more particularly in the sketch of that picture, he has more 
than approached the masters and princes of the calling. It is, 
indeed, irresistibly fearful to see the triumphant march of the 
terrific phantom, and the dissolution of all that earth is proud 
of beneath his tread. War and peace, sorrow and joy, youth 
and age, all who love and all who hate, seem planet-struck. 
The 'Death of Wolfe,' too, is natural and noble, and the 'Indian 
Chief,' like the Oneida warrior of Campbell, 

' A stoic of the woods, a man without a tear,' 

was a happy thought. The 'Battle of La Hogue' I have 
heard praised as the best historic picture of the British school, 
by one not likely to be mistaken, and who would not say what 
he did not feel. Many of his single figures, also, are of a high 
order. There is a natural grace in the looks of some of his 
women which few painters have ever excelled." 

This is high and just praise, and if all his pictures do not 
deserve equal, it by no means lessens the claim of the master. 
If he had only painted his earliest and his latest works, they 


would entitle him to immortality, and a place higher than any 
successor has yet reached. 

West was generally happy, that is to say judicious, in his 
choice of subject. 

Few painters selected subjects with so much judgment as 
Benjamin West. The number of his works creates almost as 
much admiration as their excellence. The Old and the New 
Testament employed his pencil, in a series of pictures em- 
bracing almost every prominent event, from the reception of 
the law by Moses to the opening of the seals besides many 
subjects not strictly in the series, from the history of the patri- 
archs. " The Healing in the Temple," his magnificent present 
to the Pennsylvania Hospital, will remain among us a monu- 
ment of his patriotism and of his genius. His paintings from 
Grecian and Roman history are exceedingly numerous, and 
would alone immortalize him. Of modern history he has left 
us almost an equal number. I will mention a few, the subjects 
of which answer to the talent displayed in their execution. 
The triumph of Rooke over James II, a victory which secured 
the revolution of 1688, and that liberty which England has 
since enjoyed. "The Battle of La Hogue" is one of West's 
best pictures. There is a remarkable coincidence in the general 
aspect of this very fine painting, with a Dutch picture of the 
triumph of De Ruyter in the Thames, when he took possession 
of the " Royal Charles," burnt several ships of war, and threw 
the kingdom into consternation. The engraving (of the same 
size of West's and Woollet's print) is entitled "De Beroemde 
Enderneming op de Rivieren van London en Rochester," and 
it is marked where in English prints the painter's name is 
given "Getekend door Dk. Langendyk, 1782," and where 
the engraver's name is given "Gesneiden door M. de Sallieth 
te Rotterdam"; and in the midway between these inscriptions 
is "urt gegeven by D. Langendyk, M. de Sallieth en Dirk de 
Yong te Rotterdam." West's and Woollet's print was published 
the 18th of October, 1781 probably the painting made five 
or more years before. If "getekend door Dk. Langendyk, 
1782," means painted by Langendyk, at that date, we must 


think that he has taken a hint from West; but although there 
is a similarity of aspect, and somewhat of incident, the figures 
are dissimilar. The dispositions of the ships and figures are 
reversed, as is done in engraving; the French admiral's ship 
in West is to the right of the spectator, and the "Royal Charles" 
to the left in the Dutch picture Sir George Rooke and De 
Ruyter change sides, and so of the prominent groups. It is 
needless to say that West's picture is incomparably the best; 
still the picture of Mynheer Dk. Langendyk, if he be the 
painter, is a fine, spirited composition, with very little of the 
beau ideal, and much of nature. It is suggested that the Dutch 
picture was painted shortly after the affair represented, and 
the print perhaps engraved, but the publication suspended 
(as a peace-offering to England) when peace took place; but 
after the declaration of war and during our Revolutionary 
struggle, the print was published. According to this hypothesis, 
West may have seen a proof of the Dutch print, or had a sight 
of the painting, before making his great picture of La Hogue. 
It will be remembered, that during the war between England 
and Holland, in 1667, De Ruyter and De Witt entered the 
Thames, burned a number of ships of war, at least six, gained 
possession of the " Royal Charles," and inflicted disgrace upon 
the navy of England, and terror upon the people. The peace 
of Breda followed soon after; but in the year 1669, the infamous 
Charles being purchased by Louis XIV, and acting under his 
orders as his pensioner, prepared for a declaration of war 
against Holland, by ordering his admiral, Holmes, to attack 
the Dutch Smyrna fleet, sailing under the faith of treaties in 
time of peace with England. When the English admiral, who 
had been ordered on this piratical expedition, fell in with the 
Dutch fleet, he, with every appearance of friendship, invited 
Admiral Van Ness to come on board, and with the same insidi- 
ous show of friendship, the Dutch rear admiral was compli- 
mented with an invitation by another officer of the British 
squadron. The wary Hollanders were not so to be caught by 
the satellites of a faithless monarch. They declined the honor, 
and Holmes, failing in the attempt as a hypocrite, threw off 


the mask, and in his character of pirate attacked the gallant 
and wary Van Ness. Twice the Dutchman valiantly beat off 
the pirates; but in a third attack lost one ship of war and three 
inconsiderable merchantmen, out of a fleet of seventy; the 
remainder, under the protection of their brave admiral, were 
convoyed safe into port. The vile Charles, in obedience to his 
master, immediately issued a declaration of war; "and surely,'* 
says Hume, the apologist of the Stuarts, "surely reasons more 
false and frivolous never were employed to justify a flagrant 
violation of treaty." Among "the pretensions, some abusive 
pictures are mentioned, and represented as a ground of quarrel. 
The Dutch were long at a loss what to make of this article, 
till it was discovered that a portrait of Cornelius De Witt, 
brother to the pensioner, painted by the order of certain magis- 
trates of Dort, and hung up in a chamber of the town-house, 
had given occasion to the complaint. In the perspective of 
this portrait the painter had drawn some ships on fire in a 
harbor. This was construed to be Chatham, where De Witt 
had signally distinguished himself, and had acquired honor; 
but little did he imagine, that while the insult itself, committed 
in open war, had so long been forgiven, the picture of it should 
draw such severe vengeance upon his country." Thus far 
Hume; but it appears to us that the philosopher might with 
more justice have said, "Little did he think that a gallant na- 
tion would suffer a mean and licentious tyrant to lead them 
into an unjust war, on pretences so utterly unfounded"; for 
surely it was not vengeance, poor as that motive is, which 
actuated the British monarch and his base ministry, but the 
desire to promote the views of a master whose treasures 
furnished the means of gratifying appetite. The consequence 
of this war, begun in piracy and justified by falsehood, was 
not only the destruction of brave men of both nations, but 
the triumph of the injured Hollanders, who again and again 
defeated the fleets of France and England, combined against 
them. Charles, in 1674, graciously condescended to hear the 
voice of the English people, and give them peace with Hol- 
land, having no resources wherewith to carry on the war. 


It is only as connected with these pictures, the "La Hogue" 
of West and the "Beroemde Enderneming op de Rivieren van 
London" of Dirk Langendyk, that we recall this portion of 
history. From the year 1674 to 1780, England and Holland 
continued in peace; and as pictures could be made pretences 
for a war, the strict police of the Dutch would doubtless 
prohibit such a print as that published by Langendyk, Sallieth, 
and Yong, during this century of quiet, and especially as 
the power of England and her jealousy of her naval honor 
were daily increasing; but when the Dutch again became the 
opponents of Britain, and displayed the flag of defiance, it 
was natural for the painters and engravers to take advantage 
of these hostile feelings, and to animate the courage of their 
countrymen by reminding them of the triumph of De Ruyter 
and De Witt on the Thames, when the Dutch flag not only 
floated the narrow seas, but floated in triumph over the hull 
of the " Royal Charles." West had painted, probably in 1774 or 
5, his "Battle of La Hogue," and Woollet had engraved it in 
time to be published in 1781. Proofs before the publication of 
the engraving might have been seen by Langendyk, or even 
West's painting at an earlier period; and to compose his picture 
on the plan of the "Battle of La Hogue" would readily be sug- 
gested. De Witt's portrait at Dort furnished part of the ma- 
terial, and he is placed by the side of De Ruyter; these two 
heroes corresponding to West's Sir George Rooke. Instead 
of the French admiral's ship, we have the " Royal Charles," and 
in the spirit of Hogarth we see a Dutch cabin-boy waving 
the flag of his country over the image of the king which deco- 
rates the stern. We repeat, both pictures are original, and 
West's far the best; but Langendyk is full of spirit and truth, 
the tamest part being the portraits of the two heroes, De 
Ruyter and De Witt: while on the other hand West's hero is 
clothed in grandeur and dignity, becoming the leader whose 
valor confirmed the constitutional freedom of his country by 
destroying the power and almost the hopes of the Stuarts. 

Perm's Treaty with the Indians is another of his happy 
subjects. William Penn rested his empire on justice and 


liberty of conscience. Brute force had no agency in its founda- 
tion, neither was it cemented by the blood of his fellow-creat- 
ures. West's pictures from Shakespeare and other poets are 
well known. I will mention a picture by him connected with 
this country, of more importance to civil and religious liberty, 
than even the victory of La Hogue, or the benevolent Treaty 
of Penn the Death of Wolfe. This is not only one of the 
best historical compositions of a great master, but it is one of 
the very best subjects for the historical painter, according to 
my view of the utility of the art. It records one of those 
events which has produced incalculable good to the human 
race. It would not be too much to ascribe to the victory of 
the Plains of Abraham, the blessings we enjoy under our un- 
paralleled constitution, the effects of example upon the exist- 
ing civilized world, and upon millions on millions yet unborn. 
It may appear, at first sight, wild to attribute such mighty 
consequences to a battle gained in Canada by a few English 
over a few French soldiers; but when we recollect that the 
power of France, under a despotic government, had been 
exerted successfully to extend her armies and her fortresses, 
from Hudson's Bay and the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi 
and the Gulf of Mexico; that an enslaving and soul-debasing 
government was extending, link after link, a chain, made 
stronger day after day with systematic perseverance and 
admirable skill, and was inclosing, as in a net of steel, all the 
descendants of the English republicans who had sought refuge 
on the shores of this continent; a net which would have made 
all this fan* territory a province of a despotic monarchy, 
instead of what it now is the greatest republic the world 
ever saw; when we remember that all the struggles of the 
provincials, aided by the armies of England, had been for 
years rendered vain by the military skill and power of France; 
when we call to mind the bloody and disastrous battles fought 
on the banks of Lake Champlain and Lake George, the defeat 
of Braddock, and the unceasing encroachments of the trium- 
phant enemy and remember that the victory of Wolfe, by 
breaking the charm and the chain, made of all America a land 


of freedom we may be justified, perhaps, in attributing such 
consequences to Wolfe's victory. 

By a curious calculation, it was ascertained that to contain 
all West's pictures, a gallery would be necessary four hundred 
feet long, fifty broad, and forty high. 

Bell's " Weekly Messenger " gives an account of the third and 
final day's sale of the gallery of West's pictures. The grand 
total of the sale, amounted to 25,040 12s. Among those sold 
were the following: "Christ Rejected"; it was bought by Mr. 
Smith for 3,000 guineas, on account, as was whispered in the 
room, of the Duke of Orleans. "Death on the Pale Horse," 
painted when Mr. West had nearly accomplished his eightieth 
year, was bought by a gentleman by the name of Kirshaw, for 
2,000 guineas. "The Death of Lord Nelson," 850 guineas. 
"The Death of General Wolfe," 500 guineas, bought by J. 
Monkton, Esq., of Portman Square. (Is this a descendant of 
the general, who is one of the principal figures?) "Battle of 
La Hogue," 370 guineas. (These last two must have been 
copies.) "Moses receiving the Laws," 500 guineas. "The 
Ascension of our Saviour," 200 guineas: and a number of 
others, which sold for from 200 down to 17 guineas. Lords 
Egremont and Amherst bought several. 

We will subjoin the following respecting this excellent 
painter. In a letter to us from Mr. Allston, he says: "To 
Mr. West's character as a man, I will add the following affect- 
ing testimony of his wife, a few years before her death. Speak- 
ing of him to a lady, a particular friend of mine, she said, 
'Ah, he is a good man; he never had a vice.' Mrs. West was 
then suffering under a paralysis, and could scarcely articu- 
late. Such testimony, from one who had been for more than 
half a century his most intimate companion, is worth more 
than a volume of eulogy." 

It remained for us to conclude the biography of Benjamin 
West, by a review of his character as a painter and a man. It 
was an imperative duty in the author of this work, as an artist, 
a man, and an American; but he is pleased to have been antic- 
pated by an artist of higher authority, and a writer of more 


celebrity; and still more gratified that justice has been done 
to our great countryman by an Englishman. Instead of our 
remarks, we will substitute those of Sir Martin Archer Shee, 
now the president of the Royal Academy of England: 

"The example set by Reynolds was not lost upon his emi- 
nent successors; and the distinguished artist, who was next 
appointed to this chair, hesitated not to co-operate, in like 
manner, with the able professors of the Academy, in the office 
of instruction. The discourses of President West bear ample 
testimony to the zeal and knowledge which he brought to the 
performance of a task, rendered as arduous as it was honor- 
able, by the extraordinary ability with which it had been 
previously executed. 

"Well grounded in the elementary principles of his profes- 
sion, he was as conversant with the theory, as he was dexterous 
in the practice of his art. It is no exaggeration to say of him, 
that in the exercise of those powers of the pencil, to the attain- 
ment of which his ambition more particularly directed him, he 
was unrivalled in his day. Such, indeed, was the facility of 
his hand, and with so much certainty did he proceed in his 
operations, that he rarely failed to achieve whatever he pro- 
posed to accomplish, and within the time which he had allotted 
for its performance. 

"Indefatigable application and irrepressible ardor in his pur- 
suit, succeeded in obtaining for him that general knowledge of 
his subject, which seldom fails to reward the toils of resolute 
and well-directed study. No artist of his time, perhaps, was 
better acquainted with the powers and the expedients, the exi- 
gencies and the resources of his art. No man could more 
sagaciously estimate the qualities of a fine picture, or more 
skilfully analyze the merits combined in its production. If you 
found yourself embarrassed in the conduct of your work, and 
you consulted him, he would at once show you where it failed, 
and why it failed. Like a skilful physician, he announced with 
precision the nature of the disease, and could suggest the rem- 
edy, even where he was not himself qualified to administer it. 

"The qualities which distinguished him, both as a man and 


as an artist, were, perhaps, not a little influenced by the pecu- 
liar religious impressions which he had early received. Order, 
calmness, and regularity characterized him through all the 
relations of life. In his habits of investigation, there was 
nothing loose, desultory, or digressive. The stores of knowl- 
edge which study and experience enabled him to lay up, were 
immediately classed and ticketed for use; and the results of 
his observations he diligently endeavored to compress into 
principles, whenever they would admit of so advantageous a 
reduction; the natural turn of his mind leading him to repress, 
within the strict limits of system and science, the arbitrary, 
irregular, and eccentric movements of genius and taste. 

"No man could be more liberally desirous than West to 
impart to others the knowledge which he possessed. He never, 
indeed, appeared to be more gratified than when engaged in 
enlightening the minds of those who looked up to him for in- 
struction ; and though, in following the path of precept marked 
out by his great predecessor, and communicating the lessons 
of his experience in a similar way, he does not approach to a 
rivalry with Reynolds as a teacher of his art; though his pen 
was not so ready as his pencil, and cannot be said to display 
the graces of language and style which distinguish the composi- 
tions of that eminent writer, yet the discourses of President 
West, delivered from this place, must be acknowledged to 
contain many ingenious remarks and much useful information. 
They evince an ardent enthusiasm for the honor and interests 
of his profession, and a laudable zeal to recommend the just 
claims of the arts to the respect and protection of our country. 

"It is impossible to review the character and professional 
powers of this able artist, without the strongest sense of regret 
that they are so inadequately understood and appreciated in 
this country, even at this day. The spirit of criticism prevalent 
among us, which, it must be confessed, is not generally too 
indulgent to the imperfections of modern art, has shown itself, 
in his case, more than usually fastidious and severe. The 
high aims of his pencil, which might reasonably be expected to 
propitiate the community of taste, have procured for him no 


favor. He is unsparingly censured where he fails, and is 
allowed little credit where he has succeeded. He is tried, not 
by his merits, but by his defects, and judged before a tribunal 
which admits only the evidence against him. His profession, 
indeed, have always done him justice; and they manifested 
their sense of his claims by the station in which they placed 
him. But few artists have been less favored by fortune, or 
more ungenerously defrauded of their fame. It has been un- 
reservedly stated on his own authority, that the remuneration 
of his labors, from the patronage of the public, during the 
space of forty -five years, was so inadequate to his very moder- 
ate wants, as to leave him dependent on the income allowed 
him as historical painter to his royal patron George the Third, 
for the means of living in this country. 

"It is melancholy to reflect, that in consequence of this 
resource having been unexpectedly withdrawn from him, very 
late in life, and at a period when his royal protector must have 
been unconscious of such a proceeding, the close of his long 
and laborious career was embittered by pecuniary embarrass- 
ment. But his enthusiasm for his art never for a moment 
failed under his disappointments. The spring of his mind 
never once gave way; and nearly to the latest hour of an exist- 
ence prolonged beyond the period usually assigned to the age 
of man, he was occupied in projecting works sufficiently exten- 
sive to startle the enterprise of youth, and demand the exertion 
of the most vigorous manhood. 

"Unfortunately, however, West did not possess, in a suffi- 
cient degree, those qualities of art which are the most pop- 
ular amongst us. The captivations of color, chiar' oscuro, and 
execution, which the English school displays in such perfec- 
tion, were wanting to set off his productions; and the merits 
of a higher order which they contained, appealed to, and re- 
quired the exercise of a better informed and more compre- 
hensive judgment than the taste of his time could in general 

"So little impression, indeed, had his various powers left 
upon the public mind, after the toils of more than half a cen- 


tury, that a collection of his pictures, formed after his death by 
his family, containing many of his finest works, and arranged 
with peculiar judgment and taste, had scarcely sufficient at- 
traction for the admirers of art in this great metropolis, to 
defray the expenses attending their exhibition. 

"The defects of West were obvious to the most common 
observer of his works. Every small critic could talk of the 
hardness of his outline, the dryness of his manner, and the 
absence of what may be called those surface sweets which are 
so highly prized, under the name of execution, by that class of 
artists and connoisseurs who think more of the means than of 
the end, in contemplating a work of art. But it demanded 
greater knowledge of the subject than is commonly found 
amongst the ordinary dispensers of fame in this country, to 
appreciate his various acquirements ; his powers of compo- 
sition ; his general facility of design ; his masterly treat- 
ment of extensive subjects, where, in pouring a population on 
his canvas, the resources of an artist's imagination are put to 
the test; the scientific construction and arrangement of his 
groups, and the appropriate action and occupation of the 
different figures of which they are composed. Yet all these 
are qualities which rank high in the scale by which it is usual 
to estimate the comparative claims of a painter. We must 
take care not to lose sight of the standard by which the rela- 
tive merits of our art are to be measured. In proportion as 
the intellectual is combined with the mechanical, do we value 
those productions of man which are not appropriated to the 
purposes of manufacture, or the ordinary accommodations of 

"Invention, composition, design, character, and expression 
have always taken precedence of coloring, chiar' oscuro, and 
execution, in the estimation of the judicious critic; though 
excellence in the latter qualities may be justly preferred to 
mediocrity in the former. We may, from local prejudice, or 
personal peculiarity, prefer silver to gold, or a pebble to a dia- 
mond; but if we reverse in our notions the relative value, 
which, by common consent, has been assigned to these objects, 


our judgment will be considered not only erroneous, but 

"The ambition of West directed him to the highest depart- 
ment of his art. In his hands the pencil was always employed 
for the noblest purposes, on subjects the moral interest of 
which outweighs their mechanical execution. He delighted 
to commemorate heroic deeds, to illustrate the annals of sacred 
history, and perpetuate the triumphs of patriotism and public 

"If we applaud the exalted spirit which prompted him to 
devote his talents to such praiseworthy objects, shall we not 
also offer the just tribute of our admiration to the enlightened 
monarch who encouraged and sustained his labors; who, by 
liberally endeavoring to reopen the church to the arts, sought 
to procure for them a new source of employment in this 
country, and who, as far as in him lay, set an example of 
generous patronage of the arts to the great and powerful of 
his day, which, if it had been followed with corresponding zeal 
and patriotism, could not have failed to obtain for Great 
Britain all the glory which pre-eminence in arts can shed upon 
a state? 

"The degree of success with which the honorable exertions 
of West were attended, may, I conceive, be fairly determined by 
this test: let the most prejudiced of those who are inclined 
to question his claims to the rank of a great artist examine the 
series of prints engraved from his works. I would, in particular, 
entreat them to view with some attention, the Death of 
General Wolfe, the Battles of La Hogue and the Boyne, 
the Return of Regulus to Carthage, Agrippina bearing the 
ashes of Germanicus, the young Hannibal swearing eternal 
enmity to the Romans, the Death of Epaminondas, the 
Death of the Chevalier Bayard, Pyrrhus, when a boy, 
brought to Glaucus, king of Illyria, for protection, and 
Penn's treaty with the Indians; not to mention many others, 
perhaps equally deserving of enumeration. Let these well- 
known examples of his ability be candidly considered, and where 
is the artist, whose mind is enlarged beyond the narrow sphere 



of his own peculiar practice, where is the connoisseur, whose 
taste has not been formed by a catalogue raisonn, or in the 
atmosphere of an auction room, who will hesitate to ac- 
knowledge that the author of such noble compositions may 
justly claim a higher station in his profession than has been 
hitherto assigned to him, and well merits to be considered, in 
his peculiar department, the most distinguished artist of the 
age in which he lived?" 




Is brought to our knowledge by our friend John F. Watson, 
author of " Annals of Philadelphia," etc., Mr. Duffield designed 
and executed several medals in 1756-7. 

I only know as the teacher of 


Matthew Pratt, the subject of this notice, was born in Phila- 
delphia, on the 23d September, 1734; and though he could 
not boast a noble line of ancestry, he was aware that his an- 
cestors, for near a century, had been honest and reputable 
householders. His father was a goldsmith, and served his 
time with Philip Syng, Jr., the grandfather of the present 
Dr. P. S. Physick. At this time a company of associates was 
formed, of which Dr. Franklin was the head, and from them 
emanated the Philadelphia Library, for which they procured 
a charter. 3 Apartments were provided for it in the state house. 
Matthew Pratt received such an education as the common 
schools in the city afforded, and at the age of fifteen was 

1 Duffield was born in Pennsylvania April 30, 1730, and died July 12, 1805. He 
made clocks and watches, was a member of the American Philosophical Society and 
an associate of Franklin and Rittenhouse. 

* James Claypoole was born January 23, 1720, at Philadelphia. He left nothing 
tangible with which to estimate his ability as a painter. Nathaniel Emmons who 
was born in 1704 and Joseph Badger who was born in 1708 antedated Claypoole who 
has sometimes been called the earliest native-born American painter. Charles Will- 
ion Peale states in his personal notes that James Claypoole left Philadelphia with the 
intention of joining Benjamin West in London, and that he stopped at Jamaica, 
where he died about 1796. 

* Pratt painted the earliest authentic portrait of Benjamin Franklin, made about 




placed an apprentice to his uncle, James Claypoole, from whom 
(to use his own words) he learned all the different branches 
of the painting business, particularly portrait painting, which 
was his favorite study from ten years of age. This allusion to 
the different branches of the painting business, shows plainly 
the degraded state in which the arts were at that time in this 

Passing over the period of his apprenticeship, and two 
years during which he followed his profession in Philadelphia, 
we find him, in October, 1757, embarking on board a small 
vessel for the island of Jamaica, having ventured a great part 
of his property in a mercantile speculation. Of the vessel in 
which he sailed, Enoch Hobart, who married his sister, was 
commander, and who was father to the late Right Reverend 
Bishop Hobart, of New York. His abandoning the arts at this 
time is not to be looked upon as an evidence of his want of 
encouragement, but as a disposition to see the world. The 
voyage to Jamaica, however, in a pecuniary point of view, 
was not very successful. They were captured and plundered 
near St. Lucia, by a French privateer, and after a week's de- 
tention were retaken by a British ship. The result of this 
adventure was an agreeable residence of six months in Jamaica; 
and he did not reach home until late in 1758. He now, for the 
first time, regularly pursued portrait painting, arid met with 
the most perfect success, giving general satisfaction to his 
employers, and receiving an ample reward. 

In 1760 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Mr. Charles 
Moore, merchant, of Philadelphia, and four years after he 
prepared for his departure for England. 

It is now for the first time that the manuscript from which I 
compiled this sketch speaks of Benjamin West. When or 
how the friendship between them commenced, I am unable to 
determine; but from his journal it appears that Mr. West had 
entered into a matrimonial engagement, three years previous, 
with Miss Betsey Shewall, a relation of Mr. Pratt's father, 
and the present voyage was made in company with Miss 
Shewall and Mr. West's father, for the purpose of terminating 


that engagement by marriage. The passage out was speedy 
and pleasant twenty-eight days from the Capes to London; 
and in three weeks after their arrival, the marriage ceremony 
was performed at St. Martin's church in the Strand; Mr. 
Pratt officiating as father and giving away the bride. The 
whole party then made an excursion to Mr. West's aunt's in 
Oxfordshire, and to his brother's in Berkshire, and returned to 
London after a delightful tour of several weeks. 

Mr. Pratt was now located as a member in Mr. West's 
family, and studied his art under him with close application, 
and received from him at all times (to use his own words) 
"the attentions of a friend and brother." He continued in 
England four years eighteen months of that time being spent 
in the practice of his profession in the city of Bristol; and it 
is to his studies and improvement during this period that we 
are to look, as the cause of his attaining a professional stand 
of high respectability. In 1768 he returned to Philadelphia, 
and recommenced his business at the corner of Front and Pine 
Streets. His situation and the nature of his business may be 
in some degree elucidated by referring again to his manu- 
script. "I now met with my old friend, the Rev. Thomas 
Barton, who came purposely to introduce me to Governor 
Hamilton, Governor John Penn, Mr. John Dickinson, Mr. 
Samuel Powel, the Willing family, the clergy of Philadelphia, 
etc., etc.; among whom I met with full employ for two years." 
This pleasing and successful career was interrupted by some 
family concerns of importance, which rendered his presence 
in Ireland indispensable. Accordingly, in March, 1770, he 
sailed for Newry, a fellow-passenger with Mr. Joseph Reed 
(afterwards governor of Pennsylvania), and had an agreeable 
passage out, and soon after reached Dublin. Among others 
with whom Mr. Pratt formed an intimacy in this place, was 
the Rev. Archdeacon Mann, from whose family, during his 
stay, he received every species of polite attention. By way 
of acknowledgment for so many favors, he painted a full- 
length portrait of the Rev. Doctor, in his canonical robes. 
This picture was placed in an exhibition by the Dublin Society 


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of Artists, and its author, received no inconsiderable share of 
praise and commendation. In the latter part of his time, he 
proceeded to England; and during two weeks that] he re- 
mained in Liverpool, was assiduously occupied in painting 
portraits. From Liverpool he went to Cork, and soon after 
sailed to Philadelphia. 

Previous to their sailing, as the last boat was about leaving 
the shore, a young woman applied for a passage to Philadel- 
phia, where she said her family held a respectable situation in 
society. An unfortunate marriage had been the cause of her 
following the fortunes of a worthless husband to Ireland, 
where she was now deserted. To others in the boat her appeal 
was made in vain ; but the characteristic generosity of an artist 
was at once excited. Mr. Pratt became responsible for her 
passage-money, and a share of the few guineas remaining in 
his pocket was appropriated to her immediate wants; and 
through his means she was rescued from want and misery. 
The person here spoken of was conducted by Mr. Pratt to her 
friends in safety in Philadelphia, whose gratitude was great 
and lasting. 

Having returned to Philadelphia, Mr. Pratt never left it 
again, but pursued his profession with unabated zeal and 
industry. Many of his portraits extant prove him to have 
been an artist of talent and capacity. Among these I would 
notice, as works praised by competent judges, a portrait of the 
Duke of Portland, and one of the Duchess of Manchester; 
also a Scripture piece, and the London School of Artists, and 
a full-length portrait of Gov. Hamilton, now in the possession 
of his family; the coloring and effect are highly creditable to 
the infant arts of our country. 

Devotedly attached to his profession, and governed by the 
spirit of the times, and feeling that the legitimate path of the 
limner could not support an increasing family, Mr. Pratt 
painted at intervals a number of signs, some of which, until 
within a few years, have been hanging in this city. Amongst 
these, perhaps the best was a representation of a cock in a 
barnyard, which for many years graced a beer house in Spruce 


Street; the execution of this was so fine, and the expression of 
nature so exactly copied, that it was evident to the most 
casual observer that it was painted by the hand of a master. 
Most of our old citizens recollect the sign of the grand con- 
vention of 1788, which was first raised at the corner of Fourth 
and Chestnut Streets. On this piece Mr. Pratt gave portraits 
of most of the distinguished men assembled on that occasion, 
and for some time the streets were filled with crowds occupied 
in identifying likenesses. 

After spending a life principally hi the cultivation of the 
arts, of which he was in this country a most effective pioneer, 
he was attacked by the gout hi the head and stomach, and died 
on the 9th day of January, 1805, aged seventy years three 
months and nineteen days. 

Of the picture of "The London School of Artists," 1 painted 
by Mr. Pratt, my friend Thomas Sully says, "This picture 
was exhibited in our academy some years ago, and was so well 
executed that I had always thought it was a copy from West. 
The whole-length of Governor Hamilton I have often seen at 
the Woodlands, near Philadelphia, and considered it a very 
excellent picture, and worthy to pass for one of West's." 

Between the years 1760 and 1764, Mr. Pratt painted por- 
traits occasionally in New York. I have seen a full-length 
portrait of Governor Golden by him, and there are in the 
Walton family several of his pictures. Tradition says of him 
at this time that he was a gentleman of pleasing manners, and 
a great favorite with the first citizens in point of wealth and 

From the venerable Mr. Thackara, we learn that Pratt, 
when a boy, "was a schoolmate of Charles W. Peale and B. 
West, at Videl's school, up the alley, back of Holland's hat- 
ter's shop, Second Street, below Chestnut. At ten years of 
age he wrote twelve different handwritings, and painted a 
number of marine pieces, which are now in the family. He 
assisted C. W. Peale to form the first museum in Philadelphia, 

'"The London School of Artists" by Matthew Pratt is in The Metropolitan Art 
Museum, New York City, and reproduced. 


southwest corner of Third and Lombard Streets. When in 
England, he assisted West in painting the whole royal family." 
I give this as received from my respectable friend Mr. Thac- 
kara; but it seems at variance with the memoirs of C. W. 
Peale, in respect to Pratt, West, and Peale being schoolmates 
in Philadelphia. Mr. Peale was seven years younger than Pratt, 
and was born at Chesterton, eastern shore of Maryland, and 
did not visit Philadelphia until he was a married man and a 
saddler; according to his son's biography of him. 

It is well known that many a good painter has condescended, 
and many a one been glad, to paint a sign. I have been told 
that it is very common in Paris. In Philadelphia the signs 
have been remarkable for the skill with which they are designed 
and executed. Beside the signs mentioned above as painted 
by Mr. Pratt, a Neptune and a fox chase, with many others, 
came from his workshop. One of the signs mentioned above 
is thus noticed in a letter from M. M. Noah, Esq., to me, and 
published in my " History of the American Theatre." He says 
a prologue he wrote when a boy "was probably suggested by 
the sign of the Federal Convention at the tavern opposite 
the theatre (the old theatre in South Street). You no doubt 
remember the picture and the motto: an excellent piece of 
painting of the kind, representing a group of venerable per- 
sonages engaged in public discussions. The sign must have 
been painted soon after the adoption of the federal constitu- 
tion; and I remember to have stood 'many a time and oft' 
gazing, when a boy, at the assembled patriots, particularly 
the venerable head and spectacles of Dr. Franklin, always in 
conspicuous relief." 

I insert with pleasure Mr. Neagle's testimony to the merit 
of Pratt, and it is the testimony of an excellent artist and 
judicious man. 

"I have seen the works of Pratt portraits and other sub- 
jects. I remember many signs for public houses (now all 
gone) painted by his hand, and I assure you they were by far 
the best signs I ever saw. They were of a higher character 
than signs generally, well colored, and well composed. They 


were like the works of an artist descended from a much higher 
department. One of a game-cock, admirably painted, which 
was afterwards retouched or repainted by Woodside. It was 
called the 'Cock revived,' but with all Woodside's skill, it 
was ruined, and I have heard he confesses it. One of the 
Continental Convention, with they say good likenesses. One 
of Neptune, etc., for Lebanon Gardens in South Street. One 
admirably executed hunting scene, with sunrise, in Arch 
Street. A drovers' scene, and others, most of them with 
verses at bottom composed by himself. 

"Pratt's signs, or at least those attributed to him by his son 
Thomas, were broad in effect and loaded with color. There 
is no niggling in his style or touch. I remember them well; 
for it was in a great measure his signs that stirred a spirit 
within me for the art, whenever I saw them, which was 


Probably painted portraits as early as 1760; and therefore is 
next in point of time. Copley, another American, after enjoy- 
ing greater advantages for the study of his art, than had been 
afforded to his countryman West, and after painting better 
pictures, in the new world, than the Pennsylvanian, followed 
him to Europe; and with admirable industry and perseverance 
raised himself nearly to a level with the best portrait painters of 
England, where portrait painting was at the period of his 
making that country his permanent place of residence, taking 
that stand which has rendered England the school for all 
artists, who desire to excel in a branch of the fine arts, more 
lucrative (though not so honorable) than history painting. 
West, as we have seen, chose the more difficult, complicated, 
and brilliant department, and was acknowledged as its head. 
Copley only took up the historic pencil at intervals, and was 
even when so employed, still a portrait painter. 

Knowing that Samuel F. B. Morse, Esq., with a wish to 
honor his countryman, had applied to Copley's son, Lord 
Lyndhurst, for information respecting his father, I requested 


From the collection of The New York Historical Society 


the noble lord's answer, which being communicated to me, is 
here given: 

" George Street, 27th December, 1827. 

"Dear Sir: I beg you will accept my best thanks for your 
discourse delivered before the National Academy at New 
York, which has been handed to me by Mr. Ward. The 
tenor of my father's life was so uniform as to afford little materi- 
als for a biographer. He was entirely devoted to his art, 
which he pursued with unremitting assiduity to the last year 
of his life. The result is before the public in his works, which 
must speak for themselves; and considering that he was en- 
tirely self-taught, and never saw a decent picture, with the ex- 
ception of his own, until he was nearly thirty years of age, the 
circumstance is, I think, worthy of admiration, and affords a 
striking proof of what natural genius, aided by determined 
perseverance can, under almost any circumstances, accomplish. 

"I remain, dear sir, 

"Your faithful servant, 


Now this is very civil, but sufficiently meagre and unsatis- 
factory. That Mr. Copley was a prudent, assiduous, perse- 
vering man, we know, and that he was a good painter before he 
left his country; but the "entirely self-taught," I reject alto- 
gether. Neither can I admit that he had not seen a "decent 
picture, with the exception of his own," before he saw the 
treasures of European art. Smibert and Blackburn painted 
in Boston; and even if the young man did not receive their in- 
struction as a pupil, he saw their pictures, which were more 
than decent, and received the instruction which is conveyed 
by studying the works of others. We shall see that Allston 
gained his first notion of coloring from a picture by Smibert 
in the neighborhood of Boston. Copley painted in New 
York, and saw the portraits executed by West in that city, 
and, as we have seen, West painted a portrait on his arrival at 
Rome, which stood a comparison with the works of Mengs. 


We have no testimony that Copley visited Philadelphia; 1 if 
he did not, it was from a lack of curiosity, and not of means, 
for he had long been in lucrative employment, and lived in 
comparative splendor. If he saw only the collection of pic- 
tures belonging to Governor Hamilton, he saw many that were 
more than decent. The Murillo of this collection was probably 
a first-rate picture. 

But if he only saw the pictures of Smibert, we know that 
he was no mean artist; and that he brought to Boston, casts, 
drawings, prints, and many copies from old masters, besides 
the Cardinal Bentivoglio, above alluded to. It is further, very 
probable, that Copley was the companion, the friend, or the 
fellow-student of the younger Smibert, under the tuition of his 
father. Copley, born in 1738, 2 was at the period of Smibert's 
death (1751), thirteen years of age, and though we find no 
direct evidence of the fact, was probably a pupil, directly or 
indirectly, of the friend of Dean Berkeley. 

Not satisfied with the information afforded by Lord Lynd- 
hurst in his letter above quoted, we, in the democratic simplicity 
of our hearts, endeavored to elicit something more definite 
from the painter's son respecting his father. We wrote to the 
noble lord, but having waited many months, we despair of 
information from that source. It has been observed, that in 
England, as well as in America, any man, however low in the 
scale of society, if he has talents, may be lifted to high rank 
and official power. But with us he is so lifted by the people, 
and remains one of them; whereas in England, he is exalted 
by the aristocracy, and is evermore lost to the mass from which 
he is taken. It is understood, that he is to become, when he 

1 Copley visited Philadelphia in September, 1771, and saw many pictures, copies 
after Correggio and others, at the house of Chief Justice William Allen. On the return 
trip to New York he says he stopped at Brunswick, N. J., and saw several pictures 
attributed to Van Dyck. 

*The date of John Singleton Copley's birth has been generally accepted as July 
8, 1737. There is, however, no entry in the Boston Records of his birth. In a letter 
from Copley to Peter Pelham dated September 12, 1766, he writes of being a "batche- 
lor of twenty-eight." This would indicate his birth as being in 1738. Copley painted 
the portrait of Reverend William Welsteed as early as 1753, and his engraving of 
the portrait bears that date. He died in London September 9, 1815. 


1735 1785 

From the collection of Columbia University 


is admitted to breathe the air of the upper region, a being of 
a superior nature from those with whom he once associated. 

Thus disappointed, we have, through the medium of a friend, 
applied to another of Mr. Copley's children, endeavoring to 
find the date of his birth, and other circumstances relative to 
his early life which might be remembered in the family with 
pleasure, and recorded to his credit. We are referred to an 
article in the "Encyclopedia Americana" for information, 
which was communicated to Doctor Leiber by Mrs. Elizabeth 
Clark Green. We give the whole. 

"John Singleton Copley, a self-taught and distinguished 
painter, was born in 1738, in Boston, Mass., and died in Lon- 
don, in 1815. Copley began to paint at a very early age; 
and pieces executed by him in Boston, before (to use his own 
words) he had seen any tolerable picture, and certainly before 
he could have received any instruction, in the art of painting, 
from the lips of a master, show his natural talent, and, in 
fact, were unsurpassed by his later productions. He did not 
visit Italy till 1774. In 1776 he went to England, where he 
met his wife and children, whom he left in Boston. As the 
struggle between England and America had begun in 1775, 
there was neither a good opportunity for Mr. Copley to return 
to his native land, which he always seems to have had in view, 
nor was there much hope of success for an artist in the con- 
vulsed state of the country. He therefore devoted himself to 
portrait painting in London, and was chosen a member of the 
Royal Academy. His first picture which may be called historical, 
was the "Youth rescued from a Shark" ; but the picture styled 
the "Death of Lord Chatham," which represents the great ora- 
tor fainting in the House of Lords, after the memorable speech in 
favor of America, and contains, at the same time, the portraits 
of all the leading men of that house, at once established his 
fame. In 1790, Copley was sent by the city of London, to 
Hanover, to take the portraits of four Hanoverian officers, 
commanders of regiments associated with the British troops 
under General Elliot (afterwards Lord Heathfield), at the de- 
fence of Gibraltar, in order to introduce them in the large 


picture, which he was about making for the city, of the siege 
and relief of Gibraltar, which was afterwards placed in the 
council chamber of Guildhall. Mr. Copley pursued his pro- 
fession with unabated ardor, until his sudden death, in 1815. 
Beside the pictures already mentioned, and a number of 
portraits, including those of members of the royal family, the 
most distinguished of his productions, are Major Pierson's 
death on the Island of Jersey; Charles the First in the House 
of Commons, demanding of the speaker, Lenthall, the five im- 
peached members, containing the portraits of the most distin- 
guished members of that house: the surrender of Admiral De 
Winter to Lord Duncan, on board the " Venerable," off Camper- 
down; Samuel and Eli, etc.; of all of which engravings exist, 
though of some (for instance the last-mentioned piece), they 
are extremely rare. His eldest and only surviving son, John 
Singleton Copley, Lord Lyndhurst, high chancellor of England, 
was born in Boston, May 21, 1772." 

We will now proceed to our task with some degree of regu- 
larity. John Singleton Copley was born at Boston, Massa- 
chusetts, in the year 1738; thirteen years before the death of 
John Smibert. He was son of John Copley and Mary Singleton 
his wife, who emigrated to America from Ireland. 

Mr. Copley soon evinced such excellence as a portrait painter 
that he commanded the time and purses of the rich. In 1768, 
we find Charles Willson Peale journeying from Annapolis to 
Boston, to seek his instruction. 

In 1771, Mr. Trumbull says, he being then at Cambridge 
College, visited Mr. Copley at the time of his marriage. He 
was dressed on the occasion in a suit of crimson velvet, with 
gold buttons, and the elegance displayed by Copley in his 
style of living, added to his high repute as an artist, made a per- 
manent impression on Trumbull in favor of the life of a painter. 

Copley married, in 177 1, 1 Miss Clarke, the daughter of a 

1 Dunlap is in error in the date of Copley's marriage. John Singleton Copley and 
Susannah Farnum Clarke were married in Boston October 23, 1769, according to the 
"Thirtieth report of Boston Record Commissioners." The marriage is not recorded 
in the Records of the Brattle Street Church. In Rev. Samuel Cooper's Almanac the 
date of marriage is given as^November 16, 1769. 


merchant of Boston, who was afterward the agent of the English 
East India Company for the sale of their teas. 

In 1773 Copley resided some time in New York, painting 
for the rich and fashionable. 1 We remember particularly the 
portrait of the Rev. Doctor Ogilvie, as of this period. The 
painter's easel was in Broadway, on the west side, in a house 
which was burnt in the great conflagration on the night the 
British army entered the city as enemies. 

In 1774 Mr. Copley proceeded to England, and thence to 
Italy, leaving his wife and family in Boston. On his return to 
London he found his family there; they having left America 
in 1776. 2 

From this period we find little to aid us in our notice of John 
Singleton Copley, except Cunningham's " Lives of Painters." 
From an English memoir of his son now before us, we copy 
the following: "Soon after the father of the present chancellor 
settled in London, he became a member of the academy of 
painters, and attracted considerable notice by several works of 
superior merit, and among others, the "Death of LordChatham," 
and the "Defence of Gibraltar." Mr. Copley, however, soon 
discovered that portrait painting, which recommends itself to 
the personal vanity and the household affections of all man- 
kind, was likely to be a more lucrative avocation than the 
severer style of historical painting, and to the former he suc- 
cessfully dedicated himself, and gradually rose to fortune and 

The few ideas conveyed by this are essentially false. Mr. 
Copley never adopted the severer style of historical painting. 
He was always a portrait painter. His historical compositions 
were labored, polished, and finished from the ermine and 
feather, to the glossy shoe and boot, or glittering star and 
buckle. The picture called the " Death of Chatham," is a col- 

1 Copley painted portraits (37) in New York City between early in June and the 
latter part of December, 1771 (Dunlap is in error in giving the year as 1773). 

2 Mrs. Copley sailed for England from Marblehead, Mass., May 27, 1775, arriving 
in England June 24, 1775, (Dunlap is in error in giving the year as 1776), remaining in 
the family of Mr. Henry BromGeld until she was joined by her husband on his arrival 
from Italy, the latter part of 1775. 


lection of portraits. It is a splendid picture, and the subject 
was well chosen for the advancement of the painter's interest. 
The exhibition of it was lucrative. Neither did Mr. Copley 
relinquish historical painting, but resorted to historical com- 
position after practising portrait, and when at times the tide of 
fashion ebbed, and left him leisure to exercise his pencil in 
the more arduous branch of the art. 

We shall borrow from Mr. Cunningham's work, and add 
such knowledge as we possess or can obtain. It appears that 
it was not Copley's loyalty or attachment to Great Britain, 
which occasioned his residence there. In a letter from John 
Scolley of Boston, to the painter in 1782, he says, "I trust 
amidst this blaze of prosperity that you don't forget your dear 
native country, and the cause it is engaged in, which I know 
lay once near your heart, and I trust does so still." 

"It is noteworthy," says Mr. Cunningham, "that almost 
at the same hour, America produced amid her deserts and 
her trading villages two distinguished painters, West and 
Copley, who unknown to each other were schooling them- 
selves in the rudiments of the art, attempting portraits of their 
friends one day, and historical compositions the other; study- 
ing nature from the naked Apollos of the wilderness, as some 
one called the native warriors; and making experiments on 
all manner of colors, primitive and compound; in short, 
groping through inspiration, the right way to eminence and 

We must strip this of its romance. That these two young 
men found the way to eminence and fame is true, but not in 
the desert or the wilderness. Colors were to be found at the 
color shops, and inspiration heaven knows where ! It was 
by exerting their talents perseveringly in pursuit of the art they 
loved, seeking and obtaining information from those who pre- 
ceded them, and never deviating from the path which wisdom 
and virtue pointed out, that they succeeded and obtained their 
reward, "eminence and fame." 

We copy the following from Mr. Cunningham. "I once 
heard an artist say that the fame of a fine painter found its way 


to England as early as the year 1760. No name was men- 
tioned. And this, he said, was the more impressed upon his 
mind, because of a painting of 'a boy and a tame squirrel.' 
which came without any letter or artist's name to one of the 
exhibitions of the Royal Academy; and when its natural 
action, and deep vivid coloring made the academicians anxious 
to give it a good place, they were at a loss what to say about 
it in the catalogue, but from the frame on which it was stretched, 
being American pine, they called the work American. The 
surmise was just; it was a portrait by Copley of his half- 
brother Harry Pelham, and of such excellence as naturally 
raised high expectations." The Royal Academy was not estab- 
lished until 1769. 

The Hon. Gulian C. Verplanck in a letter to us says, "In 
the lives of Copley I see that he gained his just celebrity in 
England by a picture of a boy and squirrel. The introduction 
of a squirrel which he painted beautifully, and whose habits he 
seems to have studied, was a favorite idea with him. I have 
a large full length of my father when a child, playing with a 
squirrel." This picture of the Hon. Crommelin Verplanck was 
probably painted hi 1773, when Copley resided in New York. 1 

Mr. Cunningham proceeds: "In 1767, when Copley was 
thirty years old we find him well known to the admirers of 
art on both sides of the Atlantic: he was then a constant ex- 
hibitor in the British Royal Academy; was earning a decent 
subsistence by his art among the citizens of Boston; had proved, 
too, that praise was sweet and censure bitter; and was, more- 
over, sighing for a sight of the Sistine Chapel, and talking of 
the great masters." 

As before noticed, in 1768 the British Royal Academy was 
not in existence, still the American painter may have exhibited 
his pictures at the Artists' exhibition room, Spring Garden, and 
that his merit was well known, and acknowledged by his 
countryman West, before Copley left Boston, is proved by 

1 The picture by which Copley "gained his just celebrity in England" is that of 
the "Boy with the Squirrel" for which his hah* brother Henry Pelham sat. It was 
painted in 1765 and exhibited in London in 1766. The portrait of Daniel Crommelin 
Verplanck (" Boy playing with a Squirrel ") was painted in New York in 1771. 


the first of the following extracts, from the letters of a distin- 
guished American gentleman, sent to us enclosed in this note: 

"Wednesday, May 14, 1834. 

"Dear Sir: In looking over some letters to my grandfather 
from his brother, I found the enclosed passages, which may 
be of service to your history of the arts. The letters are from 
the late Gulian Verplanck, whom you doubtless recollect as 
for many years, speaker of our assembly, president of the bank 
of New York, etc., etc., a gentleman of much taste and 

"Very truly yours, 


First, "London, Feb. 26, 1773. I may tell you that I have 
been introduced to Mr. West, and have made some acquaint- 
ance with him. He is of very genteel behavior, and seems 
greatly partial to Americans; at least he is much pleased with 
visits from them. He speaks very highly of Mr. Copley's 
merit, and declared to me, that in his opinion, he only wanted 
the advantage of studying proper masters to be one of the 
first painters of the age. I have an opportunity of seeing the 
greater part of Mr. West's capital paintings, and think the 
" Death of General Wolfe " decidedly the best production of his 
pencil. It will be a long time before you will have an oppor- 
tunity of judging of its merit in America, as it has lately been 
delivered to the engraver, who will require at least two years 
to complete a plate." 

Second, "Rome, March 12, 1775. I have the satisfaction 
of finding Mr. Copley in Italy, whom I persuaded to go to 
Naples with me. He has just finished two excellent portraits 
of Mr. and Mrs. Izard of S. C., who are likewise here; from 
the improvement he has already made in his manner, and will 
continue to make from studying the works of the greatest 
masters, I have no doubt but that he will soon rank with the 
first artists of the age." We recur to Cunningham: - 

"He thus sets forth his feelings in a letter to Captain Bruce, 
a gentleman of some taste, who seems to have been an admirer 


of the works of Copley 'I would gladly exchange my situa- 
tion for the serene climate of Italy, or even that of England; 
but what would be the advantage of seeking improvement at 
such an outlay of time and money? I am now in as good 
business as the poverty of this place will admit. I make as 
much as if I were a Raphael or a Correggio ; and three hundred 
guineas a year, my present income, is equal to nine hundred a 
year in London. With regard to reputation, you are sensible 
that fame cannot be durable where pictures are confined to 
sitting rooms, and regarded only for the resemblance they bear 
to their originals. Were I sure of doing as well in Europe as 
here, I would not hesitate a moment in my choice; but I might 
in the experiment waste a thousand pounds and two years of 
my time, and have to return baffled to America. Then I 
should have to take my mother with me, who is ailing: she 
does not, however, seem averse to cross the salt water once 
more; but my failure would oblige me to recross the sea again. 
My ambition whispers me to run this risk; and I think the time 
draws nigh that must determine my future fortune.' In some- 
thing of the same strain and nearly at the same time Copley 
wrote to his countryman West, then in high favor at the 
British court. 'You will see by the two pictures I have lately 
sent to your exhibition, what improvement I may still make, 
and what encouragement I may reasonably expect. I must 
beg, however, that you will not suffer your benevolent wishes 
for my welfare to induce you to think more favorably of my 
works than they deserve. To give you a further opportunity 
of judging, I shall send over to your care for the exhibition the 
portrait of a gentleman, now nearly finished: the owner will 
be in London at the same time. If your answer should be in 
favor of my visit to Europe, I must beg of you to send it as 
soon as you can, otherwise I must abide here another year, 
when my mother might be so infirm as to be unable to accom- 
pany me; and I cannot think of leaving her. Your friendly 
invitation to your house, and your offer to propose me as 
a member of the society, are matters which I shall long 


"What the answers of Bruce and West were, I have not been 
able to learn: but it is to be supposed they still left it a matter 
of uncertainty, whether it would be more profitable to go to 
London or remain in Boston. Success the wisest head can- 
not ensure; sensible and prudent mediocrity frequently wins 
what true genius cannot obtain the race of reputation is, in 
short, the most slippery and uncertain of all races. As seven 
years elapsed from this time till he finally set sail for Italy, we 
must suppose that Copley was busy extending his fame with 
his pencil, and hoarding his earnings for the outlay of travel 
and study. He had, as he acknowledged to West, as many 
commissions in Boston as he could execute. The price for 
his half lengths was fourteen guineas; and he also executed 
many likenesses in crayons; he was, therefore, waxing compara- 
tively rich. He was not one of those inconsiderate enthusiasts, 
who rashly run into undertakings which promise no certain 
return. He had labored as students seldom labor now for his 
knowledge, and for the remuneration which it brought; and 
he was wise not to commit his all to the waters of the Atlantic. 
He had continued a bachelor, according to the precept of 
Reynolds, that he might be able to pursue his studies without 
offering up his time and money at the altar of that expensive 
idol, a wife; and he had sent over various pictures, chiefly 
portraits in fancy postures and employments, with the hope 
of finding customers for them in the English market. He thus 
writes to Captain Bruce: 'Both my brother's portrait and the 
little girl's, or either of them, I am quite willing to part with, 
should any one incline to purchase them, at such a price as 
you may think proper.' I have not heard that he held any 
further consultations with captains or academicians, respect- 
ing his studies in Europe: the growing discord in America 
was a sharp sword that urged him onward; so in 1774, having 
arranged his affairs, left a number of paintings in the custody 
of his mother, and put in his pocket enough of his winnings 
for a three years' campaign in the old world, he set sail for 
Italy, by the way of England." 

We have seen many of his portraits in New York and Bos- 


ton, painted before he left America. They are in some respects 
better than his London portraits. One picture, the likeness 
of Judge Bacon's mother, we found in a city now as populous as 
Boston was when the portrait was painted, the site of which was 
literally a wilderness for fifteen years after Copley left America. 
TJtica, in the State of New York, is surrounded in every direc- 
tion by a dense and happy population. The picture alluded 
to is a fine specimen of the artist's drawing and coloring, and 
still more of elaborate finishing. 

After reminding the reader that Mr. Copley was a married 
man, and a father before he left home, we recur to Cunningham: 

"In London he found few friends, and many counsellors; 
and left it for Rome, August 26th, 1774. 1 It was his misfor- 
tune to choose for his companion an artist of the name of Car- 
ter; a captious, cross-grained, and self -conceited person, who 
kept a regular journal of his tour, in which he remorselessly 
set down the smallest trifle that could bear a construction un- 
favorable to the American's character. A few specimens may 
amuse the reader, e.g. ' This companion of mine is rather a 
singular character; he seems happy at taking things at the 
wrong end; and labored near an hour to-day to prove that a 
huckabuck towel was softer than a Barcelona silk handker- 
chief.' . . . 'My agreeable companion suspects he has got a 
cold upon his lungs. He is now sitting by a fire, the heat of 
which makes me very faint; a silk handkerchief about his head, 
and a white pocket one about his neck, applying fresh fuel, and 
complaining that the wood of this country don't give half the 
heat that the wood of America does; and has just finished a 
long-winded discourse upon the merits of an American wood 
fire, in preference to one of our coal. He has never asked me 
yet, and we have been up an hour, how I do, or how I have 
passed the night: 'tis an engaging creature.' Upon another 
occasion one traveller wishes to walk, the other is determined 

1 Copley arrived in Paris September 1, 1774, and left that city September 9, writing 
from Lyons, France, under date of September 15, again writing from Marseilles Septem- 
ber 25. He was at Geneva October 8, 1774. He wrote from Rome October 26, 1774, 
remaining in Italy until May of 1775, when he returned by way of Germany, Belgium 
and France to England, arriving late in 1775. 


to ride, and they stop in a shower to debate it. "We had a 
very warm altercation, and I was constrained to tell him, 'Sir, 
we are now more than eight hundred miles from home, through 
all which way you have not had a single care that I could 
alleviate; I have taken as much pains as to the mode of con- 
veying you, as if you had been my wife; and I cannot help 
telling you, that she, though a delicate little woman, accom- 
modated her feelings to her situation with much more temper 
than you have done.' " . . . . 'There is nothing that he is not 
master of. On asking him to-day what they called that weed 
in America, pointing to some fern; he said he knew it very 
well; there was a deal of it in America, but he had never 
heard its name.' .... 'My companion is solacing himself, 
that if they go on in America for a hundred years to come, as 
they have for a hundred and fifty years past, they shall have an 
independent government: the woods will be cleared, and, 
lying in the same latitude, they shall have the same air as in 
the south of France; art would then be encouraged there, and 
great artists would arise.' These ill-matched fellow-voyagers, 
soon after then* arrival in Rome, separated; and Carter closes 
with the following kind description of Copley, as he appeared 
on the road in his travelling trim: - 'He had on one of those 
white French bonnets, which, turned on one side, admit of 
being pulled over the ears: under this was a yellow and red 
silk handkerchief, with a large Catharine wheel flambeaued 
upon it, such as may be seen upon the necks of those delicate 
ladies who cry Malton oysters: this flowed half way down his 
back. He wore a red-brown, or rather cinnamon, great coat, 
with a friar's cape, and worsted binding of a yellowish white; 
it hung near his heels, out of which peeped his boots: under 
his arm he carried the sword which he bought in Paris, and a 
hickory stick with an ivory head. Joined to this dress, he was 
very thin, pale, a little pock-marked, prominent eyebrows, 
small eyes, which, after fatigue, seemed a day's march in his 

"Copley was, no doubt, glad to be relieved from the com- 
pany^of a man who was peevish without ill health; who, with 


his smattering of Italian, continually crowed over one who 
could only speak English; who constantly contradicted him 
in company; and, finally caricatured him when they parted. 
Our painter, in speaking afterward of his bore, said 'he was a 
sort of snail which crawled over a man in his sleep, and left its 
slime and DO more.' 

"Of Copley's proceedings in Rome we have no account; but 
we find him writing thus by May, 1775. 'Having seen the 
Roman school, and the wonderful efforts of genius exhibited 
by Grecian artists, I now wish to see the Venetian and Flemish 
schools: there is a kind of luxury in seeing, as well as there is 
in eating and drinking; the more we indulge, the less are we 
to be restrained; and indulgence in art I think innocent and 
laudable. I have not one letter to any person in all my in- 
tended route, and I may miss the most beautiful things; I 
beg you therefore, to assist and advise me. I propose to leave 
Rome about the 20th of May; go to Florence, Parma, Mantua, 
Venice, Inspruck, Augsburg, Stuttgardt, Manheim, Coblentz, 
Cologne, Dusseldorf, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Leyden, Rotter- 
dam, Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Lille, Paris, London. 
The only considerable stay which I intend to make will be at 
Parma, to copy the fine Correggio. Art is in its utmost per- 
fection here; a mind susceptible of the fine feelings which art 
is calculated to excite, will find abundance of pleasure in this 
country. The Apollo, the Laocoon, etc., leave nothing for 
the human mind to wish for; more cannot be effected by the 
genius of man than what is happily combined in those miracles 
of the chisel.' 

"No memorial remains of what he said or did in the route 
marked out in this letter, save the copy of the Parma Correg- 
gio. His imitation is in England, and may be compared, 
without injury to his name, with any copies made by his 
brethren of the British school. 

"In the latter end of the year 1775, Copley reached London; 
and set up his easel, 25 George Street, Hanover Square. West 
was as good as his word: he introduced him to the academy; 
in. 1777 he became an associate; and in February, 1783, we 


find the king sanctioning his election as a royal academician. 

"By this time Copley's name had been established by works 
of eminent merit; among the first of which was 'The Death 
of Chatham.' The chief excellence of this picture is the accu- 
rate delineation of that impressive event, and the vast number 
of noble heads, all portraits, with which the House of Lords is 
thronged; its chief fault is an air of formality, and a deficiency 
of deep feeling : yet, it must be owned that those who are near 
the dying statesman are sufficiently moved. All lords could 
not feel alike; some seem standing for their portraits; some 
seem anxious about their places; and others, from their looks, 
may be supposed inwardly rejoicing that death, having struck 
the head of the administration, seems satisfied with his prey. 
Praise poured in upon the successful painter from all quarters; 
no people were more pleased than his old companions in 
America; and many letters were addressed to him from grave 
and aged persons. --'I delight,' said the venerable Mather 
Byles, of Boston, 'in the fame you have acquired; and I delight 
in being ranked among your earliest friends.' No one, it may 
be believed, rejoiced more than his mother. She was now 
very old, feeble in body, sinking silently into the grave; had 
suffered in peace of mind, and in property, during the war of 
separation; but what she lamented most were the interruptions 
which took place in a correspondence with her son: private 
letters were sometimes detained by the government, and she 
was months without the solace of his handwriting. It appears, 
too, that her circumstances were far from affluent ; and it must 
be related to the honor of all concerned, that she made no 
complaint, and that her son did not forget her, or any of his 
relatives, amid all his prosperity. 

"The fame which Copley acquired, and the value which he 
put upon this noble picture, brought him, along with many 
friends, a few detractors. To have refused 1500 guineas, was, 
in the sight of some, offence enough; nor was this forgotten, 
when some time afterward the fame of the painting was revived 
by a splendid engraving of large size, of which no less than 
five-and-twenty hundred impressions were sold in a very few 


weeks. He was advised to exhibit the picture; and naturally 
preferring the time when the town is fullest, hired a room, and 
announced his intention, without reflecting that the Royal 
Academy Exhibition was about to open. He met with unex- 
pected opposition. Sir William Chambers remonstrated: 
The room which was chosen belonged to the king; it was his 
duty, he said, to protect the interests of the Royal Academy, 
which were sure to suffer from such partial exhibitions; and he 
interposed, lest the world should think that the king, who had 
aided and protected the academy, now countenanced an exhi- 
bition injurious to its welfare, and contrary to the spirit and 
rules of the institution. This, Copley thought a little too 
autocratic in the architect, who, moreover, had not hesitated to 
imbitter his opposition by most gratuitous incivilities. Those 
who desire to know how men of eminence in art addressed 
each other in the year 1781, may consult the conclusion of 
Sir William's epistle: 'No one wishes Mr. Copley greater 
success, or is more sensible of his merit, than his humble ser- 
vant; who, if he may be allowed to give his opinion, thinks no 
place so proper as the royal exhibition to promote either the 
sale of prints, or the raffle for the picture, which he understands 
are Mr. Copley's motives: or, if that should be objected to, he 
thinks no place so proper as Mr. Copley's own house, where 
the idea of a raree-show will not be quite so striking as in any 
other place, and where his own presence will not fail to be of 
service to his views.' The painter was much incensed by this 
language, and had some intention, when he moved his picture 
to another place, of stating publicly the cause of this vexatious 
change : he did, however, what many wise men do having 
vented his wrath and sarcasm on paper in the morning, he 
sweetened the bitterness of the invective a little at mid-day, 
laughed at the whole affair in the evening, and threw the satire 
into the fire before he went to bed. The picture was so much 
admired, that the artist was emboldened to have an engraving 
made from it of unusual size, viz., thirty inches long and twenty- 
two inches and a half high, by the hand of Bartolozzi. 

"When this great plate was finished, he was remembered by 


all those to whom he had happened to give offence; more par- 
ticularly by those who were envious of his success. They 
spread a report everywhere that he had fraudulently withheld 
from his subscribers the early impressions to which the order 
of signatures entitled them. This audacious calumny was 
promptly refuted; four gentlemen of taste and talent, one of 
them Edmund Malone, took up the cause of their injured 
friend, and proved to the satisfaction of the public first, that 
Bartolozzi received 2000 for the plate; secondly, that the 
number of subscribers, from April, 1780, to August, 1782, 
amounted to 1750; thirdly, that 2438 impressions were taken 
in all; fourthly, that 320 proofs were struck from the plate; 
and, finally, that the impressions were delivered to the sub- 
scribers according to the order of subscription. The appro- 
bation of many good judges compensated, for the pain which 
this rumor occasioned: he could not but feel gratified with 
the united thanks of Washington and Adams, to whom he had 
presented two of the prints: 'This work,' says the former, 
* highly valuable in itself, is rendered more estimable 'in my 
eye, when I remember that America gave birth to the cele- 
brated artist who produced it.' 'I shall preserve my copy,' 
said the latter, 'both as a token of your friendship, and as an 
indubitable proof of American genius.' ' 

In the year 1784, the writer carried letters to Mr. Copley 
from his wife's relatives in New York. In the summer of that 
year were on exhibition the great historical pictures of the 
"Death of Chatham," "The Youth rescued from a Shark," 
and "The Death of Major Pierson." 

The history of England is the history of our fathers. It is 
our history to the time of separation by the Declaration of 
Independence of 1776. The good and the bad of English 
history are ours up to that tune, and as much belonging to us 
as to those who now inhabit the island of Great Britain. We 
inherit the blessings proceeding from her patriots and heroes 
her poets and sages; and the curses entailed upon us by her mis- 
taken statesmen and avaricious merchants. Shakspeare and 
Milton Bacon, Locke, and Newton, are ours, and their minds 


are mingled with our intellectual being. So the deeds of 
Hampden and Sidney, and all the men who thought and 
fought, and bled for liberty of mind and body, are subjects for 
the pencils of American painters. Mr. Copley chose and finely 
executed one great picture from this period of English history, 
"The Arjestjofjhe Five Members of the Commons, by Charles 
the First." But Copley was, vvhcii HSHUVed tu England, no 
longer an American painter in feeling; and his choice of sub- 
jects for historical composition, was decided by the circum- 
stances of the time, or by employers. The picture called the 
Death of Lord Chatham, is connected with the history of 
America. He received the dart of death (for he never recovered 
from the fainting of that day), exerting himself in opposition 
to that independence which is our glory, and which with its 
offspring, our union under the federal constitution, is the source 
of all our political happiness. The subject was worthy of the 
historical painter. It is the last scene in the public life of a 
great man. The last exertion of his transcendent powers for 
what he thought the honor and interest of his country. He 
died exerting his eloquence to rouse his countrymen to redouble 
their efforts for the destruction of our liberties. 

The second picture that we have mentioned above, repre- 
sents the rescuing of Brooko Watoon-(an American adventurer 
from one of the New England provinces, who was afterwards 
commissary general of the English armies in America, lord 
mayor "of great London," and a member of the parliament 
of Great Britain), from the jaws of a shark, in the harbor of 
the Havana. This individual is memorable as arrayed with 
our enemies in opposition to our independence, and with the 
enemies of God and man in opposition to the abolitionists of 
the slave trade in the English House of Commons. Before he 
avowedly joined the standard of Britain, the traitor ingratiated 
himself with many leading Americans, obtained as much in- 
formation of their designs as he could, and transmitted it to his 
chosen masters. In the character of legislator, his argument in 
support of the trade in human flesh was that it would injure the 
market for the refuse fish of the English fisheries to abolish 


it these refuse fish being purchased by the West India 
planters for their slaves. To immortalize such a man was the 
pencil of Copley employed. The picture may be seen in 
"Christ's Hospital School," and the debate in which this ar- 
gument is urged may be read in the records of "St. Stephen's 
Chapel." Both holy places. 

The third picture above mentioned, and a very fine one it 
is, represents the death of Major Pierson, in a skirmish on 
the island of Jersey. 

West, as we have seen, produced, in his "Death of Wolfe," 
the first historical picture of this species. It is a curious fact 
that three Americans in succession painted successfully in this 
style, and led the way to Europeans. West, the founder, the 
inventor, the original, the master; Copley, the second, his 
immediate follower; and Trumbull, painting under West's 
eye, the third. West's Wolfe is not only the first in point of 
time, but the first in excellence; Copley's the second; and 
Trumbull's "Bunker Hill" the third. Copley, in the years 
1786-7, painted another picture of this class, his Elliot at 
Gibraltar (if his daughter is correct, as quoted above, this 
picture was not finished in 1790; I saw it in progress as early 
as 1787), and Trumbull followed with a picture on a similar 
subject, Elliot's triumph over the French and Spanish com- 
bined forces at Gibraltar. Of these three Americans, West 
painted the triumph of the colonists of Great Britain and her 
European soldiers over France, and the establishment thereby 
of the Protestant religion and the liberties of the colonies; he 
composed the first picture of the heroic class in which modern 
costume was introduced, and has all the merit of original dar- 
ing with perfect success; Copley followed in his track, second 
in all, though displaying great talents: Trumbull followed, with 
both before him, in every sense. 

I will now recur to Mr. Cunningham, and the reader will 
find just opinions and descriptions of the above pictures of Mr. 
Copley's, as well as others: 

"At this time historical painting seemed to have a chance 
of taking a hold on public affection; the king patronized it 


openly; several dignitaries of the church, and sundry noble- 
men, obeyed their own taste, or the example of the throne, and 
ordered pictures; and finally, Alderman Boydell entered into 
a covenant with a number of the academicians to unite their 
talents, and form a gallery of English works in the manner of 
some of those in foreign lands; we have stated this more fully 
elsewhere; at present it is sufficient to say that Copley was 
one of the select, and that various subjects presented them- 
selves to his fancy: 1. The Assassination of Buckingham; 
2. Charles signing Straff ord's Death Warrant; 3. Charles ad- 
dressing the Citizens of London; 4. The Five Impeached 
Members brought in Triumph to Westminster; 5. The Speaker 
of the Commons thanks the City Sheriffs for protecting the 
Five Impeached Members; 6. The Members of the House of 
Commons appear before the Army on Hounslow; 7. London 
sends Six Aldermen to General Monk, and submits; 8. The 
Lord Mayor presenting a Gold Cup to Monk; 9. The General 
conducts the Members back to Westminster Hall; 10. The 
King's Escape from Hampton Court. It must be confessed 
that some of these themes smack of Bow Bells and Cheapside; 
they were probably suggested to Copley by the worthy alder- 
man, who was anxious to honor his predecessors, in the hope 
of not being forgotten himself. While this list was under con- 
sideration, an event happened, in the course of the war, which 
furnished a subject of more immediate interest. 

"The French invaded Jersey; stormed St. Helier; took 
the commander prisoner, and compelled him to sign the sur- 
render of the island. Major Pierson, a youth of twenty-four, 
refused to yield collected some troops charged the invad- 
ers with equal courage and skill defeated them with much 
effusion of blood, but fell himself in the moment of victory, not 
by a random shot, but by a ball aimed deliberately at him by 
a French officer, who fell in his turn, shot through the heart 
by the African servant of the dying victor. It is enough to 
say in praise of any work, that it is worthy of such a scene. 
The first print I ever saw was from this picture: it was en- 
graved by Heath; and equals in dimensions that of 'The 


Death of Chatham.' I was very young, not ten years old; 
but the scene has ever since been present to my fancy. I 
thought then, what I think still, on looking at the original 
that it is stamped with true life and heroism: there is nothing 
mean, nothing little, the fierce fight, the affrighted women, 
the falling warrior, and the avenging of his death, are all 
there: this story is finely told. The picture was painted for 
Boydell: long afterward, when his gallery was dispersed, it 
was purchased back by Copley, and is now in the keeping 
of his distinguished son, Lord Lyndhurst. 

"His next subject was a much more magnificent one, but 
too vast and varied perhaps the repulse and defeat of the 
Spanish floating batteries at Gibraltar. The common council 
of London commissioned this picture for their hall; and they 
gave ample space and verge enough, wherein to trace the be- 
leaguered rock and its fiery assailants; viz., a panel twenty-five 
feet long and twenty-two feet and a half high. In this great 
picture, as in others, he introduced many portraits; the gallant 
Lord Heathfield himself is foremost in the scene of death; and 
near him appear Sir Robert Boyd, Sir William Green, chief 
engineer, and others, to the amount of a dozen or fifteen. The 
fire of the artillery has slackened; the floating batteries, on 
whose roofs thirteen-inch shells and showers of thirty-two 
pound balls had fallen harmless, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, 
are now sending up flames on all sides; while their mariners 
are leaping in scores into the sea. The scene of desolation is 
certainly grand. There is, however, a want of true perspective : 
the defenders of the rock are like the children of Anak; the 
perishing mariners, at the very line where the sea washes the 
defences of stone, are less than ordinary mortals. The figures 
have been charged with looking more formal and stiff than 
nature. This may be too severe but on the whole I cannot 
class the piece with his happiest works. I may mention here 
a work bequeathed by Copley to that noble institution, 
Christ's Hospital School, painted early in his career, and 
representing the escape of Brooke Watson, when a sea boy, 
from a shark. He was bathing at Havana; a shark seized 


his foot and snapped it off, and was about to devour him, when 
a seaman struck the monster between the eyes with a heavy 
boat hook, and saved his companion. The terror of the boy 
the fury of the fish and the resolution of the mariner, are 
well represented; while the agitated water in which the scene 
is laid seems bloody." 

In addition to what I have said of Brooke Watson, I will add 
that he was at Montreal when the patriotic Colonel Allen 
made his rash attempt to take that place in October, 1775. 
He accompanied Allen, who was taken prisoner and kept in 
irons, to England; and treated him with cruelty and abuse. 

We saw, when in London, a full-length by Copley, repre- 
senting John Adams as the first ambassador of the United 
States to the court of St. James. To that king whose subject 
he had been born, and from whom he had been a most efficient 
instrument in rescuing millions who would otherwise have been 
ruled by the laws framed by the British parliament, and by 
the bayonets of British mercenaries, equally interested in 
plundering and trampling on them. Cunningham says : 

"Subjects from British history and British poetry were 
what Copley chiefly found pleasure in. The first installation 
of the Order of St. Patrick seemed to him a subject worthy of 
the pencil; and Edmund Ma lone readily aided him with his 
knowledge ; and the Irish nobility, with but one exception or so, 
offered to give him the advantage of then* faces, so that the 
whole might bear the true image of the green isle. Of this 
projected work the painter thus speaks: 'I think it a magnifi- 
cent subject for painting; and my desire is to treat it in an 
historic style, and make it a companion to the picture of Lord 
Chatham: filling the whole with the portraits of the knights 
and other great characters. The idea originated with myself; 
and I mean to paint it on my own account, and publish a print 
from it of the same size as that of Chatham.' This was a vain 
imagination the king approved of the work; the nobility of 
Ireland promised to sit for their portraits, though one of them, 
Lord Inchiquin, I think, declared sitting for one's portrait to 
be a punishment almost unendurable; but somehow, here the 


matter stopped, and the first installation of the Order of St. 
Patrick is yet to be painted. 

"It ought to be mentioned that Copley, amid all his his- 
torical works, continued to paint portraits, and had in that way 
considerable employment. Among others he took the likeness 
of Lord Mansfield; and has left us a very fine family group 
of himself, his wife, and his children: the hands are well pro- 
portioned; there is much nature in the looks of the whole, and 
some very fine coloring. 

"A portrait painter in large practice might write a pretty 
book on the vanity and singularity of his sitters. A certain 
man came to Copley, and had himself, his wife, and seven 
children, all included in a family piece. 'It wants but one 
thing,' said he, 'and that is the portrait of my first wife for 
this one is my second.' 'But,' said the artist, 'she is dead, 
you know, sir: what can I do? She is only to be admitted as an 
angel.' 'Oh, no! not at all,' answered the other; 'she must 
come in as a woman no angels for me.' The portrait was 
added, but some time elapsed before the person came back: 
when he returned, he had a stranger lady on his arm. 'I must 
have another cast of your hand, Copley,' he said: 'an acci- 
dent befell my second wife: this lady is my third, and she is 
come to have her likeness included in the family picture.' 
The painter complied the likeness was introduced and 
the husband looked with a glance of satisfaction on his three 
spouses: not so the lady; she remonstrated; never was such a 
thing heard of out her predecessors must go. The artist 
painted them out accordingly; and had to bring an action 
at law to obtain payment for the portraits which he had 

"The mind of Copley teemed with large pictures: he had 
hardly failed in his Irish subject before he resolved to try an 
English one, viz. the Arrest of the Five Members of the Com- 
mons by Charles the First. Malone, an indefatigable friend, 
supplied the historical information, and gave a list of the chief 
men whose faces ought to be introduced. It was the good 
fortune of the eminent men of those days, both cavaliers and 


roundheads, that their portraits had chiefly been taken by the 
inimitable Van Dyck: all that had to be done, therefore, was to 
collect these heads, and paint his picture from them. They 
were, it is true, scattered east, west, north, and south: but no 
sooner was Copley's undertaking publicly announced, than 
pictures came from all quarters; and it is a proof of his name 
and fame that such treasures were placed in his hands with the 
most unlimited confidence. The labor which this picture 
required must have been immense; besides the grouping, the 
proper distribution of parts, and the passion and varied feelings 
of the scene, he had some fifty-eight likenesses to make of a 
size corresponding with his design. The point of time chosen is 
when the king having demanded if Hampden, Pym, Hollis, 
Hazelrig, and Strode were present, Lenthall the speaker 
replies, 'I have, sir, neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak, 
in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct me.' The 
scene is one of deep interest, and the artist has handled it with 
considerable skill and knowledge. The head I like best is 
the dark and enthusiastic Sir Harry Vane: the Cromwell is 
comparatively a failure. Many have left their seats dismayed; 
while fear, and anger, and indignation have thrown the whole 
into natural groupings: the picture was much talked of when 
it appeared, and deserves to be remembered still. 

"There has always been a difficulty in disposing of historical 
pictures in this country; and no one was doomed to experience 
it more than Copley: no customer made his appearance for 
Charles and the impeached members. I know not whether the 
following remarkable letter, from a wealthy peer, arose from 
his own inquiries, or from an offer made by the artist; the 
letter, however, is genuine, and proves that they err, who 
imagine that the spirit of bargaining is confined to mercantile 

' 'Lord Ferrers' compliments to Mr. Copley; he cannot 
form any judgment of the picture; but, as money is scarce, 
and any one may make eight per cent of their money in the 
funds, and particularly in navy bills, and there is so much gam- 
ing, he hopes he'll excuse his valuing his picture in conformity 


to the times, and not think he depreciates in the least from Mr. 
Copley's just merit; but if he reckons fifty-seven figures, there 
are not above one-third that are capital, but are only heads or 
a little more; and therefore he thinks, according to the present 
times, if he gets nine hundred pounds for the picture with 
the frame, after the three other figures are put in, and it is com- 
pletely finished, and he has the power of taking a copy, it is 
pretty near the value : that is what very few people can afford 
to give for a picture. However, if Mr. Copley would under- 
take to do a family piece for him with about six figures, about 
the size of the picture he has of Mr. Wright's, with frame and 
all, he would agree to give him a thousand guineas for the two 
pictures. But he imagines the emperor or some of the royal 
family may give him more, perhaps a great deal more, which 
he wishes they may, and thinks he well deserves; but if he can't 
make a better bargain, Lord Ferrers will stand to what he 
says, and give him six months to consider of it, and will not 
take it amiss if he sells it for ever so little more than he has 
mentioned, as he has stretched to the utmost of his purse, 
though he does not think he has come near up to Mr. Copley's 

" ' Upper Seymour Street, 5th June. 1791.' 

" Copley felt himself so much obliged to Malone for historical 
help, that he made a public acknowledgment of it; but he 
seemed not to be aware that he had received invisible help 
before, both in America and England. The person who had 
done this good deed was Lord Buchan; and, lest the painter 
should go to the grave in ignorance of the name of his bene- 
factor, he addressed this characteristic note from Dryburgh: 
'You are now the father of my list in the charming art of per- 
petuating or greatly extending the impressions received by the 
most spiritual of our external senses from living forms. I take 
pride to myself in having been the first, with your "Boy and 
Squirrel," and your excellent character from the other side of 
the Atlantic, to make you properly known to the illustrious 
Pitt, to whom in this particular department there has been 


found no equal.' This northern lord lived, and, I hear, died, 
in the belief that he was the great support of literature and 
patron of art. But, though the elder brother of two men of 
wit and genius, he was, in fact, in every possible respect, saving 
his coronet, a nobody. 

"No artist was ever more ready than Copley to lend his 
pencil to celebrate passing events; the defeat of De Winter by 
Duncan was now celebrated in a picture, exhibiting consider- 
able skill in depicting maritime movements, and containing in 
all twelve portraits. He is not, however, so happy at sea as on 
land ; indeed, a naval battle is conducted on such mathematical 
principles, that no human ingenuity seems capable of in- 
fusing poetic beauty into the scene. When we have seen the 
sides, and the prow, and the stern, of a ship, we have seen all; 
their tiers of guns, their masts, then* rigging, and their mode 
of fighting, are all alike. 'The Battle of La Hogue' is the best 
of all the pieces of this class; yet a distinguished officer once 
called it, in my hearing, a splendid confusion; and declared if 
the painter had commanded the fleet, and conducted it so, he 
would have been soundly thrashed. When Nelson fell at 
Trafalgar, West dipped his brush in historic paint. Copley 
did the same; the former finished his picture, the latter but 
planned his. The tide of taste had set in against compositions 
of that extent and character: more youthful adventurers 
were making their appearance. Lawrence, Beechey, and Shee, 
with their splendid portraitures Stothard, with his poetic pic- 
tures and Turner, with his magical landscape, began to ap- 
pear in the van ; and, at seventy years of age, nature admonished 
Copley to cease thinking of the public, and prepare for a 
higher tribunal. He had still, however, energy sufficient to 
send works from his easel to the exhibition; among which were 
portraits of the Earl of Northampton, Baron Graham, Vis- 
count Dudley and Ward, Lord Sidmouth, the Prince of Wales 
at a review, attended by Lord Heathfield, and other military 
worthies. His last work was 'The Resurrection'; and with 
this his labors closed, unless we except a portrait of his son, 
Lord Lyndhurst, painted in 1814. An American gentleman 


applied to him for information and materials to compose a 
narrative of his life; he felt a reluctance, which all must feel, 
about complying with such a request; and while he was hesi- 
tating, death interposed. He died 9th September, 1815, aged 
seventy-eight years. 

"Those who desire to know the modes of study, the peculiar 
habits, the feelings and opinions, likings and dislikings, of 
Copley, cannot, I fear, be gratified. No one lives now who 
could tell us of his early days, when the boy, on the wild shores 
of America, achieved works of surpassing beauty; he is but 
remembered in his declining years, when the world had sobered 
down his mood, and the ecstasy of the blood was departed. 
He has been represented to me by some as a peevish and 
peremptory man, while others describe him as mild and unas- 
suming. Man has many moods, and they have all, I doubt 
not, spoken the truth of their impressions. I can depend more 
upon the authority which says, he was fond of books, a lover 
of history, and well acquainted with poetry, especially the 
divine works of Milton. These he preferred to exercise, either 
on foot or on horseback, when labor at the easel was over 
and his bookish turn has been talked of as injurious to his 
health; but no one has much right to complain of shortness 
of years, who lives to see out threescore and eighteen. 

"He sometimes made experiments in colors; the methods of 
the Greeks, the elder Italians, and the schools of Florence and 
Venice, he was long in quest of; and he wrote out receipts 
for composing those lustrous hues in which Titian and Cor- 
reggio excelled. For the worth of his discoveries, read not 
his receipts, but look at his works; of^all that he ever painted, 
nothing surpasses his 'Boy and Squirrel* for fine depth and 
beauty of color; and this was done, I presume, before he 
heard the name of Titian pronounced. His 'Samuel reproving 
Saul for sparing the People of Amalek,' is likewise a fine bit 
of coloring, with good feeling and good drawing, too. I have 
only this to add to what has been already said of his works; 
he shares with West the reproach of want of natural warmth 
and uniting much stateliness with little passion. As to his 


personal character, it seems to have been in all essential re- 
spects, that of an honorable and accomplished gentleman. 

"Copley's eminent son still inhabits the artist's house in 
George Street, Hanover Square; and all must consider it as 
honorable to this noble person, that he has made it his object 
to collect works of his father's pencil wherewith to adorn the 
apartments in which they were conceived and produced." 

We have given our opinion of the merits of Mr. Copley as 
a painter, and will add that of a higher authority. In a note 
which we are permitted to copy, Mr. Thomas Sully says, 
"Copley was in all respects but one equal to West; he had 
not so great dispatch: but then he was more correct, and did 
not so often repeat himself. His early portraits, which I saw 
at Boston, show the same style, only less finished, that he kept 
to the last. He had great force and breadth. He was crude 
in coloring, and used hard terminations." Highly as we re- 
spect this authority, we must still think that Copley, as an his- 
torical painter, was inferior to West in very many points; in 
portraits he was his superior. It appears to us strange that 
any one who has seen the appropriate variation of style from 
the Scripture subjects for Windsor, to the Roman pictures 
the representations of English history from Edward III to 
Cromwell from the battles of the Boyne, La Hogue, and 
Quebec, to Telemachus, Mentor, and Calypso can place Mr. 
Copley near his great countryman. 

We will give some anecdotes elucidating Copley's elaborate 
mode of working: and first, from Mr. Sargent: 

"Stuart used to tell me, that no man ever knew how to 
manage paint better than Copley. I suppose he meant that 
firm, artist-like manner in which it was applied to the canvas; 
but he said he was very tedious in his practice. He once 
visited Copley in his painting room, and being a good deal of 
a beau ! ! " (by these notes of admiration we suppose Mr. Sar- 
gent to allude to Stuart's slovenly, snuffy appearance when 
he knew him), " Copley asked him to stand for him, that he 
might paint a bit of a ruffle-shirt that stuck out of his bosom. 
Not thinking that it would take more than a few minutes, he 


complied. But after standing a long time, and growing un- 
easy, Copley began to apologize. 'No consequence at all/ 
said Stuart, ' I beg you would finish do all you can do to it 
now, for this is the last time you ever get me into such a 

"Copley's manner," continues Mr. Sargent, "though his 
pictures have great merit, was very mechanical. He painted 
a very beautiful head of my mother, who told me that she sat 
to him fifteen or sixteen times! Six hours at a time! ! And that 
once she had been sitting to him for many hours, when he left 
the room for a few minutes, but requested that she would not 
move from her seat during his absence. She had the curiosity, 
however, to peep at the picture, and, to her astonishment, she 
found it all rubbed out." 

On this same subject we quote from letters in answer to our 
inquiries, addressed to that very distinguished artist, C. R. 
Leslie, Esq., R. A. 

"Of Copley I can tell you very little. I saw him once in 
Mr. West's gallery, but he died very soon after my arrival 
in London. Mr. West told me he was the most tedious of all 
painters. When painting a portrait, he used to match with his 
palette knife a tint for every part of the face, whether in light, 
shadow, or reflection. This occupied himself and the sitter a 
long time before he touched the canvas. One of the most 
beautiful of his portrait compositions is at Windsor Castle, and 
represents a group of the royal children playing in a garden 
with dogs and parrots. It was painted at Windsor, and during 
the operation, the children, the dogs, and the parrots became 
equally wearied. The persons who were obliged to attend 
them while sitting complained to the queen; the queen com- 
plained to the king and the king complained to Mr. West, 
who had obtained the commission for Copley. Mr. West satis- 
fied his majesty that Copley must be allowed to proceed in his 
own way, and that any attempt to hurry him might be injurious 
to the picture, which would be a very fine one when done." 
^ The prediction of West was fully accomplished; and this 
graceful, splendid, and beautiful composition was seen by the 


writer at Somerset House, in the year 1786 or 7, and is remem- 
bered with pleasure to this day. 

On the subject of Copley, we must give our readers some 
further valuable and entertaining matter from the pen of Mr. 
Leslie. He says: 

"As you ask my opinion of Copley, you shall have it, such 
as it is. His merits and defects resemble those of West. I 
know not that he was ever a regular pupil of the president, but 
he was certainly of his school. Correct in drawing, with a 
fine manner of composition, and a true eye for light and shadow, 
he was defective in coloring. With him it wants brilliancy and 
transparency. His 'Death of Major Pierson,' I think his finest 
historical work you have perhaps seen it at any rate you 
know the fine engraving of it, by James Heath. Copley's 
largest picture is in Guildhall; the destruction of the floating 
batteries off Gibraltar, by General Elliot. The foreground 
figures are as large as life, but those in the middle distance, 
are either too small or deficient in aerial perspective. Instead 
of looking like men diminished by distance, they look less 
than life. With the exception of this defect the picture is a 
fine one. His 'Death of Lord Chatham' is now in the National 
Gallery. It is the best colored picture I have seen by him, but 
it has a defect frequent in large compositions made up of a 
number of portraits. There are too many figures to let. Too 
many unoccupied, and merely introduced to show the faces. 
His picture of Brooke Watson and the shark, is in the large 
hall of the Blue Coat School. It is a good picture, but dry and 
bad in color. He painted, I believe, a great many portraits, but 
I have seen none of any consequence excepting the group of 
the King's Children I described to you in my last. It is a 
beautiful picture. I have heard Allston say, he has seen very 
fine portraits, painted by Copley before he left America. I 
would advise you to write to Allston about it." In another of 
Mr. Leslie's valuable letters we have the following: "I 
know not if Allan Cunningham in his life of Copley, has told 
the following story of his tediousness as a painter. It is said, a 
gentleman employed him to paint his family in one large picture, 


but during its progress, the gentleman's wife died, and he 
married again. Copley was now obliged to obliterate all that 
was painted of the first wife, and place her in the clouds in the 
character of an angel, while her successor occupied her place on 
earth. But lo! she died also, and the picture proceeded so 
slowly as to allow the husband time enough to console himself 
with a third wife. When the picture was completed, therefore, 
the gentleman had two wives in heaven, and one on earth, with 
a sufficient quantity of children. The price, which was pro- 
portioned to the labor bestowed on the picture, was disputed 
by the employer, who alleged that the picture ought to have 
been completed before his domestic changes had rendered the 
alterations and additions necessary. Copley went to law with 
him; and his son (now Lord Lyndhurst), who was just ad- 
mitted to the bar, gained his father's cause. The story was 
told me by a gentleman, who was old enough to remember 
Copley, but he did not give me his authority for it, and I fear 
it is too good to be true. I remember one or two of Copley's 
last pictures in the exhibition, but they were very poor; he 
had outlived his powers as an artist." 

It has been said that Mr. Copley's death was accelerated by 
two concurrent circumstances, both affecting his purse. The 
one was the dilatoriness of Bartolozzi in finishing the print of 
the Death of Chatham, by which he lost many subscribers, 
and experienced a diminished sale. The other is thus related. 
Some American speculator who was acquainted with the superb 
situation of Copley's house in Boston (overlooking the beauti- 
ful green and parade ground called the Common, with the 
Mall, and its venerable trees), and who knew the rapid increase 
in value, which such property had experienced, and was daily 
experiencing, made an offer to the painter for the purchase, 
which, compared to the value of property in the town of Bos- 
ton in former days, seemed enormous. Copley eagerly closed 
with him, and sold the property for a song, compared to its 
real value. Shortly after the irrevocable deed was done, he 
heard that it was worth ten perhaps twenty times the money 
he had received in short, that he had lost a fortune. He, 


it is said, tried to undo the bargain, and even sent his lawyer 
son to Boston for the purpose, but his travelling countryman 
had left no loophole for the future peer of the realm of Great 
Britain to peer into. All was irrevocably fast, and these losses 
are said to have shortened his days. All this may be mere 
gossip. It is more than gossip, that John Singleton Copley 
was a great painter, and a good man. It is undoubtedly true 
that he experienced disappointment and loss from another 
engraving of his "Chatham." 

This was by the decision of a stupid jury against him, July 
2, 1801. The circumstances are thus well told: 

"Law Intelligence. Delatre v. Copley. This cause occupied 
the attention of the 'Court of King's Bench,' the whole day, 
and excited a considerable degree of interest. The question 
was concerning the execution of an engraving from the cele- 
brated picture of the death of Lord Chatham. This was 
originally painted by the defendant. As soon as it was finished 
he put it in the hands of Bartolozzi, who undertook to engrave 
it for 2000 guineas. This print was admirably done, but the 
price being high, he wished to publish another which he could 
afford to sell at a more moderate rate. He therefore con- 
tracted with the plaintiff, for an engraving about half the size, 
for which he was to give him about 800. After working on 
the plate three years, Mr. Delatre thought he had brought it 
to perfection, and sent a proof to Mr. Copley. The latter, 
however, was dissatisfied with the performance, and refused to 
pay the stipulated sum; when the action was brought to recover 
650, as the balance due the plaintiff, he having received 
150, during the course of the work. 

"The first witness called was M. Bartolozzi, who spoke very 
much in favor of the engraving. Copies of it were produced, 
as well as of Bartolozzi's. Mr. Erskine in cross-examining the 
witness, desired him to compare minutely the two prints 
together. 'Do you see, sir,' said he, 'in your own, the youngest 
son of Lord Chatham, in a naval uniform, bending forward 
with a tear in his eye, and a countenance displaying the agony 
of an affectionate son, on beholding a dying father; and do 


you not see in the other, an assassin, with a scar upon his cheek, 
exulting over the body of an old man whom he has murdered? 
In the one you observe the late minister, a thin, fair com- 
plexioned, genteel-looking young man; in the other, a fat, 
round-faced, grim-visaged negro. In the one, the Archbishop 
of York appears in his true colors, as a dignified and venerable 
prelate; in the other, his place is usurped by the drunken 
parson in Hogarth's "Harlot's Progress". In the one, the Earl 
of Chatham is supported by his son-in-law, Lord Stanhope, 
a figure tall, slender and elegant; and does not the other offer 
to view a short, sturdy porter of a bagnio, lugging home an 
old letcher, who had got mortal drunk?' M. Bartolozzi allowed 
that some of the portraits were not exactly alike, but main- 
tained that the piece was well executed upon the whole. Mr. 
Pitt's looks, he said, had altered much of late years, and this 
accounted for the dissimilarity of his appearance in the two 
prints. This remark caused a loud and general laugh. 

"M. Bartolozzi was followed by an immense number of 
other engravers, who all coincided in opinion with him. 

"After a very elegant speech for the defendant, from Mr. 
Erskine, as many eminent painters were called, whose opinion 
was diametrically opposite. Among these were Sir William 
Beechey, Mr. Opie, Mr. Cosway, Mr. President West, and Mr. 
Hopner; they, together with several engravers, unanimously 
pronounced the engraving extremely ill executed, and declared 
that the defendant could not publish it without materially 
injuring his reputation. 

"Lord Kenyon professed total ignorance upon this subject; 
the knowledge of the fine arts, he said, doubtless added to the 
value of human life; but this source of enjoyment had unfor- 
tunately never been open to him. He found himself in a wilder- 
ness, and at a loss what path to take to arrive at justice; he 
found fourteen persons who advised him to go one way, and 
other fourteen who insisted upon his going another. He would 
not even talk upon this subject, lest he should appear a fool 
and a babbler, like the man who discoursed upon the art of 
war before Hannibal. In the course of his charge, however, the 


noble lord laid great stress upon the evidence of Mr. West, 
and though he gave no direction to the jury, seemed inclined 
to think that the defendant was entitled to a verdict. The jury 
nevertheless after withdrawing for about ten minutes, found a 
verdict for the plaintiff. Damages 650." 

It was on this occasion that the judge showed his conviction 
that West ought to be decorated with a title, and called upon 
him as Sir Benjamin, and the audience paid him such peculiar 
respect in making way for him. See Hazlitt's conversations 
of Northcote as quoted in the biography of Mr. West, in this 


A gentleman of this name painted miniatures in Philadelphia 
in the year 1760. A copy of a miniature of Oliver Cromwell 
is in the museum of that city, as I am informed. At the same 
time a painter of the name of 


Exercised his profession in Maryland. 




AN English painter of this name, married and settled in 
Annapolis in 1763. Our highly esteemed correspondent, Robert 
Gilmor, Esq., of Baltimore, an enlightened patron of art, and 
friend to artists, speaks of him thus: 

"Hesselius, by whom the greater part of the family por- 
traits in the old mansions of Maryland were painted, and that 
in a respectable manner." He was an early instructor of Charles 
Willson Peale, whose son Rembrandt in the memoir of his 
father, published in the "Encyclopedia Americana," calls him 
"a portrait painter, from the school of Sir Godfrey Kneller." 
About this same period a gentleman of the name of 


Was painting at Norfolk in Virginia. 


It is not our intention to notice as artists every modeler in 
clay or wax, or carver hi wood or even stone, that may have 
attempted the likeness of the human face or form; but the 
earlier aspirants we think entitled to a page in the history of 
American art. We have endeavored to rescue from oblivion 

1 Gustavus Hesselius, a Swedish artist, who landed at Christina, now Wilmington, 
Del., in May, 1711, and a few weeks later went to Philadelphia. To Hesselius was given 
the first public art commission known to have been executed in this country; for on 
September 5, 1721, he received an order "to draw ye history of our Blessed Saviour 
and ye Twelve Apostles at ye last Supper" for the altar of St. Barnabas' Church, in 
Queen Anne Parish, Md. The altarpiece was completed and its price, 17, was 
paid November 26, 1722. The church was destroyed in 1773 and until recently all 
trace of the picture was lost. Through the efforts of Mr. Charles Henry Hart of New 
York the picture has been found recently and was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum 
in 1917. 



From the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania 


the name of Patience Wright a lady of uncommon talent. 
Mrs. Wright must have made her earliest attempts before she 
had seen any works of art, in modeling or otherwise. From 
childhood the dough intended for the oven, or the clay found 
near the house assumed in her hands somewhat of the sem- 
blance of man; and soon, the likeness of the individuals she 
associated with. 

This extraordinary woman was born, like West, among 
people who eschewed images or pictures. Her parents were 
Quakers, residing at Bordentown, New Jersey; 1725 was the 
year of her birth; March 20th, 1748, the date of her marriage 
with Joseph Wright, of Bordentown, New Jersey, who died 
in 1769. Her maiden name was Lovell. Before the year 
1772, she had made herself famous for likenesses in wax, in 
the cities of her native country, and when a widow with three 
children, was enabled to seek more extensive fame, and more 
splendid fortune in the metropolis of Great Britain. There is 
ample testimony in the English periodicals of the time, that 
her work was considered of an extraordinary kind; and her 
talent for observation and conversation for gaining knowl- 
edge and eliciting information, and for communicating her 
stores, whether original or acquired, gained her the attention 
and friendship of many distinguished men of the day. As she 
retained an ardent love for her country, and entered into 
the feelings of her injured countrymen during the War of the 
Revolution, she used the information she obtained by giving 
warning of the intentions of their enemies, and especially 
corresponding with Benjamin Franklin, when he resided in 
Paris, having become intimate with him in London. 

In the sixth volume of Franklin's letters, published by Wil- 
liam T. Franklin, in London, and republished by William 
Duane, in Philadelphia, is the following: 

" To Mrs. Wright, London. 

"Passy, May 4, 1779. 

"DEAR MADAM: I received your favor of the 14th of 
March past, and if you should continue in your resolution of 


returning to America, through France, I shall certainly render 
you any of the little services in my power: but there are so 
many difficulties at present in getting passages hence, particu- 
larly safe ones for women, that methinks I should advise your 
stay till more settled times, and, till a more frequent intercourse 
is established. 

"As to the exercise of your art here, I am in doubt whether 
it would answer your expectations. Here are two or three 
who profess it, and make a show of their works on the Boule- 
vards; but it is not the taste for persons of fashion to sit to 
these artists for their portraits : and both house-rent and living 
at Paris are very expensive. 

"I thought that friendship required I should acquaint you 
with these circumstances; after which you will use your dis- 

"I am, etc., 


(Written in the envelope of the above.) 

"P. S. My grandson, whom you may remember when a little 
saucy boy at school, being my amanuensis in writing the within 
letter, has been diverting me with his remarks. He conceives 
that your figures cannot be packed up, without damage from 
anything you could fill the boxes with to keep them steady. 
He supposes, therefore, that you must put them into post- 
chaises, two and two, which will make a long train upon the 
road, and be a very expensive conveyance; but as they will 
eat nothing at the inns, you may the better afford it. When 
they come to Dover, he is sure they are so like life and nature, 
that the master of the packet will not receive them on board 
without passes; which you will do well therefore to take out 
from the secretary's office, before you leave London; where 
they will cost you only the modest price of two guineas and 
sixpence each, which you will pay without grumbling, because 
you are sure the money will never be employed against your 
country. It will require, he says, five or six of the long wicker 
French stage coaches to carry them as passengers from Calais 


From the collection of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania 


to Paris, and a ship with good accommodations to convey them 
to America; where all the world will wonder at your clemency 

to Lord N ; that having it in your power to hang, or 

send him to the lighters, you had generously reprieved him 
for transportation." 

The Editor in the following note has called this lady, Mrs. 
Mehetabel Wright. I write with her letters to her children 
before me, signed "Patience Wright." She is further said to 
be the niece of John Wesley, and born in Philadelphia, where 
her parents had settled, all which is as false as a great deal 
of biography I meet with. She has likewise been called 
Sybilla, for which there was some foundation, as she professed 
sometimes to foretell political events, and was called the 
Sybill. 1 

I have before me an engraving published in 1775, represent- 
ing Mrs. Wright at full length in the act of modeling a bust 
of a gentleman. In the " London Magazine " of that year, she 
is styled the Promethean modeler. In that work it is said, 
"In her very infancy she discovered a striking genius, and 
began with making faces with new bread and putty, to such 
excellence that she was advised to try her skill in wax." Her 
likenesses of the King, Queen, Lords Chatham and Temple, 
Messrs. Barre, Wilkes and others, attracted universal admira- 
tion. The above writer says, "Her natural abilities are sur- 
passing, and had a liberal and extensive education been added 
to her innate qualities, she had been a prodigy. She has an 

1 " Mrs. Mehetabel Wright was altogether a very extraordinary woman. She was 
the niece of the celebrated John Wesley, but was born at Philadelphia, in which city 
her parents settled at an early period. Mrs. Wright was greatly distinguished as a 
modeler in wax; which art she turned to a remarkable account in the American war 
by coming to England, and exhibiting her performances. This enabled her to procure 
much intelligence of importance, which she communicated to Dr. Franklin and others, 
with whom she corresponded during the whole war. As soon as a general was appointed, 
or a squadron begun to be fitted out, the old lady found means of access to some family 
where she could gain information, and thus without being at all suspected, she contrived 
to transmit an account of the number of the troops, and the place of their destination 
to her political friends abroad. She at one time had frequent access to Buckingham 
House; and used, it is said to speak her sentiments very freely to their majesties, who 
were amused with her originality. The great Lord Chatham honored her with his 
visits, and she took his likeness which appears in Westminster Abbey. Mrs. Wright 
died very old in March, 1786. 


eye of that quick and brilliant water, that it penetrates and 
darts through the person it looks on; and practice has made 
her capable of distinguishing the character and dispositions of 
her visitors, that she is very rarely mistaken, even in the minute 
point of manners; much more so in the general cast of 

Nine years after the above was written, I was introduced 
to Mrs. Wright, but too young ajid careless to observe her 
character minutely. The expression of her eye is remembered, 
and an energetic wildness in her manner. While conversing 
she was busily employed modeling, both hands being under 
her apron. She had three children; two daughters and a son. 
The son will occupy another page of this work. The elder 
daughter married an American of the name of Platt, and in- 
heriting some of her mother's works and talent, returned to this 
country and died here. Mrs. Platt made herself well known 
in New York, about the year 1787, by her modeling in wax. 
The younger daughter married Hopner, the rival of Stuart and 
Lawrence as a portrait painter. 

The only work that I distinctly remember of Mrs. Wright's 
is a full length of the great Lord Chatham, as it stood in 
Westminster Abbey, in 1784, enclosed in a glass case. 

Anecdotes are related of the eccentricities of Mrs. Wright. 
Her manners were not those of a courtier. She once had the 
ear and favor of George the Third, but lost it by scolding 
him for sanctioning the American war. She was intimate with 
Mr. West and his family; and the beautiful form and face of 
her younger daughter is frequently to be found in his historical 
compositions: the English consul at Venice, mentioned by 
Moore in his life of Byron, is son to this lady, and of course 
grandson to Mrs. Wright. 

In 1781, Mrs. Wright went to Paris. The son, Joseph 
Wright, followed in 1782, and remained in France during part 
of the year; and I have before me several of Mrs. Wright's 
letters to him, replete with affection and good sense, written 
after her return to London; and likewise letters to him in 
1783, written to meet him in America. 


From a line engraving in the "London Magazine," 1775 


In 1785, Mrs. Wright sent the following characteristic letter 
to Mr. Jefferson, then in Paris. 

"London, at the waxwork, Aug. 14, 1785. 

"Honored sir: I had the pleasure to hear that my son 
Joseph Wright had painted the best likeness of our HERO 
Washington, of any painter in America; and my friends are 
anxious that I should make a likeness, a bust in wax, to be 
placed in the statehouse, or some new public building that 
may be erected by Congress. The flattering letters from gentle- 
men of distinguished virtues and rank, and one from that 
general himself, wherein he says, 'He shall think himself happy 
to have his bust done by Mrs. Wright, whose uncommon 
talents, etc., etc.' make me happy in the prospect of seeing him 
in my own country. 

"I most sincerely wish not only to make the likeness of 
Washington, but of those five gentlemen, who assisted at the 
signing the treaty of peace, that put an end to so bloody and 
dreadful a war. The more public the honors bestowed on such 
men by their country, the better. To shame the English 
king, I would go to any trouble and expense to add my mite 
in the stock of honor due to Adams, Jefferson, and others, to 
send to America; and I will, if it is thought proper to pay my 
expense of travelling to Paris, come myself and model the like- 
ness of Mr. Jefferson; and at the same time see the picture, 
and if possible by this painting, which is said to be so like him, 
make a likeness of the General. I wish likewise to consult 
with you, how best we may honor our country, by holding 
up the likenesses of her eminent men, either in painting or 
waxwork. A statue in marble is already ordered, and an 
artist gone to Philadelphia to begin the work. Houdon. 
This is as I wished and hoped." 

The letter concludes by hinting the danger of sending 
Washington's picture to London, from the enmity of the gov- 
ernment, and the espionage of the police; which she says has 
all the "folly, without the abilities of the French." She sub- 


scribes herself "Patience Wright." In the same year, this 
extraordinary woman died. 1 


Succeeds in chronological order. His son Rembrandt has 
published two memoirs of him, which I shall use. Charles 
Willson Peale was born at Chesterton, 2 on the eastern shore of 
Maryland, April 16, 1741, consequently he was three years 
younger than West and Copley, who were born in 1738. He 
was bound apprentice to a saddler in Annapolis, then the 
metropolis of Maryland. He married before he was twenty-one 
and after the term of apprenticeship, pursued his trade, and 
as appears several others, for he attempted coach making, and 
soon added clock and watchmaking, besides working as a 
silversmith, and beginning to try his hand as a painter. Going 
to Norfolk to buy leather, he saw the paintings of Mr. Frazier, 
above mentioned, and he thought he could do as well if he 
tried. Accordingly on returning home, he did try, by painting a 
portrait of himself, which drew him into notice, and determined 
him henceforward to make faces instead of saddles. This 
work, the portrait of himself was long lost to the world, but 
forty years after it had "procured him employment" as a 
painter, it was found "tied up as a bag, and containing a pound 
or two of whiting." 

Peale visited Philadelphia; and brought home materials 
for portrait painting, and a book to instruct him, "the hand- 
maid of the arts." He found another instructor on his return 
to Annapolis, in Mr. Hesselius, an English artist, who like 
others had made a circuit of the provinces, but had been ar- 

1 Mrs. Wright made a portrait in wax of Franklin between 1772 and 1775. Dunlap 
is in error in giving the year of her death as 1785. She died in London March 23, 

1 This is a mistake. The fact is that Peale was born while his father (who had 
been educated at St. John's College, Cambridge) was master of the first free school in 
Queen Anne's County, Md., and this school is said to have been situated in that 
county between CentrevUle and Queenstown. In the original entry of the birth of 
Charles WilLson Peale in St. Pad's Church, Queen Anne's County, it is recorded that 
Charles Peale is the eldest son of Rev. Charles Peale, Rector, of Edith Weston in the 
County of Rutland, England. The elder Peale removed to Chestertown in 1742 when 
the son was a year old. 



rested by the charms of a young lady, became a married man, 
and settled at Annapolis. Mr. Peale having an opportunity to 
make a voyage, passage free, to Boston, in a schooner belong- 
ing to his brother-in-law, visited that famous town, then the 
most conspicuous place in America, and he there found Cop- 
ley established as a portrait painter. Mr. Copley received the 
aspiring saddler kindly, and lent him a picture to copy. "The 
sight of Mr. Copley's picture room," says his son Rembrandt, 
in the "Cabinet of Natural History," published 1830 by 
Doughty, Philadelphia, "afforded him great enjoyment and in- 
struction." From this we infer, that although called by his 
son "a pupil of Hesselius," Peale had no permanent connec- 
tion with that gentleman. 

The voyage to Boston took place in 1768-9, 1 and on Mr. 
Peale's returning to Annapolis, he decided upon a voyage to 
England as soon as practicable. His wishes were seconded 
by several gentlemen of that city, and a subscription made to 
forward his enterprise, he engaging to repay the loan with pic- 
tures on his return. Accordingly he proceeded to London 
bearing letters to Mr. West, and arrived in the year 1770. 
West received his ingenious and enterprising countryman 
frankly, and imparted instructions for his conduct and study. 
The scanty funds of Peale being soon exhausted, the benevolent 
West received him into his house, that he might not lose the 
opportunity of improvement anticipated from his voyage. 

Peale remained in London from 1770 to 1774. 2 "At this 

1 Peale's visit to Boston was in 1765. There seem to have been other reasons for 
this voyage besides the opportunity to see Copley and his works, as his visit to New 
England centered at Newburyport, Mass., where he painted several portraits. 

1 Dunlap is in error in regard to Peale's residence in London, where he studied under 
West at the time the Royal Academy was founded. He sailed from Maryland in 
December, 1766, and arrived in England in February, 1767, remaining there two years 
and leaving in March of 1769. While studying under West he painted a number of 
portraits for his patrons and to assist in his support ; these portraits including the full 
length of Lord Chatham presented by Edmund Jennings of London to " the Gentle- 
men of Westmoreland County," Virginia. It was from this portrait that Peale made 
a mezzotint engraving and after his return to Maryland he presented a duplicate of the 
painting to his native State in 1774. 

Dunlap states that Peale returned from England in 1774, which is erroneous and 
would eliminate four years of great activity as a painter, during which time he made 
many important portraits including the first known likeness of Washington, which was 


time," says his biographer, "Stuart and Trumbull were like- 
wise students with Mr. West." Not so. Stuart went to Lon- 
don in 1775, and remained in that city unknown to West until 
1778, and Trumbull did not reach London until after he had 
studied painting in Boston, during parts of the years 1777-78 
and 79. He sailed for Europe in the spring of 1780. These 
dates prove that the following anecdote, although stated by 
Mr. Rembrandt Peale in the memoir of his father, published in 
Leiber's "Encyclopedia Americana," cannot be true: "The 
writer of this article was informed by Colonel Trumbull, that 
one day when he was in Mr. West's painting room, some 
hammering arrested his attention. 'Oh,' said Mr. West, 'that 
is only that ingenious young Mr. Peale, repairing some of 
my bells and locks.' ' Though we dismiss the above proof 
of Mr. Peale's mechanical propensities, we insert another in- 
stance with pleasure. It is a more pleasing duty to display 
truth, than to detect and expose error, but we shall not shrink 
from the latter duty, cost what it may. Mr. Leslie, in one of 
his letters from West Point, says, "Charles Willson Peale, 
Rembrandt's father, was a pupil of West's. Mr. West painted 
to the last with a palette, which Peale had most ingeniously 
mended for him, after he (West) had broken and thrown it 
aside as useless. It was a small palette; but he never used any 
other for his largest pictures." This is an anecdote showing 
the gratitude of the pupil, and the regard which his illustrious 
master had for his memory. 

Mr. Peale, who seems to have wished to play every part in 
life's drama, not content with being a saddler, a coach maker, 
a clock and watchmaker, a silversmith, and a portrait painter, 
studied while in London modeling in wax, moulding and 
casting in plaster, painting in miniature, and engraving in 
mezzotinto. These were studies allied to painting. 

executed with other portraits of the family at Mt. Vernon in 1772. The record of his 
work at this period contains numerous full length portraits and groups, chiefly of per- 
sons in Maryland and Virginia, although by 1772 his reputation had extended to 
Philadelphia and New York and he was finally induced by John Dickinson and John 
Cadwalader to remove to Philadelphia in 1776. Peale painted portraits of Washington 
in 1777, again in 1779 and also in 1784 and 1787 and again in 1795. 


From the collection of The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 


On his return to Annapolis in 1774, he found constant em- 
ployment at portrait painting. He was now probably the only 
portrait painter in that region. Mr. Peale, having brothers 
and sisters, made them all painters. His brother James became 
a respectable miniature painter. 

In the year 1776, Charles Willson Peale established himself 
in Philadelphia, and as a captain of volunteers, he joined 
Washington, and was present at the battles of Trenton and 
German town. He found time while in camp to exercise his 
pencil, and painted the likenesses of many officers. 

In 1779, his biographer says, he represented Philadelphia 
in the Pennsylvanian legislature. Thus we see the two addi- 
tional avocations of soldier and statesman engrafted on the 
already overloaded stock. It was a sturdy stem; but no stem 
can bring to maturity the best fruit of so many different kinds, 
if, as is the case with man, its life is too short to bring any 
one to perfection. 

Mr. Rembrandt Peale asserts that his father was employed 
in painting a miniature of General Washington at a farmhouse 
in New Jersey, and while he was sitting for the picture, the 
general received "a letter announcing the surrender of Corn- 
wallis." This is related as occurring while Mr. Peale was in 
the army, as a captain of volunteers. "Mr. Peale had his 
table and chair near the window, and Washington was sitting 
on the side of a bed, the room being too small for another 
chair. His aide-de-camp, Colonel Tilghman was present. It 
was an interesting moment, but the sitting was continued, as 
the miniature was intended for Mrs. Washington." The sur- 
render of Cornwallis was a stupendous event, and the moment 
the news was received was an interesting moment to all Ameri- 
cans; but the surrender took place the 19th of October, 1781, 
and Washington was at Yorktown, Virginia, commanding the 
army to which the Briton surrendered, and on the field to 
receive the earl, and his invading army. He received the army 
and his lordship's sword; but his lordship excused himself on 
the plea of indisposition from attending in person on the 
humiliating ceremony. We presume that the incident Mr. 


Rembrandt Peale meant to record of his father and General 
Washington, belonged to an earlier portion of American history, 
and by substituting the name of Burgoyne for Cornwallis we 
have an interesting anecdote. 

From 1779 to 1785, Mr. Peale applied himself assiduously 
to painting; but about that time some bones of a mammoth 
having been brought to him, the idea of forming a museum, 
occurred to his active mind, "and this new pursuit engaged 
all his thoughts." He now became a collector, and preserver 
of birds and beasts, fishes and insects of all that fly, leap, 
creep, or swim, and all things else. Strangers and citizens 
contributed to enlarge his collection, and in a few years his 
picture gallery at the corner of Lombard and Third Streets, 
after several enlargements was found too small for his museum. 
It was then removed to the Philosophical Hall, and there it 
was greatly enlarged, especially by the skeleton, which was 
found in Ulster county, New York, and disinterred at great 
expense and labor. This skeleton, or a similar one, was sent 
by Mr. Peale to London, accompanied by his sons Rembrandt 
and Rubens. 

Mr. Peale now became a lecturer on natural history, and 
"his lectures were attended by the most distinguished citi- 
zens," but finding that the loss of his front teeth interfered 
with his oratory, he became a dentist to supply the deficiency ; 
first working in ivory, and then making porcelain teeth for 
himself and others. 

In the year 1791 Mr. Peale attempted to form an associa- 
tion as an Academy of Fine Arts, in Philadelphia. The only 
artists named by his biographer as joining in the scheme are 
Ceracchi, the celebrated sculptor, and Mr. Rush, who, though 
by trade a carver of ships' heads, was, by talent and study, an 
artist. There were others, natives and foreigners; probably 
Joseph Wright was among them. They did not agree in form- 
ing a plan, and separated. Three years after the indefatigable 
Peale made another effort for the promotion of the art of 
designing; collected some plaster casts, and even attempted a 
life school. Finding no persons willing to exhibit themselves 

Copyright Detroit Publishing Co. 



From the collection of The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 


for hire in this school, his zeal induced him to stand as the 
model. An exhibition of paintings was opened in the chamber 
in which the Declaration of Independence had been signed 
and pictures lent by the citizens for the purpose. This second 
attempt of Peale's failed likewise. 1 

Mr. Peale in the meantime continued prosperously to push 
his own fortunes, and the fortunes of his numerous progeny. 
He had a succession of wives, and children by all; his last con- 
sort was Miss Elizabeth De Peyster of New York. In the 
year 1809, Mr. Peale actively promoted the measures which 
resulted in an association of gentlemen of influence and for- 
tune (of course not artists), who erected the building, called 
"The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts," imported 
casts, and purchased pictures. "Mr. Peale," says his biog- 
rapher, "lived to see, and contribute to seventeen annual 
exhibitions," in the galleries of this institution. The estab- 
lishment of this nominal academy, called forth a letter from 
Mr. West to Mr. Peale, dated September 19, 1809 (which is 
published in the " Port Folio of 1810," with the vulgar error of 
making the writer "Sir Benjamin"). West expresses his grati- 
fication at the establishment of an academy in Philadelphia, 
"for cultivating the art of delineation." He argues from the 
flourishing state of the fine arts in Greece and Rome, when 

1 His correspondence of this period shows him to be a severe critic of his earlier work 
and he refers to the difficulties he had met with the loss of color in his flesh tints through 
the use of improper pigments. His work during these latter years consisted chiefly 
of family portraits in which he combined the faithfulness of likeness which charac- 
terized his work with charm of color and treatment which he had derived from the 
paintings of the younger school of artists. These portraits are but little known to the 
public for although he occasionally accepted a commission to paint for others than his 
family, he made it a point to suppress his claims as an artist in order to make it appear 
that his sons were the only ones of the name engaged in art. 

His retirement from painting about the year 1795, he tells us, was influenced largely 
by the fact that his sons Raphael and Rembrandt had attained sufficient skill to 
succeed him and that he did not wish to be in competition with them. It was the 
same unselfish spirit that actuated him when after teaching his brother James Peale 
to paint in miniature, he put up his own prices to a point that would divert business 
to his brother and made it known that he preferred to paint "in the large" only, 
notwithstanding the fact that the demand for his miniatures had given him lucrative 
employment until that time. It appears probable that consciously or unconsciously 
Rembrandt Peale was quite willing to take advantage of his father's attitude in this 
respect and thus gave emphasis to the other pursuits in which his father engaged during 
his retirement but which had no relation to his previous career as an artist. 


they were flourishing, and their degradation, with the degrada- 
tion of the state, that as America is rising in greatness to 
political supremacy, she will rise proportionably in civilization 
and the arts. 

In all these attempts to introduce the arts of design, and the 
cultivation of science, Charles Willson Peale did his part, as 
far as circumstances permitted, and honorably under every 
circumstance. In the year 1827, he closed his long and busy 
life, at the age of eighty-five. In height, he was rather below 
the middle size, but compactly formed and athletic. He had 
not experienced the usual infirmities, "which flesh is heir to" 
through life, nor that decay attending age in others; and 
talked confidently of enjoying life for many years to come: 
nay sometimes, as if death was not the legitimate heir of all of 
earthly mould. He injured himself by exertions of his strength 
and activity. A disease of the heart ensued; and after some 
partial amendments and relapses, death claimed his own. 

Mr. Peale, among his many whims, had that of naming his 
numerous family after illustrious characters of bygone ages, 
particularly painters. A dangerous and sometimes ludicrous 
experiment. Raphael, Angelica Kauffman, Rembrandt, Ru- 
bens, and Titian, and many other great folks, were all his 

We shall sum up the trades, employments, and professions 
of Mr. Peale, somewhat as his biographer in the " Cabinet of 
Natural History " has done. He was a saddler; harnessmaker; 
clock and watchmaker; silversmith; painter in oil, crayons, 
and miniature; modeler in clay, wax, and plaster: he sawed 
his own ivory for his miniatures, moulded the glasses, and 
made the shagreen cases; he was a soldier; a legislator; a 
lecturer; a preserver of animals, whose deficiencies he sup- 
plied by means of glass eyes and artificial limbs; he was a 
dentist and he was, as his biographer truly says, "a mild, 
benevolent, and good man." 

At the close of the biographical sketch given in the " Cabinet 
of Natural History," a passage occurs which we cannot pass 
over unnoticed. It is an observation given by the biographer, 




Mr. Rembrandt Peale, as from Mr. John Trumbull, for many 
years a pupil and protege of Mr. West. It is in these words, 
published in 1830, in Philadelphia, and republished in New 
York, where Mr. Trumbull resided at the time, and after. 
"That an interesting comparison might be drawn between Mr. 
Peale and his countryman Mr.* West, who was a striking in- 
stance how much could be accomplished with moderate genius, 
by a steady and undeviating course directed to a single object, 
to become the first historical painter of his age; whilst the 
other with a more lively genius, was able to acquire an extraor- 
dinary excellence in many arts, between which his attention 
was too much divided; for had he confined his operations to 
one pursuit, he probably would have attained the highest 
excellence in the fine arts." 

Mr. Peale's son is justified in publishing the above observa- 
tions; but nothing can justify the man who made them. 1 A 
comparison between Peale and West, to those who knew them 
and know their works, is absolutely ridiculous. Where is the 
evidence of Mr. Peale's genius? Perseverance and industry, in 
well doing, cannot be too much praised. West was industri- 
ous and persevering; and his works show that he was a man 
of sublime genius. He had scarcely attained the age of puberty 
when he rivalled the best painter in Rome, and gained aca- 
demical honors throughout Italy. His perseverance and 
industry had not had time to do anything for him, when on 
his arrival in London, young and unknown, he produced 
works, by his potent genius, which placed him before all who 
had preceded him in England. He was immediately acknowl- 
edged the first historical painter of the age. 

1 There is a tradition in the Peale family that there had been some misunderstanding 
between Dunlap and Rembrandt Peale which made the former threaten to retaliate 
by more or less depreciatory estimate of Charles Willson Peale's work in his history, 
and it was thought by many that this attitude is apparent in the work. However 
that may be, there are indications that many errors by biographers of Peale are trace- 
able to Rembrandt Peale himself who seems to have been rather careless in his writings, 
trusting perhaps too largely to his memory and impressions rather than to original 
sources of information. It is possible also that he rather took advantage of his 
father's tendency to depreciate his own work when endeavoring to advance the son's 
interest and hence the emphasis frequently made in Rembrandt Peale's writings on 
his father's activity in other arts. 


Now Mr. Peale appears rather to have delighted in mechani- 
cal employments; and his genius was devoted to making money. 
There have been men, truly of a lively genius, who might 
almost be compared to Mr. Peale, for the variety of their 
pursuits, and yet excelled both as artists and men. We will 
instance Albert Diirer. He only lived 57 years, and that in 
the 15th and 16th century, yet he is in the 19th, the pride of 
Germany as a painter. He was a goldsmith; a great engraver 
on copper; he engraved in wood with a skill that long remained 
unrivalled; he was a carver in wood and ivory; he wrote 
treatises in his native tongue, on perspective, anatomy, 
geometry, architecture, fortification, painting, and the Scrip- 
tures; and translated them into Latin, French and Italian. 
Nor must it be forgotten that Albert Diirer was a member of 
the legislature of a free and self-governed republic. The 
works of West and Diirer will go down to posterity; those of 
Charles Willson Peale will soon be forgotten, although several 
portraits painted by him in his old age, deserve preservation, 
and call forth admiration. 


Is known about this time to have painted in the colonies. 
But of 


Although we cannot give so full an account as we wish, we 
have rescued something from oblivion. At a very early period 

1 The several sources of information from which Dunlap wrote the career of Henry 
Benbridge are so misleading and unfair to the reputation of this excellent portrait 
painter that an extended notice of his personality and work as an artist is necessary. 
His work is well known in the south but in many cases portraits by Benbridge are 
attributed to Copley; in fact, most of the portraits of women found in the south at- 
tributed to Copley are from the hand of Henry Benbridge, Copley never having visited 
that section of the country, although it is often claimed that he did. Unfortunately 
the work of Benbridge, according to the custom of the day, is not signed. He painted 
several miniatures beautifully executed, and the one of himself reproduced in this 
work is exceedingly fine. He painted several family groups. Benbridge was born in 
Philadelphia May 20, 1744, and died in February, 1812. His father dying in 1751, his 
mother married Thomas Gordon, a citizen of distinction and wealth. At a very early 
age Benbridge went to Italy to study and progressed so well that in 1768 he was sent 
to Corsica on the order of James Boswell of Auchinleck to paint a full length portrait 
of General Pascal Paoli, which was later exhibited in London and engraved, being 




we heard of this gentleman, as one who had gone to Rome to 
study painting. Mr. Benbridge was born in Philadelphia 
about the year 1750. Being left at liberty to pursue the bent 
of his inclination by the death of parents, he devoted his 
patrimony in aid of his desire to become a painter, no doubt 
stimulated by the success of West; and he was the second 
American who studied the fine arts at Rome. Mr. Benbridge 
was a gentleman by birth, and had received a liberal education; 
the time of his visiting Italy we must suppose to be 1770: and 
before he left Philadelphia he had shown his love of the arts 
by painting the panels of a room in his paternal dwelling with 
designs from history. In Rome he became the pupil of Pom- 
peio Battoni, and received instruction from Mengs. We have 
reason to believe that he returned to America in 1774, and 
commenced painting in Charleston, South Carolina, where he 
was the instructor of Thomas Coram. Sometime after the 
War of the Revolution, Mr. Benbridge painted in Philadelphia. 
He is thus mentioned by James Peller Malcolm: "Mr. Ben- 
bridge, a relation and brother student of Mr. West, who had 
spent several years at Rome, flattered me with his approba- 
tion, and advised an immediate voyage to Great Britain." He 
was neither a relation, nor brother student of West. 

He married Miss Sage of Philadelphia, and I met a son of 
his in Perth Amboy, in 1800, whose residence was Phila- 
delphia, and who was at the time married to the eldest daughter 
of Commodore Truxton. I at this time saw several portraits 
in small full length, of the Truxton family, by the artist, and 
they are the only specimens I ever saw of his skill. I remember 
them as being solidly painted, well drawn, like the personages, 
but hard and without any distinguishing mark of taste; still 

published in May, 1769, with the name of Bembridge as the painter. In this connection 
it is interesting to note that the painter's name is spelled on the mezzotint engraving 
and elsewhere with an "m" instead of an "n." While in London Benbridge painted 
a portrait of Benjamin Franklin which was shown at the Royal Academy exhibition 
of 1770. This picture is possibly now masquerading as a portrait of some one else or 
of Franklin by some other painter. Dunlap is in error in giving the date of the artist's 
return to Philadelphia as 1774 as Benbridge was elected a member of the American 
Philosophical Society in Philadelphia on January 18, 1771. There is absolutely no 
authority for the statement by Dunlap that Benbridge died in "obscurity and poverty." 


they were better than those of Charles Willson Peale of the 
same date. 

Mr. Benbridge was a gentleman of good classical education, 
great devotion to the art, and persevering industry. He had 
the same advantages in Italy that West had had; and yet, 
notwithstanding Reynolds's remark that nothing is denied to 
perseverance and industry well directed, he acquired all his 
nature was seemingly capable of, in three or four years' study. 
In the year 1799, Mr. Thojnas Sully, then a youth, found 
Mr. Benbridge settled in high estimation at Norfolk, Virginia. 
His works excited Sully to attempt oil painting, and to intro- 
duce himself to the veteran painter, Sully sat to him for his 
picture, and was "well repaid," as he has said, "by his useful 
and kind instruction." 

After living in high estimation as a man and artist many 
years in the Carolinas and Virginia, Mr. Benbridge returned 
to his native city, Philadelphia, and died in obscurity and 

We will conclude our brief memoir by quoting from our 
correspondents who have answered our queries on the subject 
of Mr. Benbridge. 

Mr. Allston says Benbridge left many portraits of his 
painting in South Carolina, but he does not remember them 
sufficiently to speak of their merits. 

Mr. McMurtrie says, "He was a promising young man, 
but did not realize much. His portraits are stiff and formal. 
He painted drapery well, particularly silks and satins." 

Mr. Charles Fraser says: "Benbridge painted a good deal 
in Charleston: he had had great advantages, having studied 
in Rome under Mengs and Pompeio Battoni." Of Battoni 
the reader will find in these pages an anecdote that will not 
exalt him in his opinion. It is certain that the portraits by 
Benbridge were sought after eagerly on his return, and he was 
held in high estimation by his contemporaries. Mr. Fraser 
adds: "The generation with whom he lived is passed away, 
and all means of information are gone with it. I cannot say 
that I admire his portraits. They bear evident marks of a 


skilful hand, but want that taste which gives to portrait one of 
its greatest charms. His shadows were dark and opaque, and 
more suitable to the historical style. I have however seen one 
or two of his pictures, which I thought displayed great knowl- 
edge of the art." We must remark that dark and opaque 
shadows, though they may be more tolerable in the historic 
(in certain subjects) than in the portrait style, are faults in any 
style. Nature disclaims them, and she is the only teacher of 
true art. 

Mr. Sully describes Mr. Benbridge as a portly man, of good 
address gentlemanly in his deportment. He told a good 
story, and was in other respects not unlike Gilbert Stuart. 

The next person who calls for our attention is a Scotch 
gentleman of the name of 


Who painted portraits in Newport, Rhode Island in 1772. As 
all we know of this gentleman is from Doctor Waterhouse, 
and is incorporated with the memoir soon to follow, that of 
Gilbert C. Stuart, we here merely notice, that at the time of 
his arrival Mr. Alexander was between fifty and sixty that 
he painted all the Scotch gentlemen of the place, and finding 
Stuart a promising boy, he gave him lessons, and finally took 
the youth with him to South Carolina, and thence to Edin- 
burgh. Shortly after his arrival in his native country, he 


This English gentleman visited the colonies about the year 
1772, and painted a great many pictures in Virginia and Mary- 

1 Cosmo Alexander came to America from Scotland in 1770 and settled at Newport, 
R. I. 

1 The name Wollaston appears frequently in the " Dictionary of National Biog- 
raphy." Different writers have erred in confusing the John Woolaston whose birth is 
given in the "Picture Collectors Manual" by J. R. Hobbes as "about 1672" with the 
John Wollaston, a son of the former, who painted portraits in Philadelphia and the 
South as early as 1758. Both father and son were portrait painters whose work is 
absolutely different in character. There is, according to Walpole in his " Anecdotes of 
Painters, ' a portrait in the British Museum of Thomas Britton. It is inscribed " Aetat 
63, 1703" and signed "J. Wollaston P." There is also in the collection of Colonel John 


land. Many of his portraits are yet to be seen in Peters- 
burg. Mr. Robert Sully, who has kindly exerted himself in 
making researches into the antiquities of art in Virginia to 
assist the writer, says, "The only artists that are remembered 
by the oldest inhabitants, are DURAND, MANLY, and Woolas- 
ton the first tolerable, the second execrable, and the third 
very good. His portraits possess unquestionable merit. Among 
those in Petersburg, is the grandmother of the late John 
Randolph of Roanoke, an excellent portrait. The pictures of 
Woolaston are very much in the Kneller style: more feeble 
than the style of Reynolds, but with a very pretty taste." 


A very bad portrait painter, and only mentioned as one of 
the pioneers of the arts. He painted in Virginia. 


This gentleman is known among American travellers, par- 
ticularly artists who visit Italy, as old Mr. Smith. He is said 
to have been 116 years of age in 1834. If so, he was born in 
the year 1718. He is a native of Long Island, State of New 
York, brother to the well-remembered Doctor Smith (whose 
eccentric character and verses afforded more amusement than 
instruction), and uncle to Col. William Smith, an aid to Wash- 
ington, and son-in-law to John Adams. Mr. Smith devoted 
himself to painting, and was probably the third American who 
pursued the coy art to Italy, West being the first and Ben- 
bridge the second. Smith never became a distinguished artist, 
and fell into the trade of picture dealer, by which it is believed 
that he acquired a competency for old age. He lives near 

Sherburne of Brookline, Mass., a portrait of his ancestor Henry Sherburne, born in 
1674, signed " John Woollaston P. 1709/10. These two pictures above noted are the 
work of the father and the portraits painted in Philadelphia, Virginia, Maryland and 
New York in and before 1760 are the work of the junior Wollaston. The father 
evidently spelled his name Wollaston at one time and Woollaston at a later date. The 
portrait of George Whitefield, engraved by Faber and painted in 1742, is ascribed to 
John Wollaston, Jr. 





I place at this date (1772), but with uncertainty. My only 
knowledge of him is from Mr. R. Sully, who says, "He painted 
an immense number of portraits in Virginia; his works are hard 
and dry, but appear to have been strong likenesses, with less 
vulgarity of style than artists of his calibre generally possess." 
Of the pictures brought or sent to Virginia, Mr. Sully says, 
"There are certainly a few pictures in some of the old family 
mansions, of considerable merit, sent to this country from Eng- 
land during the existence of the colonies, but it is impossible to 
conjecture who the artists were, as no record is attached to them, 
and they are remembered by the possessors as old fixtures," 1 

1 Portraits inscribed "Thomas Newton Mi. 56, 1770. John Durand pinxt" and 
"Amy Newton yEt. 45, 1770. John Durand pinxt" belonged in 1896 to Tazewell Taylor 
of Virginia. Durand also painted portraits of Dr. Joshua Lathrop 1723-1807 and Mrs. 
Mercy (Eels) Lathrop 1743-1833, Rufus Lathrop 1731-1805, Mrs. Hannah (Choate) 
Lathrop 1739-1785. The following advertisements (New York Journal, for November 
26, 1767 and April 7, 1768), supply further information in regard to this little-known 

" A DRAWING SCHOOL. Any young Gentleman inclined to learn the Principles of 
Design, so far as to be able to draw any objects and shade them with Indian Ink or 
Water-Colours, which is both useful and ornamental may be taught by JOHN 
DURAND, at any Time after four in the Afternoon, at his House in Broad Street, near 
the City Hall, for a reasonable Price." 

" The Subscriber having from his infancy endeavored to qualify himself in the art 
of historical painting, humbly hopes for that encouragement from the gentlemen and 
ladies of this city and province, that so elegant and entertaining an art has always 
obtained from people of the most improved minds and best taste and judgment, in all 
polite nations in every age. And tho' he is sensible that to excel (in this branch of 
painting especially) requires a more ample fund of universal and accurate knowledge 
than he can pretend to in geometry, geography, perspective, anatomy, expression of 
the passions, antient and modern history, &c., &c., yet he hopes, from the good nature 
and indulgence of the gentlemen and ladies who employ him, that his humble attempts 
in which his best endeavours will not be wanting, will meet with acceptance, and give 
satisfaction; and he proposes to work at as cheap rates as any person in America. 

To such gentlemen and ladies as have thought but little upon this subject and might 
only regard painting as a superfluous ornament, I would just observe, that history 
painting, besides being extremely ornamental has many important uses. It presents 
to our view some of the most interesting scenes recorded in antient or modern history, 
gives us more lively and perfect ideas of the things represented, than we could receive 
from a historical account of them, and frequently recals to our memory a long train of 
events with which those representations were connected. They show us a proper 
expression of the passions excited by every event, and have an effect, the very same in 
kind (but stronger) than a fine historical description of the same passage would have 
upon a judicious reader. Men who have distinguished themselves for the good of their 
country and mankind may be set before our eyes as examples, and to give us their 
silent lessons and besides, every judicious friend and visitant shares, with us in the 
advantage and improvement, and increases its value to ourselves. JOHN DURAND." 



THE earliest specimens of engraving are of the fifteenth cen- 
tury, and the first artist on record is Martin Schoen, of Culm- 
bach, who died in 1486. The Italians claim the invention; 
but it is remarkable that the first book printed at Rome had 
the first engravings executed there, and they were done by 
two Germans the date 1478. The names of Lucas Jacobs 
and Albert Diirer are too well known to require notice here. 
We shall mention both in our history of wood engraving 
which, though preceding that on copper, was not so soon 
practised with us. 

In the sixteenth century the Italian painters etched and en- 
graved on copper. Other artists devoted themselves to en- 
graving alone, and worked from the designs of Raffaelle and 
the great men who reared the fabric of art at that period. 
Still the German and Dutch artists led the way, and Cort was 
the first engraver on large plates, and the instructor of many 

In the seventeenth century the art began to flourish in 
France, and encouraged by Colbert, attained high perfection. 
But the most distinguished artist of the time was Edelinck of 
Antwerp. The history of the art in France in the next century 
is the same a German, Wille, being the best engraver. 

The Flemish and Dutch painters etched and engraved. 
Van Dyck, Bol, Ruysdael, and many others, practised the art 
with taste and success. 

The true mode of giving a history of engraving would be by 
a series of prints illustrative of its progress. This forms no 
part of our plan, and is far beyond our power. Our sketch of 
the history of the art is merely to illustrate what we may 
hereafter say of the progress of the arts in America. 



In England both painting and engraving were indebted to 
foreigners, generally Flemish, Dutch and German, for exist- 
ence, until the middle of the seventeenth century. Of early 
English artists one of the most eminent is George Vertue, who 
died in 1756. 

The founder of the school of English landscape engraving 
is Francis Vivares, a Frenchman. But the greatest of the 
school is a native of England, Woollett. They both carried 
the plates a great way towards the completion by etching, and 
finished with the graver the usual mode now practised. 
Woollett was not confined to landscape, as his great work, 
after West's " Death of Wolfe," sufficiently proves. England 
now stands, and has for many years stood, pre-eminent in 
engravers and engraving. 

The works of Hogarth must not be passed over unnoticed, 
even in this brief sketch. To mention them is to praise them 
both as productions of the engraver and the painter. In the 
latter character he is now acknowledged as among the glories 
of the art; in point of time, the first great English painter; in 
merit, equal to the best. 

Engraving, or working with the graver, was the first or old- 
est practice, etching followed, and became an auxiliary to the 
graver this is working the lines through wax, or a prepara- 
tion of it, and biting them in the metal by acids. Mezzotinto 
is produced by making the copper a mass of roughness, which, 
if printed, would be one black spot; and then scraping out 
the various degrees of tint and light. This was a Dutch in- 
vention likewise, and has been attributed to Prince Rupert. 
Stippling is another mode of engraving. 

The ruling machine, invented by Wilson Lowry, of Lon- 
don, has given great facility to the engraving of skies, and all 
subjects which require parallel lines. 

The instruments used by engravers are the burin or graver; 
this makes an incision in the plate as it is guided by the hand. 
The burnisher is used to soften lines if cut too deep. The 
scraper is a steel instrument whose use is to take off the barb 
formed by the action of the graver. Needles of various diame- 


ters are used to form the lines through the hard or soft grounds 
in etching, and sometimes in dry etching that is, when the 
plate is touched without being covered with a ground. The 
tools used in mezzotinto work are for making the plate uni- 
formly rough, and for scraping out the lights; and the ruling 
machine is used, as before mentioned, in etching. Engraving 
on wood we notice in other parts of our work. 

As this introductory sketch is not intended to instruct artists, 
but merely to illustrate what shall be said of the progress of 
engraving in the United States, we refer the reader for further 
information to Sturt, Landseer, and the very many books 
treating on the subject. 1 

The first engraver in our country, in point of time, that comes 
within our knowledge, is 


Who, according to a writer in Buckingham's " New England 
Magazine " (a work to which we are indebted for all we know 
of Hurd), engraved "a miniature likeness of the Rev. Dr. 
Sewall, minister of the old South Church in Boston," "in the 
linear style, in 1764. 2 In this art he was his own instructor. 
There are still extant a few pictures of a different character, 
done on copper, by Hurd, about the same period." "Hurd," 
says the same writer, "was a real genius. To a superior mode 
of execution, he added a Hogajthian talent of character and 
humor. Among other things of his" of course designed by 
himself, "he engraved a descriptive representation of a certain 
swindler and forger of bills, named Hudson, a foreigner, stand- 
ing in the pillory. In the crowd of spectators, he introduced 
the likenesses of some well-known characters. 

"In the year 1762, there appeared in Boston a curious char- 
acter who called himself Dr. Hudson," who, and an agent 

1 The reader unacquainted with the ordinary processes of engraving may find useful 
examples in the plates reproduced in this work, viz. : line The Rescinders, by Revere; 
mezzotinto Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, by Jennys; stipple The Washington Family, 
by Savage; aquatinta The U. S. Frigate Hudson, by Bennett; wood The Squirrel 
Opossum, by Anderson. 

1 The original plate is now in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society. 


1730 r 1777 

From the collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art 


employed by him of the name of Howe, were convicted of 
forgery and uttering "province notes." "Hudson was ordered 
to the pillory, and Howe to the whipping-post." "Hurd im- 
mediately put out a caricature print of the exhibition." The 
Doctor was in the pillory, and Howe preparing to undergo 
his degrading punishment. "The devil is represented flying 
towards the Doctor, exclaiming, This is the man for me. In 
front of the print is the representation of a medallion, on which 
is a profile of Hudson, dressed in a bag wig, with a sword 
under his arm (as he generally appeared before his detection), 
partly drawn from the scabbard, with the words Dutch Tuck 
on the exposed part of the blade. Round the edge is, THE 


1762. The Doctor is made to speak as well as the devil, but 
he speaks in verse. The print is marked 'Sold by N. Hurd, 
near the Exchange, and at the Heart and Crown, in Cornhill, 
Boston.' M1 

In our days of childhood we remember seeing caricature 
prints executed in Philadelphia, generally political, one in par- 
ticular, in which the devil and Doctor Franklin were intro- 
duced, his majesty with a label from his mouth, saying, "Never 
mind, Ben! you shall be my agent yet." Judge Hopkinson 
told us that he saw rude prints of this description in a journey 
through Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and wished to purchase 
them, but the possessors conceiving that what the judge wished 
nlust be of great value, demanded a price so far beyond reason, 
that he relinquished all thought of buying. 

The writer above quoted from says further of Mr. Hurd, 
"He was born in Boston, February 13th, 1730, and died De- 
cember 17th, 1777, before he had attained the age of forty- 
eight. There is an original picture of him, painted by Copley, 
in the possession of one of his relatives at Medford, Mass. 

1 Hudson was a native of Lexington, residing successively in Marlboro and West 
Hoosuck (Williamstown). In 1757 he was in command as Lieutenant of Fort Massa- 
chusetts, a post he was compelled to relinquish by the head of the regiment, Col. 
Ephraim Williams. 

Hudson's accomplice, Joshua Howe, was a native of Sudbury, Mass., although at 
the time of his arrest resident in Westmoreland, N. H. 

Each of the culprits suffered exposure in the pillory, stripes, imprisonment and fine. 


From that picture a man by the name of Jennings (of whom 
we can learn little else) engraved a likeness in mezzotinto." 1 


Is the next artist, in point of time, that handled the graver in 
our country, as far as we know, and our knowledge of him is 
derived from the same fountain of useful information, Bucking- 
ham's " New England Magazine." Mr. Revere's grandfather 
was a French Huguenot, who emigrated to Guernsey, and his 
father married and settled as a goldsmith in Boston. Paul 
was brought up by his father as a goldsmith, but having a 
natural taste for drawing, he designed and engraved the orna- 
ments on the plates wrought at the shop. 

In 1756 he received the appointment of lieutenant of artil- 
lery, and served in the expedition against Crown Point. Re- 
turning to Boston he married, and carried on the business of 
goldsmith, which, with engraving, and the study of mechanics 
as a science, occupied him during a long and active life. 

The caricatures of Hurd and Revere not only mark the state 
of the art at the time, but of society; and the political temper of 
the colonies, particularly Massachusetts. 

"Engraving on copper was an art in which, as in some 
others, he was self -instructed. One of his earliest engravings 

1 (See paragraph "Jennings," with note "Richard Jennys Jr.," on pp. 184-5.) 

Hurd was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Mason) Hurd; born in Boston in 1730 
and died there in 1777. 

He inherited the tools of his father, a goldsmith descended from John Hurd who 
settled in Boston in 1639. Besides the plates mentioned above it is known that he 
engraved a loan certificate for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, a Masonic blank, 
a blank form for military commissions and a considerable number of book-plates or 
ex-libri* of which many examples are extant. His shop was originally on King Street 
(now State Street and on the site of the present number 33). 

Dunlap's information concerning the early American engravers appears to have 
been meagre. He makes no mention of Peter Pelham, Thomas Johnston, and James 
Turner, nor of the still earlier names of John Foster, John Cony, Thomas Emmes, 
William Burgis, Francis Dewing and Nathaniel Mors. 

The Massachusetts bills of credit engraved on copper in 1690 may have been the 
work of John Cony as they are said to resemble in execution similar plates which Cony 
engraved in 1702-3, but the earliest known copper-plate engraving of a sure date pro- 
duced in this country is the portrait of Increase Mather by Thomas Emmes, which is 
dated 1701. 




of this description was a portrait of his friend, Dr. Mayhew. 1 
In 1766, he engraved on copper a picture, emblematical of the 
repeal of the Stamp Act. He also executed a very popular 
caricature, of the 'Seventeen Rescinders. 5 As there are not 
extant many copies of this print, some account of it may be 
interesting. In the beginning of the year 1768, when the 
measures of the British government were assuming more and 
more of a threatening appearance, the House of Representa- 
tives of Massachusetts, voted to send a circular letter to the 
legislatures of the several Provinces, upon the alarming state 
of affairs with the mother country. This measure gave so much 
umbrage to the King, that he sent out orders to Governor 
Bernard, peremptorily to demand that the said vote should 
be rescinded and obliterated. This demand being judged un- 
reasonable, after debate, a vote was passed not to conform to 
it. Seventeen members only voting for it, and ninety-two 
against it. These numbers became notorious in a political sense. 
Seventeen being called the Tory number, and the glorious 
ninety-two, as it was called, was denominated that of the 
Whigs. The seventeen members were branded with the name 
of rescinders, and were treated in the most contemptuous man- 
ner. Mr. Revere's caricature helped to increase the odium. 
It was entitled, "A WARM PLACE HELL!" The delineation 
was a pair of monstrous open jaws, resembling those of a shark, 
with flames issuing from them, and the devil, with a large 
pitchfork, driving the seventeen rescinders into the flames, 
exclaiming, "Now I've got you, a fine hawl by Jove." As a 
reluctance is shown by the foremost man, at entering, who is 
supposed to represent the Hon. Timothy Ruggles, of Worcester 
county, another devil is drawn, with a fork, flying towards 
him, and crying out, "Push on Tim." Over the upper jaw is 
seen, in the background, the cupola of the Province House, 
with the Indian and bow and arrow (the arms of the Province), 
which house was the governor's residence. 

1 This plate was presumably engraved at the time of Mayhew's death, July 9, 1766. 
There is an impression from it in the New York Public Library. The earliest entry for 
engraving in Revere's journal is under date of March 22, 1762, charging John Pulling 
for " Cutting a Copper Plate for Notifications," probably for Masonic meetings. 


"In 1770, Mr. Revere published an engraved print, repre- 
senting the massacre in King Street on the memorable FIFTH 
OF MARCH, and in 1774, another, of an historical character, 
representing the landing of the British troops in Boston. 1 
Copies of all these, though extremely rare, are still extant. A 
lithographic facsimile of the print first mentioned, has been 
recently republished. 

"In 1775, he engraved the plates, made the press, and 
printed the bills, of the paper money, ordered by the Provincial 
Congress of Massachusetts, then in session at Watertown. 
He was sent by this Congress to Philadelphia to obtain in- 
formation respecting the manufacture of gunpowder. The 
only powder mill, then in the CDlonies, was in the vicinity of 
Philadelphia. The proprietor refused to let Revere take any 
drawing or specification whatever, or any memorandum of the 
manufacture, but consented to show him the mill in full opera- 
tion. His mechanical skill was now brought into action. 
With the slight information thus obtained, he was able, on his 
return, to construct a mill, which was soon put in operation, 
and with complete success." * 

The following extracts from his letter to the corresponding 
secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society, will be 
found interesting: 

"Dear Sir, In the fall of 1774 and whiter of 1775, I was 
one of upwards of thirty, chiefly mechanics, who formed our- 

* These memoirs of Hurd and Revere, I presume to be from the pen of the vener- 
able and learned Doctor Waterhouse of Cambridge, Massachusetts, from whom much 
valuable matter will be found in these pages. 

1 This statement confuses twoengravings "A VIEWOFPART OF THE TOWN OF BOSTON 
The former was a separate print, published in April 1770; the latter appeared in The 
Royal American Magazine of January, 1774. 

Revere was a better artisan than artist. His plates are crude in execution, and, con- 
trary to the usual supposition, were chiefly from the designs of others, the plate of 
the notes of the Treasurer of the State of the Massachusetts Bay after Kurd's engrav- 
ing; the portrait of Benjamin Church from an English print of Charles Churchill, and 
"THE BLOODY MASSACRE" of the fifth of March 1770, from Henry Pelham's drawing, 
being examples of such copying. The high esteem in which Revere's engravings are 
held by collectors is due to their historical interest and rarity, combined with the pat- 
riotic sentiment attaching to his name to which Longfellow's poem, " Paul Revere's 
Ride " largely contributed. 

H-df-a's SPEECH from the Pillory. 


1AT mean thefe Crouds, this Noifc and Roar 
Did ye ne'er fee a K ogut before ! 
'en a Sight fo fare, 

prcfs oad gape and (tare * 
forward all who look fo fine, 
illy got as mine : 

: you 1 fcon reverie the Show ; 

...c, and Jnu below. 

for my Roguery here I ftand, 

.il .he find; 

i this Stage, 

eatrji I ;//j< ot the Age. 
iititi have been both great and many^ 

few, if any : 

>r the Mifchicis I have done 
tin wooiittt on. 

|& There HOW his brawny Back is ftri; 
*3& QH' te callous grown with often whipping 
V. t In vain you wear your U'bif-dtrtt out, 
a f You'l ne'er reclaim that Regtu fa Jhut. 
I" j To nuke him honed, take my Word, 
a ? You muft apply a tiggtr CorJ. 

,3 f Now all ye who behold this SJghr, 
f i TTut ye may grt fomc prout by't, 
J t* Keep always in your Mind, I prav, 
^C* Thcfc few Words tKit f have to la/. 
^i 1 .* follow my Strpj and you may he 
ji ". l:i "1 imc, perhaps. atU.iiK'd like me ; 
iff, ().-. like my felfow Lib'ref HOIf, 
W You 1 get at leafi a 'y'4/i below. 

SU tijr N. HOUD, Acat the txcbinjf, an) u ibc /i.x jii.i &. ia C .. 




selves into a committee for the purpose of watching the move- 
ments of the British soldiers, and gaining every intelligence 
of the movements of the Tories. We held our meetings at the 
Green Dragon tavern. We were so careful that our meetings 
should be kept secret, that every time we met, every person 
swore upon the Bible, that they would not discover any of our 
transactions, but to Messrs. HANCOCK, ADAMS, Doctors WAR- 
REN, CHURCH, and one or two more. 

"In the winter, towards the spring, we frequently took 
turns, two and two, to watch the soldiers, by patrolling the 
streets all night. The Saturday night preceding the 19th 
of April, about twelve o'clock at night, the boats belonging 
to the transports were all launched, and carried under the 
sterns of the men-of-war. (They had been previously hauled 
up and repaired.) We likewise found that the grenadiers and 
light infantry were all taken off duty. 

"From these movements we expected something serious 
was to be transacted. On Tuesday evening, the 18th, it was 
observed, that a number of soldiers were marching towards 
the bottom of the Common. About ten o'clock, Dr. Warren 
sent in great haste for me, and begged that I would immedi- 
ately set off for Lexington, where Messrs. Hancock and 
Adams were, and acquaint them of the movement, and that it 
was thought they were the objects. When I got to Dr. War- 
ren's house, I found he had sent an express by land to Lex- 
ulgton a Mr. William Dawes. The Sunday before, by 
desire of Dr. Warren, I had been to Lexington, to Messrs. 
Hancock and Adams, who were at the Rev. Mr. Clark's. I 
returned at night through Charlestown; there I agreed with 
a Colonel Conant, and some other gentlemen, that if the 
British went out by water, we would shew two lanthorns in 
the North Church steeple; and if by land one as a signal; for 
we were apprehensive it would be difficult to cross the Charles 
River, or get over Boston neck. I left Dr. Warren, called 
upon a friend, and desired him to make the signals. I then 
went home, took my boots and surtout, went to the north 
part of the town, where I had kept a boat; two friends rowed 


me across Charles River, a little to the eastward where the 
* Somerset ' man-of-war lay. It was then young flood, the ship 
was winding, and the moon was rising. They landed me on 
the Charlestown side. When I got into town, I met Colonel 
Conant, and several others; they said they had seen our sig- 
nals. I told them what was acting, and went to get me a horse. 
I got a horse of Deacon Larkin. While the horse was preparing, 
Richard Devons, Esq., who was one of the Committee of 
Safety, came to me, and told me, that he came down the road 
from Lexington, after sundown, that evening; that he met ten 
British officers, all well mounted, and armed, going up the road. 
" I set off upon a very good horse; it was then about eleven 
o'clock, and very pleasant. After I had passed Charlestown 
neck, and got nearly opposite where Mark was hung in chains, 
I saw two men on horseback, under a tree. When I got near 
them, I discovered they were British officers. One tried to 
get ahead of me, and the other to take me. I turned my horse 
very quick, and galloped towards Charlestown neck, and then 
pushed for the Medford road. The one who chased me, en- 
deavoring to cut me off, got into a clay pond, near where the 
new tavern is now built. I got clear of him, and went through 
Medford, over the bridge, and up to Menotomy. In Medford, 
I awaked the captain of the minutemen; and after that, I 
alarmed almost every house, till I got to Lexington. I found 
Messrs. Hancock and Adams at the Rev. Mr. Clark's; I told 
them my errand, and inquired for Mr. Dawes; they said he 
had not been there. I related the story of the two officers, and 
supposed that he must have been stopped, as he ought to have 
been there before me. After I had been there about half an 
hour, Mr. Dawes came; we refreshed ourselves, and set off 
for Concord, to secure the stores, etc., there. We were over- 
taken by a young Dr. Prescot, whom we found to be a high 
son of liberty. I told them of the ten officers that Mr. Devons 
met, and that it was probable we might be stopped before we 
got to Concord; for I supposed that after night, they divided 
themselves, and that two of them had fixed themselves in such 
passages, as were most likely to stop any intelligence going to 


Concord. I likewise mentioned, that we had better alarm all 
the inhabitants till we got to Concord; the young Doctor 
much approved of it, and said he would stop with either of us, 
for the people between that and Concord knew him, and 
would give the more credit to what we said. We had got 
nearly halfway: Mr. Dawes and the Doctor stopped to alarm 
the people of a house: I was about one hundred rods ahead, 
when I saw two men in nearly the same situation as those 
officers were, near Charlestown. I called for the Doctor and 
Mr. Dawes to come up; in an instant I was surrounded by 
four; they had placed themselves in a straight road, that 
inclined each way; they had taken down a pair of bars on the 
north side of the road, and two of them were under a tree in 
the pasture. The Doctor being foremost, he came up; and 
we tried to get past them; but they being armed with pistols 
and swords, they forced us into the pasture; the Doctor 
jumped his horse over a low stone wall, and got to Concord. 
I observed a wood at a small distance, and made for that. 
When I got there, out started six officers, on horseback, and 
ordered me to dismount; one of them who appeared to have 
the command, examined me, where I came from, and what my 
name was? I told him. He asked me if I was an express? 
I answered in the affirmative. He demanded what time I left 
Boston? I told him, and that I had alarmed the country all 
the way up. He immediately rode towards those who stopped 
us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop; one 
of them, whom I afterwards found to be a Major Mitchel, of 
the 5th regiment, clapped his pistol to my head, called me 
by name, and told me he was going to ask me some questions, 
and if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my 
brains out. He then asked me similar questions to those 
above. He then ordered me to mount my horse, after searching 
me for arms. He then ordered them to advance and to lead 
me in front. When we got to the road, they turned down 
towards Lexington. When we had got about one mile, the 
major rode up to the officer that was leading me, and told him 
to give me to the sergeant. As soon as he took me, the major 


ordered him, if I attempted to run, or anybody insulted them, 
to blow my brains out. We rode till we got near Lexington 
meetinghouse, when the militia fired a volley of guns, which 
appeared to alarm them very much. The major inquired of 
me how far it was to Cambridge, and if there were any other 
road? After some consultation, the major rode up to the ser- 
geant, and asked if his horse was tired? He answered him, he 
was (He was a sergeant of grenadiers, and had a small 
horse) ' Then,' said he, * take that man's horse.' I dis- 
mounted, and the sergeant mounted my horse, when they all 
rode towards Lexington meetinghouse. I went across the bury- 
ing ground, and some pastures, and came to the Rev. Mr. 
Clark's house, where I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams. I 
told them of my treatment, and they concluded to go from that 
house towards Woburn. I went with them, and a Mr. Lowell, 
who was a clerk to Mr. Hancock. When we got to the house 
where they intended to stop, Mr. Lowell and myself returned to 
Mr. Clark's, to find what was going on. When we got there, an 
elderly man came in; he said he had just come from the tavern, 
that a man had come from Boston, who said there were no 
British troops coming. Mr. Lowell and myself went towards 
the tavern, when we met a man on a full gallop, who told us 
the troops were coming up the rocks. We afterwards met 
another, who said they were close by. Mr. Lowell asked me 
to go to the tavern with him, to get a trunk of papers belong- 
ing to Mr. Hancock. We went up chamber; and while we were 
getting the trunk, we saw the British very near, upon a full 
march. We hurried towards Mr. Clark's house. In our way, 
we passed through the militia. There were about fifty. When 
we had got about one hundred yards from the meetinghouse, 
the British troops appeared on both sides of the meetinghouse. 
In their front was an officer on horseback. They made a short 
halt; when I saw, and heard, a gun fired, which appeared to be 
a pistol. Then I could distinguish two guns, and then a con- 
tinual roar of musketry; when we made off with the trunk." 

"After the British evacuated Boston," says the writer of the 
memoir in the " New England Magazine," "a regiment of artil- 




lery was raised for the defence of the State. In this regiment he 
was appointed a major, and afterwards a lieutenant-colonel, 
and remained in the service until the peace. During all this 
period, he might be said to hold the sword in one hand, and 
the implements of mechanical trades in the other, and all of 
them subservient to the great cause of American liberty. 
Whenever anything new or ingenious in the mechanical line 
was wanted for the public good, he was looked to for the con- 
summation of the design. When the British left Boston they 
broke the trunnions of the cannon at Castle William (Fort 
Independence), and Washington called on Revere to render 
them useful in which he succeeded by means of a newly 
contrived carriage. 

"After the peace he resumed his business as a goldsmith. 
Subsequently he erected an air furnace, in which he cast 
church bells and brass cannon. Soon after this time a new 
era commenced hi shipbuilding. Hitherto all vessels had been 
fastened with iron. It was found that copper sheathing, which 
preserved the bottoms of vessels from worms, in the course 
of a few years destroyed the iron bolts and spikes; and copper 
bolts and spikes were at length substituted for iron. This 
engaged his attention, and after repeated trials he succeeded 
in manufacturing the article to his satisfaction. He then 
erected extensive works at Canton, in the county of Norfolk, 
about sixteen miles from Boston, for the rolling of copper as 
well as for the casting of brass guns and bells, which business 
is still continued by his successors an incorporated company 
bearing his name." 

Colonel Revere was the first President of the Massachu- 
setts Charitable Mechanic Association, which was instituted 
in 1795 a society, which has embraced the principal me- 
chanics of all professions in Boston, and which is prominent 
among the variety of benevolent and useful institutions which 
dignify and embellish the metropolis of Massachusetts. At 
the time of his death he was connected with many other philan- 
thropic associations, in all of which he was a munificent and 
useful member. By an uncommonly long life of industry and 


economy, he had been able to obtain a competency in the way 
of property, and to educate a large family of children, many of 
whom are living to participate in one of the purest and most 
affectionate gratifications that a child can enjoy the contempla- 
tion of the character of an upright, patriotic and virtuous father. 
For our notice of 


We are principally indebted to Barber's "History and Antiqui- 
ties of New Haven," published in 1831. We remember some of 
the works of Mr. Doolittle from the year 1777, but to Mr. Bar- 
ber's book we are indebted for the following advertisement 
and note. 

"This day published, and to be sold at the store of Mr. 
James Lockwood, near the College in New Haven, Four differ- 
ent views of the battle of Lexington, Concord, &c., on the 
19th April, 1775. 

"Plate I. The Battle at Lexington. 

Plate II. A view of the town of Concord, with the minister- 
ial troops destroying the stores. 

Plate III. The battle at the North bridge, in Concord. 
Plate IV. The south part of Lexington where the first 

detachment were joined by Lord Percy. 
"The above four Plates are neatly engraven on Copper, from 
original paintings taken on the spot. 

"Price six shillings per set for the plain ones, of " (sic) "eight 
shillings coloured. Dec. 13th, 1775. 

"Note. The above Prints were drawn by Mr. Earl, a por- 
trait painter, and engraved by Mr. Amos Doolittle. Mr. Earl 
and Mr. Doolittle were both members of the Governor's Guard, 
who went on to Cambridge, and the scene of action soon 
after it took place. It is believed that these prints are the 
first historical engravings ever executed in America.* Mr. 

* It will be seen by the preceding biography, that Paid Revere designed and pub- 
lished historical subjects before him. If Mr. Earl painted these subjects, as is expressly 
said in Mr. Doolittle's advertisement, where the phrase "original paintings" is used, 
we must consider Mr. Earl as our first historical painter in point of time. Revere, 
though he designed his picture of the Massacre, was not a painter. (This is an error; 
see note on p. 176.) 


Doolittle is living and still pursues the business of engraving 
in this place, and from him the above information is obtained; 
he also was in the engagement with the British troops at the 
time they entered New Haven." l 

In another page we find it stated that Mr. Doolittle, having 
returned from the scene of action at Hotchkisstown, to attend 
to a sick wife, threw his musket under the bed, and awaited the 
arrival of the enemy. Fortunately for him he had a guest in 
an English lady, who, when the British troops arrived, stepped 
out and asked a guard for the protection of the house, assert- 
ing that she was an Englishwoman, and had a son in the British 
army. The guard was granted; and when the musket was 
discovered, the same protectress said that every man was 
obliged by law to have arms in his house, but Mr. Doolittle 
was a friend of King George. This saved him from the prison 
ships of New York. 

In an addition to Mr. Barber's work it is stated that Mr. 
Doolittle died January 31, 1832, aged 78 years. There is an 
engraving (copied from one 18 inches by 12, which was exe- 
cuted by Mr. Amos Doolittle of New Haven, in 1775), show- 
ing the town of Lexington and the English troops commanded 
by Major Pitcairn, firing on the militia. "This print is be- 
lieved to be the first regular historical print ever published in 

1 These titles differ from the inscriptions on the prints, which are as follows: 

The Battle of Lexington. April 19 th 1775. Plate I/ A. Doolittle Sculp*/ (in two 
columns), 1. Major Pitcarn at the head of the Regular Granadiers. 2. The Party 
who first fired at the Provincials at Lexington. 3. Part of the Provincial Company of 
Lexington./ 4- Regular Companies on the road to Concord/ 5. The Metinghouse at 
Lexington/ 6. The Public Inn. 

Plate II. A View of the Town of Concord/ A. Doolittle Sculp*/ (in two columns), 
1. Companies of the Regulars marching into Concord/ 2. Companies of Regulars drawn 
up in order/ 3. A Detachment destroying the Provincials Stores/ 4 & 5. Colonel Smith 
& Major Pitcairn viewing the Provincials/ who were mustering on East Hill in Concord/ 
6. The Townhouse. 7. The Meeting house 

Plate HI. The Engagement at the North Bridge in Concord/ A. Doolittle Sculp 1 / 
(in two columns), 1 The Detachment of the Regulars who fired first/ on the Provincials 
at the Bridge/ 2. The Provincials headed by Colonel Robinson &/ Major Buttrick./ S 
The Bridge 

Plate IV. A View of the South Part of Lexington/ A. Doolittle Sculp*/ (in two 
columns), 1 Colonel Smith's Brigade retreating before the Provincials/ 2. Earl 
Piercy's Brigade meeting them/ 3 & 4 Earl Piercy & Col. Smith, 5 Provincials/ 
6 & 7 The Flanck-guards of Piercy' s Brigade/ 8 A Fieldpiece pointed at the Lexing- 
ton Meeting-house/ 9. The Burning of the Houses in Lexington 


America." This we have shown to be a mistake. "Mr. Doo- 
little's engraving was copied from a drawing by Mr. Earl, a 
portrait painter." "Mr. Earl's drawing was taken on the spot. 
The engraving was Mr. Doolittle's first attempt at the art," 
which he pursued for more than half a century. l 


Originally a gun engraver, and employed in the tower of 
London, came to Philadelphia in the year 1773. He undertook 
all kinds of engraving, and probably stood high in public 
opinion; he was the best, for he stood alone. To him we may 
owe the caricatures of the times, some of the wits of the day 
assisting in the designs. He engraved the blocks for the conti- 
nental money, and afterwards imitated them for the British. 
How great must have been his love of his native country! He 
engraved a large ground plan of the city of Philadelphia, on 
three plates, which Lawson says, "I bought for thirty dollars, 
when copper was scarce, and cut them up for small plates." 
He was the master of Trenchard. 


Is the name of an engraver, who is supposed to have come from 
England about the beginning of the insurrectionary move- 
ments in Boston, and retired again immediately to be out of 
the way of trouble. All we know of him, is from our friend 
Buckingham, who says he engraved a head of Nathaniel Hurd, 
from a likeness painted by Copley. It was in mezzotinto. 

1 In the third edition of Barber's book (1870) is the following additional note: 
"According to the statement of Mr. Doolittle, he acted as a kind of model for Mr. 
Earl to make his drawings, so that when he wished to represent one of the Provincials 
as loading his gun, crouching behind a stone wall when firing on the enemy, he would 
require Mr. D. to put himself in such a position. Although rude, these engravings 
appear to have made quite a sensation; particularly the battle of Lexington, where 
eight of the Provincials are represented as shot down, with the blood pouring from 
their wounds." 

1 James Smither. His advertisement as engraver appeared in the Pennsylvania 
Journal of April 21, 1768. According to Stauffer he engraved currency plates for the 
province of Pennsylvania, counterfeited them for the British during their occupancy of 
Philadelphia and afterwards removed to New York while under a charge of treason. 




Probably the first mezzotinto scraped in America. While in 
this country he resided altogether in Boston. 1 


Was the first engraver I find noticed as working in New York, 
and he was probably from England. Originally an ornamenter 
of buttons, and other metallic substances. On his arrival in 
America, he worked at anything that offered, suiting himself 
to the poverty of the arts at the time. 

My friend Alexander Anderson, the first who attempted 
engraving on wood in America, and who had, in fact, to invent 
the art for himself, tells me that he has seen ornamented shop 
bills, and coats of arms for books, engraved by Dawkins pre- 
vious to 1775. Mr. Anderson adds, "engravings for letter 
press, had been executed on type metal in various parts of this 
country, long before the Revolution. Dr. Franklin, if I recol- 
lect aright, cut the ornaments for his 'Poor Richard' almanacs 
in this way." I cannot venture, however, to include Benjamin 
Franklin among American engravers. That Dawkins would 
think himself skilful enough to engrave portraits for the 
colonists I do not doubt. 

He is probably the engraver of a very poor portrait of the 
Rev. Mr. Ogilvie, deposited by G. C. Verplanck, Esq., with 
the Historical Society of New York. 

1 Richard Jennys, Jr. His father was a notary and used a seal with the arms of 
the Jenney family. He died aged 53 in 1768 and was buried in King's Chapel. The son, 
Richard Jennys, Jr., was a portrait painter as well as an engraver, the mezzotint 
portrait of Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, of which a copy is given in this volume, being 
signed, "Rich d Jennys Jun r pinx 1 & Fecit," and the name Jennys also appears as artist 
on a portrait of JEneas Munson, M.D., in the Yale Medical School. 

No example of the mezzotint of Kurd is now known. Copley made two portraits 
of Hurd. One of them, lithographed by Pendleton after the Jennys mezzotint appeared 
in The New England Magazine for July, 1832. The other is reproduced here. 
Peter Pelham's engraving of Rev. Cotton Mather in 1727 is the earliest American 
mezzotint portrait. 

Besides following the profession of portrait painting, Jennys was a dealer in dry 
goods, as appears by his advertisement in the Independent Chronicle, S September, 
1777. He was still in Boston in 1783, but we find no record of him after that year. 

2 Dawkins was arrested in 1776 for counterfeiting Continental currency, but beyond 
his confession at trial, nothing further is known of him. He advertised himself as an 
engraver in New York as early as 1755. 



This gentleman, now seventy-one years of age, was a soldier 
of the Revolution, and is now a general of the militia of his 
native State, New Jersey. After the War of the Revolution, 
having always a propensity to drawing, he devoted himself to 
the arts, by choosing the profession of an engraver. Long 
retired to his native village, his painting and engraving has 
been for amusement, and in his old age, he enjoys the confi- 
dence and respect of his fellow citizens in that town, of which 
his father had in youth been one of the earliest settlers; now a 
flourishing as well as extremely interesting place Paterson. 

Mr. Godwin's grandfather was an Englishman, and settled 
in New Jersey, where the father of the engraver was born in 
1724; in manhood he took up his residence at the falls of the 
Passaic; since (in 1793) called Paterson; and there Abraham 
Godwin was born in July, 1763, and received the same bap- 
tismal name as his parent, who in his old age engaged actively 
in the cause of his country's liberty. 

Mr. Godwin was destined for the law; and in 1776 was 
placed with his brother, an attorney at Fishkill, in the state of 
New York. The lawyer, however, entered the army; and his 
pupil, as soon as possible, followed his example. 

Having when quite a youth seen the operation of engraving 
he was so delighted with it, that he procured a rude graver, by 
aid of a blacksmith, and made the first essays on the silver 
plate of his friends. 

The war being over, he married, and then gave his bond 
to a person of the name of Billings for two months' instruc- 
tion in engraving, but soon found that he could use the 
graver better than his master, who did not deserve the name 
of engraver. 

Mr. Godwin was employed in engraving the decorations of 
certificates for various societies, and some of the plates for 
Brown's Family Bible, published by Hodge, Allen, and Camp- 
bell, in New York. 

Retired to his native place, Mr. Godwin has served as cap- 
tain, judge-advocate, major, colonel, and lastly, brigadier- 


general of militia, which office he fills in a green old age, to 
the satisfaction of his countrymen. 


Was originally a silversmith. He is sometimes called Peter 
Maverick the first, as his son and grandson, both named Peter, 
have followed his profession. He etched and engraved for many 
years in New York. In 1787-8, he taught me the theory and 
practice of etching, and in his workshop I etched a frontispiece 
for a dramatic trifle then published. He had his press in his 
workshop. The plates in the Bible above mentioned are 
the best specimens of his art; but, by being the teacher of his 
son Peter, and of Francis Kearney, he aided materially in the 
progress of American engraving. 


This worthy man, and very estimable citizen is a native of 
England, born in the year 1760. 2 He was in youth brought 
up to the business of chaser of fancy buttons, and came to New 
York with a view of pursuing the same, but soon found that 
little or nothing of the kind was practised or sought after here. 
He had, not long after his arrival, some work in the way of his 
original employment, the remembrance of which gratifies the 
sturdy old gentleman to this day. General Knox, first secre- 
tary of war, under the Federal Government, employed Mr. 
Rollinson to chase the arms of the United States upon a set of 
gilt buttons for the coat which was worn by General Washing- 
ton, on the memorable day of his inauguration as president. 

Soon after, General Knox called to make payment, but the 
young Englishman had caught the spirit of the country of his 

1 Peter Rushton Maverick, according to a notice in the Newark Centinal of Freedom 
of 1811, was born in this country April 11, 1755, and died in New York December 12, 
1811. Simmer (History of East Boston) says that "He was a freethinker and a 
friend of Thomas Paine." Fielding states that his father was Andrew Maverick of 
Boston, who came to New York and was admitted a freeman July 17, 1753. He had 
three sons, Samuel, Andrew and Peter. Andrew became interested in the publication 
of prints. Samuel and Peter following the example of their father became engravers. 

1 He was born in England in 1762 and died in New York in 1842. 


choice, and would receive no compensation; declaring that he 
was more than paid by having had the honor of working for 
such a man on such an occasion. Shortly after, the chiefs of 
the Creek Indians, with McGillivray at their head, arrived at 
New York, then the seat of the Federal Government, and silver 
armbands, and medals were required for these sons of the 
forest, as presents from the United States. These decorations 
required ornamenting, and General Knox remunerated the 
button-chaser, by giving him many of them to engrave. 

Mr. Rollinson found employment in working for silversmiths, 
until 1791, when he made his first attempt at copperplate 
engraving, without any previous knowledge of the profession, 
or having even seen an engraver at work. This essay was a 
small profile portrait of General Washington done in the 
stippling manner. 

Through the friendship of Messrs. Elias Hicks and John C. 
Ludlow, Mr. Rollinson was recommended to the publishers of 
Brown's Family Bible, mentioned above, for which work he en- 
graved several plates, and found employment with the few book 
publishers of that day. This practice had given Mr. Rollin- 
son facility with the graver, and about this time, i.e., 1800, 
Mr. Archibald Robertson having painted a portrait of General 
Alexander Hamilton, Mr. Rollinson boldly undertook an en- 
graving from it, 18 inches by 14; he had no knowledge of 
rebiting and other processes used by those brought up to the 
profession, but had perseverance and ingenuity to surmount all 
difficulties, and finally invented a method of making a back- 
ground by means of a roulette inserted in a ruling machine. 
When he commenced this engraving, it was intended to be 
done at leisure hours, and for practice, but when the plate was 
about half done, General Hamilton lost his life in a duel with 
Colonel Burr. The friends of Hamilton were solicitous for a 
print of him, and the engraver was urged to finish the plate 
with all expedition. An impression being taken from the 
engraving in its unfinished state, and the likeness acknowl- 
edged, the work was completed, and published by Messrs. 
Rollinson and Robertson, in 1805, and met with a good sale. 


In 1812, Mr. Rollinson invented a machine to rule waved 
lines, for engraving margins to bank notes. Mr. W. S. Leney, 
an English artist from London (a good stipple engraver), joined 
Mr. Rollinson in producing a specimen note, which being 
approved, produced many orders from different parts of the 
United States. This invention of Mr. Rollinson was a great 
improvement in bank-note engraving, and caused a great 
sensation among engravers at the time. Mr. Rollinson, now 
in the 74th year o| his age is full of life and strength, and con- 
tinues to work with unabated ardor and improved skill. In 
the 70th year of his age, he executed a vignette for the Messrs. 
Carvils, for an edition of Horace, by Professor Anthon, which 
is a proof of increasing knowledge in the art he professes. At 
the age of 74, his portrait has been painted by Mr. Agate, an 
excellent likeness, which might indicate a man of fifty. 




I REMEMBER well three generations of Parissiens or Parisans, 
all professing to be painters, and all residing in New York. 
The first came from France, and was literally, as seen by me, 
"a little old Frenchman." 1 This was Otto Parissien, or Pa- 
rissien the first. The phrase "little old Frenchman" is so 
common in English books, that we of America naturalize it, 
with a thousand prejudices derived from the same source. But 
Parissien the first was a model of the idea. He was a silver- 
smith, and kept a shop of that precious ware; he worked 
ornaments in hair; and he made monstrous miniature pictures. 
Genius is hereditary, let democrats say what they will, at least 
the genius of mediocrity and yet the three Parissiens im- 
proved in regular gradation on the soil of America. The son 
of the "little old Frenchman" became an American almost of 
ordinary size, and painted miniatures with a little resemblance 
to human nature, at the same time working in hair and silver. 
This was Parissien the second. He died, as is the custom 
in all countries, and was succeeded by Parissien the third, 
who arrived at the full height of ordinary Americans, and re- 
nouncing the hair work and the silver teapots and milk jugs, 
devoted himself to drawing and painting; but notwithstanding 
that he attained to cleverness in drawing with chalks, his 
painting, though beyond comparison better than his predeces- 
sors', still bore the family likeness. He even went so far as to 

1 There are two errors on this page. Otto Parissiens was a native of Prussia instead 
of France, and he did not paint miniatures. He designed the ornaments of the silver- 
ware he dealt in, being a silversmith. 



paint a full length of my old friend Dr. Mitchill, which was 
exhibited in the gallery of the American Academy of Fine Arts 
in the old almshouse, and it was generally admired for its 
rigid portliness and inveterate pertinapity of attitude. But 
the hereditary propensity to mingle employments descended 
to Parissien the third, with the hereditary mediocrity of the 
family. He mixed the business of money broker with his 
painting, and both failed. He died in the prime of life, and the 
race of Parissiens became extinct. 


Who this gentleman was, I know not, 1 but presume he was 
from England. He painted portraits in New York in 1761, 
although I place him later, as supposing he may have continued 
to 1772. 

In the family mansion of James Beekman, Esq., among many 
portraits of his ancestors, are two by L. Kilbrunn, dated 1761, 
half lengths, size of life, one of Dr. William Beekman, a gradu- 
ate of Ley den, and who practised physic, in New York; the 
other of his wife. The Doctor's head is well painted, full of 
nature, the colors softened skilfully, and the picture in good 
preservation; the other has merit, but is not so good all 
the hands are bad. I owe the discovery of this artist to my 
friend Doctor Francis. 


Born in New York, probably in 1740. 2 He visited England 
about 1766, and was instructed for a short time by B. West. 
Mr. DePeyster, son in law of Mr. John Beekman, has a head 

1 Lawrence Kilburn, sometimes written Killbrunn, arrived from London in the 
early part of May, 1754, and according to an advertisement in the New York Gazette 
of July 8, 1754, was soliciting business. His advertisement appears at intervals in 
different New York newspapers to 1772. He died in New York in 1775. 

2 Abraham De Launy, Jr., was probably the son of Abraham De Launy celebrated 
in New York City as a dealer in pickled oysters, but the date of his birth is not known. 
An advertisement in the New York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, by A. De Launy, 
Jr., January 7, 1771, states that he has been "taught by the celebrated Mr. West, in 
London." The exact date of his death is unknown. The spelling of his name has been 
corrected in subsequent references. 


of West, painted by Delanoy at this period; it is marked, 
"Portrait of Benjamin West, the celebrated limner of Phila- 
delphia, painted by his friend Abraham Delanoy, junior, 
limner." Mr. John Beekman has several family portraits 
painted by Delanoy, in 1767: and Mr. James Beekman others, 
executed near the same period. I remember Delanoy from 
1780 to 1783, in "the sear and yellow leaf" both of life and 
fortune. He was consumptive, poor, and his only employment 
sign painting. He told me of his visit to London, and showed a 
picture he then copied from one of Mr. West's, it was "Cupid 
complaining to his mother of a sting from a bee." I saw then 
his own portrait, and those of his wife and children, by himself. 
I painted a likeness of Admiral Hood, from recollection, for 
him on a sign my first production in oil. 

Delanoy was a man of mild manners, awkward address, and 
unprepossessing appearance. I presume he died about 1786. 


Having arrived at that period which is made memorable in 
the history of American arts, by the commencement of the 
career in portrait painting of one who has yet no rival, we, 
in accordance with our plan, give here a biographical notice of 
Gilbert Charles Stuart, born in 1755. 1 

As Mr. Stuart dropped the middle name of "Charles," we 
will give our reasons for restoring it to him. He was thus 
baptized, and it marks the attachment of his father to the 
worthless dynasty so long adhered to by the Scotch. He bore 
the three names until after manhood. Dr. Waterhouse, his 
friend and schoolfellow, in a letter before us, dated 27th of May, 
1833, says, "I have cut from one of Stuart's letters his signa- 
ture of G. C. Stuart, i.e.; Gilbert Charles Stuart. I have some 
doubt whether his widow and children ever knew that he had 
the middle name of Charles." When writing his name on his 
own portrait, in 1778, he omitted the "C." The inscription is 
"G. Stuart, Pictor, se ipso pinxit, A. D. 1778, setatis sua 24." 

1 Gilbert Charles Stuart, the son of Gilbert and Elisabeth Anthony Stuart, was 
born near North Kingston, R. I., December 3, 1755. 


From the collection of the Redwood Library, Newport, R. I. 


His name was frequently written and printed "Stewart"; 
and Heath, on the pirated engraving from the artist's cele- 
brated portrait of Washington, calls him "Gabriel." Stuart 
jestingly said, "men will make an angel of me in spite of myself." 

The above quoted inscription from his portrait, is the only 
authority we have for the time of his birth. That fixes it in 
1755. This picture is in the possession of Doctor Benjamin 
Waterhouse, and is extremely valuable both as the only por- 
trait he ever painted of himself, and as a monument of his early 

The name of Stuart will long be dear to those who had the 
pleasure of his intimacy. His colloquial powers were of the 
first order, and made him the delight of all who were thrown in 
his way; whether exercised to draw forth character and ex- 
pression from his sitters, or in the quiet of a tete-a-tete, or to 
"set the table in a roar," while the wine circulated, as was 
but too much the custom of the time and the man. 

Still dearer is the name of Stuart to every American artist, 
many of whom remember with gratitude the lessons derived 
from his conversation and practice, and all feel the influence 
of that instruction which is derived from studying his works. 

Although our greatest portrait painter is but recently de- 
ceased, already the place of his nativity is disputed, and con- 
tending towns claim the honor of producing this extraordinary 
genius; we will relate his own testimony on the subject, although 
no man can be a competent witness hi the case. 

A few years before his death, two artists of Philadelphia 
visited Mr. Stuart at his residence in Boston. These gentle- 
men, Messrs. Longacre and Neagle, had made the journey for 
the sole purpose of seeing and deriving instruction from the 
veteran. While sitting with him on one occasion, Mr. Neagle 
asked him for a pinch of snuff from his ample box, out of which 
he was profusely supplying his own nostrils. "I will give it to 
you," said Stuart, "but I advise you not to take it. Snuff -tak- 
ing is a pernicious, vile, dirty habit, and, like all bad habits, 
to be carefully avoided." "Your practice contradicts your 
precept, Mr. Stuart." "Sir / can't help it. Shall I tell you a 


story? You were neither of you ever in England so I must 
describe an English stagecoach of my time. It was a large 
vehicle of the coach kind, with a railing around the top to 
secure outside passengers, and a basket behind for baggage, 
and such travellers as could not be elsewhere accommodated. 
In such a carriage, full within, loaded on the top, and an ad- 
ditional unfortunate stowed with the stuff in the basket, I hap- 
pened to be travelling in a dark night, when coachee contrived 
to overturn us all or, as they say in New York, dump us - 
in a ditch. We scrambled up, felt our legs and arms to be con- 
vinced that they were not broken, and finding, on examination, 
that inside and outside passengers were tolerably whole (on 
the whole), some one thought of the poor devil who was shut 
up with the baggage in the basket. He was found apparently 
senseless, and his neck twisted awry. One of the passengers, 
who had heard that any dislocation might be remedied, if 
promptly attended to, seized on the corpse, with a determina- 
tion to untwist the man's neck, and set his head straight on 
his shoulders. Accordingly, with an iron grasp he clutched 
him by the head, and began pulling and twisting by main 
force. He appeared to have succeeded miraculously in re- 
storing life; for the dead man no sooner experienced the first 
wrench, than he roared vociferously, 'Let me alone! let me 
alone! I'm not hurt! I was born so!' Gentlemen," added 
Stuart, "I was born so"; and, taking an enormous pinch of 
snuff, "I was born in a snuff mill." 

A plain statement, for which we are indebted to his friend 
Doctor Waterhouse, will account for the painter's being born 
in the State of Rhode Island, and explain his assertion of 
being born in a snuff mill. 

Between the years 1746 and '50, there came over from Great 
Britain, to these colonies, a number of Scotch gentlemen, 
who had not the appearance of what is generally understood 
by the term emigrant, nor yet were they merchants nor seemed 
to be men of fortune. They came not in companies, but 
dropped in quietly, one after the other. Their unassuming 
appearance, retired habits, bordering on the reserve, seemed 


to place them above the common class of British travellers. 
Their mode of life was snug, discreet and respectable, yet 
clannish. Some settled in Philadelphia, some in Perth Amboy, 
some in New York, but a greater proportion sat down at that 
pleasant and healthy spot Rhode Island, called by Callender, 
its first historiographer, "The garden of America," afterwards 
less favorably known as the great slave market for the Southern 

We have seen, in our notice of Smibert, that that this Gar- 
den of America was the residence of Dean Berkeley, the friend 
of Oglethorpe, and that there he composed his "Minute 
Philosopher." "The rural descriptions which frequently occur 
in it"; the remark is from G. C. Verplanck; "are, it is said, 
exquisite pictures of those delightful landscapes, which pre- 
sented themselves to his eye at the time he was writing." 

Several of these Scotch emigrants or visitors, were profes- 
sional men; among them was Dr. Thomas Moffat, a learned 
physician of the Boerhaavean school, but however learned, his 
dress and manners were so ill suited to the plainness, in both, of 
the inhabitants of Rhode Island, who were principally Quakers, 
that he could not make his way among them as a practitioner, 
and therefore, he looked round for some other mode of genteel 
subsistence, and he lit upon that of cultivating tobacco, and 
making snuff, to supply the place of the great quantity that 
was every year imported from Glasgow; but he could find no 
man in the country who he thought was able to make him a 
snuff mill. He therefore wrote to Scotland and obtained a 
competent millwright, by the name of Gilbert Stuart. 

Doctor Moffat selected for his mill seat, a proper stream in 
that part of the colony of Rhode Island and Providence plan- 
tations, which bore and still bears the Indian name of Narra- 
ganset, once occupied by the warlike tribe of the Pequots, 
made familiar to us by the intensely interesting romance of 
our great novelist, James Fenimore Cooper, under the title of 
"The last of the Mohegans." 

There Gilbert Stuart, the father of the great painter, erected 
the first snuff mill in New England, and manufactured that 


strange article of luxury. He soon after built a house and 
married a very handsome woman, daughter of a substantial 
yeoman, the cultivator of his own soil, by name Anthony. 
Of this happy couple was born Gilbert Charles Stuart. The 
middle name, indicative of the Jacobite principles of his father, 
was early dropped by the son, and never used in his days of 
notoriety indeed, but for the signatures of letters addressed 
by him to his friend Waterhouse, in youth, we should have no 
evidence that he ever bore more than the famous name of 
Gilbert Stuart. The father of the painter was remarkable for 
his ingenuity, and his quiet, inoffensive life. His mother was 
a well-informed woman, and capable of instructing her son. 
She had three children: James, Ann, and Gilbert. James 
died when yet a child; Ann married, and is the mother of 
Gilbert Stuart Newton. . 

Doctor Benjamin Waterhouse, in a manuscript memoir be- 
fore us, says, that he "from several people imbibed the idea 
that the child Gilbert betrayed very early signs of genius, and 
the only reason for doubting it is the fact that his talents con- 
tinued bright over three score years and ten: witness his por- 
trait of the venerable President Adams, and that of his son 
John Quincy Adams, late President of these United States, in 
both of which Mr. Stuart far exceeded any other of his por- 
traits. Van Dyck himself might have been proud of either, 
especially that of the elder Adams." We continue to quote 
from Dr. Waterhouse. 

"The manufactory of snuff from New England tobacco 
succeeded, and was as good as that imported from Glasgow, 
but the scheme for supplying the colonies with that indispens- 
able article failed, for want of glass bottles to contain it; and 
for which the learned Doctor Moffat substituted beeves' blad- 
ders, which effectually destroyed the business, and compelled 
Mr. Gilbert Stuart to remove from Narraganset to the town 
of Newport, the capital of the colony of Rhode Island." 

If this is the origin of the custom of packing snuff in blad- 
ders (a custom, which, though it did not succeed at Narra- 
ganset, is nevertheless continued elsewhere to the present 


time), our pages will be valued hereafter for matter relevant 
to more arts than those called fine; and we may hope to have 
our name descending to posterity with those of Waterhouse 
and Moffat, preserved hi a bladder of New England snuff. 

"There," continues the doctor, "the writer of this memoir 
first became attached to the schoolboy Gilbert Stuart." The 
Doctor was about the same age, and says that Stuart was "a 
very capable, self-willed boy, who, perhaps on that account, 
was indulged in everything, being an only son; handsome and 
forward, and habituated at home to have his own way in 
everything, with little or no control from the easy, good- 
natured father. He was about thirteen years old when he began 
to copy pictures," 1767, "and at length attempted likenesses 
in black lead, in which he succeeded," so far as to discourage 
the attempts of his schoolfellow, Waterhouse. 

"About the year 1772," the Doctor proceeds, "a Scotch 
gentleman, named Cosmo Alexander, between 50 and 60 years 
of age, arrived at Newport; of delicate health and prepossessing 
manners, apparently above the mere trade of a painter, he prob- 
ably travelled for the benefit of his country and his own health. 
As the political sky was at that time overcast with many ap- 
pearances of a storm, our countrymen noticed several genteel 
travellers from Britain, who seemed to be gentlemen of leisure 
and observation, and mostly Scotchmen." (Does the Doctor 
mean to insinuate that these Scotch gentlemen, and among 
them Alexander, who was "above the mere trade of a painter" 
and "travelled for the benefit of his country," were spies)? 
"Mr. Alexander associated almost exclusively with the gentle- 
men from Scotland, and was said by them to paint for his 
amusement." To paint for money would be degradation :- 
not so to write to plead to physic, or to kill. "Be that as 
it may, he soon opened a painting room, well provided with 
cameras and optical glasses for taking prospective views. He 
soon put upon canvas the Hunters, the Keiths, the Fergusons, 
the Grants and the Hamiltons, and this interest led to the 
recommendation of the youth Gilbert Stuart, to the notice 
and patronage of Mr. Alexander, who, being pleased with his 


talents, gave him lessons in the grammar of the art I mean 
drawing and the groundwork of the palette. After spending 
the summer in Rhode Island, he went to South Carolina, and 
thence to Scotland, taking young Stuart with him. Mr. 
Alexander died not long after his arrival at Edinburgh, leaving 
his pupil to the care of Sir George Chambers, who, it seems, 
did not long survive his friend Alexander. After these sad 
disappointments our young artist fell into the hands of I 
know not whom, nor do I regret never hearing him named, 
as he treated Stuart harshly, and put him on board a collier, 
bound to Nova Scotia, whence he got on, not without suffer- 
ing, to Rhode Island. What his treatment was I never could 
learn; I only know that it required a few weeks to equip him 
with suitable clothing to appear in the streets, or to allow any 
one of his former friends, save the writer, to know of his return 
home. Suffice it to say, that it was such as neither Gilbert 
Stuart, father, or son, ever thought proper to mention. It is 
probable the youth worked for his passage to America." 

If Stuart went on this first unfortunate voyage to Europe 
with Alexander, in the winter of 1772, he was of course 18 
years of age, and we cannot well assign less than a year for the 
events which took place before he arrived again at Newport. 1 

It appears that he soon resumed his study of drawing and 
practice of painting. Waterhouse says, "Mr. Stuart was fully 
aware of the great importance of the art of drawing with anatom- 
icaj exactness, and took vast pains to attain it." The Doctor, 
who was likewise making efforts to draw, in conjunction with 
Stuart, prevailed on a "strong muscle blacksmith," for half a 
dollar an evening, to exhibit his person for their study. 

Stuart now commenced portrait painter in form. His 
mother's brother, Mr. Joseph Anthony, was then a thriving 
merchant in Philadelphia. He is well known in that city, and 
has been since the days of banking, the president of one of 
those institutions. This gentleman, visiting his native colony 
and his sister, was struck with admiration on entering the 

1 Stuart went to Scotland with Cosmo Alexander in 1772 and returned to Rhode 
Island in 1774. 



Signed G. C. Stuart, 1779. From the collection of The Minneapolis Institute of Art 


painting room of his nephew, by seeing a likeness of his mother 
(the young painter's grandmother), who died when Gilbert 
was a boy of ten or twelve years of age. He was now about nine- 
teen, and had within the last year been buffeted with no gentle 
hands from the quiet abode of his parents in the north, to the 
southern colony of Carolina, thence to Scotland, to Nova 
Scotia in a collier, and through privations and hardships to 
Newport again. But the image of his mother's parent, who 
had probably caressed him with a grandmother's fondness 
when a child, had been present with him in his wanderings, 
and one of the first efforts of his incipient art was to perpetuate 
that image on his canvas. This faculty, the result of strong 
observation on a strong mind, was one of the distinguishing 
characteristics of Mr. Stuart, and we shall have occasion to 
mention extraordinary proofs of it in the sequel. 

The effect which this testimony of the young man's affection 
for his parent, and of his skill as a painter, was such as to in- 
terest Mr. Anthony warmly in his behalf. "He was proud," 
says Waterhouse, "of patronizing his ingenious nephew, after 
a circumstance which greatly surprised and affected" him. 
Mr. Anthony employed the young painter to make portraits of 
himself, his wife, and two children. "Another gentleman," 
Doctor Waterhouse says in continuation, "of opulence, followed 
his (Anthony's) example, and several others sat for their 
single portraits, so that our aspiring artist had as much busi- 
ness as he could turn his hands to; and the buoyancy of his 
spirits kept pace with his good fortune. He never had, how- 
ever, that evenness of spirits which marked and dignified the 
characters of our countrymen Benjamin West and John Single- 
ton Copley. With Stuart it was either high tide or low tide. 
In London he would sometimes lay abed for weeks, waiting 
for the tide to lead him on to fortune, while Copley and 
West had the industry of ants before they attained the treasure 
of bees. There was a caprice in Mr. Stuart's character as pro- 
voking to his best friends and nearest connections, as it was 
unaccountable to the public. A committee of the Redwood 
Library, of Newport, waited upon him to engage him to paint 


a full-length portrait of its generous founder, Abraham Red- 
wood, then living next door to the painter, for which the young 
artist would have had a generous reward, but all that his 
parents and the rest of his friends could say, he declined it in 
sullen silence, and by so doing turned the popular tide in some 
degree against him. Whether any of the committee bargained 
with him in the spirit and style of a mechanic, I never knew; 
but it is certain he never would hear the subject mentioned if 
he could check it. This occurrence cooled the zeal of many 
of his friends." 

The doctor's assertion, that he "would have had a generous 
reward," is gratuitous, as is proved by his suggestion, that "one 
of the committee" (or perhaps the whole committee) might 
have "bargained with him as with a mechanic." Or might 
not Stuart, a youth of 19 or 20, feel that he could not paint 
a full length, for a public place especially? Might he not 
have declined to do that, the attempt at which would perplex, 
and the result disgrace? If such were his motives, he was wise 
to preserve silence for his friends would not have understood 

Ardent as Stuart's love of painting was, we have the author- 
ity of his early friend for saying that music divided his affections 
so equally with her sister, that it was difficult to say which 
was "the ruling passion." 

"Stuart," says the doctor, "became enamored with music, 
in which he made remarkable progress without any other 
master than his own superior genius." "I was willing to believe 
that he was au fait in the science of sweet sounds, but I did 
not always feel them so sweetly as he did." 

The young painter not only became a performer on various 
instruments, but ventured likewise to compose. The biog- 
rapher of this early portion of his life, says, "once he attempted 
to enrapture me, by a newly studied classical composition. I 
exerted all the kind attention I could muster up for the occa- 
sion, until his sharp eye detected by my physiognomy, that I 
did not much relish it. He colored, sprang up in a rage, and 
striding back and forth the floor, vociferated, 'you have no 


more taste for music than a jackass! and it is all owing to 
your stupid Quaker education.' To which I replied, "tis very 
likely, Gibby, and that education has led me to relish silence 
more than all the passionate noise uttered from instrumental or 
vocal organs.' Stuart's reply to this, with a laugh, was, 'a 
good hit, Ben ! but really I wish you had more taste for 
music.' 'I wish so too, Stuart,' said his friend, 'but I am de- 
termined not to admire more in a picture than what I actually 
see within its frame; nor affect raptures for music I do not 
feel.' ' 

"On going to England," continues the Doctor, "in the 
beginning of March, 1775, I left Gilbert Stuart, according to 
his own account, in a manner disconsolate, for, beside me, he 
had no associate with whom he could expatiate and dispute 
upon painting and music." 

Stuart, probably finding that his business of portrait painting 
failed in consequence of the preparations for war, then making 
in the colonies, found means to follow his friend Waterhouse. 
We have been told that he was assisted by some of the in- 
habitants of Newport. It will be seen that he did not go from 
home well provided, except with talent, to meet the expenses 
incident to a residence in the English metropolis. He has told 
the writer that he embarked from the port of Norfolk, in 
Virginia, with the localities of which place, and with its older 
inhabitants, he was well acquainted. He went thither from the 
port of Boston, after hostilities had commenced between the 
veterans of England and the Yankee yeomen. Doctor Water- 
house says, "Mr. Stuart was shut up in Boston, when the first 
blood was spilt at Lexington, in our contest with Great Britain, 
April the 19th, 1775, and escaped from it about ten days 
before the Battle of Bunker Hill, and arrived in London the 
latter end of November following, when he found I was gone 
to Edinburgh, and he without an acquaintance." From this 
we may infer that Stuart relied upon Waterhouse principally 
for introduction, and perhaps support, until he could obtain 
employment. As he escaped from the town of Boston on the 
7th of June, 1775, ten days before the fight on Breed's hill, and 


reached London the last of November, even the tardy move- 
ment of ships over the Atlantic at that period, allows us to 
suppose that the young man passed some weeks at Norfolk. 1 

Mr. Trumbull, who was the fellow student of Stuart, under 
West, and in some sort, the pupil of Stuart, who had preceded 
him in the art, and ever far outstripped him in portraiture, gave 
the following anecdote to Mr. James Herring, which we copy 
from his manuscript. 

"Trumbull was told by the lady of a British officer, that 
the night before he (Stuart) left Newport, he spent most part 
of the night under the window of a friend of hers, playing on 
the flute (he played very well on the flute) , and we spent many 
an evening together playing duets he took lessons too in 
London of a German, who belonged to the king's band. T. 
She afterwards married a British officer." 

His friend Waterhouse continues, "When I returned from 
Edinburgh to London in the summer of 1776, I found Mr. 
Stuart in lodging in York buildings, with but one picture on 
his easel, and that was a family group for Mr. Alexander Grant, 
a Scotch gentleman to whom he brought letters, and who had 
paid him for it in advance. It remained long in his lodgings, and 
I am not sure that it ever was finished." Not being sure we 
ought to conclude that it was finished and delivered to the owner. 

During this period we presume to fix the time for an adven- 
ture, which Mr. Stuart, in his old age, often mentioned. His 
father's business was broken up by the events of the war in 
America; the friend upon whom he relied had left London; he 
found himself poor and unknown in that desert, a populous 
metropolis, without money, experience or prudence it was 
then that his knowledge of music, practical and theoretical, 
stood him in stead, and gave him the means of subsistence in 
a manner as extraordinary as his character and actions were 
eccentric. To Mr. Charles Fraser, of Charleston, and Mr. 
Thomas Sully, of Philadelphia, he related the following 
circumstances nearly in the same words. 

1 Stuart sailed from Boston for London on June 16, 1775, exhibited at the Royal 
Academy 1777-85, and went to Dublin, Ireland, in 1787. 


While destitute of the means whereby to support himself, or 
pay his landlord for board and lodging, already due, walking 
the streets without any definite object in view, he passed by a 
church in Foster Lane; he observed that the door was open, 
and several persons going in. At the same time, the sound of 
an organ struck his ear, ever alive to the "concord of sweet 
sounds," and he approached the door, at first only to gratify 
his sense of harmony. Before venturing to enter a temple 
devoted to the worship of the benevolent Giver of good to all, he 
had to consider the cost as the pew woman would expect her 
fee. He therefore, after indulging himself with the sounds 
which issued from the door, as a hungry pauper snuffs the 
savors from a cook's shop, asked of a person who was enter- 
ing to the feast, if anything particular was going on within; 
and was told that the vestry were sitting as judges of several 
candidates for the situation of organist, the former incumbent 
having recently died. The trial was then going on Stuart 
entered the church, kept clear of the pew woman, and placed 
himself near the judges, when being encouraged, as he said, by 
a look of good nature in one of the vestrymen's jolly counte- 
nance, and by the consciousness, that he could produce better 
tones from the instrument than any he had heard that day, he 
addressed the man with the inviting face, and asked if he, a 
stranger, might try his skill and become a candidate for the 
vacant place. He was answered in the affirmative, and he had 
the pleasure to find that the time he had employed in making 
himself a musician, had not been thrown away even in the most 
worldly acceptation of the words. His performance was pre- 
ferred to that of his rivals, and after due inquiries and a refer- 
ence (doubtless to Mr. Grant, to whom alone he had brought 
letters), by which his fitness for the station was ascertained, he 
was engaged as the organist of the church, at a salary of thirty 
pounds a year. He was thus relieved from his present neces- 
sities, and enabled to pursue his studies as a painter. "When" 
said Mr. Fraser, "Mr. Stuart related this anecdote to me, he 
was sitting in his parlor, and as if to prove that he did not 
neglect the talent that had been so friendly to him in his youth, 


and in the days of extreme necessity, he took his seat at a small 
organ in the room, and played several old fashioned tunes with 
much feeling and execution." Mr. Sully related this anecdote 
of Stuart's early life nearly in the same words, and praised his 
execution on an organized pianoforte very highly. Mr. Sully's 
taste and knowledge of music render his approbation high 
authority as to Stuart's skill on this instrument. 

Doctor Waterhouse justly observes, that "Stuart's acknowl- 
edged advancement in the theory and practice of music was 
a fresh evidence of his vigorous intellect and various talents, 
which constitutes genius. He certainly had that peculiar 
structure of the brain or mind which gives an aptitude to excel 
in everything to which he chose to direct his strong faculties." 
On the return of this friend to London, he had the pleasure 
of procuring several sitters for the young painter; but could 
with difficulty keep the eccentric genius in a straight course 
or within legitimate limits. We will let the doctor tell this 
portion of Stuart's story in his own way. 

"As I was at that time 'walking the hospitals,' as they call 
it, I took up my quarters in Gracechurch Street, to be near St. 
Thomas's and Guy's Hospitals, which was about three miles 
from Stuart's lodgings, an inconvenience and grievance to us 
both as we could not see each other every day. Therefore 
measures were taken to procure him lodgings between the 
houses of my two cousins, Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Chorley, 
nieces of my kinsman and patron Dr. Fothergill. This was the 
best I could do for my friend; but it was not the most favored 
location for a professor of one of the fine arts, seeing the Quak- 
ers are distinguished more for their attachment to the plain 
arts. Yet we made out amongst us to keep Stuart even with his 
landlord and washerwoman, which was doing better than he 
had done. Dr. Fothergill directed him to paint my portrait 
for him, which I considered as a delicate mode of giving the 
young American artist ten guineas, for no one ever knew what 
became of it after it was carried to Harpur Street. Doctor 
William Curtis, author of the splendid Flora Londinensis sat 
for his portrait, and so did two beautiful young ladies, sisters; 


one with dark hair, as the tragic muse, the other with reddish 
hair and light blue eyes, as the comic muse; and yet both 
daughters of parents remarkable for walking by the strictest 
rules of the sect in which they were distinguished leaders. 
The celebrated Doctor Lettsom was easily persuaded to sit or 
rather stand for his full-length picture for the royal exhibition 
nevertheless Stuart was very poor and in debt. Of my allow- 
ance of pocket money he always had two thirds, and more than 
once the other third. He never finished Doctor Lettsom's 
portrait, and was of course deprived of that opportunity of 
exhibiting the picture of a well-known physician and philan- 

This reminds us of his declining to paint the full length of 
Mr. Redwood, in Newport. Is it not probable that Stuart 
found that even yet he could not paint a full length that would 
be received at Somerset House, or if received, contribute to his 
reputation? His friend proceeds: 

"I devised another plan to benefit him. Dr. George For- 
dyce, a very learned Scotch physician, whose medical and 
chemical lectures, I every morning attended in Essex Street, 
during between two and three years, was a philosophical phy- 
sician much admired by his pupils. I proposed to my fellow- 
students to procure a fine engraving of our favorite teacher. 
The proposal took at once, and I was authorized to have the 
portrait taken by my friend and companion, Gilbert Charles 
Stuart, and they each one paid me their half-guinea subscrip- 
tion, and I was unwise enough to let my needy friend have 
the greater part of it before he commenced the painting, which 
I never could induce him even to begin. This was a source 
of inexpressible unhappiness and mortification, which at length 
brought on me a fever, the only dangerous disease I ever 
encountered. After my recovery I had to refund the money, 
when I had not a farthing of my own, but what came from the 
thoughtful bounty of my most excellent kinsman, Dr. Fother- 
gill, who would never afterwards see Gilbert Charles Stuart. 
Twice before this I took him out of a sponging house by paying 
the demands for which he was confined." 


It appears that all this could not shake the friendship or 
break the cords which attached the student of medicine to his 
imprudent countryman; for he goes on to say, "Stuart and I 
agreed to devote one day in the week to viewing pictures, 
wherever we could get admittance. We used Maitland's 
description of London for a guide. We found nothing equal 
to the collection at the Queen's Palace or Buckingham House. 
We made it a point also to walk together through all the nar- 
row lanes of London, and having a pocket map, we marked 
such streets and lanes as we passed through with a red lead 
pencil, and our map was full two-thirds streaked over with red 
when we received some solemn cautions and advice to desist 
from our too curious rambles. We were told by some who 
knew better than we did, that we ran a risk of bodily injury, 
or the loss of our hats and watches, if not our lives, when we 
gave up the project. We had, however, pursued it once a week 
for more than two years, and never experienced other than 
verbal abuse, chiefly from women, and saw a great deal of 
that dirty, monstrous, overgrown city, containing, to appear- 
ance, no other people than the natives of Britain and Ireland, 
and a few Jews, not laughing and humming a song like the 
populace of Paris, but, wearing a stern, anxious, discontented 

"In the summer of 1776," the young student of medicine 
has told us that he returned from Edinburgh to London, and 
supposing these rambles to commence soon after, the two years 
brings us late in 1778, in which year Stuart painted his own 
portrait for Waterhouse, at the age of 24, which is said to be 
a picture of extraordinary merit. All this time the young 
painter had never been introduced to his countryman, West. 
There appears to be no reason for this neglect on Stuart's 
part. This source of instruction was accessible to all; and 
particularly to Americans. His doors were ever open, and his 
advice ever freely given. 

In a letter before us it appears that Dr. Waterhouse enjoyed 
the acquaintance of Mr. West, "from the year 1775," he says, 
"my introduction to that interesting painter, was through the 


friendly attention of his own father." Yet late in the year 
1778, Gilbert Stuart was unknown to Benjamin West, though 
residing with Waterhouse in London. Doctor Waterhouse 
thinks that after this long delay, he was the means of intro- 
ducing Stuart to Mr. West, but we prefer the following ac- 
count from Mr. Sully, not doubting in the least the accuracy 
of the Doctor's statement, that he "called upon Mr. West, and 
laid open to him his (Stuart's) situation, when that worthy 
man saw into it at once, and sent him three or four guineas,'* 
and that two days afterward he sent his servant into the city 
to ask Mr. Stuart to come to him, when he employed him in 
copying." But we believe the introduction to have taken 
place prior to Waterhouse's visit, although probably a very 
few days. 

When Mr. Sully returned home from England, West gave 
him a letter to his old friend Mr. Wharton, then a governor of 
the Pennsylvania Hospital, respecting a place for the reception 
of the great picture of the "Healing in the Temple," and 
Wliarton, in conversation on the subject of paintings and paint- 
ers, told Sully that he introduced Stuart to West, and related 
the circumstance thus: 

"I was with several other Americans dining with West, 
when a servant announced a person as wanting to speak to 
him. 'I am engaged'; but, after a pause, he added, 'Who is 
he? ' 'He says, sir, that he is from America.' That was enough. 
W'est left the table immediately, and on returning, said, ' Whar- 
ton, there is a young man in the next room, who says he is 
known in our city, go you and see what you can make of him.' 
I went out and saw a handsome youth in a fashionable green 
coat, and I at once told him that I was sent to see what I could 
make of him. 'You are known in Philadelphia?' 'Yes sir.' 
'Your name is Stuart?' 'Yes.' 'Have you no letters for Mr. 
West?' 'No sir.' 'WTiom do you know in Philadelphia?' 
'Joseph Anthony is my uncle.' 'That's enough come in,' 
and I carried him in, and he received a hearty welcome." 

Such appears to be the authentic account of Stuart's intro- 
duction to the man from whose instruction he derived the most 


important advantages from that time forward; whose char- 
acter he always justly appreciated, but whose example he 
could not, or would not follow. 

It appears from this, that notwithstanding Stuart's poverty 
at this time, he was well dressed. Waterhouse says that he 
lived in the house of a tailor. It appears that Stuart painted 
more than one picture of Waterhouse. "I was often to him," 
says the Doctor, "what Rembrandt's mother was to that won- 
derful Dutchman, an object at hand on which to exercise a 
ready pencil. I once prevailed on him to try his pencil on a 
canvas of a three-quarter size, representing me with both 
hands clasping my right knee, thrown over my left one, and 
looking steadfastly on a human skull placed on a polished ma- 
hogany table." As this is all we hear of this picture it was 
probably left unfinished and destroyed. 

Of his friend Gilbert's epistolary habits, the Doctor gives 
the following account. He says, on one occasion, "Mr. Stuart 
sent me the following letter: 'Friend Benjamin, by no means 
disappoint me, but be at my lodgings precisely at three o'clock, 
to go to the Queen's Palace. Yours, G. Stuart. Saturday 
afternoon.' There was no date of the month or year, but 
I think it was in the summer of 1778. In one of his letters, 
written to me while at Edinburgh, in the latter end of the 
year 1775, or the beginning of '76, he writes thus in a P. S. 
'I don't know the day of the month or even what month, and 
I have no one to ask at present, but the day of the week is 
Tuesday, I believe.' I question if Mr. Stuart ever wrote a 
line to either father, mother or sister, after he went to England. 
The first letter he wrote to me while at Edinburgh, was a few 
days after his arrival in London, in which he says, 'Your 
father was at our house just before I left home, when he said 
Gilbert and Ben are so knit together like David and Jonathan, 
that if they heard from one, they would also hear from the 
other.' But in this he was mistaken; Gilbert Stuart's parents 
never had a single line from him, and I doubt if there be in 
existence a single letter in his remaining family, or anywhere 
else, except four of his letters in my possession. How often 


have I entreated him to write to his mother! He was in this 
respect a strange character. Strongly attached to his parents, 
yet he was too indolent or too something else, to write 
them a letter when he knew that Rhode Island was first a 
British post, and then a French one; and that his parents and 
sister found it expedient to quit Newport for the British port 
of Halifax, in Nova Scotia; and when there were numerous 
opportunities every week to that country, he never wrote a 
line to them." 

Soon after Stuart's introduction to Mr. West, Doctor Water- 
house went to Leyden to finish his studies, and they did not 
meet again until many years after both had returned to 

From Mr. John Trumbull we have the next notice of Stuart 
in point of time. Mr. Trumbull after studying in Boston for 
some years, occupying the room which had been Smibert's, 
and in which many of his pictures still remained, made his way 
through France to London, with letters to Mr. West, in 
August, 1780. He found Stuart at Mr. West's house in Newman 
Street, and thus described his appearance. "He was dressed 
in an old black coat with one-half torn off the hip and pinned 
up, and looked more like a poor beggar than a painter." 
Such is the description taken down by Mr. Herring from the 
mouth of Mr. Trumbull. Mr. Herring's manuscript note from 
Mr. Trumbull proceeds thus, "He (Stuart) was wretchedly 
poor while in London, and on one occasion when he was sick, 
Trumbull called to see him; he found him in bed and apparently 
ill. Sometime afterwards he asked Trumbull if he had any 
idea what was the matter with him. On being told that he had 
not, he stated that it was hunger! that he had eaten nothing 
in a week but a sea biscuit." 

Our readers will recollect that this beggarly appearance 
and absolute starvation, was after Stuart had been received 
as a pupil by Benjamin West, and employed by him in copying 
for him, and otherwise assisting his labors. 

The above account of Stuart's situation in London, in the 
year 1780, having been submitted to Doctor Waterhouse, he 


wrote on it, "I had introduced him to the family of Doctor 
Fothergill's nieces, Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Chorley, and they 
extended towards him every kind act of hospitality and friend- 
ship, and would have never withheld assistance had they 
known he wanted for anything, so long as I was in the way of 
knowing anything about them or him in London. How he 
stood with them after I left London for Leyden, I cannot say, 
but they both remembered him in then* letters to me." 

The following is from Mr. Trumbull, through Mr. Herring. 
"He (Stuart) never could exercise the patience necessary to 
correct drawing. When a scholar of Mr. West's, his friend and 
instructor observed to his son Raphael, Trumbull and Stuart, 
'You ought to go to the Academy to study drawing; but as 
you would not like to go there without being able to draw 
better than you now do if you will only attend I will keep 
a little academy, and give you instructions every evening.' 
This proposition was embraced with pleasure, and accordingly 
the course commenced. Trumbull and young West applied 
themselves with diligence, and became adepts. Stuart soon 
made his paper black all over, lost his patience, and gave it 
up." So far Trumbull. Another anecdote respecting Stuart's 
drawing is, that Fuseli on seeing some of his drawings, said, 
"If this is the best you can do, you had better go and make 

These anecdotes being submitted by Mr. Herring to Doctor 
Waterhouse, he writes on the paper "S. was patient and 
even laborious in his drawings, and Mr. F. had he the eye of 
a true painter, must have seen real genius in his early Drawings." 

As Fuseli has been here introduced, we will quote from Mr. 
Allston an anecdote connected both with him and our present 
subject. Mr. -Allston had been previously giving his opinion of 
the character of the Swiss artist, and he concludes thus: 
"Before I leave Fuseli, I must tell you a whimsical anecdote 
which I had from Stuart. S. was one day at Raphael Smith's 
the engraver, when Fuseli, to whom Stuart was then unknown, 
came in, who, having some private business, was taken into 
another room. 'I know that you are a great physiognomist, 


Mr. Fuseli,' said Smith. 'Well, what if I am?' 'Pray did you 
observe the gentleman I was talking with just now?' 'I saw 
the man; what then?' 'Why, I wish to know if you think 
he can paint? ' 'Umph, I don't know but he might he has a 
coot leg.' Poor Stuart! that same leg, which I well remember 
to have been a finely formed one, became the subject of a 
characteristic joke with him but a few weeks before he died. 
I asked 'how he was?' He was then very much emaciated. 
'Ah,' said he, 'you can judge'; and he drew up his pantaloons. 
'You see how much I am out of drawing.' ' 

"He was a much better scholar than I had supposed he 
was," said Mr. Trumbull, speaking of Stuart, as he knew him 
in London. "He once undertook to paint my portrait, and I 
sat every day for a week, and then he left off without finishing 
it, saying, he 'could make nothing of my damn'd sallow face.' 
But during the time, in his conversation he observed, that he 
had not only read, but remembered what he had read. In 
speaking of the character of man, 'Linnaeus is right,' said he, 
'Plato and Diogenes call man a biped without feathers; that's 
a shallow definition. Franklin's is better a tool-making 
animal; but Linnaeus' is the best homo, animal mendax, 
rapax, pugnax.' ' 

It was our impression that Stuart received his education in 
Scotland, having been sent thither by his father for that pur- 
pose; but the testimony of Doctor Waterhouse, as above given, 
shows that his knowledge of classical literature was obtained 
in Newport, when he was the Doctor's schoolfellow. 

We have seen that the young painter was received as a pupil 
by Mr. West, in the summer of 1778, and at the age of 24. At 
this age he had painted his own portrait, to the great excellence 
of which Doctor Waterhouse bears ample testimony. He says, 
"It is painted hi his freest manner, with a Rubens' hat"; and 
in another passage, says that Stuart in his best days said he 
need not be ashamed of it. Thus qualified and thus situated, 
Stuart's friend Waterhouse left him, and did not again see him 
until the evening of his life. We have now to seek for other 
sources of information respecting the subject of our memoir. 


To Mr. Charles Fraser of Charleston, South Carolina, we are 
indebted for communications made with a frankness which 
adds to then* value. He says Mr. Stuart told him, "that on 
application to Mr. West to receive him as a pupil, he was 
welcomed with true benevolence, encouraged, and taken into 
the family; that nothing could exceed the attention of that 
artist to him; they were," said he, "paternal." Two years after 
this, when Mr. Trumbull saw him at work in Mr. West's 
house, in an old torn coat, and looking like a beggar, we can 
only suppose that Stuart, like many others, had put on an old 
coat while at work to save a new one. 

Of this period of his life he has often spoken to the writer. 
On one occasion, as I stood by his easel and admired the magic 
of his pencil, he amused me and my companion, whose portrait 
he was painting, by the following anecdote of himself and his 
old master: 

"Mr. West treated me very cavalierly on one occasion, but 
I had my revenge. It was the custom, whenever a new Gov- 
ernor-General was sent out to India, that he should be compli- 
mented by a present of his majesty's portrait, and Mr. West 
being the king's painter, was called upon on all such occasions. 

So, when Lord was about to sail for his government, the 

usual order was received for his majesty's likeness. My old 
master, who was busily employed upon one of his ten-acre 
pictures, in company with prophets and apostles, thought he 
would turn over the king to me. He never could paint a por- 
trait. 'Stuart,' said he, 'it is a pity to make his majesty sit 
again for his picture; there is the portrait of him that you 

painted, let me have it for Lord : I will retouch it, and it 

will do well enough.' 'Well enough! very pretty,' thought I, 
'you might be civil when you ask a favor.' So I thought, but I 
said, 'Very well, sir.' So the picture was carried down to his 
room, and at it he went. I saw he was puzzled. He worked 
at it all that day. The next morning, 'Stuart,' said he, 'have 
you got your palette set?' 'Yes, sir.' 'Well, you can soon 
set another, let me have the one you prepared for yourself; I 
can't satisfy myself with that head.' I gave him my palette, 


and he worked the greater part of that day. In the afternoon 
I went into his room, and he was hard at it. I saw that he 
had got up to the knees in mud. 'Stuart,' says he, 'I don't 
know how it is, but you have a way of managing your tints 
unlike everybody else, here, take the palette and finish 
the head.' 'I can't, sir.' 'You can't?' 'I can't indeed, sir, as 
it is, but let it stand till to-morrow morning and get dry, and 
I will go over it with all my heart.' The picture was to go away 
the day after the morrow, so he made me promise to do it early 
next morning. You know he never came down into the painting 
room, at the bottom of the gallery, until about ten o'clock. 
I went into his room bright and early, and by half -past nine I 
had finished the head. That done, Rafe and I began to fence; 
I with my maulstick and he with his father's. I had just driven 
Rafe up to the wall, with his back to one of his father's best 
pictures, when the old gentleman, as neat as a lad of wax, with 
his hair powdered, his white silk stockings, and yellow morocco 
slippers, popped into the room, looking as if he had stepped out 
of a bandbox. We had made so much noise that we did not 
hear him come down the gallery or open the door. 'There you 
dog,' says I to Rafe, 'there I have you! and nothing but your 
background relieves you!' The old gentleman could not help 
smiling at my technical joke, but soon looking very stern, 
'Mr. Stuart,' said he, 'is this the way you use me?' 'Why, 
what's the matter, sir? I have neither hurt the boy nor the 
background.' 'Sir, when you knew I had promised that the 
picture of his majesty should be finished to-day, ready to be 
sent away to-morrow, thus to be neglecting me and your prom- 
ise! How can you answer it to me or to yourself?' 'Sir,' said 
I, 'do not condemn me without examining the easel. I have 
finished the picture, please to look at it.' He did so; compli- 
mented me highly; and I had ample revenge for his 'It will do 
well enough.' ' 

The following anecdote, told under nearly the same circum- 
stances, refers to a later date, as Trumbull is made an actor in 
the scene : 

"I used very often to provoke my good old master, though 


heaven knows, without intending it. You remember the color 
closet at the bottom of his painting room. One day Trumbull 
and I came into his room, and little suspecting that he was 
within hearing, I began to lecture on his pictures, and particu- 
larly upon one then on his easel. I was a giddy foolish fellow 
then. He had begun a portrait of a child, and he had a way of 
making curly hair by a flourish of his brush, thus, like a 
figure of three. 'Here, Trumbull,' said I, 'do you want to 
learn how to paint hair? There it is, my boy! Our master 
figures out a head of hair like a sum in arithmetic. Let us 
see, we may tell how many guineas he is to have for this 
head by simple addition, three and three make six, and three 
are nine, and three are twelve - ' How much the sum would 
have amounted to I can't tell, for just then in stalked the 
master, with palette knife and palette, and put to flight my 
calculations. 'Very well, Mr. Stuart,' said he, he always 
mistered me when he was angry, as a man's wife calls him my 
dear when she wishes him at the devil. - 'Very well, Mr. 
Stuart! very well, indeed!' You may believe that I looked 
foolish enough, and he gave me a pretty sharp lecture without 
my making any reply. When the head was finished there 
were no figures of three in the hair." 

Before Stuart left the roof of his benefactor and teacher, he 
painted a full length of his friend and master, which attracted 
great attention and elicited just admiration. It was exhibited 
at Somerset House, and the young painter could not resist the 
pleasure afforded by frequent visits to the exhibition rooms, 
and frequent glances who can blame him? at the object 
of admiration. It happened that as he stood, surrounded by 
artists and students, near his master's portrait, the original 
came into the rooms and joined the group. West praised the 
picture, and addressing himself to his pupil, said, "You have 
done well, Stuart, very well, now all you have to do is to go 
home and do better" 

"Stuart did not," says Mr. Fraser, "describe the course of 
study recommended by Mr. West, but mentioned an occasional 
exercise that he required of his pupils for giving them facility 


and accuracy of execution; which was the faithful representa- 
tion of some object or other, casually presented to the eye 
such as a piece of drapery thrown carelessly over a chair 
Stuart's successful performance of one of these tasks attracted 
the notice and approbation of an eminent artist, which he said 
were very flattering to him. Stuart had at this time a room 
for painting, appropriated to himself under his master's roof. 
One day a gentleman entered, and after looking around the 
room, seated himself behind the young painter, who was at 
work at his easel. The artist felt somewhat embarrassed, but 
Mr. West soon after coming in, introduced the stranger as Mr. 
Dance. Mr. West left the room, but Mr. Dance remained 
and entered into conversation with Stuart, who ventured to 
ask his opinion of his work, which was a portrait. Dance 
replied, 'Young gentleman, you have done everything that 
need be done, your work is very correct!' The young painter 
was of course delighted with the approbation of the veteran, 
especially as he knew the reputation of Dance for skill, cor- 
rectness of eye, and blunt candor. Mr. Dance was one of 
those who petitioned the king in 1768. He was thought worthy 
to be the third on the list, his name being placed between 
Zuccarelli and Wilson. Stuart spoke of him with great sensi- 
bility, and said, that while he was yet studying with Mr. West, 
Dance said to him, 'You are strong enough to stand alone 
take rooms those who would be unwilling to sit to Mr. West's 
pupil, will be glad to sit to Mr. Stuart.' ' 

Mr. Neagle, of Philadelphia, gives us the following anec- 
dote as received from the artist. "When studying at Somerset 
House, in the school of the antique, it was proposed by his 
fellow students, that each one present should disclose his inten- 
tions, as to what walk in art, and what master he would follow. 
The proposal was agreed to. One said he preferred the gigantic 
Michaelangelo. Another would follow in the steps of the 
gentle, but divine Raphael, the prince of painters; and catch, 
if possible, his art of composition, his expression and profound 
knowledge of human passion. A third wished to emulate the 
glow and sunshine of Titian's coloring. Another had deter- 


mined to keep Rembrandt in his eye, and like him eclipse all 
other painters in the chiaroscuro. Each was enthusiastic in 
the praise of his favorite school or master. Stuart's opinion 
being demanded, he said, that he had gone on so far in merely 
copying what he saw before him, and perhaps he had not a 
proper and sufficiently elevated notion of the art. But after 
all he had heard them say, he could not but adhere to his old 
opinion on the subject. 'For my own part,' said he, 'I will 
not follow any master. I wish to find out what nature is for 
myself, and see her with my own eyes. This appears to me the 
true road to excellence. Nature may be seen through different 
mediums. Rembrandt saw with a different eye from Raphael, 
yet they are both excellent, but for dissimilar qualities. They 
had nothing in common, but both followed nature. Neither 
followed in the steps of a master. I will do, in that, as they 
did, and only study nature.' While he was speaking, Gains- 
borough accidentally came in, unobserved by him, and as 
soon as he ceased, though unknown to the speaker, stepped 
up to him, and patting him on the shoulder, said, 'That's 
right, my lad; adhere to that, and you'll be an artist.' ' 

The lesson is very good, but it is far from being new. We 
are told by Pliny, that Eupompus gave the same to Lysippus. 
Nature is to be imitated, and not the artist, who has become 
such by imitating her. Study the original and not the copy. 

"He related to a friend of mine," says Mr. Fraser, "a little 
incident that occurred while he was with Mr. West, which is 
sufficiently interesting to be introduced in this part of my little 
memoir. Dr. Johnson called one morning on Mr. West to 
converse with him on American affairs. After some time, Mr. 
West said that he had a young American living with him from 
whom he might derive some information, and introduced 
Stuart. The conversation continued (Stuart being thus in- 
vited to take a part in it), when the doctor observed to Mr. 
West, that the young man spoke very good English and 
turning to Stuart, rudely asked him where he had learned it. 
Stuart very promptly replied, 'Sir, I can better tell you where 


I did not learn it it was not from your dictionary.' Johnson 
seemed aware of his own abruptness, and was not offended." 

While Trumbull and Stuart were together as pupils of Mr. 
West, Stuart being the senior student, and more advanced in 
the art, Trumbull frequently submitted his works to him for 
the benefit of his remarks. Stuart told Mr. Sully, from whom 
we derive the anecdote, that on one occasion he was excessively 
puzzled by the drawing, "and after turning it this way and 
that, I observed, ' Why, Trumbull, this looks as if it was drawn 
by a man with but one eye.' Trumbull appeared much hurt, 
and said, 'I take it very unkindly, sir, that you should make 
the remark.' I couldn't tell what he meant, and asked him. 
'I presume, sir,' he answered, 'that you know I have lost 
the sight of one eye, and any allusion to it, in this manner, is 
illiberal.' Now I never suspected it, and only the oddness of 
the drawing suggested the thing." We have heard from Stuart's 
companions in Boston, the same story, in nearly the same 
words, and when he told it to them, he went into a long disser- 
tation on optics to prove that a man, with but the sight of 
one eye, could not possibly draw truly. This notion Sully 
thought perfectly idle, and only one of Stuart's whims, who 
could lecture most eloquently on any subject, from the anat- 
omy of a man, to the economy of his shoe tie. 

We have thought proper to relate such particulars as have 
come to our knowledge, and such anecdotes told of the great 
portrait painter, as are immediately connected with his resi- 
dence under Mr. West's roof, before following him to his inde- 
pendent establishment. He uniformly said, that nothing could 
exceed the attention of that distinguished artist to him. And 
when West saw that he was fitted for the field armed and 
prepared to contend with the best and the highest he advised 
him to commence his professional career, and pointed out the 
road to fame and fortune. 

We are obliged to Mr. Charles Fraser for the following, as 
communicated to him by Mr. Stuart, and with it begin another 


STUART Continued. 

"MR. STUART," it is Mr. Fraser speaks, "in pursuance of 
Mr. West's advice, now commenced painting as a professional 
artist. The first picture that brought him into notice, before 
he left West's house, was the portrait of a Mr. Grant, a Scotch 
gentleman, who had applied to him for a full length. Stuart 
said that he felt great diffidence in undertaking a whole length; 
but that there must be a beginning, and a day was accordingly 
appointed for Mr. Grant to sit. On entering the artist's room, 
he regretted the appointment, on account of the excessive 
coldness of the weather, and observed to Stuart, that the day 
was better suited for skating than sitting for one's portrait. 
To this the painter assented, and they both sallied out to their 
morning's amusement. Stuart said that early practice had 
made him very expert in skating. His celerity and activity 
accordingly attracted crowds on the Serpentine River 
which was the scene of their sport. His companion, although a 
well-made and graceful man, was not as active as himself; and 
there being a crack in the ice, which made it dangerous to con- 
tinue their amusement, he told Mr. Grant to hold the skirt of 
his coat, and follow him off the field. They returned to Mr. 
Stuart's rooms, where it occurred to him to paint Mr. Grant in 
the attitude of skating, with the appendage of a winter scene, 
in the background. He consented, and the picture was immedi- 
ately commenced. During the progress of it, Baretti, the Italian 
lexicographer, called upon Mr. West, one day, and coming 
through mistake into Mr. Stuart's room, where the portrait 
was, then nearly finished, he exclaimed, 'What a charming 
picture! who but that great artist, West, could have painted 
such a one!' Stuart said nothing, and as Mr. West was not 
at home, Baretti called again, and coming into the same 



room, found Stuart at work upon the very portrait; 'What, 
young man, does Mr. West permit you to touch his pictures?' 
was the salutation. Stuart replied that the painting was alto- 
gether his own; 'Why,' said Baretti, forgetting his former 
observation, 'it is almost as good as Mr. West can paint.' 

"This picture was exhibited at Somerset House, and at- 
tracted so much notice, that Stuart said he was afraid to go 
to the Academy to meet the looks, and answer the inquiries 
of the multitude. Mr. Grant went one day to the exhibition, 
dressed as his portrait represented him; the original was im- 
mediately recognized, when the crowd followed him so closely 
that he was compelled to make his retreat, for every one was 
exclaiming, 'That is he, there is the gentleman.' Mr. West 
now told Stuart that he might venture to take rooms. Re- 
turning one morning from the exhibition, he stopped at Sir 
Joshua Reynolds' residence; whilst he was looking at his 
pictures (and here he told me that he had always derived 
improvement from studying the works of that artist), the Duke 
of Rutland walked in, and passed from the outer room, in 
which Stuart was, into the next one, where Sir Joshua was 
painting; the door was left open, and Sir Joshua being hard of 
hearing, the Duke spoke so loud, that he was overheard, and 
said to Sir Joshua, 'I wish you to go to the exhibition with me, 
for there is a portrait there which you must see, everybody is 
enchanted with it.' Sir Joshua inquired who it was painted 
by? 'A young man by the name of Stuart.' Stuart said that 
he did not remain to hear more. From that time he was 
never at a loss for employment. He spoke of another noble- 
man whom he painted, and all his family. Mr. West was so 
pleased with the portrait of one of the daughters, that he 
introduced her, from Stuart's picture, into his piece, of James 
II landing in England. He painted Sir Joshua Reynolds' 
portrait, but Sir Joshua said, if that was like him, he did not 
know his own appearance; which remark was certainly not 
made in the spirit of his usual courtesy. This picture was 
painted about 1784, and was afterwards in the possession of 
Alderman Boy dell. He spoke very respectfully of Sir Joshua, 


but thought there was more poetry than truth in his works. 
He was present one day in a large company with Dr. Johnson, 
where some person ventured to tell the sage, that the public 
had charged him, as well as Mr. Burke, with assisting Sir 
Joshua in the composition of his lectures. The Doctor ap- 
peared indignant, and replied, 'Sir Joshua Reynolds, sir, 
would as soon get me to paint for him as to write for him.' ' 
It is difficult to account for the very different style of Stuart's 
painting, from that of the master under whom he studied, 
and whose works were daily before him, and occasionally 
copied by him. The pupil had directed his attention to portrait, 
and the master delighted in the higher branch of the art. West, 
doubtless, saw that Stuart was the better portrait painter; 
and we know that when he saw the superiority of another, he 
readily acknowledged it. When applied to for instruction by 
an artist, now in this city, he readily gave it, but said, "if 
you wish to study portrait painting, go to Sir Joshua." Stuart 
spoke freely of his own superiority as a portrait painter, and 
used to say, half joke, half earnest, that "no man ever painted 
history if he could obtain employment in portraits." In con- 
nection with this difference of opinion and of style, I will 
mention the following circumstance which took place about 
1786, on occasion of a visit to his old master's house and 
gallery, in Newman Street. Trumbull was painting on a 
portrait and the writer literally lending him a hand, by sitting 
for it. Stuart came in and his opinion was asked, as to the 
coloring, which he gave very much in these words, "Pretty 
well, pretty well, but more like our master's flesh than nature's. 
When Benny teaches the boys, he says, * yellow and white 
there,' and he makes a streak, 'red and white there,' another 
streak, 'blue-black and white there,' another streak, 'brown 
and red there, for a warm shadow,' another streak, 'red and 
yellow there,' another streak. But nature does not color in 
streaks. Look at my hand; see how the colors are mottled and 
mingled, yet all is clear as silver." 

This was and is true, and yet Mr. West's theory is likewise 
true, however paradoxical it may appear. Mr. West, perhaps, 


made too great a distinction between the coloring appropriate 
to historical painting, and that best suited to portrait. 

This anecdote we permitted to be published, and it called 
forth the animadversion of a literary gentleman who professes 
both love for and knowledge of the art of painting. We, 
however, repeat it for several reasons. First, because it is 
true as is every circumstance we publish which is given as 
from our own personal knowledge. Every fact we so state 
defies contradiction or controversy. Secondly, it leads to a 
consideration of the systems of managing colors so very op- 
posite by great painters. Stuart, in after life, as will be seen 
in these pages, gave the same lesson in different words, to a 
young painter, that he gave to Trumbull in 1785 or '6. Mr. 
West's theory was true to a certain extent, and a good lesson 
for beginners. Mr. West adopted what he considered an his- 
torical style of coloring, and the consequence is, that now it 
is called Quakerlike. Assuredly Stuart's theory for coloring 
flesh is the best ; and we can see no reason why flesh, in a great 
historical composition, should not be made as true to nature 
as in a portrait. It is not to be supposed that Mr. West prac- 
tised in the manner given as a first lesson to a pupil, to the 
extent implied by the words, but that such was his first lesson 
at the time of which we speak, we know. Of the coloring of 
Stuart and of Trumbull there are so many examples before 
the public that we need not give an opinion. They are as 
unlike as possible. 

The following anecdote was related to us by Judge Hop- 
kinson. Lord Mulgrave, whose name was Phipps, employed 
Stuart to paint the portrait of his brother, General Phipps, 
previous to his going abroad. On seeing the picture, which 
he did not until it was finished, Mulgrave exclaimed, "What 
is this? this is very strange!" and stood gazing at the por- 
trait. "I have painted your brother as I saw him,' 1 said the 
artist. "I see insanity in that face," was the brother's remark. 
The general went to India, and the first account his brother 
had of him was that of suicide from insanity. He went 'mad 
and cut his throat. It is thus that the real portrait painter 


dives into the recesses of his sitters' minds, and displays strength 
or weakness upon the surface of his canvas. The mechanic 
makes a map of a man. 

The following was told by Stuart to Mr. Sully. "While I 
was in good practice, and some repute in London, a stranger 
called upon me and finding me engaged with a sitter, begged 
permission to look at my pictures, which was readily accorded, 
and he passed some time in my exhibition room. From his 
shabby black dress and respectful politeness, I concluded him 
to be some poet or author from Grub Street, and made up my 
mind that the chief purpose of the visit was to prepare some 
article as a puff for the next periodical. A few days after this 
I received a polite invitation to breakfast, from the Earl of 

. And you may judge of my surprise, when I found in 

my host the supposed Grub Street scribbler. After breakfast 
the earl complimented me, and expressed his satisfaction with 
what he had seen at my rooms, and requested me to receive a 
commission from him, to paint a list of characters, whose names 
I should find on the paper he then handed to me, the which he 
intended should decorate a new gallery he was constructing 
on his grounds. The list contained the names of the most dis- 
tinguished personages of the day, in the political and literary 
world, and seldom has so splendid a denouement followed 
so unpromising a beginning." 

On the subject of the prices he had for portraits in London, 
we will repeat an anecdote, told by Stuart to Mr. Fraser. A 
gentleman called upon the painter, with the intention of sitting 
for his portrait, and having been told five guineas for a head, 
half in advance, he retired, applied elsewhere, and had two por- 
traits painted, but not satisfied, he returned to Mr. Stuart after 
a lapse of two years, and found that his price was now thirty 
guineas a head. Upon being informed of this he remonstrated 
with the artist, wishing to convince him that he was bound to 
paint him at the first mentioned price. He was, however, 
obliged to submit as well to the terms, as to the mortification 
of paying for two sets of portraits. 

Mr. Stuart had his full share of the best business in London, 


and prices equal to any, except Sir Joshua Reynolds, and 
Gainsborough. Respecting the practice of demanding half 
the price at the first sitting, he told Mr. Fraser, that, "Lord 
St. Vincent, the Duke of Northumberland, and Colonel Barre, 
came unexpectedly one morning into my room, locked the door 
and then explained the intention of their visit." This was 
shortly after his setting up his independent easel. "They un- 
derstood," said Stuart, "that I was under pecuniary embar- 
rassments, and offered me assistance, which I declined. They 
then said they would sit for their portraits. Of course I was 
ready to serve them. They then advised that I should make 
it a rule that half price must be paid at the first sitting. They 
insisted on setting the example, and I followed the practice 
ever after this delicate mode of showing their friendship. 

"On the subject of demanding half price at the first sittings," 
Mr. Fraser says, "he told me the following anecdote. A man 
of distinction having applied to him to paint his portrait, a day 
was appointed, and the first sitting taken. On the gentleman's 
preparing to leave the room, the painter told him that it was 
his custom to demand half price at the first sitting: against this 
the sitter warmly remonstrated, hoping that Mr. Stuart had no 
doubt of his intention to pay for the picture when finished. 
The artist replied, that he had adopted it as a rule, and must 
continue to observe it, for if it was departed from in one in- 
stance, offence might be justly taken by those who had pre- 
viously complied with it. This conversation ended with the 
retreat of the gentleman he not being prepared for the 
required ceremony and he never returned to sit, or to pay." 

From a letter before me, written by Mrs. Hopner, I can state 
the date of Stuart's first establishment, after leaving West, 
and setting up for himself. The letter is dated June 3d, 1782: 
"Today the exhibition closes. If Hopner should be as suc- 
cessful next year as he has been this, he will have established 
a reputation. Stuart has taken a house, I am told, of 150 
a year, rent, in Berner's street, and is going to set up as a 
great man." 

Stuart had that tact which induces men to accommodate 


their conversation, even in the moment of excitement to those 
in whose company they are thrown. Doctor Waterhouse has 
given this testimony to his colloquial powers. "In conversation 
and confabulation he was inferior to no man amongst us. He 
made a point to keep those talking who were sitting to him 
for then* portraits, each in their own way, free and easy. This 
called up all his resources of judgment. To military men he 
spoke of battles by sea and land; with the statesman, on 
Hume's, and Gibbon's history; with the lawyer, on jurispru- 
dence or remarkable criminal trials; with the merchant in his 
way; with the man of leisure, in his way; and with the ladies, 
in all ways. When putting the rich farmer on the canvas, he 
would go along with him from seed to harvest time, he would 
descant on the nice points of a horse ox cow sheep 
or pig, and surprise him with his just remarks in the progress 
of making cheese and butter, or astonish him with his profound 
knowledge of manures, or the food of plants. As to national 
character, and individual character, few men could say more to 
the purpose, as far as history and acute personal observation 
would carry him. He had wit at will. Always ample, some- 
times redundant." 

From the consideration of the finer, we will take a glance 
at the grosser material, which the artist employed to represent 
mind, as well as body, on his panel or his canvas. And first 
his palette. 

A painter's palette is either the piece of wood with a hole in 
it for his thumb and a convenient recess for his brushes, or it 
is the colors with which this utensil is furnished, or such pig- 
ments as his knowledge and taste induce him to use. The 
word taste probably indicates the origin of the name given to 
this necessary piece of limning furniture, and to the tints, with 
which the artist covers it. 

Stuart's palette (in the sense we have first used the word), 
was a small oval. Showing it on one occasion to the writer, 
he said, that he valued it highly as having belonged to Dance, 
and still more, that it was a present from that excellent artist. 

Speaking on the same subject to Mr. Charles Fraser, Stuart 


said, that a short time after he had taken rooms, in London, 
subsequent to leaving Mr. West, when he was commencing 
his successful career as a portrait painter, Mr. Dance (whose 
approbation and advice we have above mentioned), called 
upon him and communicated his intention of retiring into the 
country, at the same time inviting him to come to his house, 
and take such articles in the way of his profession as would be 
serviceable to him that as he was just commencing, he would 
find ready at his hands many things that he would have 
occasion for. Stuart happening to call in the absence of his 
friend, merely took a palette and a few pencils. Mr. Dance, a 
day or two before the sale of his furniture, inquired of his 
servant if Mr. Stuart had been there. And being informed that 
he had, and of the moderation he had shown in availing himself 
of the offer made, immediately sent him a mass of material for 
his painting room, not only in the highest degree useful but 
far more costly than his finances could have afforded at that 
time. The palette, Mr. Dance afterward informed him, was 
the one formerly possessed and used by Hudson. 

"Mr. Stuart," says Mr. Fraser, "made this exhibition of his 
palette doubly interesting, by a short dissertation on the use of 
it, describing the colors employed by him for portrait painting, 
with their several gradations. This was done at my request 
with a readiness and freedom characteristic of great liberality 
and kindness." * 

* In the year 1813, the writer, who as a youth had known Stuart in London, from 
1784 to 1787, visited Boston, and renewed his acquaintance with the great portrait 
painter. On one occasion, having shown him a miniature he had recently painted, 
Stuart advised him to paint in oil, adding, "You painted in oil when in London." 
"Yes, but after having abandoned the pencil for twenty years, I found it easier to 
make an essay with water colors on ivory, and in little than to paint portraits in large 
with oil. I do not know how to set a palette." "It is very simple," said he, "I will show 
you in five minutes," and he pointed out on his own palette the unmingled colors, and 
their tints as mixed with white or each other; first, and nearest the thumb, pure white, 
then yellow, vermilion, black and blue. Then followed yellow and white in gradation; 
vermilion and white in gradations; black and yellow black and vermilion; black, 
vermilion, and white in several gradations; black and white; and, blue and white. 
" And for finishing, add lake to your palette, and asphaltum." Later in life, when he 
lived on Fort Hill, Boston, he gave me another setting of the palette. This was in 1822. 
I passed the morning with him, and sat for the hands of Mr. Perkins's picture, for the 
Athenaeum of which he was the munificent endower. The palette Stuart then worked 
with, as he pointed it out to me, was Antwerp blue Krem's white vermilion 


We have followed Mr. Stuart's eccentric course until we 
have brought him to the highest seat a portrait painter wishes 
to fill that of a fashionable and leading artist in the great 
metropolis, where portrait painting has been carried to its 
highest perfection. In 1784, and the years immediately succeed- 
ing, I saw the half lengths, and full lengths of Stuart occupying 
the best lights, and most conspicuous places at the annual 
exhibitions of the Royal Academy. 

From the commencement of his independent establishment 
as a portrait painter in London, success attended him; but he 
was a stranger to prudence. He lived in splendor, and was the 
gayest of the gay. As he has said of himself, he was a great 
beau. I cannot assert, but feel perfectly convinced that pecuni- 
ary difficulties induced him to leave London for Dublin, to 
which latter city, his daughter, Miss Ann Stuart, in a letter 
to Mr. James Herring, says he was invited by the Duke of 
Rutland, and that on the day he arrived, the duke was buried. 

There is every reason to suppose that Stuart's total want of 

stone-ocher lake Van Dyke brown, mixed with one-third burnt umber ivory 
black. The tints he mixed were white and yellow vermilion and white white, 
yellow, and vermilion vermilion and lake (each deeper than the other), then blue 
and white black and yellow black, vermilion and lake. Asphaltum in finishing. 
Let us here add, that Reynolds recommended for the first and second sittings of a 
portrait, only white, yellow, vermilion, and black, for the flesh. This, of course, was 
after he had been reconciled to vermilion, and dismissed the lake and yellow, which 
he once substituted for it. 

When I asked Stuart if he used madder-lake, his reply was, "I should be madder if 
I did." This was merely to play upon the word, for like many I have known the 
jack-o'lantern of a pun, or a witticism, would draw him from the straight and firm 
path. "Good woman, I saw a man go in your cellar the door is open." "What does 
he want there? the impudent fellow." The good dame runs to her cellar, and finds 
the vegetable she had bought for pickling. "Mr. Stuart, this is the greatest likeness 
I ever saw." "Draw aside that curtain, and you will see a greater." "There's no 
picture here!" "But there's a grater." In the same spirit, he would make himself the 
hero of a story, purely imaginary, for the sake of a quibble, a point, or a pun. Such is 
the following, " When I first came to England, my clothing was half a century behind 
the fashion, and I was told, ' Now you are in England, you must dress yourself as the 
English do.' 'Next morning I presented myself with my stockings drawn over my 
shoes, and my waistcoat over my coat. Then the cry was, 'Boy, are you mad?' 'You 
told me to dress as the English do, and they always say, put on your shoes and 
stockings put on your coat and waistcoat so I have followed the direction.' " 
He has even told this as happening in Mr. West's house. Such are the wanderings of 
wit. But of a departure from truth for any purpose of injuring the character of another, 
we never heard Gilbert Stuart accused: men of supposed honor have done it yet 
truth is indispensable to honor. 


prudence, or extreme negligence and extravagance, had placed 
him in that situation, which induces men 

"To do such deeds, as make the prosperous man 
Lift up his hands, and wonder who could do them!" 

The following was told to the writer by Joel Barlow, who 
with his wife, was intimate with Mr. and Mrs. West, and re- 
ceived the anecdote from them. As it is my maxim, that biog- 
raphy should be truth, and every man who calls public atten- 
tion to himself, should be truly represented, and thus abide the 
reward of his actions; that which comes to the writer's knowl- 
edge respecting the subject whose life and character is under 
consideration, and is probable from circumstances connected 
with the individual, known to be true, should be laid before the 
public, the authority for the related circumstance being given. 
When biography is mere eulogium, it must be, generally speak- 
ing, falsehood; unless the subject is more than mortal. It was 
in the year 1806, in the city of Washington, that, when with 
Mr. and Mrs. Barlow at their lodgings, he showed me the 
proof impressions of the plates, which Robert Fulton had pro- 
cured to be engraved for the "Columbiad." Conversation on 
pictures, led to painters, and Barlow gave the following from 
Mr. West. He said that Stuart, professing great esteem and 
much gratitude towards Mr. and Mrs. West (which no doubt 
he felt), painted a very fine portrait of the former, and pre- 
sented it to the latter. The picture was much admired and 
highly valued. Not long before leaving England, Stuart bor- 
rowed the picture from Mrs. West, to make some suggested 
alterations, and it was sent to 1pm. The reader may judge of 
Mr. West's surprise, when he saw this picture at Alderman 
BoydelFs, and was told that Stuart had sold it to him. West 
claimed his property, and Boydell lost his money. From Lon- 
don, Stuart, as we have seen, went to Dublin, and it is probable 
that English claims followed him to the capital of Ireland. It 
was currently said, but I can give no voucher except proba- 
bility, that, being lodged in jail by some of his creditors, he 
there set up his easel, and was followed by those who wanted 
portraits from his hand. He began the pictures of a great many 


nobles, and men of wealth and fashion, received hah* price at 
the first sitting, accumulated enough to enfranchise himself, 
and left the Irish lordships and gentry imprisoned in effigy. 
We will suppose, that having thus liberated himself, and there 
being no law that would justify the jailer in holding the half- 
finished peers in prison, the painter fulfilled his engagement 
more at his ease at his own house, and in the bosom of his own 
family; and it is probable that the Irish gentlemen laughed 
heartily at the trick, and willingly paid the remainder of the 
price. It is likewise probable that when Stuart borrowed the 
full length of West, he borrowed it only to improve it; and 
when he sold it to Boydell that he meant to replace it with 
another this is no excuse, for no circumstance or intention 
can excuse falsehood. 

Previous to leaving England, Mr. Stuart married the daugh- 
ter of Doctor Coates. 1 This event according to Miss Stuart, 
took place in 1786. She says, he arrived in Dublin in 1788, and 
notwithstanding the loss of his friendly inviter, he met with 
great success, "painted most of the nobility, and lived in a good 
deal of splendor. The love for his own country, and his admira- 
tion of General Washington, and the very great desire he had 
to paint his portrait, was his only inducement to turn his back 
on his good fortune in Europe." 

In the " London Magazine," it is said, that Stuart made a 
sketch of the celebrated Mr. Henderson, in the character of 
lago, which was engraved by Bartolozzi. 

1 Charlotte Coates of Berkshire, England. 



IN the year 1793 Mr. Stuart embarked for his return to his 
native country, and had for his companion an Irish gentleman 
of the name of Robertson, a miniature painter elsewhere 
noticed in these pages. It is well known that Stuart's passions 
and appetites were of the kind said to be uncontrollable 
that is, they were indulged when present danger or inconven- 
ience did not forbid as is the case with all men who plead 
temper as an excuse for folly. On the passage from Dublin 
to New York, he frequently quarrelled with Robertson, and 
when under the influence of the devil who steals men's brains 
if permitted to enter their mouths, he insulted the Hibernian 
grossly. To stop this, Robertson left the dinner table, after 
receiving his share of the wine, and what he thought an undue 
share of hard words, and going to his trunk returned with a 
brace of pistols loaded and primed, and insisted upon an apol- 
ogy or a shot across the table. The devil was put to flight, and 
returning reason, the captain's good offices, and the peace- 
maker "if," restored harmony for the rest of the voyage. 

Stuart landed at and took up his abode for some months in 
New York. Here he favored the renowned, the rich, and the 
fashionable, by exercising his skill for their gratification; and 
gave present 6clat and a short-lived immortality in exchange 
for a portion of their wealth. He opened an atelier in Stone 
Street, near William Street, where all who admired the art or 
wished to avail themselves of the artist's talents, daily resorted. 
It appeared to the writer as if he had never seen portraits 
before, so decidedly was form and mind conveyed to the can- 
vas; and yet Stuart's portraits were incomparably better, ten, 
twenty, and thirty years after. Many of his portraits were 
copied in miniature by Walter Robertson, who had come to 



America with him, and who, to distinguish him from the artists 
of the same patronymic appellation, was called Irish Robert- 
son. Some of this gentleman's celebrity was owing to the 
accuracy of Stuart's portraits; for the ignorant in the art 
transfer without hesitation the merit of the original painter to 
the copyist. 

In New York, as elsewhere, the talents and acquirements 
of Mr. Stuart introduced him to the intimate society of all who 
were distinguished by office, rank or attainment; and his ob- 
serving mind and powerful memory treasured up events, char- 
acters and anecdotes, which rendered his conversation an in- 
exhaustible fund of amusement and information to his sitters, 
and his companions. Of the many fine portraits he painted at 
this time we remember more particularly those of the Pollock 
and Yates family; Sir John Temple, and some of his family; 
the Hon. John Jay; General Matthew Clarkson; John R. 
Murray, and Colonel Giles. 

From New York the artist proceeded to Philadelphia, 1 for 
the purpose, so near his heart, of painting a portrait of Wash- 
ington. In this he succeeded fully: but this is an event in his 
life on which we must enlarge in proportion to its interest 
with us and all Americans. It is needless to say that the art- 
ist's pencil was kept in constant employ in the city of Penn 
and its neighborhood. He attracted the same attention, and 
rendered the same services, enriching individuals by his graphic 
skill with pictures beyond price, and his country by models 
for future painters to study. He left us the features of those 
who have achieved immortality for themselves, and made 
known others who would but for his art have slept in their 
merited obscurity. 

Mr. Stuart took to Philadelphia a letter from the Hon. John 
Jay to the first president of the United States, the illustrious 
Washington. The reader will recollect that Congress had 
before 1794, removed from New York, and that Philadelphia 
was at this time the seat of federal government. Stuart had 
long been familiar with the aristocracy of Europe, the artificial 

1 Stuart went to Philadelphia late in 1794, remaining until 1803. 


great, the hereditary lords of the land, and rulers of the desti- 
nies of nations; but it appears from the following account of 
his first introduction to Washington, as given in conversation 
with an eminent artist of our country, that, although at 
his ease with dukes and princes, Stuart was awed into a loss 
of his self-possession in the presence of him, who was ennobled 
by his actions, and placed in authority by the gratitude of his 
fellow citizens, and their confidence in his wisdom and virtues. 

Soon after his arrival in Philadelphia Mr. Stuart called on 
the president, and left Mr. Jay's letter and his own card. 
Some short time after, having passed a day in the country, 
upon his return he found a note from Mr. Dandridge, the 
private secretary, inviting him to pass that evening with the 
president. He went accordingly, and on entering a large 
room (which he did carelessly, believing it to be an anti- 
chamber), he did not distinguish one person from another of 
the company he found there. But the president, from a distant 
corner of the room, left a group of gentlemen, with whom he 
had been conversing, came up to Mr. Stuart and addressed 
him by name (probably some one who knew Stuart pointed 
him out to the president), and, finding his guest much embar- 
rassed, he entered into easy conversation with him until he 
recovered himself. The president then introduced him to the 
company. This incident I give from the artist to whom Stuart 
related the circumstance. 

In this year, 1794, Stuart painted his first portrait of Wash- 
ington. Not satisfied with the expression, he destroyed it, 
and the president consented to sit again. In the second por- 
trait he was eminently successful. He painted it on a three- 
quarter canvas, but only finished the head. WTien last I saw 
this, the only faithful portrait of the father of our country, it 
hung, without frame, on the door of the artist's painting room, 
at his house on Fort Hill, Boston. This beautiful image of 
the mind, as well as features of Washington, was offered to the 
State of Massachusetts, by. the artist, for one thousand dollars, 
which they refused to give. Those entrusted with our national 
government passed by the opportunity of doing honor to 


themselves during the life of a man they could not honor, 
and the only portrait of Washington was left neglected in the 
painter's workship, until the Boston Athenaeum purchased it 
of his widow. It now (together with its companion the por- 
trait of Mrs. Washington) adorns one of the rooms of that 
institution. 1 

Stuart has said that he found more difficulty attending the 
attempt to express the character of Washington on his canvas 
than in any of his efforts before or since. It is known that by 
his colloquial powers, he could draw out the minds of his 
sitters upon that surface he was tasked to represent; and such 
was always his aim. But Washington's mind was busied 
within. During the sitting for the first mentioned portrait, 
Stuart could not find a subject, although he tried many, that 
could elicit the expression he knew must accord with such 
features and such a man. He was more fortunate in the second 
attempt, and probably not only had more self-possession, but 
had inspired his sitter with more confidence in him, and a 
greater disposition to familiar conversation. 

During his residence at Philadelphia, Mr. Stuart painted 
the full length of the president, for Lord Landsdowne. 2 It has 
been said that his lordship was indebted to the persuasions of 
Mrs. Bingham, of Philadelphia, for this favor. This picture 
is in England, and is the original of that vile engraving from 
the atelier of Heath, which is unfortunately spread through- 
out our country, a libel upon Stuart and Washington. Our 
fellow citizen Durand, is now employed in engraving from the 
inestimable portrait possessed by the Boston Athenaeum, and 
the citizens of the United States will have an opportunity of 
knowing from his print, when published, how they have been 
misled in their ideas of the countenance of the man they most 

1 The portrait of Washington known as the "Athenaeum Portrait" was painted in 
1796. It is now (1917) deposited in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts by the Boston 

* The original "Landsdowne portrait" is in The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine 
Arts at Philadelphia and is signed and dated 1796. A replica is owned by the Earl of 


Germantown was the painter's place of residence at the 
period Washington retired from office, and he rode out and 
visited him at that place a spot so well known to the hero 
during his military career. When the president took his 
leave, he told Stuart that he would sit to him again at any 
time he wished. None but those who know how much this 
great man had undergone from the solicitations of painters, 
can truly appreciate the value of this compliment to the artist. 

The following communication relative to the portraits of 
General and Mrs. Washington, is from the pen of Mr. Neagle. 
After saying that as well as he could remember, Stuart related 
the circumstances nearly in these words, he proceeds: "Mrs. 
Washington called often to see the general's portrait, and was 
desirous to possess the painting." (This was the original 
picture of which the head only was finished, and from which 
Stuart made his copies.) "One day she called with her hus- 
band, and begged to know when she might have it. The 
general himself never pressed it, but on this occasion, as he 
and his lady were about to retire, he returned to Mr. Stuart 
and said he saw plainly of what advantage the picture was to 
the painter (who had been constantly employed in copying 
it, and Stuart had said he could not work so well from another) ; 
he therefore begged the artist to retain the painting at his 
pleasure. Mr. Stuart told me one day when we were before 
this original portrait, that he never could make a copy of it 
to satisfy himself, and that at last, having made so many 
he worked mechanically and with little interest. The last 
one I believe ever made by him, was for Mr. Robert Gilmor, 
of Baltimore. I asked him if he ever intended to finish the 
coat and background of the original picture? To this he re- 
plied, 'No: and as this is the only legacy I can leave to my 
family, I will let it remain untouched.' ' (Meaning that it 
would be, as is true, more valuable as it came from his hand 
in the presence of the sitter, than it would be if painted upon 
at this late period; for by painting upon, it would be more or 
less altered.) $jft 

"Mr. Stuart" (we again copy Mr. Neagle), "considered 


that every painter held an inherent copyright in his own 
works, and that they should not be copied without the consent 
of the artist. A copy made of an artist's picture while he 
lived, and without his consent, he called 'pirating.' A portrait 
painter of the name of Parker had applied to the Pennsylvania 
Academy for the privilege to copy Stuart's full length of 
Washington, which is on the walls of that institution; but as 
the picture belonged to the estate of Mrs. Bingham, the ap- 
plication was refused by Mr. Hopkinson, the president of 
the academy. Mr. Sully was consulted, and he thought that 
Mr. Stuart's permission should first be obtained. When I 
arrived in Boston (in 1825), Mr. Stuart had just received a 
letter from Mr. Parker, and handed it to me to read aloud to 
him. It was an application to him for the opportunity of copy- 
ing the full length 'Washington,' but it was couched in terms that 
offended the painter. He made some severe remarks upon the 
writer; among other things he said, 'It I am not much mistaken, 
this man has not the essentially requisite feelings for a good 
artist.' His reply he entrusted to me for Mr. Hopkinson, the 
president of the academy. It was a denial. He said, 'I am 
pleased that Mr. Hopkinson has referred the question to me, 
it is what I would expect from him. My answer will be found 
in a number of the " Spectator," mentioning it, and my feelings 
understood, by referring to that paper: the only difference is, 
that Addison speaks of pirating the works of an author. Sub- 
stitute for author the word painter.' One Sunday morning Mr. 
Stuart opened the ' Spectator' while Mr. George Brimmer, Mr. 
Isaac P. Davis and myself were with him, and had this paper 
read aloud." 

With a knowledge of such feelings and opinions, the reader 
may judge of the painter's reception of a proposal made in the 
following manner: "When I lived at Germantown," said 
Stuart, "a little, pert young man called on me, and addressed 
me thus, 'You are Mr. Stuart, sir, the great painter!' 'My 
name is Stuart, sir.' ' Those who remember Mr. Stuart's 
athletic figure, quiet manner, sarcastic humor, and uncom- 
mon face, can alone imagine the picture he would have made 


as the intruder proceeded: " 'My name is Winstanley, sir; 
you must have heard of me.' 'Not that I recollect, sir,' 'No! 
Well, Mr. Stuart, I have been copying your full length of 
Washington; I have made a number of copies; I have now 
six that I have brought on to Philadelphia; I have got a room 
in the State House, and I have put them up; but before I show 
them to the public, and offer them for sale, I have a proposal 
to make to you.' 'Go on, sir.' 'It would enhance their value, 
you know, if I could say that you had given them the last 
touch. Now, sir, all you have to do is to ride to town, and 
give each of them a tap, you know, with your riding switch 
just thus, you know.' ' 

Stuart, who had been feeding his capacious nostrils with 
Scotch snuff, shut the box, and deliberately placed it on the 
table. Winstanley proceeded, " 'And we will share the amount 
of the sale.' 'Did you ever hear that I was a swindler?' 'Sir! 
Oh, you mistake. You know - The painter rose to his 
full height. 'You will please to walk down stairs, sir, very 
quickly, or I shall throw you out at the window.' ' The 
genius would have added another "you know"; but seeing 
that the action was likely to be suited to the word, he took the 
hint, and preferred the stairs. 

Stuart continued the story of Winstanley and his 'Washing- 
tons,' by saying, that one of these pirated copies was the cause 
of his being employed to paint the full length of Washington, 
which adorns Faneuil Hall: 1 a picture which, in my opinion, 
speaking from recollection, is the best portrait of the hero, 
with the exception of the head purchased by the Athenaeum, 
ever painted. If so, Boston possesses in her public buildings, 
the two most perfect representations of the father of his country 
that are in existence. Stuart told our friend Fraser that he 
painted this picture in nine days. Certainly, it is in one sense, 
a nine davs' wonder. The circumstances which led to it he 

1 The portrait of "Washington at Dorchester Heights" belonging to the city of 
Boston and now (1917) deposited in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was painted 
in nine days in 1806. There is a copy by Jane Stuart, the daughter of the artist, in 
Faneuil Hall. 


thus narrated, after telling the anecdote of Winstanley's visit 
to German town. 

"One of these full-length Washingtons, which only wanted 
a magic touch from my finger, my maul-stick, or my riding 
whip, was brought to Boston by the manufacturer, who like- 
wise brought letters of introduction to our great men, and 

among others to Mr. , a rich merchant and devoted 

Federalist, it being then warm party times. In this gentle- 
man's family and society the little Englishman made himself 
agreeable to such a degree, that he borrowed five hundred 
dollars of the merchant, offering as security my full-length 
portrait of Washington painted by himself, as you may sup- 
pose; but that could not be seen by the connoisseur of the 
counting house. The money was lent, the picture received as 
security, and the swindler never seen more. After a time the 
precious deposit was offered for sale, as Stuart's ' Washington.' 
The real connoisseurs laughed, and the merchant found he was 
bit. It would not do for the Boston market, so he sent it by 
one of his argosies to foreign parts, but it returned again and 
again unsold, and, like some other travellers, unimproved. It 
would not pass for Stuart's 'Washington' with any one but 
himself. At length, he determined to show his patriotism and 
present it to the town, which was done in all due form. In 
the meantime I had removed to this place (Boston). The 
picture had been put up in Faneuil Hall. A town meeting 
had been called on political affairs, and federalists and demo- 
crats were arrayed in bitter hostility in the hall, when one of 
the democratic orators seized on the opportunity for attacking 
his opponents, by exposing the mock generosity of the federal 
merchant, and to the great amusement of the audience, told 
the story of the picture, exposed its worthlessness, and related 
its adventures. The effect was electrical, and spread through 
the town. The connoisseur was pointed at and almost hooted 
by the boys. What was to be done? His friends suggested 
his defence, 'He had been deceived, he thought it a real Simon- 
pure. There was no crime in not being a judge of painting, 
and to show his generosity, he must apply to Stuart to paint a 


"Washington" for the town.' This was a bitter pill. 'How 
much would it cost?' 'Six hundred dollars perhaps.' 'Five 
and six are eleven.' 'Something must be done, and quickly.' 
'But how can I call on Mr. Stuart after this affair he may 
insult me.' 'We will negotiate the matter.' I was called upon 
by Mr. 's friends, and to the proposal answered, 'Cer- 
tainly, gentlemen.' 'Will you do it immediately?' 'Immedi- 
ately.' 'The price?' 'Six hundred dollars.' It was agreed 
upon, and in a few weeks the picture took its place in the 
Town House, and the merchant paid me in uncurrent bank 
notes, which I had to send to a broker to be exchanged, I pay- 
ing the discount." This we give as a Stuart story. All we 
vouch for is, that he told it without reserve. 

Another of Winstanley's surreptitious full-length "Washing- 
tons" long disgraced the president's house at the city of Wash- 
ington. The story is worth telling, and belongs to our subject. 

It is well known that the first full length of his illustrious 
subject which the great artist painted, was sent to Lord Lans- 
downe. The second was painted for Mr. Gardner Baker, of 
New York, for his museum. The third for Mr. Constable 
which is now at Mr. Pierpont's, at Brooklyn. 

Mr. Baker in the course of business became the debtor of 
Mr. Wm. Laing, who, in process of time, received the second 
picture in payment. Mr. Laing being in the metropolis when 
the president's house was being furnished, suggested the ap- 
propriateness of such a picture as he possessed, for such a 
place, and eventually sold the portrait to the committee who 
directed the business. Unfortunately only knowing Winstanley 
as a painter, he sent to him a commisson for packing up and 
shipping the original Stuart. Winstanley received it, and 
packed up one of his copies instead, which was unsuspectingly 
received and put up in the palace. This cheat was not dis- 
covered until after Stuart removed to the city of Washington, 
when he at a glance, saw that the picture was not from his 
pencil and disclaimed it. In the meantime the rogue had 
returned home with his prize, and Mr. Laing, after making 
every effort to regain the picture, refunded the money. A simi- 


lar trick was played by a Frenchman, in respect to one of the 
first portraits Stuart painted on his return to America. The 
picture was that of Doctor Johnson, president of Columbia 
College, which having been left with one of his sons, this 
Frenchman, known to the son as a painter, solicited the loan 
of this very fine portrait as a study. Mr. Johnson complied, 
and the picture was detained for a long time; at length a copy 
was sent which deceived Mr. Johnson, and the swindler kept 
the original. Fortunately for the family and for justice, Mr. 
David Longworth, a liberal publisher and friend of the arts, 
discovered that the original Stuart remained with the French- 
man, who had removed to Boston, and after some difficulty 
succeeded, probably by threats, in gaining possession of the 
picture, and sent it to Doctor Johnson, with a letter congratu- 
lating him on the recovery.* 

These anecdotes will remind the reader (who reads such 
things), of the story told by Roscoe in his Catalogue published 
in 1816, of an imposition practised by one of the Medici upon 
the Duke of Mantua, who had obtained from the pope, Clement 
VII, a gift of Raffaele's portrait of Leo X., then at Florence, 
and ordered it to be sent to Mantua. The Florentine Medici 
instead of so doing, sent for Andrea del Sarto, and employed 
him to make a copy, which done, he held the original and sent 
the copy to the amateur duke. The story of the deception 
is worth attention, and will be found as above, and in the 
"Life of Roscoe" by his son. Here it was not the painter 
that was the rogue, but the proprietor; and another dissim- 
ilarity is, that the copy was pronounced as good as the 

In connection with the portrait of Washington, and in eluci- 
dation of the character of Mr. Stuart, we here mention another 
circumstance. After the painter removed to Boston, the Penn- 
sylvania Academy of Fine Arts appropriated fifteen hundred 
dollars for a portrait of the hero. Mr. Hopkinson, the presi- 
dent, wrote to Mr. Stuart to engage the picture at that price, 

* This anecdote comes from Wm. S. Johnson, Esq.. a grandson of the venerated 


expecting, of course, an exertion of his utmost skill and the 
artist never answered the letter. 

The following is the history of the picture of Washington, 
painted for Lord Lansdowne, and the print published from it 
by Heath, as given by the painter to Mr. Neagle. "The 
marquis gave Mr. Stuart a commission to paint for him a 
full length, to be sent to London. When the picture was 
nearly finished, Mr. Bingham, a rich man of Philadelphia, 
waited upon Mr. Stuart, and begged as a favor, that he might 
be allowed the honor of paying for the picture, and presenting 
it to the marquis. Mr. Stuart, after taking time for delibera- 
tion, consented. He said that he gave his consent, thinking 
that the marquis would be gratified by the compliment, but 
he requested Mr. Bingham to secure a copyright for him. 
When the picture arrived in England it attracted general at- 
tention, and Mr. Heath, the engraver, was not slow to per- 
ceive the advantage that might accrue to himself by publish- 
ing a print from it; which he did, with the consent of the 
marquis, who observed at the time, that Mr. Stuart would 
be highly gratified by having his work copied by an artist of 
such distinguished ability." 

Accordingly the engraving was announced in London, with 
the usual puffs; stating that the picture is in the possession of 
the Marquis of Lansdowne; is "the production of that very 
excellent portrait painter Gabriel Stuart, a native of America, 
and an eleve of Benjamin West, Esq. To introduce the eulo- 
gium on the engraving of this execrable libel on the countenance 
of Washington, so different from Stuart's pictures, praise is 
first lavished on the painter. "His pencil has a freedom that 
is unaffected; his coloring is clear without glare, and chaste 
without monotony; his style of composition is animated, yet 
simple, and he has the happy facility of embodying the mind, 
as strongly as he identifies the person." After much more,, 
"puff direct" goes on to say, "The engraving of this portrait 
is the work of that very excellent artist, Mr. James Heath* 
historical engraver to the king, and one of the six associate 
engravers to the royal academy." The conclusion of the 


advertisement announces "that Mr. Heath is joint proprietor 
of this portrait, with the Messrs. Boy dell and Thompson." 
Those who know how tenacious Sir Thomas Lawrence, and 
other English painters are, of their right in then* pictures, and 
the sums demanded for permission to engrave them, may 
judge of the feelings of Stuart, when he saw himself excluded 
from this partnership in his property. Mr. Neagle proceeds 

"Mr. Bingham had not made it a condition with the marquis 
that a copyright should be secured for the benefit of the 
painter; indeed he never mentioned Mr. Stuart's wish, intend- 
ing by the next vessel, to beg this provision for the painter's 
benefit, as an after thought, which would not appear to lessen 
the value of the present. But this proved too late for poor 
Stuart. When the next vessel arrived, Heath had made his 
copy under the sanction of the owner, and his design was 
already on the copper. The matter, however, was never 
broached to Stuart, and he told me that the first he knew of it 
was in Mr. Dobson's bookstore, in Second Street, Philadelphia. 
He was unknown to Mr. Dobson, but was in the habit of 
frequenting the store and purchasing books, paper, and 
pencils. On one occasion, when calling as usual, Mr. Dobson 
having just received a box of these finished engravings, for 
sale on commission, opened it, and showed Stuart an impres- 
sion from Mr. Heath's plate; this was the first intimation he 
had of the unwelcome fact, that his prospects of advantage 
from a copyright were annihilated, and the fruits of his labors 
snatched from him by one who had no share in his enterprise, 
or claims whatever upon that which he had invented and 
executed. He was unable to answer Mr. Dobson's questions 
respecting the merit of the engraving and the prospects of 
sale; but when he recovered himself, he replied, 'Sir, the work 
is as infamous in its execution as the motive that led to it.' 
'What,' said Dobson, 'have you the feelings of an American? 
What! Do you not respect the man here represented, nor the 
talents of the American painter who executed the original 
picture? What would Mr. Stuart say if he heard you speak 


thus?' 'It has been my custom,' replied Stuart, 'to speak the 
language of plainness and truth, whenever the character and 
fortune of any man are thus jeopardized. By this act, the 
family of the painter is ruined. My name is Stuart. I am the 
painter, and have a right to speak.' He then related the whole 
transaction to Mr. Dobson, who returned the prints to the box, 
nailed it up, and was never known to sell, or offer for sale, one 
of those engravings (and as I understood Mr. Stuart), or any 
other engraved head of Washington, from his work. 

"Mr. Stuart waited upon Mr. Bingham, by advice, to obtain 
justice, but in vain. They quarrelled, and the painter left 
unfinished a painting that he had commenced for the Bingham 
family. I saw one beautifully painted head of Mrs. Bingham, 
on a kit cat lead colored canvas with nothing but the head 
finished. The rest was untouched." 

Such is Mr. Stuart's history of Heath's print of Washington. 
That "the work is infamous," as it respects the representa- 
tion of Stuart's picture or Washington's physiognomy, is 
most true, and "true 'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true": this, 
and other vile libels upon the countenance of the father of his 
country are spread over the land, leaving such impressions as 
will make those who see the original portrait by Gilbert 
Stuart think they look upon the face of a stranger. 

The success of Stuart's Washington, and the generally 
received opinion that he alone had represented the hero truly 
on canvas, was a sore mortification to those painters who had 
preceded him. We have seen the president of an academy, 
when surrounded by the directors, stand before a full length 
Washington, by Stuart, and after pointing out to these gentle- 
men, all worthy physicians, lawyers, or merchants, what he 
considered, or called, the defects, he has literally to show his 
contempt, drawn the stick he held in his hand, here and there 
over the surface, and concluded by saying, "It is like a little 
old French marquis more than Washington." On another 
occasion, when sitting to a young artist for his portrait, the 
subject of Stuart's picture of the first president being intro- 
duced, he gave this version of the story. "Mr. Stuart's con- 


versation could not interest General Washington he had no 
topic fitted for his character the president did not relish his 
manners. When he sat to me he was at his ease." This was to 
confirm the previously advanced opinion, that Stuart's picture 
of Washington did not represent the hero's character. 

On this subject we quote the opinion of a greater artist. 
Charles R. Leslie says, after praising Stuart's portrait of Alder- 
man Boydell, and the full length of Washington, painted for 
the Marquis Lansdowne, "How fortunate it was that a painter 
existed in the time of Washington, who could hand him down 
to us looking like a gentleman." 

Charles Willson Peale had repeatedly painted him, and was 
mortified to find his efforts forgotten or despised. Stuart has 
asserted, that it was at his request that General Washington, 
after sitting to him, consented to sit once more to Mr. Peale, 
and related the result somewhat in this manner to Mr. Neagle. 
"I looked in to see how the old gentleman was getting on 
with the picture, and to my astonishment, I found the general 
surrounded by the whole family. They were peeling him, sir. 
As I went away I met Mrs. Washington, 'Madam,' said I, 
'the general's in a perilous situation.' 'How, sir?' 'He is beset 
madam, no less than five upon him at once; one aims at his 
eye another at his nose another is busy with his hah* 
his mouth is attacked by a fourth and the fifth has him by 
the button; in short, madam, there are five painters at him, 
and you who know how much he has suffered when only at- 
tended by one, can judge of the horrors of his situation.' ' 

We learn from Mr. David Edwin, the well-known engraver, 
and son of the celebrated comedian, long the delight of London, 
that during the yellow fever, which afflicted Philadelphia, in 
1798, he and Mr. Trott, the miniature painter, were neighbors 
to Mr. Stuart, near the Falls of the Schuylkill. Edwin was at 
the time engraving from the painter's portraits, " When I 
carried him a proof of Judge Shippen's picture," says the en- 
graver, "he had a sitter with him, and the print was sent in. 
He came out to me, and expressed his gratification on seeing 
the result of my labor. * You may consider it,' said he, ' the 


greatest compliment I ever paid you, when I leave my sitter to 
tell you how much I am pleased with this head/ When look- 
ing at a print from my engraving, of his portrait of Judge 
McKean, * I will make this look like his son,' said he, and 
taking some chalks, he removed the wig of the judge, and with a 
few scratches over the face, produced a likeness, when before 
there was no apparent similarity." 

As in times to come this immortal work may be quoted to 
prove that American judges wore wigs, we will add that in 
1798 they only wore them as other old gentlemen did, to cover 
baldness, as judges' wigs were never worn in the United States. 

Judge Hopkinson has communicated the following anecdote 
of our artist during his residence in the vicinity of Philadelphia. 
Contemporary with our great portrait painter in the city of 
Penn, was a great wine merchant, and it is well known that 
before his return to his native country, Stuart had contracted 
an unfortunate habit which rendered the dealers in wine very 
important personages in his estimation. It happened that Mr. 
Wagner's taste for pictures was almost as strong as the paint- 
er's taste for Madeira, and he was willing to indulge Stuart's 
natural palate in exchange for the products of his artificial. 
Mr. Wagner had three portraits painted, value, per bill, three 
hundred dollars. When the painter and the wine merchant 
balanced accounts, the dealer in paint and immortality was 
debtor, per bill, two hundred dollars. 

Stuart was an enemy to academies for teaching the fine 
arts. Fuseli has said, "Academies are symptoms of art in 
distress." Stuart said they raised up a multitude of mediocre 
artists to the injury of art and its professors. We think he 
was wrong in his sweeping condemnation, and shall give our 
opinions and reasons for them in the course of this work. 
That the number of painters is increased is certain, but the 
most meritorious take the lead, and are greater in merit in pro- 
portion to the number they precede. Stuart pettishly has said, 
"By-and-by you will not by chance kick your foot against a 
dog kennel, but out will start a portrait painter." Fuseli, 
after the above sarcasm on academies, was for many years the 


keeper of that over which West presided, and, in his old age, 
when criticising the work of Harlowe, after witnessing his in- 
effectual attempts to draw an arm, exclaimed, "It is a pity you 
never attended the Antique Academy." So much for the 
learned keeper's opinion respecting academies. The office of 
a keeper of an Academy of Design or of the Fine Arts is of 
the first importance to the institution, and highly honorable; 
the keeper is the teacher. Where an academy is merely such 
in name, the keeper may be found, and usually is, some trust- 
worthy mechanic, who never thought of a picture but as some- 
thing made valuable by a frame. Academies whose members 
are patrons, not artists, and whose keepers are carpenters 
instead of painters, are indeed "symptoms of art in distress." 

After the foundation of the city of Washington, and the re- 
moval of Congress to that place, Mr. Stuart followed, taking 
up his abode where the officers and representatives of the 
people congregate. At what precise period he removed from 
Germantown to Washington we do not know. 1 He resided there 
until 1805, and then removed to Boston, in which city and its 
suburbs he continued until his final removal by death. While 
at the seat of government, which was probably from 1800 to 
1805, he associated intimately with all the leading and dis- 
tinguished men of the time, and painted the portraits of the 
greater number, as well as those of the reigning belles, residing 
or visiting the metropolis of the nation, as he had before done 
at New York and Philadelphia. In 1806 he boarded and painted 
at Chapotin's Hotel, Summer Street, Boston. I there saw him 
both in the painting room and at the dinner table. His morn- 
ings were passed in the first and too much of the remainder of 
the day at the second. His family were not with him. 

It was at this time that he again met his early friend Doctor 
Waterhouse, after a separation of near thirty years. The 
Doctor writes, "After spending the night at my house, he got 
up early in the morning, and went into the room where hung 
this head" (the portrait already mentioned by the Doctor in 
these words, 'The only head of his own, painted by himself, 

1 Stuart went to Washington in 1803. 


was done for me, and is now in my possession. On the back of 
it is written, in his own hand, G. Stuart, Pictor, se ipso pinxit, 
A.D. 1778. Mtatis sua 24.') "when I heard him talking to it 
thus : ' Gibby, you needn't be ashamed of that there is the 
perfection of the art or I know nothing of the matter.' And 
after I made my appearance, he said to me, 'I should like to 
see A. B. or C. attempt to copy it.' I remarked that most 
people took it for a very old picture. He replied, 'Yes, I sup- 
pose so; I olified it on purpose that they should think so,' 
punning on the Latin word oleum-oH." 

This was written by Doctor Waterhouse in 1833, after an 
interval of more than twenty years, and although Stuart, like 
Reynolds, might have been surprised to find that his improve- 
ment during many years of practice had not been so great as 
he had thought before he examined his early work, yet we 
can hardly think that he saw in a picture painted in 1778, 
"the perfection of the art," and must conclude that his vener- 
able friend has forgotten the precise expression made Use of. 

Mr. Stuart often expressed a wish to visit New York, but 
from the time that he set up his easel at Chapotin's, to the day 
of his death, his longest journey, I believe, was his visit to 
Narraganset, the place of his birth. In 1813, I passed many 
hours with him at his house in Roxbury, adjoining Boston 
Neck, and in 1822 I saw him apparently not in so good cir- 
cumstances and much afflicted with gout, on Fort Hill. I 
always found him cheerful and ready to impart knowledge 
from the store his observation had gained and his extraordinary 
memory retained. It was at this time that I sat to him for 
the hands of Mr. Perkins' portrait, now in the Athenaeum at 
Boston, to which institution he had been a munificent donor 
and had died after the head of this portrait was finished. It 
was no task to sit to Stuart; his conversation rendered it a 

If we judge by the portrait of the Hon. John Quincy Adams, 
the last head he painted, his powers of mind were undiminished 
to the last, and his eye free from the dimness of age. This 
picture was begun as a full length, but death arrested the hand 


of the artist after he had completed the likeness of the face; 
and proved, that, at the age of seventy-four, he painted better 
than in the meridian of life. This picture has been finished; 
that is, the person and accessories painted, by that eminent 
and highly gifted artist, Mr. Thomas Sully; who, as he has 
said, would have thought it little less than sacrilege to have 
touched the head. 1 

Mr. Stuart died in the month of July, 1828, in the seventy- 
fifth year of his age; and was buried in the cemetery of the 
Episcopal Church, which he attended during his residence in 
Boston. 2 

With the most brilliant talents, and, through life, the admira- 
tion of every one who approached him or saw his works, 
Gilbert Stuart died poor. His friends, and the friends of the 
fine arts in Boston, caused an exhibition to be made of such of 
his works as could be collected, and the proceeds were appropri- 
ated to his family. How many, without a hundredth part of 
his talents, have passed through life by their own efforts, not 
only without embarrassment from poverty, but in affluence, 
merely by following the dictates of prudence; while of Stuart, 
the delight of his friends and the boast of his country, we are 
obliged to say, as was said of another professor of the fine 
arts, "poorly, poor man, he lived! poorly, poor man, he died!" 

It has been said that Mr. Stuart, before removing to Boston, 
made an attempt to provide for his family, by purchasing a 
farm in Pennsylvania, near Pottsville, and paid part cf the 
money; but did not complete the payments, and finally lost 
the whole. Of this we can gain no accurate information. 

Mr. Stuart married the daughter of Doctor Coates, while 
residing hi London, in 1786. By this marriage he had thirteen 
children, two born in England. Of these children two were 
sons, and the eldest son inherited much of his father's talent 
for painting. Both the sons died early. Several daughters are 

1 The portrait finished by Thomas Sully of John Quincy Adams is in the Library 
at Harvard College. 

1 Gilbert Stuart died in Boston July 9, 1828, and is buried in the Central Burial 
Ground on Boston Common. 


living. The youngest, Miss Jane Stuart, will be mentioned in 
another part of this work. 

We shall conclude this article by miscellaneous observations, 
facts, and anecdotes, relative to the subject of it. 

When the celebrated George Frederick Cooke was playing 
at Boston, Stuart painted his portrait for an admirer of the 
tragedian; and it happened that the last sitting was appointed 
for a day immediately following one of the actor's long sittings 
for another purpose. He began the sitting in full glee, under 
the influence of some brandy toddy; "and Stuart, always full 
of anecdote, which he happily applies to keep alive the atten- 
tion of his patients, and elicit the peculiarities of their char- 
acter, exerted himself to keep up the animation which sparkled 
in George Frederick's eyes; but after a short time, his en- 
deavors were in vain. His eloquence failed; and the subject 
of his attention dropped his chin upon his breast, and slept 
as comfortably as though he had gone to church. Stuart 
had tried to rouse him by 'a little more up, if you please 
a little more this way ' but finding all in vain, he very delib- 
erately put down pencil and palette and took out his snuff- 
box. The painter having made this appeal to his nose, got up 
took another pinch looked at Cooke shrugged his 
shoulders walked to the fireplace, and then continued to 
apply the stimulating dust in most immoderate quantities, 
like the representative of Sir Fretful, in the * Critic.' Cooke at 
last awoke; and addressing himself to the chair Stuart had left 
vacant, protested that he believed he had been asleep. 'I beg 
pardon, Mr. Stuart, I will be more attentive.' Stuart, who 
stood behind him, gave no other answer, but ' The picture's 
finished, Sir.' ' 

There were many points in which these two eccentric men 
of genius resembled each other; but Stuart was much superior 
in general information, in wit and in repartee. They were 
both fond of telling a story, and not sparing in embellishment. 
It has been remarked, that it is more from a carelessness about 
truth, a want of due respect for its importance, than from 
intentional misrepresentation, that there is so much falsehood 


in the world. This carelessness, and the habit of talking to 
endeavor to call forth the character of his sitters, caused in 
Mr. Stuart a laxity in his statement of incidents that was at 
once amusing, curious, puzzling, and lamentable. Yet this 
carelessness, censurable as it is, does not debase character so 
much as intentional and premeditated falsehood. The first 
renders us doubtful respecting assertions made relative to 
events or persons, and fixes a character of levity on the man 
who habitually practises it. The other belongs to the systematic 
man of deceit, who misrepresents for purposes of self-exalta- 
tion, or for the injury of others, and marks a mind addicted 
to turpitude; from the possessor of which we shrink as from a 
venomous reptile. Mr. Stuart had none of the latter character. 

Of Mr. Stuart's power or faculty of recollection the follow- 
ing circumstance has been published. When he resided in 
Dublin, which must have been about 1788-9, a young lad, 
afterwards, during a long life, a citizen of Philadelphia, was an 
apprentice in a book store, nearly opposite the house, in Pill 
Lane, where the painter lodged. This citizen's portrait was 
painted in Philadelphia, a few years since, by Mr. John Neagle; 
who shortly afterwards making a visit to Boston, for the pur- 
pose of seeing Mr. Stuart (a pilgrimage many a painter has 
made), took the portrait with him, as a specimen of his talents. 
When presented to Stuart he gazed at it for a while, and then 
pronounced the name of the person for whom it was painted, 
declaring that he had known him in Pill Lane, Dublin. The 
citizen in question was in Boston not long before the painter's 
death, and went with Mr. O. C. Greenleaf to see Mr. Stuart, 
requesting his companion not to mention his name. As soon 
as he entered the room Mr. Stuart came up to him familiarly, 
shook him by the hand, accosted him by name, and told him 
that he had recognized his portrait as that of his former 
acquaintance of Pill Lane. 

His powers of recollection were further exemplified in the 
case of a gentleman of Charleston, South Carolina, whose por- 
trait he had formerly painted. After an absence of at least 
twenty-five years, the gentleman called on him in Boston, and 



Kruiii 111-- collection of Mr. Frank Hulkeley Smith 


was shown up to the room in which he was painting. He 
knocked, and was invited to walk in. On opening the door, 
finding that the artist was engaged, he was retiring, when 
Stuart addressed him by name, as if he had recently seen him, 
and insisted on his coming in. 

Of the rapidity with which he caught the form, and recog- 
nized a person before known, Mr. Edwin mentioned this in- 
stance. "I entered Boston in the evening, in a stagecoach, 
and next day visited Mr. Stuart, 'I knew you were in Boston/ 
said he. 'I only came last evening, sir, and this is the first 
time I have been out.' 'I saw you you came to town, like 
a criminal going to the gallows back foremost.' I had been 
sitting on the front seat." 

On this occasion, Mr. Edwin mentioned Stuart's well-known 
aversion to Jarvis; the latter had arrived at the same time 
with Edwin, and wished to call on Stuart, but Edwin avoided 
going with him. "When I saw Stuart a second time, I re- 
marked, that he had had a visit from Mr. Jarvis: 'Yes,' said 
he, 'and he came to see me in his buffs. He had buff gloves 
buff jacket buff waistcoat and trowsers and buff shoes.' I 
mentioned this remark to Jarvis, and when he called on Stuart 
again, he wore black. I told Stuart, that I repeated his de- 
scription of the buffs, and reminded him of the second call, in 
black. He jumped up, and clapped his hands, laughing heartily : 
'So! I caused him to put his buff in mourning.' ' 

Another time that Jarvis had called on Stuart, he made his 
appearance in a short coatee with large pockets, and the old 
man described him as "all inexpressibles and pockets." In- 
stances were mentioned of Stuart's power of painting likenesses 
from memory. He had so painted his own grandmother, and 
several others with great success. This was owing to his obser- 
vation of expression and character, rather than feature. "You 
have Hull's likeness here," said he to Edwin, looking on the 
engraving from his portrait of the naval commander. "He 
always looks as if the sun was shining in his face, and he half 
shuts his eyes as he gazes at him." 

The English ambassador, known in this country by the ap- 


pellation of Copenhagen Jackson, told Judge Hopkinson, 
that when he was about leaving England for America, he 
called on Mr. West, and asked him to recommend a portrait 
painter. Telling him that he was going abroad. "Where are 
you going?" "To the United States." "Then, sir, you will 
find the best portrait painter in the world, and his name is 
Gilbert Stuart." Mr. Jackson visited Stuart, and told him the 
words of his old master. "I saw the portraits he painted for 
him," said Mr. Hopkinson, "and they were admirable likenesses 
of the ambassador and his wife." 

It is remembered by many that Stuart generally produced 
a likeness on the panel or canvas, before painting in the eyes, 
his theory being, that on the nose, more than any other feature, 
likeness depended. On one occasion, when a pert coxcomb 
had been sitting to him, the painter gave notice that the sitting 
was ended, and the dandy exclaimed on looking at the canvas, 
"Why it has no eyes!" Stuart replied, "It. is not nine days 
old yet." We presume our readers need not be reminded 
that nine days must elapse from the birth of a puppy, before he 
opens his eyes. 

Mr. David Edwin engraved many portraits from the works 
of Stuart, and had much intercourse with him. In a letter 
before us he says, "Mr. Stuart has been thought by many to 
have been harsh and repulsive in his manners : to me he never 
appeared so; and many of those who thought they had cause 
to complain, have possibly brought his ill temper on them- 
selves by want of manners, or some other cause. Perhaps he 
practised too often the advice which he said had been given 
him by Lord Thurlow, who on one occasion said to him, "If 
any man speaks disrespectfully of either you or your art, give 
him battle, my boy ! Give him battle !" This system might un- 
doubtedly appear sometimes "harsh and repulsive"; and per- 
haps his nephew Stuart Newton found it so, for I have been 
told that his bitter expressions of dislike to his uncle, originated 
from a repulse of this kind. Newton had been receiving 
Stuart's instruction in painting, and on one occasion, under 
the influence of high animal spirits, and little observant of the 


present humor of his instructor, he abruptly entered Stuart's 
room, and flourishing his pencil, cried, "Now, old gentleman! 
I'll teach you to paint!" This joke came unseasonably it 
seems, and the reply was, "You'll teach me to paint, will you? 
and I'll teach you manners!" and not happening to have the 
gout at the time, he kicked the youth out of his room. 

Of the painter's inveterate habit of snuffing we have already 
spoken. Mr. Edwin relates the following instance of the 
slavery to which his nose subjected him. Having engaged 
to dine with him, the engraver went early and found that he 
had not returned from his morning's walk. By and by in 
came Stuart, apparently in a state of great agitation, and pass- 
ing his guest without speaking, or even noticing him, went to 
a closet and took out a bundle. Edwin was fearful that he 
had offended him unknowingly, and sat rather uneasily, ob- 
serving his motions. He took from the bundle some tobacco, 
a grater (probably the identical grater which occasionally was 
stationed behind the curtain to help the master to a pun in- 
stead of a pinch), and a sieve. His nerves were so agitated 
that with difficulty he manufactured the precious article, which 
he had inhaled with his first breath but succeeding, he hastily 
took a large dose; his uncommon tremor seemed suddenly to 
forsake him, and greeting his guest cordially, he exclaimed, 
"What a wonderful effect a pinch of snuff has upon a man's 

He had forgotten to replenish his snuff box before going out 
and was so enslaved by habit, that he could not even recog- 
nize an acquaintance, in his own house, until the appetite was 

Another pinch of snuff. The writer on occasion of one of his 
visits to Boston, had a sea captain, an elderly man, of some 
humor, for a companion, who was, like Stuart, a slave to 
snuff, and like him had most capacious nostrils. The sailor 
invariably applied the stimulating dust to his right nostril. 
Seeing at length that his companion observed this, he remarked, 
"You see, sir, I have always a nostril in reserve. When the 
right becomes callous after a few weeks' usage, I apply for 


comfort to the left; which having had time to regain its sense 
of feeling, enjoys the blackguard, until the right comes to its 
senses." When I visited Stuart, I told him of the sailor's 
practice. "Thank you!" said he, "it's a great discovery. 
Strange that I should not have made it myself when I have 
been voyaging all my life in these channels." 

Stuart once asked a painter, who had met with a painter's 
difficulties, "how he got on in the world." "Oh," said the 
other, "so, so! hard work but I shall get through." "Did 
you ever hear of anybody that did not?" was the rejoinder. 

Of the merits of his pictures, when collected for exhibition, 
after his death, we have heard some speak disparagingly. - 
These pictures are mostly heads. Now a gallery of heads, 
many of them portraits of persons unknown, and many of those 
who have been long since forgotten, must ever be an uninter- 
esting exhibition to most. Some of these pictures were said to 
be positively bad. I am free to say, that I never saw a picture 
by Stuart that did not show a skill in handling, and a mind 
in dictating, far above mediocrity. His best pictures are beyond 
all praise. An impudent pretender to criticism has said, that 
"Stuart painted bad pictures enough to damn any other man." 
This was said because it had point and was bold; but it is as 
false as the author is ignorant of the art he criticised. Others 
again have said, Stuart's females were always poor, compared 
to his portraits of men. I doubt that, and remember some truly 
splendid. Mr. Isaac P. Davis has two heads on one canvas 
that may defy competition. I have seen unfinished and care- 
lessly finished, and slovenly pictures, by Stuart, but I never 
saw a bad one. His last portraits, or those painted in Boston, 
are his best. 

In corroboration of my opinion respecting the merit of 
Stuart's works, after his removal to Boston, I here insert an 
anecdote related by Mr. Sully. Mr. Allston, at Sully 's request, 
accompanied him to the house of Mrs. Gibbs, where Allston's 
fine picture of Elijah was to be seen. After looking at this, 
Miss Gibbs invited them into another room, to see a portrait 
of her father by Stuart. Sully says, he almost started at^first 


sight of it: and after he had examined it Allston asked, "Well, 
what is your opinion?" The reply was, "I may commit myself 
and expose my ignorance; but, in my opinion, I never saw a 
Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, or Titian, equal to it. What 
say you?" "I say, that all combined could not have equalled 

Mr. Neagle says, speaking of this same portrait, "There 
was a portrait, by Stuart, that Mr. Allston regretted that I 
could not see 'the house of the owner,' being at the time shut 
up. He spoke of it, not only as the best American portrait, 
but said that 'Van Dyck, Reynolds, and Rubens, combined, 
could not have produced so admirable a work. Mr. Sully has 
described it as a portrait of a man of middle age, looking out. 
His hair was dark, but becoming silvery, and the grey and 
dark hairs were mingled. Mr. Sully told me, it was a living man 
looking directly at you" 

We extract the following from Mr. Neagle's manuscript 
notes. "When I knew him, he carried two boxes of snuff, 
each nearly as large round as the top of a small hat. I remem- 
ber he offered me a pinch of each : and when I asked him what 
was the difference, he replied, 'One box is common and one 
superior; the first is for common, every-day acquaintance, the 
second for particular friends; therefore, take you a pinch of 
the best.' This was his humor, and I never felt so much ease 
in the company of any superior man as in his, nor ever received 
so much improvement in conversation on the arts from any 
other. I have drank wine and taken snuff with him; and I 
must agree with David Edwin, that those who smarted under 
his resentment, must have brought it on by their own impru- 
dence or presumption. I shall never forget his kindness to me. 
His family appeared to fear him. He had an odd way of ad- 
dressing his wife. He called her Tom several times in my 
presence. I have often remarked, that Mr. Stuart made use of 
fewer technicals than any other artist with whom I ever con- 
versed. Mr. Edwin has made the same observation. While 
criticising a half-finished engraving, he would not talk of 
breadth, drawing, proportion, or the like; but would say of a 


portrait, 'this man's eyes appear as if he was looking at the 
sun.' Instead of saying, 'make a background neutral,' he would 
say, 'Make nothing of it.' His feelings were sore on the sub- 
ject of the Washington portrait, by Rembrandt Peale. He 
imagined there was much quackery in that affair. In answer 
to a question I put to him on that picture, and the certificate, 
he said, 'Si qui decipientur decipiuntur.' He did not appear 
to me to be happy, yet was always ready to converse, had a 
fund of anecdote, and was then cheerful. He was particularly 
eloquent on the subject of arts and artists; and when he wished 
he could wield the weapons of satire and ridicule with peculiar 
force, seize the strong point of character, placing it so dexter- 
ously in the light he wished, that the impression was irresistible 
and not easily effaced. His plan with his sitters was, to keep 
up an agreeable but gentle conversation, keeping his mind 
free and fixed on his work. He commenced his pictures faint, 
like the reflections in a dull glass, and strengthened as the work 
progressed, making the parts all more determined, with color, 
light, and shade. Mr. Stuart, at the time I visited him, had 
suffered from paralysis : the left side of his face was contracted, 
and he called my attention to this fact when I was about to 
commence his portrait; and advised me, for the sake of per- 
spective representation, in such cases, to place the withered 
side farthest from the eye. His hands shook at times so vio- 
lently, that I wondered how he could place his brush where 
his mind directed. He laughed at the portrait of himself 
painted by C. W. Peale, and placed by him in his museum 
at Philadelphia: he said it was an awkward clown. He had 
been solicited repeatedly by letter, and verbally, in this coun- 
try and in Europe, to sit for his portrait. Frothingham asked 
him, and he admired Frothingham; yet he never sat to him. 
That he should have honored me, an humble artist and a 
stranger, by not only sitting for one portrait entire, but by 
sitting for the completion of a copy, is r. My portrait 

is the last ever painted of this distinguished artist. I presented 
it to Mr. Stuart's friend, Isaac P. Davis, Esq., and it is now 
think, the property of the Boston Athenaeum. He said he 


never could make a finished drawing on paper. I asked why 
he and Mr. Allston did not get up an Academy of Arts in Bos- 
ton: he said that men of wealth and pretension generally 
interfered, to the detriment of arts and artists. 

"The following dialogue passed between us, as nearly as I 
can remember the phraseology: it was when my portrait of 
Mr. Stuart was in progress, in the summer of 1825. He had 
stepped out of the painting room (it was at his own house), 
and in the meantime, as a preparation for his sitting, I placed 
alongside of my unfinished portrait one painted by him of Mr. 
Quincy, the mayor of Boston, with a view of aiding me some- 
what in the coloring. When he returned and was seated before 
me, he pointed to the portrait of the mayor, and asked, 'WThat 
is that?' 'One of your portraits.' 'Oh, my boy, you should 
not do that!' said he. 'I beg your pardon, Mr. Stuart, I should 
have obtained your permission before I made this use of it; 
but I have placed it so carefully that it cannot suffer the least 
injury.' 'It is not on that account,' said he, 'that I speak: 
I have every confidence in your care : but why do you place it 
there?' 'That I might devote my mind to a high standard of 
art,' I replied, 'in order the more successfully to understand 
the natural model before me.' 'But,' said he, 'does my face 
look like Mr. Quincy 's?' 'No, sir, not at all in the expression, 
nor can I say that the coloring is even like; but there is a certain 
air of truth in the coloring of your work which gives me an in- 
sight into the complexion and effect of nature; and I was in 
hopes of catching something from the work of the master 
without imitating it.' 'As you have heretofore/ said Mr. 
Stuart, 'had reasons at command for your practice, tell me 
what suggested this method.' 'Some parts of the lectures of 
Sir Joshua Reynolds,' which I repeated to him. 'I knew it,' 
said he; and added, 'Reynolds was a good painter, but he has 
done incalculable mischief to the rising generation by many 
of his remarks, however excellent he was in other respects as a 
writer on art. You may elevate your mind as much as you can; 
but, while you have nature before you as a model, paint what 
you see, and look with your own eyes. However you may 


estimate my works,' continued the veteran, 'depend upon it 
they are very imperfect; and the works of the best artists have 
some striking faults.' 

"He told me that he thought Titian's works were not 
by any means so well blended when they left the easel, as 
the moderns infer from their present effect. He considered 
that Rubens had a fair perception of color, and had studied 
well the works of the great Venetian, and that he must have 
discovered more tinting, or separate tints, or distinctness, than 
others did, and that, as time mellowed and incorporated the 
tints, he (Rubens) resolved not only to keep his colors still 
more distinct against the ravages of time, but to follow his 
own impetuous disposition with spirited touches. Mr. Stuart 
condemned the practice of mixing a color on a knife, and com- 
paring it with whatever was to be imitated. ' Good flesh 
coloring,' he said, 'partook of all colors, not mixed, so as to 
be combined in one tint, but shining through each other, like 
the blood through the natural skin.' Van Dyck he much 
admired, for the intelligence of his heads and his freedom. He 
spoke well of Gainsborough's flesh, and his dragging manner of 
tinting; but could not endure Copley's labored flesh, which he 
compared to tanned leather." 

We copy these reminiscences of the conversation of Mr. 
Stuart, and consider them valuable. What is said of flesh 
"partaking of all colors," will remind the reader of Stuart's 
remarks on West's mode of teaching, as given in a preceding 
page, when he was speaking to Trumbull. Mr. Copley's 
manner was not always like "tanned leather" in his flesh: 
some of his pictures deserve the censure but our opinion of 
his works is already given. 

We all know that Mr. Stuart sometimes neglected the dra- 
peries of his pictures, leaving them in a most slovenly style of 
unfinish. "I was with him one day," said Mr. Trott, "when 
he pointed to the portrait of a gentleman, saying, 'That pic- 
ture has just been returned to me, with the grievous complaint 
that the muslin of the cravat is too coarse. Now, sir,' he 
continued, with increasing indignation, 'I am determined to 


buy a piece of the finest texture, have it glued on the part that 
offends their exquisite judgment, and send it back again.' ' 

On one occasion (probably more than one) his sense of pro- 
priety was tortured by the want of taste in the dress and 
decoration of a sitter. This is the common fate of portrait 
painters. A mantua-maker of Boston had drawn a great prize 
in the lottery; and imagining that wealth made a fine lady of 
her, determined that at least her appearance should be fine, 
and decorated herself with all the choice trumpery of her own 
shop, the glittering gewgaws of the jewellers, and, with the 
addition of hair powder and rouge, presented herself to the 
great portrait painter for immortalization. There were times 
and humors in which he would have refused the task; but he 
consented to share the prize, and painted the accumulation of 
trinket and trifle, as if determined to raise a monument to 
folly. "There," said he to a friend, pointing to the picture, "is 
what I have all my painting life been endeavoring to avoid, 
- vanity and bad taste." 

Stuart, before drawing in a portrait, observed which side of 
the face gave the best outline of the nose, and chose that as the 
side nearest the spectator's eye. He always asserted, that 
Likeness depended more upon the nose than any other feature; 
and often related a real or imaginary conversation, in which 
Charles Fox, Lord A , Lord B , and Lord C , with him- 
self, were the interlocutors. He would give the arguments of 
one for the mouth, another (Fox), for the brow, most for the 
eyes; and concluded by convincing them, and the person to 
whom he addressed himself, that the nose was the key feature 
of portraiture, by putting his thumb under his large and 
flexible proboscis, and turning it up, so as to display the ample 
nostrils, he would exclaim, "Who would know my portrait 
with such a nose as this?" 

When asked why he did not put his name or initials, to mark 
his pictures, he said, "I mark them all over." 

In a letter before us Mr. Sargent says, "Stuart, you may 
remember was very fond of story-telling, and like all other 
story tellers was very apt to repeat them; but the climax of this 


sort of thing was his repeating stories to others, who had told 
them originally to him. I once told him a story that was very 
interesting and original, at which he laughed immoderately, 
and on meeting me the next morning, he said he had a good 
thing to tell me what was my surprise when he told me my 
own story! Knowing his peculiar temper, I let it pass, and we 
both laughed heartily but we were laughing with very 
different views of the subject." 

Doctor Waterhouse says, that the task of writing Stuart's 
biography was expected from him even before the painter's 
death, "which induced his widow, when it happened, to ex- 
press her uneasiness, and to beg of me not to do it." This was 
in consequence of some real or supposed difference between 
the friends in the decline of life. The Doctor in a letter before 
us says, "Gilbert Stuart and I never quarrelled; I withdrew 
from him and his hot-headed companions, when nullification 
reigned in New England." And again, "Stuart vindicated 
me at the dinner and supper tables of the Essex junto, or 
nullifiers of that day, amidst their insults and toasts, until 
the getting up of the Hartford Convention, when I took my 
stand against it, and when the current in its favor ran so strong 
that Stuart thought it for his interest to yield to it while I 
opposed it with all my might; of course, Gilbert and I found 
ourselves on opposite banks of the river." 

In another letter, the same writer says, "It should be borne 
in mind, that he had been on the stage as a most eminent head 
painter, nearly sixty years, and that he had painted all the 
presidents of the United States, the present one excepted 
(1833), and most of the distinguished characters of the Revo- 
lution, and that Sir Joshua Reynolds himself sat to him, and 
that, take him altogether, he was one of the most extraordinary 
men our country has produced. When I quitted England, and 
entered the University of Leyden, I received no letter from 
Stuart; only verbal messages and kind wishes. During my 
residence at that seat of science, he married and went over to 
Ireland, and I never saw him afterwards, till he called upon me 
here in Cambridge, in, I think, 1802" (1805), "and then I 


found him a much-altered man. He had, it seemed, relished 
Irish society, particularly their conviviality." "He would 
sometimes spend several days together at my house, and remain 
as long as his snuff lasted, and then nothing could detain him 
from Boston." 

On another occasion, Doctor Waterhouse writes, "My 
knowledge of him was during his struggles up the hill of fame, 
and not when he had surmounted it, and sat down with his 
bottle to enjoy the scene below him." "His prosperity did not 
operate upon him as it operated on the judicious and strictly 
moral Benjamin West." "I shall say, that after 1778 Mr. 
Stuart came into notice as a portrait painter in London, and 
painted several distinguished characters, and was for a time in 
the high road to fame and fortune, and would have secured 
both, had he duly estimated, like West and Reynolds, the great 
value of his art, and wisely appreciated the short-lived grati- 
fication of a man of wit and pleasure in London, that whirlpool 
of dissipation, which has engulfed many a bright genius before 
the time of Gilbert C. Stuart." Again he says, "He was a man 
of genius and a gentleman. He saw the great merit of an artist 
without envy. He never appeared to damn with fault praise. 
When merit was mistaken, he was silent, and when praise was 
richly deserved, he gave it liberally. There are a thousand 
anecdotes, good, bad, and indifferent, many of them unworthy 
of his powerful mind." We have given one from the Doctor, 
and leave the reader to class it we give another. "A gentle- 
man of an estimable character, and of no small consequence 
in his own eyes, and in the eyes of the public, employed our 
artist to paint his portrait, and that of his wife, who when he 
married her was a very rich widow, born the other side of the 
Atlantic. This worthy woman was very homely, while the 
husband was handsome, and of a noble figure. The painter, 
as usual, made the best of the lady, but could not make her so 
handsome as the husband wished, and preserve the likeness. 
He expressed in polite terms his dissatisfaction, and wished him 
to try over again. The painter did so, and sacrificed as much 
of the likeness to good looks, as he possibly could, or ought. 


Still the complaisant husband was uneasy, and the painter was 
teased from one month's end to another to alter it. At length 
he began to fret, and to pacify him Stuart told him that it was 
a common remark, that wives were very rarely, if ever, pleased 
with pictures of their husbands, unless they were living ones. 
On the other side, husbands were as seldom pleased with the 
paintings of their beloved wives, and gave him a very plausible 
reason for it. Once they unluckily both got out of temper at 
the same time, and snapped out their frettings accordingly. At 
last the painter's patience, which had been some time thread- 
bare, broke out, when he jumped up, laid down his palette, 
took a large pinch of snuff, and walking rapidly up and down 
the room, exclaimed, 'What a business is this of a portrait 
painter you bring him a potato, and expect he will paint 
you a peach.' ' 

One of the most unequivocal testimonies to the truth of 
Stuart's portrait of Washington is, that when Vanderlyn was 
employed by Congress to paint a full length of the hero for 
the nation, it was stipulated that he should copy the counte- 
nance from Stuart's original picture in the possession of the 
Boston Athenaeum. 

Immediately upon hearing of the decease of our great por- 
trait painter, the artists of Philadelphia met, and published 
a number of resolutions expressive of their regret. 

I will close this biographical notice of Gilbert Stuart, by 
an extract from a letter dated October 15, 1833, from Mr. 
Allston, and another from the publication he mentions. "I 
became acquainted with Stuart after my return from Italy, and 
saw much of him both before, and since my last visit to Europe. 
Of the character of our intercourse you can form an opinion 
from these few lines, extracted from an obituary notice of him 
I wrote (published in the Boston Daily Advertiser, a few days 
after his decease); his uniform kindness, and the unbroken 
friendship with which he honored the writer of this, will never 
be forgotten. To this I may add, that I learned much from 
him in my art." The obituary notice was as follows: 

"During the last week the remains of Gilbert Stuart, Esq. 

1751 - 1801 


were consigned to the tomb. He was born in the State of 
Rhode Island in the year 1754. Soon after coming of age he 
went to England, where he became the pupil of Mr. West, 
the late distinguished president of the Royal Academy. Stuart 
there rose to eminence; nor was it a slight distinction that 
his claims were acknowledged even during the life of Sir 
Joshua Reynolds. His high reputation as a portrait painter, 
as well in Ireland as in England, having thus introduced him to 
a large acquaintance among the higher classes of society, both 
fortune and fame attended his progress; insomuch that, had 
he chosen to remain in England, they would doubtless have 
rewarded him with their highest gifts. But, admired and 
patronized as he was, he chose to return to his native country. 
He was impelled to this step, as he often declared, by a desire 
to give to Americans a faithful portrait of Washington, and 
thus in some measure to associate his own with the name of 
the father of his country. And well is his ambition justified 
in the sublime head he has left us: a nobler personification of 
wisdom and goodness, reposing hi the majesty of a serene 
conscience, is not to be found on canvas. He returned to 
America in the year 1793, and resided chiefly in Philadelphia 
and Washington, in the practice of his profession, till about 
the year 1805, when he removed to Boston, where he remained 
to the time of his death. During the last ten years of his 
life he had to struggle with many infirmities; yet such was 
the vigor of his mind, that it seemed to triumph over the 
decays of nature, and to give to some of his last productions 
all the truth and splendor of his prime. 

"Gilbert Stuart was not only one of the first painters of his 
time, but must have been admitted by all who had an oppor- 
tunity of knowing him, to have been even out of his art, an 
extraordinary man; one who would have found distinction 
easy in any other profession or walk of life. His mind was of 
a strong and original cast, his perceptions as clear as they 
were just, and in the power of illustration he has rarely been 
equalled. On almost every subject, more especially on such 
as were connected with his art, his conversation was marked 


by wisdom and knowledge; while the uncommon precision 
and elegance of his language seemed ever to receive an addi- 
tional grace from his manner, which was that of a well-bred 

"The narrations and anecdotes with which his knowledge of 
men and of the world had stored his memory, and which he often 
gave with great beauty and dramatic effect, were not unfre- 
quently employed by Mr. Stuart in a way, and with an ad- 
dress peculiar to himself. From this store it was his custom 
to draw largely while occupied with his sitters apparently 
for their amusement; but his object was rather, by thus ban- 
ishing all restraint, to call forth if possible some involuntary 
traits of the natural character. But these glimpses of character, 
mixed as they are in all men with so much that belongs 
to their age and associates, would have been of little use to an 
ordinary observer; for the faculty of distinguishing between 
the accidental and the permanent, in other words, between the 
conventional expression which arises from manners, and that 
more subtle indication of the individual mind, is indeed no 
common one: and by no one with whom we are acquainted, 
was this faculty possessed in so remarkable a degree. It was 
this which enabled him to animate his canvas not with the 
appearance of mere general life but with that peculiar, dis- 
tinctive life which separates the humblest individual from his 
kind. He seemed to dive into the thoughts of men for they 
were made to rise, and to speak on the surface. Were other 
evidences wanting, this talent alone were sufficient to establish 
his claims as a man of genius; since it is the privilege of genius 
alone to measure at once the highest and the lowest. In his 
happier efforts no one ever surpassed him in embodying (if 
we may so speak) these transient apparitions of the soul. 
Of this not the least admirable instance is his portrait (painted 
within the last four years) of the late President Adams; whose 
then bodily tenement seemed rather to present the image of 
some dilapidated castle, than that of the habitation of the 
* unbroken mind': but not such is the picture; called forth as 
from its crumbling recesses, the living tenant is there still 


1774 1799 

Prom the collection of Mrs. II. K . Knapp 


ennobling the ruin, and upholding it, as it were by the strength 
of his own life. In this venerable ruin will the unbending patriot 
and the gifted artist speak to posterity of the first glorious 
century of our Republic. 

"In a word, Gilbert Stuart was, in its widest sense, a philos- 
opher in his art; he thoroughly understood its principles; as 
his works bear witness whether as to the harmony of colors, 
or of lines, or of light and shadow showing that exquisite 
sense of a whole, which only a man of genius can realize and 

"We cannot close this brief notice without a passing record of 
his generous bearing towards his professional brethren. He 
never suffered the manliness of his nature to darken with the 
least shadow of jealousy, but where praise was due, he gave 
it freely, and gave too with a grace which showed that, loving 
excellence for its own sake, he had a pleasure in praising. 
To the younger artists he was uniformly kind and indulgent, 
and most liberal of his advice; which no one ever properly 
asked but he received, and in a manner no less courteous 
than impressive. The unbroken kindness and friendship with 
which he honored the writer of this imperfect sketch will 
never be forgotten. 

"In the world of art, Mr. Stuart has left a void that will not 
soon be filled. And well may his country say, 'a great man 
has passed from amongst us': but Gilbert Stuart has be- 
queathed her what is paramount to power since no power 
can command it the rich inheritance of his fame." 


In the year 1775 Mr. Earl painted portraits in Connecti- 
cut. I remember seeing two full lengths of the Rev. Timothy 
Dwight and his wife, painted in 1777, as Earl thought, in 
the manner of Copley. They showed some talent, but the 
shadows were black as charcoal or ink. In the year 1775, 
Earl, as one of the governor's guard of militia, was marched 
to Cambridge, and soon afterwards to Lexington, where he 
made drawings of the scenery, and subsequently composed 


the first historical pictures, perhaps, ever attempted in America, 
which were engraved by his companion, in arms, Mr. Amos 
Doolittle. Mr. Earl studied under the direction of Mr. West, 
immediately after the independence of his country was estab- 
lished, and returned home in 1786. He painted many portraits 
in New York, and more in Connecticut. The time of his death 
is unknown to us. He had considerable merit a breadth of 
light and shadow facility of handling, and truth in likeness, 
but he prevented improvement and destroyed himself by 
habitual intemperance. 1 


In a letter from General Washington to Col. Joseph Reed, he 
thanks him for a picture sent by him to Mrs. Washington, and 
meant as a portrait of the general, which was painted by a 
Mr. Campbell, whom Washington says he never saw. The letter 
is dated from Cambridge, in 1776; the writer says the painter 
has " made a very formidable figure of the commander in 

1 Ralph Earl, son of Ralph and Phebe Whittemore Earl, was born in Shrewsbury, 
Mass., May 11, 1751. He died "of intemperance" at the house of Dr. Samuel Cooly, 
August 16, 1801, according to the church record at Bolton, Conn. 



THIS department of art, from its reduced scale, and conse- 
quent minuteness, does not fill the eye, or dazzle the imagina- 
tion, so as to come in competition with the higher order of 
historic composition, or even with the portraits of Titian, or 
Van Dyck, and other masters who painted in the large or life 
size, and had the grandeur which depends so much upon an 
opportunity of giving vigor of style and breadth of effect. 

It nevertheless possesses many advantages for the objects of 
portraiture, peculiarly its own; and is equally susceptible of 
truth in resemblance, and beauty of execution with works 
executed of a large size. In composition, color, light, and 
shadow, it is governed by the same principles as other depart- 
ments of the art, and is capable of carrying them to as great a 
degree of perfection. 

The early history of miniature painting is extremely obscure, 
and so completely confounded with the history of the art in 
general, as to make it a matter of great difficulty to separate it. 

A consecutive notice of the practitioners of miniature paint- 
ing would be more than our limits would admit. A sketch of 
its progress is all I can promise. 

The first mention made of miniature painters in the annals 
of legitimate painting, and distinct from illuminators, appears 
to be of painters in oil, of what are now called cabinet pictures; 
for such a title is given to John De Laer, a painter- in the Dutch 
school, of landscape and figures. He is, by the historians, 
called the first miniature painter of his time. 

This definition of miniature painting is wide of our present 
purpose, as I shall confine my remarks to those only who 
painted in water colors and on vellum, paper or ivory; that is, 
in what is now called miniature painting. 



The earliest artist, coming within this limit is Giotto, an 
illuminator of manuscript; which practice was in great repute 
as early as the eleventh century, and continued so to the end 
of the thirteenth. Giotto may be considered the founder of 
miniature painting, or at least it received so much improve- 
ment from his pencil, as to entitle him to the credit of the 
invention. Baldinucci, states that Giotto executed a series of 
histories from the Old Testament, in miniature, and speaks of 
it as a work of most exquisite minuteness and finish. 

I believe the general practice of that day extended no 
farther than neat outlining, filled up with vermilion, or red 
lead. Brightness of color and gilding, were the chief objects 
aimed at by the illuminators of manuscripts, and they fre- 
quently succeeded in producing the most dazzling effects. 

The introduction of the art of printing destroyed the fetters 
that limited knowledge to the rich only; and of course de- 
stroyed this expensive mode of book making. What resource 
the miniature painters of that period had I know not. I shall 
therefore confine myself to the mere notice of the practice of 
illuminating, and pass on to the latter part of the sixteenth and 
beginning of the seventeenth century, a time when we find min- 
iature painting in great repute for the purpose of portraiture. 

Sir Balthasar Gerbier, a miniature painter of Antwerp, 
visited England in 1613, and was one of the most popular 
painters of his day. He was principal painter in small to 
Charles the First, by whom he was knighted, and he was also 
employed by the court in many important missions. He was 
sent to Flanders to negotiate privately a treaty with Spain, 
the very treaty (remarks Walpole) in which Rubens was com- 
missioned on the part of the Infanta, and for which end that 
great pain ten visited England. 

Of the English miniature painters of this period, none ranked 
higher than Hilliard and Oliver; "the first native artists," 
says Walpole, "who have any claims to distinction." Hilliard 
painted Mary, Queen of Scots, which procured him universal 
fame, and he was soon after appointed principal painter in 
small to Queen Elizabeth, whose picture he also painted. His 


From the collection of Mr. Gilbert S. Parker 


works are celebrated for their elaborate finish, and their force 
and truth. 

About this time also flourished Cooper, called the Van 
Dyck of his time in miniature. That sycophantic coxcomb 
Pepys quaintly calls him "the great limner in little." His pencil 
was generally confined to a head only; and so far he was con- 
sidered to surpass all others. His most famous production is 
the miniature portrait of Oliver Cromwell. 

"This miniature," says Walpole, "enlarged by a magnify- 
ing glass, will compare with any of Van Dyck's portraits," and 
he believes that Van Dyck would appear less great by the 

This celebrated picture (as well, I believe, as all the minia- 
tures of this period), is painted wholly with opaque colors. 

The exact time of the introduction of the use of transparent 
colors, as now practised, is difficult to ascertain. The draperies 
are at present only executed in opaque pigments, though 
the French school still retain them for then 1 backgrounds, as 
well as draperies. 

The merit of first painting miniatures in transparent colors 
is accorded by some to Jeremiah Myers, an English artist. I 
cheerfully award him all praise for the introduction of a prac- 
tice which contributes so much to give aerial transparency, 
tone, and at the same time depth and richness to this interesting 
department of art. 

As this work is only a record of American artists, or such 
as practised their art in America, I conclude this sketch of 
the history of miniature painting, by a notice of the first minia- 
ture painter of whom I have knowledge, and who now succeeds 
in chronological arrangement. 


This was an Irish gentleman, who painted miniatures in 
Boston and married there. He left it with the British troops, 
and was as early as 1777 established in William Street, New 

1 John Ramage was an Irishman who settled in Boston prior to the Revolution and 
was loyal to the crown. He was Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Volunteers formed in 
1775 for the defense of Boston and in 1776 he went to Halifax, N. S. Subsequently he 


York, and continued to paint all the military heroes or beaux 
of the garrison, and all the belles of the place. He did not 
accompany the army when it left our shores, but continued 
the best artist in his branch for many years after. Mr. Ramage 
occasionally painted in crayons or pastel, the size of life. His 
miniatures were in the line style, as opposed to the dotted. I 
admired them much in the days of youth, and my opinion of 
their merit is confirmed, by seeing some of them recently. Mr. 
Ramage was a handsome man of the middle size, with an intel- 
ligent countenance and lively eye. He dressed fashionably, 
and according to the time, beauishly. A scarlet coat with 
mother-of-pearl buttons a white silk waistcoat embroidered 
with colored flowers black satin breeches and paste knee 
buckles white silk stockings large silver buckles in his 
shoes a small cocked hat, covering the upper portion of his 
well-powdered locks, leaving the curls at the ears displayed a 
gold-headed cane and gold snuff box, completed his costume. 
When the writer returned from Europe in 1787, Mr. Ramage 
introduced to him a second wife; but he was changed, and 
evidently declining through fast living. 


Who had been taught by his brother Charles Willson, painted 
during the War of the Revolution, and long after in Philadel- 

went to New York where he again served in the British Army, remained after its 
evacuation, and soon became the fashionable miniature painter of that city. He was 
a Mason, a member of St. Johns Lodge No. 1 of New York, a pew holder in St. George's 
Chapel and a member of the New York Marine Society. This indicates that up to 
that time Ramage was a respectable member of society. The records of Trinity 
Church, Boston, show that John Ramage and Victoria Ball were married in Boston 
March 8, 1776. When he went to Halifax (according to a letter from Rev. Mather 
Byles at Halifax to Rev. Dr. Walter at Boston) Ramage deserted his wife in Boston 
and was promptly married again in Halifax to a Mrs. Taylor. His first wife followed 
him to Halifax and secured a divorce through the help of Rev. Mather Byles. Ramage 
and his second wife left Halifax for New York in June, 1777, where he became involved 
in debt and fled to Canada in 1794. He died in Montreal, Canada, October 24, 1802. 
He was an accomplished artist. Washington records in his diary under date of October 
8, 1789, "Sat to Mr. Ramage near two hours today, who was drawing a miniature 
picture of me for Mrs. Washington." 

1 James Peale was born at Annapolis, Md., in 1749 and died in Philadelphia May 
24, 1831. He painted a miniature on ivory of Washington in 1788 and a portrait of 
Washington in miniature on paper was made by him in 1795. His own portrait in 
miniature, made by himself and here reproduced, is evidence that he was an excellent 


phia, and south of it. His principal work was miniature, but 
he painted portraits in oil we believe as late as 1812. We 
never saw any of them, and their reputation was never high. 
Mr. James Peale left several children who became artists, as 
did those of his brother Charles, also. 

MATHER BnowN. 1 

Mr. Brown about the year 1779 painted in London. In the 
year 1785 he appeared to have full employment, and painted 
much (especially theatrical performers) on speculation. He 
had several large pictures in the exhibition at Somerset House, 
figures the size of life, representing Mr. and Mrs. Pope, in 
Beverly and wife in the Gamester; and Mrs. Martyr, as the 
page of the Follies of a Day, and other like compositions. 
They were hung in the outer room at Somerset House, and 
not in the saloon of honor. 

Brown was not highly esteemed as a painter. He had dis- 
gusted Stuart by some meanness of conduct, but could not 
easily be repulsed from his house. As the great portrait painter, 
then in the blaze of popularity, stood looking out from his 

1 Mather Brown, born in Boston, October 7, 1761, was the son of Gawen Brown, 
a noted clockmaker. His mother was Elizabeth Byles, daughter of the Tory clergy- 
man, Mather Byles. She died when he was an infant, and his father marrying again, 
Mather was brought up by two maiden aunts, the Misses Mary and Catharine Byles, 
in Boston, and for whom Brown painted his own portrait, which is reproduced, hold- 
ing a letter he had written to them. In his nineteenth year Brown went to Paris, 
carrying introductions from his grandfather to Doctor Franklin, as also to Copley 
and others in London. In 1781 he received instruction from Benjamin West. An 
obituary of Brown says: "His admiration of the talents of his preceptor, who was 
always kind to his pupil, amounted to idolatry." Before leaving America Brown had 
limned some miniatures, but none of his work mentioned in the letter which he writes 
his aunts from London, June 6, 1783, "I have entirely left," has been identified. 

Many Americans in London sat to Brown for their portraits, including Jefferson 
and John Adams. The former is in the possession of the Adams family and the latter 
belongs to the Boston Athenaeum. Brown was styled "Historical Painter to His 
Majesty and the late Duke of York," and he painted, among others of the royal 
family, a fine full length of the Prince of Wales, later George IV., which is in the royal 
collection at Buckingham Palace. A monumental whole length of King George III, 
signed and dated 1790, was recently (1917) brought to this country. Besides portraits 
Brown painted a number of historical compositions, some of events in the Orient, such 
as the "Marquis Cornwallis receiving as Hostages the Sons of Tippoo Sahib," which 
would indicate that he had visited the East. He was an exhibitor at the Royal Academy 
for nearly fifty years and died in London at his residence, Newman Street, May 25, 
1831. Brown's painting was usually dry, hard and precise, but sometimes it was quite 
free and mellow, as in the canvas reproduced, which is one of his best portraits. 


front window, he saw Mather Brown pass, look at him and 
apply to the knocker of his door. "Say I am not at home," 
was the order to the servant. "Mr. Stuart is not at home, sir." 
"Yes he is I saw him at the window." "Yes sir, and he 
saw you, and he says he is not at home." 

Brown was born in America about the year 1763, and his 
first name, Mather, marks him as from Massachusetts. He 
was one of the many who called themselves the pupils of Ben- 
jamin West, and undoubtedly received his instruction. His 
father was probably a loyalist of Boston, and left America at 
the commencement of the contest for liberty. 

Mr. Allston says, "I am pretty sure that Mather Brown 
was a native of Boston. I have heard that he was the son of 
a celebrated clockmaker the maker of the ' Old South' clock 
in Boston, which is said to be an uncommon piece of mechan- 
ism. Leslie must be mistaken as to my having any anecdotes 
of Mather Brown. If I ever had any, they have entirely es- 
caped from my mind: I have not the slightest recollection 
of one, except (if it may be called an anecdote) my meeting 
him once at Mr. West's in a cap-a-pie suit of brown, even to 
stockings, wig and complexion. He must, I think, have held 
a respectable rank as an artist, as I remember that he lived in 
either Cavendish or Manchester Square. But for myself, I 
have not sufficient recollection of his pictures, to express any 
opinion on the subject." 

In a letter from a person in London to his friend in Boston, 
dated March 6, 1789, are these words: "Your countryman 
Mather Brown, is well, and in the highest state of success. 
He now rents a house of 120 a year, and keeps a servant in 
livery, and is appointed portrait painter to his royal highness 
the Duke of York. He has a great run of business, and has 
not only painted a great many of our nobility, but also the 
Prince of Wales." 

In answer to a question put to Mr. Leslie, he says "I was 
once in Mather Brown's rooms, and a more melancholy dis- 
play of imbecility I never witnessed. Imagine two large rooms 
crowded with pictures, great and small, historical and por- 

1761 1831 

From the collection of Mrs. Frederick L. Gay 


trait in some places several files deep. I thought of Gay's 

'In dusty piles his pictures lay, 
For no one sent the second pay.' 

And in all this waste of canvas not one single idea, nor any 
one beauty of art. He seemed to possess facility, but nothing 
else. Those of his canvasses that looked most like pictures, 
exhibited a feeble imitation of the manner of West, but wholly 
destitute of any one principle of his master. 

"He told me that when a boy, he was the playfellow of 
Raphael West and young Copley (now Lord Lyndhurst), and 
that he and Ralph had often, while bathing, given the chan- 
cellor in embryo a ducking in the Serpentine River." 

Another loyalist's son was a contemporary pupil and painter 
with Mather Brown. 


He was born in Philadelphia, probably about 1766. 1 His 
father (who as a boy was a schoolmate of Benjamin West), at 
the time of colonial opposition to Britain, was well known as a 
Tory clergyman, and removed from the land of rebellion. 

The grandfather of the painter was a Protestant refugee 
from France, and crossed the Atlantic with William Penn. 
During the voyage Penn borrowed twenty pounds of the 
Frenchman; and when they arrived in Pennsylvania, offered 
him, as payment, a square in his city of Philadelphia, meaning 
thereby to show his friendship. Duche, however, very courte- 
ously refused, saying, he "would rather have the money." 
"Blockhead!" said Penn, "thou shalt have the money; but 
canst thou not see that this will be a great city in a little time? " 
Duche afterwards frankly acknowledged that he had proved 
himself a blockhead, when he saw the square he had refused, 
as an equivalent for twenty pounds, sold for as many thousands. 

Watson, the antiquary, of Pennsylvania, says, "that an 
aged woman, who gamed a subsistence by selling cakes, re- 

1 Thomas Spence Duche, son of the Rev. Dr. Duch, was born in September, 1763. 
He studied with Benjamin West in London, and died March 31, 1790. 


membered that her grandfather had received the ground now 
occupied by the Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, 
together with half the square, for his services, as chain bearer, 
in surveying the site of the intended city. She had lived to see 
the Bank erected on a part of it, bought for that purpose with 
one hundred thousand dollars!" 

But we have lost sight of Duche the painter, who, as a 
Pennsylvanian and the son of an old school-fellow, had peculiar 
claims on the attention and instruction of Benjamin West; 
but, as we have seen, the benevolence of West was not confined 
within narrow limits. 

We know very little of the subject of this memoir. His 
picture of Bishop Seabury, the first of the three Episcopal 
clergymen who, for the purpose of being raised to the Episco- 
pacy, and thereby be enabled to build up and sustain the 
church, without further reference to the hierarchy of England, 
were sent to England soon after the peace of 1783, is well 
known from Sharpe's engraving from it. The original picture 
is now at Washington College, Hartford, Connecticut. 

The three gentlemen above mentioned were, White of 
Pennsylvania, Provost of New York, and Seabury of Connecti- 
cut. Mr. Duche likewise painted the portrait of Bishop Pro- 
vost, now in possession of the family of the late Cadwallader 
Golden, Esq. The engraving, by Sharpe, of Bishop Seabury, is 
dedicated to Benjamin West, by his grateful friend and pupil. 

Duche, the clergyman, preached at a chapel on the Surrey 
side of the Thames, near Blackfriars' Bridge, and it was fashion- 
able to go to hear him. An American lady, very pretty, but 
very pale, when not assisted by art, said, "We heard Parson 
Duche yesterday: and I saw his son too, a fine, handsome 
young man." "Ah! did you? He paints." " Is it possible? 
Well, I thought his color unnatural." Thus conscience 
not only makes cowards, but suspicious cowards of us all. 


Was guilty of painting poor portraits in Philadelphia, in the 
year 1782, and is therefore our next subject. The parents of 




this gentleman were of Irish origin: the father, a native of 
Kilkenny; the mother, a Pennsylvanian, by name Smith, and 
descended from Hibernian emigrants. Robert was the oldest 
of two sons: he had three sisters, two older than himself. He 
was born in Little Britain, in the county of Lancaster, Penn- 
sylvania, in 1765, 1 and showed early indications of his attach- 
ment to mechanics; but was, as a youth, still more devoted to 
the pencil. He commenced the painting of portraits and land- 
scapes, as a profession, at the age of seventeen; that is, in the 
year 1782; and continued so employed until 1785. During 
this period Charles Willson Peale was the principal painter in 
that city, until Pine's arrival; and doubtless Fulton did not 
neglect the instruction to be derived from them and their 

Robert Fulton, at the age of 21, had, by his industry and 
frugality, enabled himself to purchase a little farm in Penn- 
sylvania, on which he established his mother; and soon after 
crossed the Atlantic, to seek instruction from Benjamin West. 
That Mr. West justly appreciated the character of his young 
countryman, is attested by his presenting him with two pic- 
tures; one representing the great painter, with his wife's por- 
trait on his easel; and the other, Fulton's own portrait. 

Mr. Fulton, perhaps by invitation, practised as a portrait 
painter in Devonshire, and here appears to have revived his 
attachment to mechanics. Canal navigation attracted his at- 
tention, as he here became acquainted with the Duke of Bridge- 
water, and they became united by their mutual love of science. 
Lord Stanhope and Fulton were attracted to each other by 
similar propensities. In 1793 was published a print, engraved 
by Sherwin, from a picture, by Fulton, of Louis XVI in prison, 
taking leave of his family. The only copy I have seen is pos- 
sessed by my friend Dr. Francis: it is now a curiosity. As 
early as 1793, Fulton's mind was engaged in projects to im- 
prove inland navigation. In 1794 he obtained a patent for a 
double inclined plane, and other patents, from the British 

1 Robert Fulton was born November 14, 1765, the son of Robert and Mary Smith 
Pulton. He died in New York City February 23, 1815. 


government. For eighteen months he resided in Birmingham, 
and improved his knowledge of mechanics in that great 
workshop. 1 

In 1795 he published several essays, which elicited the com- 
pliments and recommendations of Sir John Sinclair and the 
Board of Agriculture. The profession of a painter was aban- 
doned, and his knowledge of the art of design applied to 
drawings on the subjects which now engaged his mind. 

In the year 1797 Mr. Fulton had apartments in the same 
Parisian hotel with Joel Barlow; and a friendship was then 
formed between these two eminently gifted and amiable indi- 
viduals which was only broken by death. When Mr. Barlow 
established himself in a style befitting his public station, in a 
hotel appropriated to himself and lady, he invited Fulton to 
make one of his family. Here he resided seven years, during 
which he studied the modern languages and the higher branches 
of science. During this time Fulton also projected a panorama, 
in imitation of Barker. It had some success, and is said to 
have been the first seen in Paris. But his mind was occupied 
with other projects, particularly the explosion of gunpowder 
under water. His torpedoes were offered to the French and 
Dutch governments; and when Bonaparte became first consul, 
he appointed a commission to examine Fulton's plans and 
assist in making experiments. 

When Chancellor Livingston arrived in Paris, the intimacy 
between him and Fulton commenced, which led to the ful- 
filment of his destinies, by the accomplishment of steam 

If the failure of Mr. Fulton's schemes for the destruction of 
ships of war, by torpedoes, fixed his attention upon navigating 
vessels by steam, we may congratulate the world that the con- 
flicting nations of Europe, to whom with perfect indifference 
he seems to have offered his projects and services, for the de- 
struction of their enemies, did not accept of them. If, as we 
believe, the views of Mr. Fulton were to banish naval warfare 
from the world, perhaps that change which will take place in 

1 Fulton practically gave up portrait painting in 1794. 




defensive warfare, by the use of the steam frigate, such as 
Fulton built at New York, in harbors and on coasts, may go 
far to answer the same end. 

In 1801 Mr. Fulton repaired to Brest, to make experiments 
with the plunging boat he had constructed the preceding 
winter. This, as he says, had many imperfections, natural to 
a first machine of such complicated combinations. Added to 
this, it had suffered much injury from rust, in consequence of 
his having been obliged to use iron instead of brass or copper, 
for bolts and arbors. 

Notwithstanding these disadvantages, he engaged in a 
course of experiments with the machine, which required no 
less courage than energy and perseverance. Of his proceed- 
ings, he made a report to the committee appointed by the 
French executive; from which report we learn the following 
interesting facts : 

On the 3d July, 1801, he embarked with three companions 
on board his plunging boat in the harbor of Brest, and de- 
scended in it to the depth of five, ten, fifteen and so to twenty- 
five feet; but he did not attempt to go lower, because he 
found that his imperfect machine would not bear the pressure 
of a greater depth. He remained below the surface one hour. 
During this time they were in utter darkness. Afterwards he 
descended with candles; but finding a great disadvantage from 
their, consumption of vital air, he caused previously to his 
next experiment, a small window of thick glass to be made 
near the bow of his boat, and he again descended with her 
on the 24th of July, 1801. He found that he received from 
his window, or rather aperture covered with glass, for it was 
no more than an inch and a hah* in diameter, sufficient light to 
enable him to count the minutes on his watch. Having satis- 
fied himself that he could have sufficient light when under 
water; that he could do without a supply of fresh air for a 
considerable time; that he could descend to any depth, and 
rise to the surface with facility; his next object was to try her 
movements, as well on the surface as beneath it. On the 26th 
of July, he weighed his anchor and hoisted his sails: his boat 


had one mast, a mainsail, and jib. There was only a light 
breeze, and therefore she did not move on the surface at more 
than the rate of two miles an hour; but it was found that she 
would tack and steer, and sail on a wind or before it, as well as 
any common sailing boat. He then struck her mast and sails; 
to do which, and perfectly to prepare the boat for plunging, 
required about two minutes. Having plunged to a certain 
depth, he placed two men at the engine, which was intended 
to give her progressive motion, and one at the helm, while 
he, with a barometer before him, governed the machine, which 
kept her balanced between the upper and lower waters. He 
found that with the exertion of one hand only, he could keep 
her at any depth he pleased. The propelling engine was then 
put in motion, and he found upon coming to the surface, that 
he had, in about seven minutes, made a progress of four hun- 
dred meters, or above five hundred yards. He then again 
plunged, turned her round while under water, and returned 
to near the place he began to move from. He repeated his 
experiments several days successively, until he became familiar 
with the operation of the machinery, and the movements of 
the boat. He found that she was as obedient to her helm under 
water, as any boat could be on the surface; and that the mag- 
netic needle traversed as well in the one situation as the 

"On the 7th of August, Mr. Fulton again descended with a 
store of atmospheric air, compressed into a copper globe of a 
cubic foot capacity, into which, two hundred atmospheres were 
forced. Thus prepared he descended with three companions 
to the depth of about five feet. At the expiration of an hour 
and forty minutes, he began to take small supplies of pure air 
from his reservoir, and did so as he found occasion, for four 
hours and twenty minutes. At the expiration of this time he 
came to the surface, without having experienced any incon- 
venience from having been so long under water. 

"Mr. Fulton was highly satisfied with the success of these 
experiments; it determined him to attempt to try the effects of 
these inventions on the English ships, which were then block- 


From the collection of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania 


ading the coast of France, and were daily near the harbor of 

"His boat at this time he called the submarine boat, or the 
plunging boat; he afterwards gave it the name of the 'Nautilus'; 
connected with this machine, were what he then called sub- 
marine bombs, to which he has since given the name of tor- 
pedoes. This invention preceded the 'Nautilus.' It was, indeed, 
his desire of discovering the means of applying his torpedoes, 
that turned his thoughts to a submarine boat. Satisfied with 
the performance of his boat, his next object was to make some 
experiments with the torpedoes. A small shallop was anchored 
in the roads, with a bomb containing about twenty pounds of 
powder; he approached to within about two hundred yards 
of the anchored vessel, struck her with the torpedo and blew 
her into atoms. A column of water and fragments was blown 
from eighty to one hundred feet in the air. This experiment 
was made in the presence of the prefect of the department, 
Admiral Villaret, and a multitude of spectators. 

"The experimental boat of Mr. Livingston and Mr. Fulton, 
was completed early in the spring of 1808: they were on the 
point of making an experiment with her, when one morning 
as Mr. Fulton was rising from a bed, in which anxiety had 
given him but little rest, a messenger from the boat, whose 
precipitation and apparent consternation, announced that he 
was the bearer of bad tidings, presented himself to him, and 
exclaimed in accents of despair, 'Oh, sir, the boat has broken 
in pieces, and gone to the bottom.' Mr. Fulton, who himself 
related the anecdote, declared that this news created a despond- 
ency which he had never felt on any other occasion; but 
this was only a momentary sensation. Upon examination, he 
found that the boat had been too weakly framed to bear the 
great weight of the machinery, and that in consequence of an 
agitation of the river by the wind the preceding night, what 
the messenger had represented had literally happened. The 
boat had broken in two, and the weight of her machinery had 
carried her fragments to the bottom. It appeared to him, as 
he said, that the fruits of so many months' labor, and so much 


expense, were annihilated; and an opportunity of demon- 
strating the efficacy of his plan was denied him at the moment 
he had promised it should be displayed. His disappointment 
and feelings may easily be imagined; but they did not check 
his perseverance. On the very day that this misfortune hap- 
pened, he commenced repairing it. He did not sit down idly 
to repine at misfortunes which his manly exertions might 
remedy, or waste, in fruitless lamentations, a moment of that 
time in which the accident might be repaired. Without return- 
ing to his lodgings, he immediately began to labor with his 
own hands to raise the boat, and worked for four and twenty 
hours incessantly, without allowing himself rest, or taking 
refreshment; an imprudence, which, as he always supposed, 
had a permanent bad effect on his constitution, and to which 
he imputed much of his subsequent bad health. 

"The accident did the machinery very little injury; but they 
were obliged to build the boat almost entirely new; she was 
completed in July: her length was sixty-six feet, and she was 
eight feet wide. Early in August, Mr. Fulton addressed a 
letter to the French national institute, inviting them to wit- 
ness a trial of his boat, which was made in their presence, and 
in the presence of a great multitude of the Parisians. The 
experiment was entirely satisfactory to Mr. Fulton, though 
the boat did not move altogether with as much speed as he 
expected. But he imputed her moving so slowly to the ex- 
tremely defective fabrication of the machinery, and to imper- 
fections which were to be expected in the first experiment with 
so complicated a machine; but which he saw might be easily 

Mr. Fulton returned home in 1806, and renewed his efforts 
to prove that he could destroy vessels by invisible means, and 
the next year he made an experiment upon a hulk, anchored 
in New York harbor for the purpose. The owner of the hulk 
having consented, the experiment was fully successful. In 
1810, the United States made an appropriation for trying the 
effect of torpedoes and other submarine explosions. The 
experiments were made upon the sloop of war "Argus," Captain 




Lawrence, but as she did not consent, the experiment failed. 
Mr. Fulton's friends still thought, or said, that the experiments 
would be successful. Commodore Rogers thought and reported 
them altogether impracticable. 

We all know that Fulton was not the first who propelled 
a boat by steam, but we know that we owe to him those 
inventions which remedied the failures of former experiment- 
ers, and, in fact, by his genius and skill, created the steamboat. 
Fulton was assisted by friends, with advice and funds; but 
Fulton's were the mind and the perseverance which gave to the 
world a mode of conveyance for speed, ease, and certainty so 
powerful in its influence on travelling and commerce, as to 
have advanced civilization on its destined progress beyond 
any former gift bestowed on man, printing excepted. He thus 
writes to his friend Joel Barlow: "New York, August 2, 1807. 
My dear friend, my steamboat voyage to Albany and back, 
has turned out rather more favorable than I had calculated. 
The distance from New York to Albany is 150 miles; I ran it 
up in thirty-two hours, and down in thirty hours, the latter is 
five miles an hour. I had a light breeze against me the whole 
way going and coming, so that no use was made of my sails, 
and the voyage has been performed wholly by the power of 
the steam engine. I overtook many sloops and schooners, 
beating to windward, and passed them as if they had been at 

"The power of propelling boats by steam is now fully proved. 
The morning I left New York, there were not perhaps thirty 
persons who believed that the boat would move one mile an 
hour, or be of the least utility; and while we were putting off 
from the wharf, which was crowded with spectators, I heard a 
number of sarcastic remarks. This is the way you know, in 
which ignorant men compliment what they call philosophers 
and projectors. 

"Having employed much time, and money, and zeal, in 
accomplishing this work, it gave me, as it will you, great pleas- 
ure to see it so fully answer my expectations. It will give a 
cheap and quick conveyance to merchandise on the Mississippi 


and Missouri, and other great rivers, which are now laying 
open their treasures to the enterprise of our countrymen. And 
although the prospect of personal emolument has been some 
inducement to me, yet I feel infinitely more pleasure in reflect- 
ing with you on the immense advantage my country will 
derive from the invention." 

Thus the first voyage, and that perfectly successful, was made 
in thirty-two hours from New York to Albany. In consequence 
of this first voyage it is now made in nine. 

Surely the discoverer enjoys a pleasure greater and purer 
than any other human being can enjoy. We mean the dis- 
coverer who has just views of the great advantages which will 
result from the successful termination of his researches. Not 
to mention many others let us reflect upon the pure and 
intense joy of Columbus, when he landed on St. Salvador of 
Franklin, when he succeeded in drawing the lightning, innocu- 
ous, from the thunder cloud of Worcester, when convinced 
of the power of steam and of Fulton, when he saw, felt, 
knew, that he could triumph over winds and tides, by machin- 
ery of his own invention when he heard the acclamations 
of the scoffers, and received the praises of the wise. 

"He published his work, entitled 'Torpedo War, or Sub- 
marine Explosions.' He adopted as a motto for his publica- 
tion, his favorite sentiment, 'The liberty of the seas will be 
the happiness of the earth.' He addressed it to the President 
of the United States, and to the members of both houses of 
Congress : It contained a description of the experiments he had 
made, of his engines as he had improved them, and of the 
manner in which they might be used. He expressed the most 
sanguine expectations as to the effects they would produce, 
when they had attained the improvements, of which he be- 
lieved them capable, and had the advantage of practice, by 
which gunnery, and other modes of warfare, had been brought 
to their present perfection." Fulton's ideas respecting sub- 
marine guns, led to the invention of the steam frigate. 

"He communicated to Mr. Jefferson an account of his 
experiments on submarine firing, with drawings of his various 


plans. Mr. Jefferson expressed himself much pleased with this 
novel mode of maritime warfare, and assured Mr. Fulton that 
he would recommend it to the attention of government. 

"It is curious to observe how Mr. Fulton's projects grew one 
out of another.. 

"The submarine guns gave rise to the steam man-of-war. 

"It having been suggested, by a distinguished naval officer 
before alluded to, that in approaching an enemy so near as was 
necessary to give effect to submarine cannon, the vessel if she 
was rigged in the ordinary way, would be liable to be entangled 
with her adversary; to meet this objection, Mr. Fulton pro- 
posed to move the vessel by steam. His reflections on this 
project, and what he saw of the performance of so large a 
vessel as the 'Fulton,' her speed, and the facility with which she 
was managed, led him to conceive, that a vessel of war might 
be constructed, in which, to all the advantages possessed by 
those now in use, might be added the very important ones 
which she would derive from being propelled by steam, as well 
as by the winds." 

The character of Mr. Fulton is elucidated by an incident 
given thus in Colden's life of him: 

"We must all remember how long, and how successfully, 
Redheffer had deluded the Pennsylvanians by his perpetual 

"Many men of ingenuity, learning, and science had seen 
the machine: some had written on the subject; not a few of 
these were his zealous advocates; and others, though they were 
afraid to admit that he had made a discovery which violated 
what were believed to be the established laws of nature, ap- 
peared also afraid to deny what the incessant motion of his 
wheels and weights seemed to prove. These contrived ingenious 
theories, which were hardly less wonderful than the perpetual 
motion itself. They supposed that Redheffer had discovered 
a means of developing gradually some hidden power, which 
though it could not give motion to his machine forever, would 
keep it going for some period, which they did not pretend to 


"One of these perpetual motions commenced its career in 
New York in eighteen hundred and thirteen. Mr. Fulton was a 
perfect unbeliever in Redheffer's discovery, and although hun- 
dreds were daily paying then* dollar to see the wonder, Mr. 
Fulton could not be prevailed upon for some time to follow the 
crowd. After a few days, however, he was induced by some of 
his friends to visit the machine. It was in an isolated house in 
the suburbs of the city. 

"In a very short time after Mr. Fulton had entered the 
room in which it was exhibited, he exclaimed, 'Why, this is a 
crank motion.' His ear enabled him to distinguish that the 
machine was moved by a crank, which always gives an unequal 
power, and therefore an unequal velocity in the course of each 
revolution : and a nice and practised ear may perceive that the 
sound is not uniform. If the machine had been kept in motion 
by what was its ostensible moving power, it must have had an 
equable rotary motion, and the sound would have been always 
the same. 

"After some little conversation with the showman, Mr. 
Fulton did not hesitate to declare, that, the machine was an 
imposition, and to tell the gentleman that he was an impostor. 

"Notwithstanding the anger and bluster which these charges 
excited, he assured the company that the thing was a cheat, 
and that if they would support him in the attempt, he would 
detect it at the risk of paying any penalty if he failed. 

"Having obtained the assent of all who were present, he 
began by knocking away some very thin little pieces of lath, 
which appeared to be no part of the machinery, but to go from 
the frame of the machine to the wall of the room, merely to 
keep the corner posts of the machine steady. 

"It was found that a catgut string was led through one of 
these laths and the frame of the machine, to the head of the 
upright shaft of a principal wheel: that the catgut was con- 
ducted through the wall, and along the floors of the second 
story to a back cock-loft, at a distance of a number of yards 
from the room which contained the machine, and there was 
found the moving power. This was a poor old wretch with 

1765- 1815 

Prom the Lucy Wharton Drexel collection 


an immense beard, and all the appearance of having suffered 
a long imprisonment; who, when they broke in upon him, 
was unconscious of what had happened below, and who, while 
he was seated on a stool, gnawing a crust, was with one hand 
turning a crank. 

"The proprietor of the perpetual motion soon disappeared. 
The mob demolished his machine, the destruction of which 
immediately put a stop to that which had been, for so long a 
time, and to so much profit, exhibited in Philadelphia." 

In the year 1806, Mr. Fulton married Miss Harriet Living- 
ston, daughter of Walter Livingston, Esq. One son and three 
daughters were the fruit of his marriage. In 1815, Mr. Fulton 
was examined as a witness in a steamboat cause, at Trenton. 

"When he was crossing the Hudson to return to his house 
and family, the river was very full of ice, which occasioned his 
being several hours on the water in a very severe day. Mr. 
Fulton had not a constitution to encounter such exposure, and 
upon his return he found himself much indisposed from the 
effects of it. He had at that time great anxiety about the 
steam frigate, and, after confining himself for a few days, when 
he was convalescent, he went to give his superintendence to 
the artificers employed about her: he forgot his debilitated 
state of health in the interest he took in what was doing on 
the frigate, and was a long time, in a bad day, exposed to the 
weather on her decks. He soon found the effects of this im- 
prudence. His indisposition returned upon him with such vio- 
lence as to confine him to his bed. His disorder increased, 
and on the twenty-fourth day of February, eighteen hundred 
and fifteen, terminated his valuable life. 

"It was not known that Mr. Fulton's illness was dangerous, 
till a very short time before his death, which was unexpected 
by his friends, and still more so by the community. As soon 
as it was known, all means were taken to testify, publicly, the 
universal regret at his loss, and respect for his memory. The 
newspapers that announced the event, had those marks of 
mourning, which are usual in our country when they notice the 
death of public characters. The corporation of our city, the 


different literary institutions, and other societies, assembled, 
and passed resolutions expressing their estimation of his worth, 
and regret at his loss. They also determined to attend his 
funeral, and that the members should wear badges of mourning 
for a certain time. 

"As soon as the legislature, which was then in session at 
Albany, heard of the death of Mr. Fulton, they expressed then- 
participation in the general sentiment, by resolving that the 
members of both houses should wear mourning for some 

"This is the only instance, we believe, of such public testi- 
monials of regret, esteem, and respect, being offered on the 
death of a private citizen, who never held any office, and was 
only distinguished by his virtues, his genius, and the employ- 
ment of his talents. 

"He was buried on the twenty-fifth day of February, eighteen 
hundred and fifteen. His corpse was attended from his last 
residence (No. 1 State Street), by all the officers of the national 
and State governments, then in the city, by the magistracy, 
the common council, a number of societies, and a greater num- 
ber of citizens than have been collected on any similar occasion. 
From the time the procession began to move, till it arrived at 
Trinity Church, minute guns were fired from the steam frigate 
and the West Battery. His body, in a leaden coffin, covered 
with plain mahogany, on which is a metal plate engraved with 
his name and age, is deposited in a vault belonging to the 
Livingston family." 

As a painter Mr. Fulton does not rank high. Probably his 
best picture is the portrait of his friend Barlow. We owe to 
him the splendid edition of Barlow's " Columbiad." Mr. 
Golden says: 

"The elegant plates which adorn that work were executed 
under the superintendence and advice of Mr. Fulton. He paid 
about five thousand dollars for the paintings, the plates and 
letter press; which gave him a property in the publication. 
He relinquished, by his will, all his right to the widow of Mr. 
Barlow, with the reservation of fifty of the proof and embel- 


lished copies of the work. It was printed in Philadelphia, in 
quarto, and published in eighteen hundred and seven; it is 
dedicated by Mr. Barlow to Mr. Fulton, in such terms as evince 
the strong attachment which subsisted between these men of 
genius. The original paintings, from which the prints of the 
' Columbiad ' were engraved, form a part of the handsome 
collection which Mr. Fulton has left to his family." 

We owe to him the introduction into this country of the pic- 
tures painted by his friend and master West, from Lear and 
Hamlet, for Boydell's Shakspeare. The Lear cost him two 
hundred and five guineas, and the Ophelia one hundred and 
twenty-five at Boydell's sale. At the same time he purchased 
a fine picture by Raphael West, from "As you like it." We 
have copied from Mr. Colden's book the prices at which he 
says Fulton purchased the Lear and the Ophelia, but instead 
of the sale of the pictures of the Royal Academy, we substitute 
Boydell's sale, for the Royal Academy never had a sale of 
pictures. West's pictures were painted for Boydell, and his 
great project failing, the government allowed his pictures to 
be disposed of by a lottery. Whether Fulton was an adventurer 
in this lottery, or purchased of the owner of a prize, we know 
not. That he did not purchase of the Royal Academy is 
certain, or at any sale of their pictures. My impression is that 
he was an adventurer in the lottery, and gained these paint- 
ings as a prize. The inaccuracy of one part of Mr. Colden's 
statement renders further inaccuracy probable. 

He endeavored to persuade his countrymen to purchase 
such pictures of West's as were at the artist's disposal, and he 
wrote to the citizens of Philadelphia thus : 

"I now have the pleasure to offer you a catalogue of the 
select works of Mr. West, and with it to present you the most 
extraordinary opportunity that ever was offered to the lovers 
of science. The catalogue referred to is a list of all Mr. West's 
productions, portraits excepted. No city ever had such a 
collection of admired works from the pencil of one man; and 
that man is your fellow citizen. The price set on the collec- 
tion is fifteen thousand pounds sterling; a sum inconsiderable 


when compared with the objects in view, and the advantages 
to be derived from it." 

Mr. Fulton was six feet in height, slender in his form, easy 
and graceful in his deportment. His countenance was ani- 
mated, and his eyes and forehead betokened genius and un- 
conquerable ardor. He was a kind father, a fast friend, an 
enlightened philosopher, and a good republican. The arts of 
America are indebted to him much but the science and 
happiness of the world more. 


Of Charleston, South Carolina, assisted the progress of the 
fine arts, and claims a place here. We find this gentleman 
mentioned by Ramsay, as having exceeded "what could have 
been expected from his slender opportunity of improvement." 

He presented to the Orphan Asylum a picture after a design 
of Mr. West, from the passage, "Suffer little children," etc. 
From Mr. Fraser, our very valuable correspondent, we learn, 
that Thomas Coram was a native of Bristol, England; and 
nearly related to the philanthropist of the name, to whose 
benevolent exertions the Foundling Hospital, in London, is 
indebted for its existence. 

Thomas, the subject of our notice, was born in 1756, and 
was brought to America when six years of age. His early 
pursuits were mercantile; but from these he was alienated by 
the attractions of the pencil and graver, to which, while yet a 
young man, he devoted himself exclusively. Mr. Coram must 
have been among the earliest who attempted engraving in this 

"He was," says Mr. Fraser, "truly a self-taught artist; 
seeking information from books, practice, and the conversa- 

1 Thomas Coram came from Bristol, England, where he was born, to Charleston, 
S. C., March 1, 1769. (Dunlap is in error in giving his age at six years if he is correct 
in placing 1756 as the date of birth unless Coram first landed in America at some place 
other than Charleston, S. C.) He also is in error in giving date of death as May 2, 
1810, as Coram's will is dated March 20, 1811. Coram engraved the plates for the 
currency of South Carolina in 1779. 


tion of artists who occasionally visited Charleston; but from 
Mr. Benbridge his instruction was chiefly derived." 

The phrase "self-taught" must mean, as far as taught previ- 
ous to Mr. Benbridge's instructions; and even before that, 
it must be received with qualifications. "His industry," says 
Mr. Fraser, "which was extraordinary, was the more laudable 
as it was not prompted by encouragement or competition, 
but proceeded from an ardent devotion to the art." Sincerely 
attached to the interests of his adopted country, he volunteered 
to take arms in their support, and served as a private soldier. 

His drawings are characterized, by Mr. Fraser, as possessing 
"neatness and correctness; and in his oil paintings there was a 
harmony of coloring and felicity of execution rarely surpassed 
by those who have had more extensive opportunities of study 
and observation. His reading embraced almost every subject 
connected with his favorite art: he delighted in the history 
of it, and the biography of eminent painters; and of both it 
was his habit to collect and transcribe such anecdotes and 
passages as were striking and useful." 

He was a benevolent man, and died, regretted, at Charleston, 
the second of May, 1810, aged 54. 




I WAS born in the city of Perth Amboy and province of 
New Jersey. My father, Samuel Dunlap, was a native of the 
north of Ireland, and son of a merchant of Londonderry. In 
early youth he was devoted to the army, and bore the colors 
of the 47th Regiment, "Wolfe's own," on the Plain of Abra- 
ham. He was borne wounded from the field on which his 
commander triumphed and died. After the French War, 
Samuel Dunlap, then a lieutenant in the 47th Regiment, and 
stationed at Perth Amboy, married Margaret Sargent of that 
place, and retired from the profession of a soldier, to the quiet 
of a country town and country store. The 19th of February, 
1766, is registered as the date of my birth, and being an only 
child, the anniversary of the important day was duly cele- 
brated by my indulgent parents. Education I had none, ac- 
cording to the usual acceptation of the word, owing to 
circumstances to be mentioned; and much of what is to the 
child most essential education, was essentially bad. Holding 
negroes in slavery was in those days the common practice, and 
the voices of those who protested against the evil were not 
heard. Every house in my native place where any servants 
were to be seen, swarmed with black slaves every house save 
one, hereafter to be mentioned. My father's kitchen had 
several families of them of all ages, and all born in the family 
of my mother except one, who was called a new negro, and had 
his face tattooed his language was scarcely intelligible 
though he had been long in the country, and was an old man. 
These blacks indulged me of course, and I sought the kitchen 
as the place where I found playmates (being an only child), 



From a lithograph 


and the place where I found amusement suited to, and forming 
my taste, in the mirth and games of the negroes, and the variety 
of visitors of the black race who frequented the place. This may 
be considered as my first school. Such is the school of many a 
one even now, in those States where the evil of slavery con- 
tinues. The infant is taught to tyrannize the boy is taught 
to despise labor the mind of the child is contaminated by 
hearing and seeing that which perhaps is not understood at 
the time, but remains with the memory. This medley of 
kitchen associates was increased during a part of the War of 
our Revolution by soldiers, who found their mess fare improved 
by visiting the negroes, and by servants of officers billeted on 
the house. 

Happily from very early infancy I had another school and 
another teacher, as also the usual instructions of a good 
mother. I owe my love of pictures and of books to one on 
whose memory and character I must dwell, and of whose 
house and household I must give a description, for they made 
a part of him, and are intimately connected with me. 

Perth Amboy is regularly laid out in squares, and in the 
centre square of the city, the metropolis of the province, stood 
the market house of brick, shaded on all sides by locust trees, 
the centre of a square through which pass Market and High 
Streets. On the corner of Market Street stood the house of 
Thomas Bartow, almost surrounded by the fruit trees of his 
garden. He was a small, thin old man, with straight gray 
hair hanging in comely guise on each side of his pale face. 
His appearance was truly venerable. He was feeble from age 
and lame from rheumatism. His countenance, ever mild, was 
towards me kind and cheerful. Whether with his books by 
the blazing hickory fire of winter, or in his garden amidst vines 
and fruit trees in summer, I was always welcome. Over the 
snows I accompanied him in his one-horse sleigh; and in the 
more genial seasons old sorrel dragged us over the same roads 
through the adjoining villages of Woodbridge and Rahway. 
It must have been the delight he took in watching the growth 
of the mental faculties, which caused this benevolent old man 


to devote so much attention to a child, and doubtless, he felt 
gratified by the attachment of the child, and the preference 
given to his company, his books, and his tuition over the en- 
ticing gambols of those who from age might be supposed, and 
frequently were, more congenial associates. It is not irrelevant 
to dwell upon my visits to this good old gentleman. The 
happy hours passed with him in his garden, or in walking with 
him, or in our rides might be omitted, but when I found him 
on that Sunday morning when the parson, a regimental chap- 
lain, who was engaged to bestow his spare time on the Episco- 
palians at Woodbridge and Amboy, was absent from the latter 
place, when I was received and placed by the side of the old 
gentleman at the stand or table where he sat with his books, 
when, after going upstairs to the book closet and bringing 
down such volumes as struck my fancy, I received his explana- 
tions of the pictures or the pages; if these visits were passed 
over I should omit the record of the happiest moments of 
childhood, and of hours which expanded my intellect, and 
laid the foundation of my love for books and pictures. 

Patiently he turned over the pages of Homer and Virgil in 
the translations of Pope and Dryden, and of Milton's poems, 
and explained the pictures, until I was familiar with the stories 
of Troy and Latium of heaven and of hell, as poets tell 
them. Nor was history strange to me, especially that of Rome. 
Thus was commenced a love of reading which has been my 
blessing. My friend's library was small, but, as I now know, 
well chosen. Besides the books I have mentioned, and many 
others, it contained the Universal History, condemned by 
Warburton and praised by Gibbon. 

I should not do justice to my early friend if I did not notice 
peculiarities in his conduct and household, probably little 
thought of by me at the time, but making their due impression. 
His was the only house where slavery did not exist. His ser- 
vants alone in the place were white. An elderly woman and 
a sturdy youth composed the establishment. The first kept 
all within as neat as herself, the second was gardener, hostler 
and general out-door minister and he sawed wood for the 


fires at every other house the axe was used for cutting. I 
never remember to have seen the old gentleman within any 
house but his own, nor had he visitors except on business, for 
he was an agent for the lands of the original proprietors of 
the province. He read the Bible, but he never went to church. 

That event by which I, in common with the world, have 
gained so much, the rebellion of 1775, was the cause of my 
losing this my earliest companion and friend. He retired to 
Bethlehem, in Pennsylvania, and there died about five years 
after. I followed him towards the Raritan on which he was 
to embark, and lingered until he desired me to return home. 
I was then nine years of age, and my friend perhaps seventy. 
For years I saw him vividly in my dreams, and awoke, like 
Caliban, with the disposition to weep for a renewal of my 
dreams. Mr. Bartow retired from the approach of scenes in 
which age prohibited his becoming an actor. 

Among the earliest pictures that I remember were some on 
oilcloth, without frames, representing huntsmen, horses and 
dogs. They made a deep impression on me, and I recollect 
them still with pleasure. This must have been in 1772, or 
earlier; and when I saw Heard's hounds from Woodbridge 
enter Amboy, surrounding the black huntsman with his scarlet 
coat, black jockey cap and gold tassel, broad leather belt and 
hunting horn, he appeared to me a most dignified and venerable 

The records of the time will show the date, probably 1774,. 
at which the 47th regiment was removed from Perth Amboy 
to New York and thence to Boston, to be cut up by Prescott 
and the Yankees at Bunker's Hill. It was after that removal 
that my father took me with him in the small packet sloop, 
which was the mode of communication, on the summer day's 
voyage to New York. The first visit to the great city was of 
course all wonder to me. I remember that preparations for 
hostilities were making. Horsemen's helmets, swords and 
belts, with other equipments, were displayed at the shop doors 
and windows. In a walk taken with my father out of town, on 
the new road, he was attracted by preparations for supplying 


the city with water from the Collect or fresh-water pond (a 
project of good old Christopher Collis); and entering among 
some mounds of earth on the east of the road, and where Frank- 
lin Street now is, we saw a company of gentlemen practising, 
with an instructor, the small-sword salute. 

I learned my letters of the schoolmistress was then turned 
over to Master M'Norton and learned to spell, perhaps read 
commenced more regular instruction with an English gentle- 
man; read " Anson's Voyage," and had the mysteries of gram- 
mar put in my hand; but they went no further. The British 
troops appeared on Staten Island, opposite Amboy the militia 
of the villages poured into the place half armed and unarmed 
Doctor Franklin and others met the English commissioners 
at Billop's house on Staten Island my father removed his 
family to Piscatawa, on the banks of the Raritan, and from 
1775 to 1777, when he removed to New York, I heard not the 
word school. The summer of 1776 was passed at Piscatawa, 
in a retired spot, about a mile from the village and post road. 
The lessons of my friend Bartow were now useful to me; I read 
Pope's Homer, which I found in my father's house, and other 
books I borrowed from a gentleman who resided two miles up 
the river. I read Shakespeare, certainly without understand- 
ing all I read. My father gave me lessons in writing and arith- 
metic, but my time was principally occupied in swimming and 
fishing in the creeks of the Raritan, rambling the fields and 
woods sailing boats on a millpond visiting the miller 
and in short in the delights of liberty and idleness no, not 
idleness, for this was as busy a summer as I remember. The 
Declaration of Independence caused a sensation which I 
distinctly remember, but my sports and rambles had more 
interest for me. 

The English troops marched through Piscatawa without 
opposition, and plundered the houses. I witnessed this scene. 
The men of the village had retired on the approach of the 
enemy. Some women and children were left. I heard their 
lamentations as the soldiers carried off their furniture, scattered 
the feathers of beds to the winds, and piled up looking-glasses, 


with frying-pans in the same heap, by the roadside. The 
soldier would place a female camp follower as a guard upon 
the spoil, while he returned to add to the treasure. Perth 
Amboy being now in the possession of the British, my father 
returned with his family to his house, and I saw hi my native 
town, particularly after the affairs of Princeton and Trenton, 
all the varieties and abominations of a crowded camp and 
garrison. An army who had so recently passed in triumph 
from the sea to the banks of the Delaware, and chosen their 
winter quarters at their pleasure, were now driven in and 
crowded upon a point of land washed by the Atlantic, and 
defended by the guns of the ships which had borne them to the 
shore as the chastisers of rebellion. 

I have elsewhere compared the scenes I now witnessed to 
the dramatic scenes of Wpllenstein's " Lager." Here were cen- 
tered in addition to those cantoned at the place, all those 
drawn in from the "Delaware," "Princeton" and "Brunswick"; 
and the flower and pick of the army, English, Scotch and Ger- 
man, who had at this time been brought in from Rhode Island. 
Here was to be seen a party of the 42d Highlanders, in national 
costume, and there a regiment of Hessians, their dress and 
arms a perfect contrast to the first. The slaves of Anspach 
and Waldeck were there the first sombre as night, the 
second gaudy as noon. Here dashed by a party of the 17th 
Dragoons, and there scampered a party of Yagers. The trim, 
neat and graceful English grenadier, the careless and half 
savage Highlander, with his flowing robes and naked knees, 
and the immovably stiff German, could hardly be taken for 
parts of one army. Here might be seen soldiers driving in 
cattle, and others guarding wagons loaded with household 
furniture, instead of the hay and oats they had been sent for. 

The landing of the grenadiers and light infantry from the 
ships which transported the troops from Rhode Island; their 
proud march into the hostile neighborhood, to gather the 
produce of the farmer for the garrison; the sound of the mus- 
ketry, which soon rolled back upon us; the return of the 
disabled veterans, who could retrace their steps; and the 


heavy march of the discomfited troops, with their wagons of 
groaning wounded, in the evening, are all impressed on my 
mind as pictures of the evils and the soul-stirring scenes of 

These lessons, and others more disgusting the flogging 
of English heroes, and thumping and caning of German; 
the brutal licentiousness, which even my tender years could 
not avoid seeing in all around, and the increased disorders 
among my father's negroes, from mingling with the servants 
of officers, were my sources of instruction in the winter of 
1776-7. In the spring of 1777 my father removed to New 
York. Perhaps it was at this time of removal that many 
things which I should now highly value were lost. It is to me 
incomprehensible, that books and other articles, which are 
remembered as being in existence at a distant time, vanish, 
and leave no trace behind them. I used to play with my father's 
sword, gorget and sash; when they disappeared, I know not. 
Of books, I remember a work from the French, called "La 
Belle Assemblee," "Bartram Montfichet," an imitation of 
Tristram Shandy, the "Fortunate Country Maid," the "Fool 
of Quality," a great favorite; the two spirits, one good and 
one evil, united hi the same body, made a lasting impression 
on me; and although I know the idea is not original with 
Brooke, I cannot but admire him for the use he made of it; 
"Sir Launcelot Greaves," a "Life of Swift," and others; but I 
most regret a small volume, in a black leather cover, and 
printed in old English characters, giving an account of the 
sufferings of Elizabeth under the tyranny of her sister Mary. 
These and many more would give me delight to see now. 
Some very valuable books remain with me to this time Pope's 
Homer, Taylor's "Life of Christ," folio edition, with plates, 
which afterwards served for me to copy in Indian ink, " Anson's 
Voyage," Butler's "Hudibras," with plates by Hogarth, and a 
few others, in possession of the family at that time. But the 
mystery is how these things vanish from the possession of an 
orderly family. 
([In New York I was sent to Latin school, and Mr. Leslie 


heard me say the grammar by rote; but I was removed from 
him, I know not why, and attended an English school, where, 
with a good old Quaker, I might have acquired a common edu- 
cation, but another and a final interruption to my school 
instruction occurred. Andrew Elliot, Esq., at this time resided 
at his country seat, on the New Road, in a mansion long after 
known as the "Sailor's Snug Harbor." It had so happened 
that at the time my friend Bartow left Amboy, Elliot removed 
his family to that place, to await the movements of the British 
army, and on their taking possession of New York, returned 
home again. While at Amboy, his boys became my playmates, 
and the intimacy was renewed under the banner of Great 
Britain. In June, 1778, by invitation, I dined with his large 
family of youngsters, and in the afternoon we all engaged in 
throwing chips of wood at each other in the wood yard. In 
this sport my right eye was cut longitudinally, by a heavier 
piece of firewood than was in the general use of the combatants, 
and, deprived of its use, I was led into the house, accompanied 
by all my affrighted associates. A carriage was prepared, 
and I was delivered to my distressed parents. After many 
weeks of confinement to my bed, and more to the house, I 
slowly regained health; but never the sight of the organ. By 
degrees I recovered the full use of the remaining eye, but the 
accident prevented all further regular schooling. 

Books and pictures became the companions of my leisure, 
and I had as much time to bestow on them as I pleased. I 
had acquired the use of Indian ink, and became attached to 
copying prints. I was encouraged by admiration good en- 
gravings were lent to me, and by degrees my copies might 
almost pass for the original prints. My eye became satisfied 
with light and shadow, and the excitement of color was not 
necessary to my pleasure; indeed, I believe that either from 
nature or the above accident, I did not possess a painter's eye 
for color; but I was now devoted to painting as a profession, 
and I did not suspect any deficiency. 

Seeing that I aspired to be a painter, and talked of West 
and Copley, and read books on the art, my father looked out 


for an instructor for me. Mr. Ramage, the miniature painter, 
was in reality the only artist in New York, but he was full of 
employment and declined teaching. 

A painter of the name of De Launy lived in Maiden Lane, 
and certainly had no inconsiderable knowledge of colors and 
the mechanical part of the art. He said he had visited London 
and been instructed by Mr. West, and he showed a picture 
copied from West, of Cupid stung by a bee, and complaining 
to his mother: he had in his house a family picture of himself, 
wife and children whether completed or not, I do not 
remember the heads were all turned one way, and the 
shadowed side relieved by dim spots of light in the background ; 
and yet my memory tells me that the faces were cleverly 
painted. Mr. De Launy 's occupation, at this time, was sign 
painting, and his poverty did not tempt to become a painter, 
yet I believe that he might have taught me much of the man- 
agement of oil colors, and by so doing have materially altered 
my course when I went to England. Why he was not employed 
to teach me I do not know. His manners were not prepossess- 
ing, though mild; I can remember that I had not confidence 
in his pretension, at that time, though since confirmed. 

The next in degree was William Williams, he undertook 
the task; I went to his rooms in the suburbs, now Mott Street, 
and he placed a drawing book before me, such as I had pos- 
sessed for years: after a few visits the teacher was not to 
be found. I examined his portraits tried his crayons, and 
soon procuring a set, commenced painting portraits, beginning 
with my father's. From painting my relations I proceeded to 
painting my young companions, and, having applications from 
strangers, I fixed my price at three guineas a head. I thus com- 
menced portrait painter in the year 1782, by no means looking 
to it for subsistence, but living as the only and indulged child 
of my parents, with them, and doing as it seemed best unto 
me. Thus passed life to the age of seventeen. I was now at 
the period of full animal enjoyment the world was a wilder- 
ness of roses; still, although all was delight, I longed for change. 
Books did not at that period attract me as they had done. I 



From the collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art 


gained an imperfect knowledge of French. I had no check on 
my wishes, but I longed to leave home. Six years I had been 
shut up in a garrison town, and that added to the common 
desire every youth feels for roving. 

I was released by the preliminary treaty of peace, and in the 
summer of 1783 returned to the place of my nativity for a 
few days. I visited other portions of my native State, now no 
longer a dependent province. I passed some time at Princeton 
and Rocky Hill. I mingled with the defenders of the country 
who had followed Washington at Trenton and Princeton. I 
visited Philadelphia for the first time. I saw and admired 
Peale's gallery of pictures, for then I admired everything. 
After a few days I returned to Rocky Hill, and soon after to 
New York. I was again indulged with an excursion to Prince- 
ton and Rocky Hill, in the autumn of the same year, when both 
places had become of importance, the first by the presence of 
Congress, the second as the headquarters of their general. I 
was now introduced to men and scenes which would have 
been interesting at any period of life, but which to a boy on 
the verge of manhood, and assuming to be man, one new to 
the world, and to whom the world was dressed in rainbow 
colors, were calculated to make impressions, which, at the dis- 
tance of half a century, are like the glowing pictures of the 
artificial camera obscura, when every object is illuminated by a 
summer's sun. 

Congress had left Philadelphia in consequence of mutinous 
symptoms in the Pennsylvania troops. The triumphant rulers 
of the republic held their sittings in Princeton College, and 
their triumphant general occupied the house of Mr. Berrian, 
at Rocky Hill, a short walk from the rustic mansion of Mr. 
John Van Home, whose guest I was. 

Before I left Princeton for Rocky Hill, I saw, for the first 
time, the man of whom all men spoke whom all wished to 
see. It was accidental. It was a picture. No painter could 
have grouped a company of military horsemen better, or 
selected a background better suited for effect. As I walked 
on the road leading from Princeton to Trenton, alone, for I 


ever loved solitary rambles, ascending a hill suddenly appeared 
a brilliant troop of cavaliers, mounting and gaining the summit 
in my front. The clear autumnal sky behind them equally 
relieved the dark blue uniforms, the buff facings, and glittering 
military appendages. All were gallantly mounted all were 
tall and graceful, but one towered above the rest, and I doubted 
not an instant that I saw the beloved hero. I lifted my hat as 
I saw that his eye was turned to me, and instantly every hat 
was raised and every eye was fixed on me. They passed on, 
and I turned and gazed as at a passing vision. I had seen him. 
Although all my life used to the "pride, pomp and circum- 
stance of glorious war" to the gay and gallant Englishman, 
the tartan'd Scot, and the embroidered German of every mili- 
tary grade, I still think the old blue and buff of Washington 
and his aids, their cocked hats worn sidelong, with the union 
cockade, their whole equipment as seen at that moment, was 
the most martial of anything I ever saw. 

A few days after this incident I took up my abode at Mr. 
John Van Home's, by invitation, within a short distance of 
the headquarters of the commander-in-chief. He frequently 
called, when returning from his ride, and passed an hour with 
Mrs. Van Home and the ladies of the family, or with the 
farmer, if at home. I was of course introduced to him. I had 
brought with me materials for crayon painting, and com- 
menced the portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Van Home; these were 
admired far beyond their merits, and shown to all visitors. I 
had with me a flute and some music books. One morning as I 
copied notes and tried them, the general and his suite passed 
through the hall, and I heard him say, "The love of music 
and painting are frequently found united in the same person." 
The remark is commonplace, but it was delightful to me at 
the time. 

The assertion that this great man never laughed must have 
arisen from his habitual, perhaps his natural reservedness. 
He had from early youth been conversant with public men and 
employed in public affairs in affairs of life and death. He 
was not an austere man either in appearance or manners, but 


was unaffectedly dignified and habitually polite. But I re- 
member, during my opportunity of observing his deportment, 
two instances of unrestrained laughter. The first and most 
moderate was at a bon mot, or anecdote, from Judge Peters, 
then a member of Congress, and dining with the general; the 
second was on witnessing a scene in front of Mr. Van Home's 
house, which was, as I recollect it, sufficiently laugh-provoking. 
Mr. John Van Home was a man of uncommon size and strength 
and bulky withal. His hospitable board required, that day, 
as it often did, a roasting pig in addition to the many other 
substantial dishes which a succession of guests, civil and mili- 
tary, put in requisition. A black boy had been ordered to catch 
the young porker, and was in full but unavailing chase, when 
the master and myself arrived from a walk. "Pooh! you 
awkward cur," said the good-natured yeoman, as he directed 
Cato or Plato (for all the slaves were heathen philosophers in 
those days) to exert his limbs but all in vain the pig did 
not choose to be cooked. "Stand away," said Van Home, 
and throwing off his coat and hat he undertook the chase, de- 
termined to run down the pig. His guests and his negroes 
stood laughing at his exertions and the pig's manifold escapes. 
Shouts and laughter at length proclaimed the success of the 
chasseur, and while he held the pig up in triumph, the big 
drops coursing each other from forehead to chin, over his 
mahogany face, glowing with the effect of exercise, amidst 
the squealing of the victim, the stentorian voice of Van Home 
was heard, "I'll show ye how to run down a pig!" and, as he 
spoke, he looked up in the face of Washington, who, with his 
suite, had trotted their horses into the courtyard unheard 
amidst the din of the chase and the shouts of triumphant suc- 
cess. The ludicrous expression of surprise at being so caught, 
with his attempts to speak to his heroic visitor, while the pig 
redoubled his efforts to escape by kicking and squeaking, 
produced as hearty a burst of laughter from the dignified 
Washington as any that shook the sides of the most vulgar 
spectator of the scene. 

But to return to the young painter. The portraits of Mr. 


and Mrs. Van Home elicited praise, and I was delighted by 
the approbation of General Washington doubtless the mere 
wish to encourage youth. My friend Van Home requested 
him to sit to me and he complied. This was a triumphant 
moment for a boy of seventeen; and it must be remembered 
that Washington had not then been "hackneyed to the touches 
of painter's pencil" (see his letter to Francis Hopkinson in 
Pine's life in this work), I say a triumphant moment, but 
it was one of anxiety, fear and trembling. 

My visits were now frequent to headquarters. The only 
military in the neighborhood were the general's suite and a 
captain's guard, whose tents were on the green before the 
Berrian house, and the captain's marquee nearly in front. The 
soldiers were New England yeomen's sons, none older than 
twenty; their commander was Captain Howe, in after times 
long a resident of New York. I was astonished when the 
simple Yankee sentinels, deceived by my fine clothes, saluted 
me as I passed daily to and fro; but Captain Howe's praise 
of my portrait of the general appeared to me as a thing of 
course, though surely he was as much deceived as his soldiers. 
I was quite at home in every respect at headquarters; to 
breakfast and dine day after day with the General and Mrs. 
Washington, and members of Congress, and noticed as the 
young painter, was delicious. The general's portrait led to the 
sitting of the lady. I made what were thought likenesses, and 
presented them to Mr. and Mrs. Van Home, taking copies for 

Mr. Joseph Wright, son of the celebrated Mrs. Patience 
Wright, and a pupil of Mr. West's as a painter, arrived at head- 
quarters from Paris, bearing letters from Dr. Franklin, which 
entitled him to sittings from the General and Mrs. Washington. 
I thought at the time these portraits were very like. 

The time for returning home arrived. I took leave of my 
friends at Rocky Hill, and soon after saw Washington enter 
New York with two or three regiments, and attended by the 
citizens on horseback and on foot, who went out to meet him 
and accompany his triumphal entry; while the English fleet 


slowly sailed from the no longer hostile harbor. This was 
the ever memorable 25th of November, 1783. It had now been 
decided that I should go to London in the spring, and the 
winter was passed in painting and in making preparations for 
the voyage. 

My first portrait in oil was made for the assistance of a sign 
painter, probably in the year 1782. De Launy had undertaken 
to paint a head of Sir Samuel Hood, one of the lions of that 
day, and found himself puzzled to make a likeness that the 
sailors would acknowledge. In this dilemma the artist came to 
me. I took his palette, and with a bold brush dashed in the 
red face and hair, long nose, and little grey eyes of the naval 
hero. The sign swung amidst the acclamations of the jack 
tars. A more inveterate likeness did not exist in Charles Sur- 
face's collection, and yet I have recognized my first oil portrait, 
somewhat improved, in the British portrait gallery, under the 
title of Lord Hood. 

Now, in preparation for my departure, with a palette pre- 
sented to me by a lady, and such oil colors as my friend De Launy 
could furnish, I painted my second oil picture, a full-length 
figure of Washington. The canvas was prepared by myself; 
and was suspended by cords, but without stretching frame. 
I placed my hero on the field of battle at Princeton. I did 
not take the liberty to throw off his hat, or omit the black 
and white cockade; but in full uniform, booted and spurred, 
he stood most heroically alone for the figures in the back- 
ground I had thrown to a most convenient distance. There 
was General Mercer, dying in precisely the same attitude that 
West had adopted for Wolfe two authors may think alike 
a few soldiers, with a great deal of smoke, completed the 

The education which prepared me for entering the laby- 
rinth of London, alone and unguided, at the age of eighteen, 
ought to be before the reader. The winter previous to my 
voyage I had attended an evening school for French, and 
gained a superficial knowledge of the language: and, from 
the dancing school of William Hulet, who, with his sons, ac- 


complished several generations of New Yorkers, I carried the 
reputation of one learned in that valuable mystery it was 
more than my French master could say for my grammar. 

Another branch of my education will throw further light 
on my fitness for self-government in London. I had been in- 
troduced to the billiard tables of New York, not as a gambler, 
but an idler, and of course profited by the company I found at 
such places. During the winter previous to my departure my 
evenings were divided between a billiard room on Crane Wharf 
and sleigh rides out of town, with cards and dancing. 

The May of 1784 arrived, and on the 4th I embarked in 
the good ship " Betsy," Thomas Watson commander; taking 
with me my copy from the print of the youth rescued from 
the shark, and my great picture of Washington at Princeton, 
as my credentials to Benjamin West, who had consented to 
receive me. I had, previously to the shark picture, made a 
copy of the "Death of Wolfe," in Indian ink, of the size of 
Woolett's engraving, which would certainly have been the more 
acceptable specimen to have carried to the author of the 
original; but I had, in the simplicity of my heart, preferred the 
copy from Copley, because I had done it better. 

To cross the Atlantic was not, in 1784, as now, an everyday 
business, and performed by everybody. Heretofore, going 
from America to England was called going home that time 
had nearly passed away but I did not feel that I was going 
to a land of strangers. We entered the Thames about the 
middle of June, and anchored off Gravesend, at which place I 
first touched European ground. At Tower Hill, the next day, 
I entered London. Having procured London-made clothes, 
and sent forward my recommendatory pictures, Capt. Effing- 
ham Lawrence, my father's friend, and an American, accom- 
panied me to Newman Street, and guided me through a long 
gallery hung with sketches and designs and then through 
a lofty antechamber, filled with gigantic paintings, to the inner 
painting room of the artist ; where he sat at work upon an easel 
picture for the Empress of Russia. It was the beautiful com- 
position of Lear and Cordelia. 


The painter received his friend Lawrence cordially. The 
sea captain and the artist were both Quakers by birth and early 
education, and both had abandoned the language, manners, 
and costume of the sect; and the powdered hair, side curls, 
and silk stockings of that day gave no indications of Quakerism. 
After my first introduction, Mr. West led us back to the room 
we had passed through, and where my specimens were de- 
posited. He first examined the drawing in Indian ink. I 
stood on trial, and awaited sentence. "This is very well." 
I felt that all was safe. "But it only indicates a talent for 
engraving." I sunk from summer heat to freezing point. 
My friend seized the painting and unrolled it on the floor. 
The artist smiled the thermometer rose. "This shows some 
talent for composition." He appeared pleased; and looking 
at the distant figures, smiled to see an awkward imitation of 
his own General Wolfe, dressed in blue, to represent the death 
of General Mercer; and the Yankees playing the part of the 
British grenadiers, and driving redcoats before them. I was 
encouraged. My friend was directed to No. 84, Charlotte 
Street, Rathbone Place, where rooms had been engaged for 
me. Mr. West offered his casts for my practice when I should 
be ready to draw. Before leaving the house of the great 
painter, it may be supposed that I gazed, with all the wonder 
of ignorance and the enthusiasm of youth, upon the paintings 
then in the rooms, which were many of them for the King's 
Chapel, Windsor. The one most impressive was "Moses re- 
ceiving the Law." 

I was now left master of my own actions, and of two rooms 
in the house of Robert Davy, Esq. I was put in possession of 
a painting room on the first floor, or second story, and a fur- 
nished bed-chamber immediately over it: and for these, and 
for my board, fire, etc., I was to pay a guinea a week. 
After seeing the lions of the Tower, and of other parts of Lon- 
don, I sat down to draw in black and white chalks from the 
bust of Cicero; and having mastered that, in every point of 
view, I drew from the Fighting Gladiator (so called), and 
my drawing gained me permission to enter the Academy at 


Somerset House. I know not why perhaps, because I was 
too timid to ask Mr. West to introduce me, or too bashful 
and awkward to introduce myself; but I never made use of 
the permission. 

I had an awe of distinguished men that caused many weak- 
nesses in my conduct; a bashfulness that required encouraging, 
at the same time that I was first of the boldest among my com- 
panions but so it was; I went with my portfolio, port-crayon, 
chalks and paper, and delivered them to the porter, made 
some excuse for not going in, and walked off; I never entered 
the school or saw my portfolio again. 

This monomania (it was little less) was encouraged by the 
consciousness of the deficiency of my education and knowl- 
edge upon all subjects. 

The drawings above mentioned, and a few pictures in oil, 
executed under the direction of Mr. Davy, who taught me to 
set a palette as he had been taught in Rome, were all the 
records that remained of my exertions to become a painter, 
which the year 1784 produced. 

Wright Post, a youth of New York, born on the same day 
with myself, had been sent to study surgery with the then cele- 
brated Sheldon. Post attended to his studies assiduously, but 
found leisure to join me in my idleness. With him and other 
young men, this invaluable portion of my life was worse than 
wasted. The next summer Mr. West and family were at Wind- 
sor. Mr. Davy and his family hi Devonshire. And when my 
companion, Post, was not with me on some party of pleasure 
he supped with me at Charlotte Street, where I was willing 
at my own charge to make up in the evening for the eternal 
mutton of my landlord's dinner table. 

At the time I left my portfolio at Somerset House (a wet 
autumnal evening), I suffered from what terminated in an 
abscess, and confined me to my bed or bed-chamber during the 
winter. Post was my physician, and passed much of his time 
in my company, as did my townsman Andrew Smyth, and 
Raphael West. Sheldon at length attended to me at the request 
of his pupil and not too soon. Health at length returned, and 


in May I attended the first exhibition I had seen at Somerset 
House. Thus passed a year in London lost to all improve- 
ment except what I have above mentioned, and some desultory 
reading during my illness. 

In the summer of 1785 I copied Mr. West's picture of 
"The Choice of Hercules," and painted a few portraits of my 
friends. The return of health brought an overflow of animal 
spirits. The theatres Vauxhall parties on foot to Rich- 
mond Hill and on horseback to Windsor, and every dissipation 
suggested by my companions or myself, were eagerly entered 
into. I look back with astonishment at the activity of my idle- 
ness, and the thoughtlessness of consequences with which I 
acted. The number of my companions increased, and the long 
absence from home of the father of one of them, afforded an 
opportunity to the son, left master of the house (which had 
no mistress), to assemble us for mirth and midnight revelry. 
Raphael West came in for his share of this, and his derelictions 
were probably scored up to my account where nothing appeared 
on the credit side. 

Every source of information was neglected. I thought only 
of the present, and that was full of delight to my empty mind. 
I seldom saw Mr. West except when invited to dine, which was 
generally when he had Americans recently arrived at his 
table. He saw no proofs of my industry, and heard no good 
reports from Mr. Davy. I was often with Raphael, his son, 
who painted a very little played on the fiddle or hautboy a 
great deal, and amused himself in the room sometimes occu- 
pied by Trumbull, at the commencement of the gallery. My 
visits were of little advantage to myself, and none to my friend 
Rafe. Ben, Mr. West's second son, was at school. Trumbull 
was awfully above me and my companion, and I only acci- 
dentally met him; sometimes in the small painting room above 
noticed, and sometimes in the rooms beyond the gallery or 
Mr. West's rooms, where I first saw the beautiful pictures of 
the Battle of Bunker's Hill and Death of Montgomery. I 
received neither advice nor instruction from him. 

It was probably during this summer of 1785 that I received 


one of the few lessons which I put myself in the way of receiv- 
ing from my ostensible master. I presume that I carried 
something for his inspection which I had painted. I would 
willingly think so; and probably he found it deficient in keep- 
ing. My monomania prevented me from asking questions. 
He was at work in the room where I had first seen him, and 
his subject at this time was a landscape; a scene in Windsor 
Forest, with the figures of the king and his suite on horseback 
hunting in the distance, and a frightened sow and pigs near 
the foreground. He elucidated the doctrine of light and shadow 
by drawing a circle on an unoccupied canvas, and touching 
in the light with white chalk, the shadow by black, and leaving 
the cloth for the half -tint and reflexes. He then pointed to a 
head in the room to show that this theory was there in practice, 
and turning to the landscape said, that even the masses of 
foliage on the oak tree there represented were painted on the 
same principle. All this has long been familiar to every artist, 
and that this lesson was thought necessary is perhaps a proof 
of the little progress I had made in the rudiments of the art 
I professed to study. Yet I had a better eye for form than for 
color. I was discouraged by finding that I did not perceive the 
beauty or the effect of colors as others appeared to do. Whether 
this was a natural defect, or connected with the loss of the 
sight of an eye, I cannot determine. 

The return of full health to a youth of nineteen may be said 
to come as a torrent of delight, without using the language of 
figures which poetry deals in. It was in my case absolutely 
intoxicating, and brought with it no particle of the precious 
wisdom which experience might be supposed to mingle in the 
stream. The enjoyment of the present was never interrupted 
by the remembrance of the past or anticipation of the future. 
How the blessing of health which I every day exposed was 
preserved, I know not certainly by no prudence on my 

It has been said that the contemplation of the solar system 
and the infinite multitude of stars beyond, each of which is the 
centre of a similar system having its planets revolving around 


it, filled with myriads of intelligent beings and the whole 
revolving around one centre, gives the clearest notion of God 
that our limited faculties can conceive; the creator, upholder, 
director and ultimate perfecter of the whole; but perhaps if we 
turn our observation within and contemplate the wonderful 
machine, man the adaptation of the parts to the whole 
the connection of mind and matter the incomprehensibility 
of the spirit which we feel, yet cannot obtain a definite knowl- 
edge of perhaps, if we study man, a mere atom in the uni- 
verse, we shall come to the same result; a knowledge of God 
strengthening the previously attained notions of his infinite 
goodness; but certainly the contemplation of both must lead 
to a confirmation of that religion which teaches love to God 
and to our neighbor. Yet how difficult has been the attain- 
ment of this knowledge and how prone has man been to forget 
his Creator, or to turn the religion of love into the idolatry of 

Reader, this is not without connection with the subject be- 
fore us. The uneducated youth is as blind as the savage: he 
sees in the wonders which surround him no more than the 
idolater sees of God. So to me the wonders of art with which I 
was surrounded communicated no instruction, because of the 
lack of previous education. If I caught a glimpse of their 
perfections, it was only to fill me with dismay. 

Many a day was wasted in walking to the New York Coffee 
House, near the Royal Exchange, under pretence of looking 
for letters from home. The mornfng lounged away, I dined 
at the Cock eating house, where the master with a white apron 
waited upon me to know if all was satisfactory, and then (the 
business of the day over), rolled away in his coach to his 
country seat. Dining and port wine over, there was "no use 
in going home," the theatres stood midway; and when the 
play was over, I might rest from a lost day, and not dream that 
I had been doing wrong or neglecting right. Many a day was 
spent in pedestrian expeditions to Richmond Hill, Hampton 
Court and Greenwich; or in rides to more distant places around 
the metropolis. Sometimes it was an excuse that pictures 


were to be seen but I looked upon pictures without the 
necessary knowledge that would have made them instructive. 

Captain Lawrence and Mr. West, it appears, did not feel 
themselves authorized to control and advise me; and my con- 
nection with these worthy men became merely that of occa- 
sional visits, and frequent invitations to then* tables. I 
prevailed on Lawrence to permit me to paint a group of his 
beautiful boys, but I undertook more than I could accomplish 
it was never finished. 

After being two years with Mr. Davy, I, with the thought- 
lessness which characterized my actions, left Charlotte Street, 
Rathbone Place, without consulting Mr. West, and removed to 
a furnished first floor in Broad Street, Soho. Davy was not 
backward in communicating my change to West, and I pre- 
sume, in assigning motives unfavorable. West recommended 
the apartment I abandoned to Fulton. My new establishment 
was elegant, and increased my expenses. I breakfasted in the 
house and for dinner, made one of a mess, principally half -pay 
officers, who had served in America. This eating and drinking 
club was established at a porter house in Oxford Street. The 
man's name was Ensworth, and by adding a letter, an eccentric 
old gentleman, who occasionally visited the place, designated 
the house end's worth. He was a humorist, and used some- 
times to amuse the young men by a pretence of telling their 
fortunes or giving oracular advice from his interpretation of 
the individual's name. The landlord's name, he would say, 
was a warning to all not to visit his house or any one similar. 
The places where character, fortune, and worth must end. 
"And what is your name, sir?" "Dunlap." "Very well, sir, 
take warning; Done cease stop forbear that is the 
first part. Lap a mode of drinking cease drinking." 
And thus more or less happily he would proceed through the 

During this period of my life had I any character? I was 
a favorite with my companions I was always full of life and 
gaiety; and moved by a desire to please. I was by them sup- 
posed to possess humor or wit. I had some little knowledge of 


music, and could sing to satisfy my associates; but I did noth- 
ing to satisfy the man who had it in his power to serve me. 
My follies and my faults were reported, and exaggerated to 
Mr. West, and as he saw no appearances of the better self, 
which resided in me (for there was a better self), he left me to 
my fate. 

The members of the mess agreed to pay Ensworth one shil- 
ling, cash, for each dinner at which they were present. A 
course of meat was followed by a dessert of pudding or pies, 
and each man was allowed a pint of porter as table drink. 
However, scarcely a day passed but brandy punch followed the 
dessert, and sometimes wine. Those who know what the mess 
room of officers generally is, may suppose that the warning 
of the old man "cease drinking," might sometimes be of 

At my new establishment I painted several portraits and 
composed some historical pieces, one of which I will mention 
(the only one which attained something like finish), the subject 
was from Hoole's Ariosto. I had attempted to represent Ferau 
gazing with horror upon the ghost, who rises from the water 
with the helmet in his right hand, and points to it with his 
left. Lieutenant Spencer, of the Queen's Rangers (one of our 
mess), had been my model, and stood for Ferau, and a very 
fine figure he was; but Spencer had attempted to figure on the 
stage, had failed, and his attitude was strained his expression 
exaggerated (as might be expected from a bad actor), and my 
Ferau partook of his faults more than his beauty. The steel 
armor of Ferau had received a touch from my friend Raphael 
West. The ghost I had studied from the looking-glass. When 
I showed this picture to Mr. West, I unexpectedly heard him 
say to one present, "That figure is very good," and turning 
towards him, was upon the point of saying, "Rafe helped 
me with the armor," when to my surprise I found that he 
pointed to the ghost, for which I had been my own model. 
On this same occasion I showed the great painter a portrait I 
had painted. It was freely touched, well colored, and full of 
expression better than anything I had done by far. He gave 


it due praise, but observed, "You have made the two sides of 
the figure alike each has the same sweeping swell he looks 
like a rolling pin." I might have said truly that it was char- 
acteristic but I took the lesson in silence, and made no 
defence, although I knew that my subject was in fact "like a 
rolling pin." Silence, in this instance, may have been com- 
mendable; but my habit of silence, in presence of those whom 
I considered my superiors, was very detrimental to me. The 
person who asks for information gains it. The questioner may 
be at times irksome, but that is for want of tact. He should 
be a judicious questioner and a good listener. I stood in the 
presence of the artist and wondered at his skill, but I stood 
silent, abashed, hesitating and withdrew unenlightened; 
discouraged by the consciousness of ignorance and the mono- 
maniacal want of courage to elicit the information I eagerly 
desired. Let every student be apprised that those who can 
best inform him, are most willing to do so. 



AMONG the collections of paintings which I have said I 
visited with little or no improvement, was that at Burleigh 
House, near Stamford, in Lincolnshire. I had an acquaint- 
ance engaged in mercantile business of the name of Linton, 
a man older than myself, attached to me for qualities compati- 
ble with my thoughtless career (though himself a man of 
thought) perhaps for inexhaustible good spirits, frankness 
and unweariable cheerfulness. His father had been a clergy- 
man of Stamford, and his widowed mother, with two sisters, 
resided there. He was about to visit them and proposed that 
I should accompany him. It suited me exactly. Each with 
a small trifle of baggage proceeded to the stagecoach, and on 
being told that it was full, mounted to the top (although it 
was to be a night ride), and with the guard, armed at all 
points, for our companion de voyage, dashed off on the road 
for Scotland. We arrived shortly after daylight at Stamford, 
and were received with all the warmth belonging to the Eng- 
lish character in that respectable class of English society to 
which my friend belonged he, as the only son and brother, 
and I, as his friend. We soon saw the lions of the place, and 
I found that I was a lion. The next day was Sunday, and my 
friend said, "It is already buzzed abroad that I have brought 
down an American with me, and when we go to church, the 
people will expect to see a black or a copper-colored Indian at 
least; I was, at that time, as fair as West was when Cardinal 
Albani asked if the young American was as fair as he, an old 
olive-colored Italian, was. We went to church, and I presume 
the good folks thought it was an impudent attempt at imposi- 
tion to pass me off for an American. How could it be otherwise 
with those who had been taught by the most sanctioned jour- 



nals of their country, that "an American's first plaything is a 
rattlesnake's tail?" 

We staid a few delightful days at Stamford. I saw the 
pictures at the castle Madonnas and Bambinos, and Magda- 
lens, and Crucifixions, but I believe all did not advance me 
one step in my profession. 

My view of the collection of painting at Blenheim House 
was seen in company of my friend Samuel Latham Mitchill, 
who, having returned from Edinburgh an M.D., proposed a 
visit to Oxford and its neighborhood. On this occasion I took 
with me a blank book and kept a journal which I still possess, 
and which is somewhat of a curiosity. One of the most inter- 
esting anecdotes of this pedestrian tour I published in a former 
work, from memory, the journal being at the time lost. I 
will give some extracts from this manuscript: 

"After securing a passage for our trunk in the stage for 
Friday, Doctor Mitchill and myself commenced our foot ex- 
pedition on Thursday morning, November 16th, 1786, at 
eleven o'clock; and proceeding on our way, passed Kensington 
Gravel Pits, and stopped at Norcoat to refresh ourselves with 
a glass of ale." I will remark, that we set out in the rain, with 
great coats on and boots, and often literally waded through 
the mud. 

On the 17th, before breakfast, we pursued our walk through 
rain and mud, and rested at Stoken Church. The next day 
we had an adventure, which I always considered remarkable, 
in the chapter of accidents. "We had not proceeded many 
miles, when an aged man attracted our attention. He carried 
nought but a staff: his garments were wretchedly tattered: his 
shoes worn out, and falling from his feet, seemed, like then* 
owner, to have suffered much from the ravages of time, but 
more from hard service. He did not address us at meeting; 
Mitchill, the interrogator, stopped him. After the usual salu- 
tation we began our inquiries; and he told us that he was a 
soldier, returning from Shropshire to London, for some papers 
he had lost, which entitled him to seven pounds a year, the 
reward of his faithful services. I asked him where he had 


served. 'In America under Wolfe I saw him fall I 
received this wound in my cheek that day lay your finger in 
it, sir.' I then felt interested in the tale of this veteran, and 
with earnestness demanded what regiment he belonged to. 
'The forty-seventh, sir,' said he. 'What officers do you 
know of that corps?' He mentioned the names of several of 
his old commanders. I asked him if he remembered an officer 
of the name of Dunlap. 'Mr. Dunlap,' said he, 'certainly 
I do; he was my lieutenant to be sure I remember him.' 
'And where were you after the French war? Were you in 
New Jersey, at Perth Amboy?' 'I was not quartered at 
Perth Amboy, sir, but at Brunswick, with that part of the 
regiment. We were removed to New York, and then to Boston. 
I was at Lexington and Bunker Hill, and I was taken with 
Burgoyne at Saratoga.' While he spoke his countenance was 
enlightened, and he seemed to feel himself again a soldier. 
'Suppose that I am the son of that Lieut. Dunlap?' 'Are 
you?' he cried. And upon my assuring him that I was, he 
seized my hand with an honest ardor; and if he could have 
afforded a tear, I believe it would have started. 'And after 
all your toils after all your services how has your country 
provided for you?' 'Why, well,' said he, 'seven pounds a 
year are enough for me in my native village: but having lost 
my certificates, I am now without a half -penny to buy food 
or procure me lodgings on my way to London. See !' said he, 
searching his rags, ' see what I have lived on these two days!* 
and he produced a half -eaten, uncooked turnip. * All I have 
eaten these two days is half of this turnip.' As we stood 
mute he thought we doubted his word, and added, 'May I be 
damned if I lie!' Our soldiers swore terribly in Flanders. 

"As we were within sight of a tavern, we turned him back 
with us; and I had the pleasure, while breakfasting, to afford 
a good meal to my father's old companion in arms; and on 
parting, gave him wherewithal to make his journey comfortable 
to the War Office. The old man said he was then sixty-six 
years of age: and when he left us, he took us each by the 
hand and blessed us. Turning to us, at a few paces distance, 


he said, 'If ever you see your father, perhaps he may remember 
old Wainwright.' ' 

Between the hours of one and two we gained sight of the 
University from Shotover Hill. My journal is barren of all 
interest respecting Oxford: probably no journalizing tourist 
ever visited the place more ignorant than the author. 

On the 22d we walked to Blenheim, and I saw the Duke 
of Marlborough's collection of pictures with some pleasure 
and little profit. The house, furniture, park, etc., were objects 
of admiration. We walked about Woodstock, and then, cudgel 
in hand, returned to the Angel Inn, Oxford. The next day 
we departed for London, having sent our trunk on before us. 
Though humble pedestrians, we passed through a lane of 
expectant waiters, chamber maids, cooks, scullions, etc., as 
great as if we had been travellers with coach and six. We 
changed our route in returning, and stopped a day and a night 
at Windsor; and next day, after early breakfast, attended the 
King's Chapel saw the royal family and at nine, leaving 
the Castle, arrived hi Oxford Street, London, at two P.M. and 
dined with the mess at four. 

Except the journeys to Stamford and Oxford, I saw nothing 
of the interior of England. Parties of pleasure to Windsor, 
Richmond, Hampton Court, Greenwich, Woolwich, either 
on horseback or on foot, were frequent; and I passed a few 
delightful days at the residence of the Rev. Mr. Moore, where 
the widow and family of Mr. John Smyth were on a visit. 
Mrs. Smyth was of the family of the rector of North Cray, 
and both relatives to the afterwards celebrated Sir John 
Moore. At this delightful place I heard, for the only time, the 
notes of the nightingale. I painted and presented to Mrs. 
Smyth several portraits, two originals and two copies, of her 
relatives, one from Opie. 

This life of unprofitable idleness was terminated by a sum- 
mons to return home, brought by Captain Watson, who in- 
formed me that my passage was paid, and he should sail in 
August. I made preparations for embarkation; my pictures 
(poor things!) were packed, and with prepared cloths, colors, 


etc., were shipped. Thus ended a residence in London of 
sufficient length to have made a man of abilities feebler than 
mine a painter. But my character was at first mistaken I 
was discouraged and led astray, and gave up the pursuit of 
my profession for the pursuits which youth, health, and a dis- 
position to please and be pleased, presented to me. In August, 
1787, I embarked to return home with the same ship and 
captain that brought me all alive with the best dispositions to 
improve myself, to the metropolis of Britain, in June, 1784. 

After a passage of seven weeks, we arrived in the beginning 
of October. The weather had permitted me to set up my 
easel in the cabin, and I painted two portraits of our captain 
during the voyage. When the pilot came on board, I was 
called up from over the bows, where, in jacket and trowsers, I 
was assisting a sailor to paint the figurehead of the good ship 
" Betsy." I heard that my parents were well, and we were soon 
cheered by the beauties of the bay of New York, and a view 
of the city, with old Fort George towering in front. Before 
landing, we were boarded by a boat, and I was greeted by my 
father and my friend Wright Post. I soon found myself in my 
mother's arms, and surrounded by the black faces, white teeth, 
and staring eyes of the negroes of the family. 

In due time, my pictures, canvasses, colors, etc., were 
landed. I was installed as a portrait painter in my father's 
house, and had sitters; but I felt my own ignorance, and felt 
the superiority of Joseph Wright, who was my next-door 
neighbor, and painting with but little success as to emolu- 
ment. By degrees my employers became fewer, my efforts 
were unsatisfactory to myself. I sought a refuge in literature, 
and after a year or two abandoned painting, and joined my 
father in mercantile business. 

It was on an evening of this winter, that, sitting by the fire, 
and conversing with an English gentleman on the subject of 
pictures, he asked me if I had any idea of a picture which 
should represent all surrounding objects as they appear in 
nature when we turn and look from a central spot? I answered, 
"Yes. It has been familiar with me from childhood, though 


I do not think I have ever before spoken of it. Often when 
standing on an eminence, and looking around me on the bright 
and glorious objects, here a landscape, there a bay and shipping 
a city glittering in light all the tints of a sky from the 
setting sun to the sober colors of the opposite horizon I 
have imagined myself surrounded by an upright circular can- 
vas, and depicting the scene just as nature displayed it, and 
I have regretted that I could not make the experiment." 
"That's ill" was his unintelligible exclamation. He then told 
me, as a thing yet unknown, that an artist in Edinburgh had 
conceived the plan, made the drawings, and was executing 
such a picture; that he had helped him with funds, and by 
that means became acquainted with the fact. This was the 
first time I ever heard of a panorama, a species of picture then 
unknown to the world. 

It was my good fortune, soon after my return, to become a 
member of a literary society formed by young men for mutual 
instruction and improvement. My friend Samuel L. Mitchill, 
Noah Webster (then editing a magazine in New York), and 
others afterwards known in American literature, were mem- 
bers. This led to a more regular course of study than I had 
ever known. I sought assiduously to gain knowledge, but 
unfortunately could not be content without exposing my 
ignorance by writing and publishing. I even planned an epic 
poem, on the story of Aristomenes, and wrote some hundred 
verses: fortunately this was not published. I was likewise 
drawn into some societies called convivial; and as I had been 
a member of a Buck's lodge in London, so at home I became a 
Black Friar and a Mason; but happily I was withdrawn from 
this course by marriage with Elizabeth, the youngest daughter 
of Benjamin Woolsey, deceased, and Anne his second wife, 
the daughter of Doctor Muirson. Beside the inestimable bless- 
ing of a good wife through a long and checkered life, I obtained 
the advantage of connection with her relatives, her brothers, 
her sisters and their husbands and friends. I derived much 
advantage intellectually from the society of the Rev. Timothy 
Dwight, afterwards president of Yale College, who had married 


my wife's sister, and at whose house on Greenfield Hill I 
passed some of my happiest hours. I was now rescued from 
inevitable destruction. I had lost the opportunity of becoming 
a painter, but I might become a useful and happy man. It 
will be observed, however, that I had no education or habits 
fitting me for any definite pursuit. My character was fast 
changing, and the monomania I have complained of was van- 
ishing, until by degrees I learned to appreciate myself and 
others with some degree of justice. 

From the year 1789 to 1805 the events of my life have no 
connection with the arts of design. I was for several years 
an active member of the Abolition Society of New York a 
trustee of the African School and twice represented the 
society (in conjunction with other members) in the conven- 
tions held in Philadelphia, Congress then holding their sessions 
in that city. I remember with pleasure, that, as chairman of a 
committee, I drew up a memorial which produced from Con- 
gress one of the most efficient acts against the slave trade, and 
under a commission T afterwards procured testimony which 
caused the condemnation of one of those infernal instruments 
of torture, a slave ship. During this time I painted some 
small sketchy likenesses of my friends C. B. Brown, Elihu H. 
Smith, and a few others. My father died, and I liberated the 
family slaves, retaining some as hired servants. I was engaged 
in mercantile journeys. I visited Boston as a merchant, and 
Philadelphia several tunes on mercantile business, and twice 
as a delegate to the convention for promoting the abolition of 
slavery. I engaged in theatrical speculations, and became 
bankrupt in 1805. 

My summers had been passed at Perth Amboy, writing for 
my theatre, and traversing hills, dales, and woods, with my 
dog and my gun. I have attributed, in an early part of this 
autobiography, the misfortunes of men to their own mis- 
conduct. Sickness is a great misfortune, and I have experi- 
enced much of it; generally to be traced to excess or folly of 
some kind. During the period above mentioned, I passed 
days in what are called field sports, and often under the burn- 


ing sun of July and August, and my just reward was bilious 
fevers in some instances to the extreme of illness consistent 
with recovery. I can remember distinctly the causes of many 
severe attacks of illness at that period and since, to the present 

Some of the particulars of the portion of my life above men- 
tioned I have published as connected with the history of the 
American Theatre. Deprived of property, and a debtor to 
the United States as a security for the marshal of New Jersey, 
who was a defaulter, I abandoned New York, and took refuge 
with my family in the house of my mother, at my native town 
of Perth Amboy. 

I now turned my attention to miniature painting, and found 
that I could make what were acknowledged likenesses. I was 
in earnest, and although deficient even in the knowledge 
necessary to prepare ivory for the reception of color, I im- 

It was necessary to make exertion to procure money for my 
family, and I determined to try Albany, where I yet had never 
been, as a place in which work might be obtained. In a sloop, 
after a tedious passage, I reached Hudson; where I found P. 
Irving, and accepted his invitation to take part of his gig, visit 
William P. Van Ness, and proceed together to Albany. After 
two days passed at Van Ness's, we, keeping the east side of 
the river, crossed the ferry to the old Dutch city in the evening 
of the third. Here I found my friend Judge Kent, and became 
acquainted with Gideon Fairman, then commencing his career 
as an engraver. I took lodging at a boarding house; put some 
miniatures in a jeweller's window; consulted .Fairman as to 
prospects, and waited the result. Kent was very attentive to 
me, and took me to the neighboring villages of Troy, Lansing- 
burgh and Waterford then very poor places (as well as 
Albany) in comparison with the present time. We rode to 
the Cohoes and I was at home in his family ; but my board was 
accumulating, no application for a miniature was made, and 
while I had yet a few dollars it was necessary to make another 
move. I determined on Boston, and after a most pleasant and 


picturesque ride, was put down at a stagehouse, near the old 
market, late in the evening. I immediately sallied forth to find 
an eligible place for board and lodging, and in State Street, 
almost the only house still open, entered a hotel, and agreed 
for six dollars a week with Mr. Thayer (a new landlord glad to 
receive a customer), and removing my trunk I established 
myself, having money enough left to pay one week's board 
and no more. I found next morning that Mrs. Thayer was the 
daughter of Mrs. Brown, with whom I had boarded many weeks 
in former and more prosperous days. 

The next morning, with miniatures in my pocket, I visited 
Cornhill, and found myself at home among the booksellers, 
who had dealt in my plays and were glad to see the author. 
With one of these, Mr. West, an amiable man, I left several 
miniatures with my address, and returned to my hotel to await 
my fortune. In a few hours, while reading the papers, I heard 
an inquiry for the miniature painter, and was greeted with the 
question, "Can you paint my likeness, sir?" Most joyful 
sounds! "Certainly, sir." An appointment was made for the 
next morning, and I felt the first fifteen dollars (the price I 
had fixed on) already in my pocket. I had from that time 
forward constant employment, and sent with delight a part of 
my profits home. 

My former Boston acquaintance had mostly vanished, but 
I received calls and invitations from Josiah Quincy, Colonel 
David Humphreys, Andrew Allen the British Consul, and from 
Powel, now manager of the theatre. Cooper, Bernard and 
others sat for their pictures. I worked hi the forenoon dined 
out generally and, when not engaged, visited the Federal 
Street Theatre made free to me. 

There were at this time two good miniature painters in 
Boston Field and Malbone; the latter at the very pinnacle 
of perfection in the art for drawing, coloring, truth, and above 
all, taste. I met Field at Andrew Allen's, but never became 
acquainted with him. With Malbone it was different. I 
showed him my work, and he exclaimed with surprise, "I 
wonder you do so well when your ivory is not prepared." He 


made an appointment for the purpose of showing me the mode 
of preparation, which he did one morning after we had passed 
the evening at Allen's, at a great dinner party. "They told 
me that I might drink champagne without fear of headache," 
said the amiable Malbone, then already in the fangs of con- 
sumption, "but I can hardly see, and my head is splitting." 

Gilbert Stuart was then boarding and painting at Chapo- 
tin's Hotel. His family were not with him. T. A. Cooper and 
his family were at the same house. I renewed my acquaintance 
with Stuart, begun in London, and once before renewed in New 
York. I did not see much of him at this time. His mornings 
were employed at his easel, and his afternoons at the dinner 

I returned to my family at Perth Amboy, but judging it 
necessary to see the secretary of the treasury respecting the 
debt incurred by the marshal, I proceeded to the city of Wash- 
ington, taking my painting apparatus with me, and stopping 
at Philadelphia and Baltimore on my way. At Philadelphia 
my friend C. B. Brown, now a married man and settled near 
his brothers and his venerable parents, gave me a home and a 
repetition of the pleasures I had enjoyed in his society at my 
house. Conrad was at this time the Philadelphia publisher, 
and my friend was regularly an author by profession and in 
his employ. I have a memorandum of a literary dinner at 
Conrad's, which, written at the time, has some claim to atten- 
tion. "January 14, 1806. I dined on Saturday at Conrad's, 
with a party of literati. Fessenden the author of * Tractoration,' 
Denny, Mr. John Vaughan, member of the Philosophical 
Society of this place; Doctor Chapman, one of the founders 
of the * Edinburgh Review.' Fessenden is a huge, heavy fellow, 
as big as Colonel Humphreys, with features as heavy as his 
person, and an address rather awkward; but his conversation, 
setting aside Yankeeisms, is agreeable, and evinces an amiable 
disposition. He is a mechanical as well as poetical genius, and 
when in England was concerned in erecting floating mills upon 
the Thames, similar to those used in France and Germany. 
Denny is a small neat man, an entire contrast in appearance 


to the foregoing. He appears to be about forty-five years of 
age, and is well bespattered with gray hairs. Though a Massa- 
chusetts man, he has freed his conversation from Yankeeisms, 
and speaks with as much facility as he writes. He is polite in 
his address, attentive to the etiquette of society, and studious 
to suit his conversation to those with him, as well as to elicit 
the sparks that might otherwise remain dormant with all 
this I confess that I did not hear those brilliant things which 
I expected from the mouth of the editor of the * Portfolio.' ' 

If any person in 1834 will look over the numbers of this 
popular and celebrated journal, as published in Philadelphia 
in 1801, he must be astonished that a work breathing the high- 
est degree of ultra-Toryism, attachment and servile subservi- 
ency to England, and admiration of her political institutions 
with, of course, bitter enmity to all that is fundamentally 
American, or that is the true source of her prosperity, could be 
extensively circulated and popular. Its literary merit is great, 
but the feelings of a great party among us must have been 
such as are now incomprehensible. 

I copy this account of the dinner party as the impression 
made at the time. I can add, from memory, that this, the only 
bookseller's dinner I ever partook of, was not very interesting. 
I was of course a cipher. Brown, who when te"te-a-tte with 
me would pour forth streams of copious eloquence by the hour, 
was here as silent as myself. 

I painted some miniatures, and early in January, 1806,* pro- 
ceeded to Baltimore with funds undiminished. 

Groomrich, elsewhere mentioned, was painting at Baltimore, 
and beside his own landscapes showed me some clever pictures 
to which he had affixed great names. I now first heard the name 
of Guy, of Baltimore. 

I put up at the Fountain Hotel, and found employment for 
some weeks. I at length reached the great city, then rather a 
desolate place, crude and unfinished. Here I found many 
of my friends as members of Congress, and among them Samuel 
L. Mitchill, with whom I now rambled on the banks of the 
Potomac as we had done on those of the Thames, and with 


undiminished good will. I settled my business with Mr. 
( iallat in , who instructed me in the measures necessary to be 
taken with the district attorney of New Jersey, and put me 
at rest respecting the debt of the late marshal. I was intro- 
duced to Mr. Jefferson by Mitchill, and copied in miniature 
his portrait by Stuart, lent me by Mrs. Madison. 

The good old Vice-President, George Clinton, received me 
as an old acquaintance, but I saw little of public men. Among 
the old friends I saw at Washington, I must not omit Joel 
Barlow and his amiable wife; and of those from whom I received 
civilities, Mr. Thornton of the patent office. 

I passed some days at the house of Mr. Love, at George- 
town, who insisted on my staying with him while painting his 
wife's miniature. I left Washington late in March, and stopped 
for a short time with my friend Brown and his amiable wife 
on my return. I again visited them about the beginning of 
April, and passed three weeks with them: I then returned to 
my family at Perth Amboy, and devoted myself to painting 
and gardening. 

My mother's house stood on the main street of the town, 
and an acre lot extended westward to a street without houses. 
During my supposed prosperity as lessee of the New York 
Theatre, I had planted this garden with choice fruit, besides 
setting out orchards and otherwise improving a farm on the 
rising ground about a mile from the city, where I had planned 
and enjoyed an air castle; the latter had passed away, and I 
was contentedly working in my mother's garden, when a 
gentleman approached from the house, whom I soon recog- 
nized as my friend T. A. Cooper. He rapidly informed me that 
he had taken the New York Theatre on conditions of a rebuild- 
ing of the interior that he was on his way to Philadelphia 
to make engagements that he wished me to assist him as 
general superintendent of his theatrical concerns and manager 
in his absence made me such an offer as to yearly emolu- 
ment, to commence that day, as I could not reject, and pro- 
posed getting into a carriage in waiting and proceeding to 
Philadelphia immediately. It did not take long to change dress. 


dine or lunch, and I was no longer a painter, but all my mind 
absorbed in theatrical affairs. 

My situation in the theatre became disagreeable, not owing 
to any acts of Mr. Cooper, and in the year 1812, after a sacri- 
fice of another six years, I relinquished it and again com- 
menced miniature painter, taking an apartment in Tryon Row, 
which had been occupied by Bass Otis. My family had re- 
mained at Perth Amboy as their permanent residence; my 
success as a miniature painter at this time determined me to 
remove them to New York, and I took a house in Fulton 
Street hi despite of the war then existing with Great Britain. 
My business declined and I commenced author again, by pub- 
lishing the Memoirs of George Frederick Cooke, and com- 
mencing a magazine under the title of "The Recorder," in 
both works being assisted by my son. I was applied to by 
Mr. Elijah Brown to write a biography of my friend C. B. 
Brown, which I did, encumbered by a selection made by Paul 
Allen, of Baltimore, which being in part printed was to be 
retained, by agreement. 

My magazine was a source of trouble and was running me 
ni debt. I took my painting materials and proceeded to Bos- 
ton with a double view of aiding the periodical, and gaining 
something by my pencil. I stopped a few days with my 
brothers-in-law, President Dwight and William W. Woolsey 
at New Haven, and painted some miniatures there and at 
Hartford, where I passed some very pleasant days in August 
with my friends Theodore Dwight, Doctor Cogswell and Mr. 
Scarborough. I visited my excellent friend Richard Alsop, at 
Middletown, and took from him letters to Benjamin Pollard! 
and F. J. Oliver of Boston, the son-in-law of Mr. Alsop. 
This gentleman's acquaintance ripened into a friendship to 
me invaluable. On my way to Boston I passed a few days at 
Providence, but finding no employment for an itinerant painter, 
I pushed on and arrived at the Exchange Coffee House in the 
evening of August 26th. The next day I took up my abode 
at the boarding house of Mrs. Brown in State Street, with 
whom, at the same house, I had boarded at three different 


periods, twenty-two years, seventeen years, and seven years 
before the present visit. On the 28th I had a portrait begun 
(miniature), and in the afternoon a second sitting. 

In the society of Mr. Oliver, his friends and relatives, my 
leisure hours were happily passed. Stuart at this time had 
his family with him and lived at Roxbury, where I visited him 
on the 2d of September, and was received cordially. My 
journal says, "he has begun the full length of Hull for our 
corporation, and is to begin Bainbridge soon. He says Decatur 
and Lawrence are not bespoke of him." The Corporation of 
New York have none of his pictures. 

I showed him the miniatures I had painted at New Haven, 
and he made his remarks freely, but strongly urged me to paint 
in oil. I took his advice on my return to New York. 

Finding no encouragement for the "Recorder," I wrote to 
my son to offer the work and subscribers to James Eastburn, 
of New York, but he declined and the magazine failed. 

On the 25th of October (having until that time found em- 
ployment in painting miniatures, and delightful society, princi- 
pally with F. J. Oliver, W. Heard and B. Pollard and their 
connections), I took my friend Alsop's wife under my charge 
and returned to Hartford. 

While I was in Boston I received letters from P. Irving, 
Esq., informing me that he had agreed with Miller of London 
to publish my life of Cooke and divide the profit; but before I 
left it, I learned that John Howard Payne, having found a 
copy in a ship from New York, with a view to serve me, sold 
it to Colburn, who got out an edition before (or on the same 
day) with Miller's, and the two publishers agreed to make the 
best for themselves, and sink me. 

After my return home I commenced painting portraits in oil, 
and with a success beyond my expectation. In the year 1814, 
when sitting at my easel, I heard a knock at my street door 
and opened it myself, when, to my surprise, I saw an orderly 
sergeant, who delivered a message from the commander-m- 
chief of the third military district, requesting to see Mr. Dun- 
lap immediately. The surprise of a man who had had no 


connection with the political affairs of the times (except express- 
ing his opinion and giving his vote, or with the military except 
lamenting disasters and rejoicing in the triumphs of the army 
and navy), may be imagined at receiving such a message; and 
curiosity alone was sufficient to carry me in a short time to 
headquarters. Daniel D. Tompkins was then commander of 
the district for the United States. I had seen him as a judge, 
and as governor of the State, but had no acquaintance with 
him, further than returning a salute from him in public which 
showed that he knew me, although I had never exchanged 
words with him. I found him surrounded by officers and ap- 
plicants, at a table covered with papers. He broke off and 
saluted me with the smile of an old friend. "Mr. Dunlap, I 
have to apologize for not thinking of you sooner, if it will 
suit you to enter the service, the best thing I can now offer 
you is the office of assistant paymaster-general of the militia 
of the State, in the service of the United States; walk into the 
next room and the paymaster-general" (to whom he then in- 
troduced me), "will explain the duties, pay and emoluments, 
and I shall be happy if the office suits you." After a short inter- 
view with the paymaster-general, in which he told me what 
steps must be taken previous to exercising and receiving the 
emoluments of office, I returned through the room in which 
Tompkins still was, thanked him, accepted the office and 
retired. Washington Irving was then one of the commander- 
in-chief's aids, and of course, a lieutenant-colonel, and I sus- 
pect that it was in consequence of his mentioning me to Tomp- 
kins that I received this military appointment. Be that as it 
may, the manner of the general was in the highest degree 
friendly, and his friendship continued till death. 

I was thus again removed from pencil and palette, and until 
1816, or rather 1817, for it was late in the fall of 16 before 
my office expired, I was engaged in affairs foreign to the Arts 
of Design. So that at the age of fifty-one I became permanently 
a painter. 

Although in a history of the Arts of Design it is not neces- 
sary to depict the scenes and characters I met with while 


paying off militia from Montauk Point to Lake Erie, yet as 
connected with my life in character of an artist, I ought to 
mention that I practised more than ever I had done before, 
sketching scenes from nature in water colors, and making 
faithful portraits of places which appeared worthy of my 
attention. A habit of early rising and pedestrian exercise 
gave me time and opportunity to visit and make drawings of 
spots within several miles of the place at which I was to labor 
in my vocation of paymaster during the remainder of the day. 
My last payments were made amidst the ruins of Buffalo, 
and being free for a time, I left my trunk at the only tavern 
in the place, and that not half built, and with my portfolio 
under my left arm, containing a change of linen with materials 
for drawing, and my artist's three-legged stool, resembling a 
club, hi my right hand, I departed from Buffalo to visit Fort 
Erie and all the wonders of the Niagara as a pedestrian. 

The artist's portable seat consists of three pieces of tough 
wood, the smaller ends pointed with iron and the larger ends 
bound together by a strong iron ring, which, when slipped 
down, permits the smaller ends to expand and form legs to 
the seat and the thicker likewise to expand for the reception of a 
small piece of sail cloth with loops, which is carried in the 
pocket; this forms the seat, and secures the whole, making a 
three-legged stool. When not in use as such, the ring keeps 
the three sticks firmly together as a short heavy* club, in which 
state, as it was generally seen, it was an object of curiosity 
and speculation which afforded me no little amusement. 
Crossing at Black Rock I visited the ruins of Fort Erie, and 
then at my leisure walked towards the Falls. I took shelter 
from rain at a miserable tavern, where I passed the night, 
during part of which a set of ruffians poured out their vitupera- 
tions on Yankees, as they stimulated then* passions with 
whiskey. The next day, after stopping to make many sketches, 
I reached the cottage of Forsyth, near the great cataract. I 
remained four days at the Falls, and made drawings which 
I carefully colored in the open ah*, on the banks and on the 
table rock. This wonder of nature is an exhausted theme. I 


will only remark that I saw it in 1815, and before the artificial 
additions and conveniences were added, which now exist. 

I walked down the Canada side of the Niagara and returned 
on the American side, all then either in ruins or rising from the 
effects of the war. Through rain and mud I reached Buffalo, 
and found the tavern so occupied by Governor Tompkins and 
his suite, that my trunk was deposited within the liquor bar, 
and there alone, surrounded by boors, I found a place to change 
my clothes. While hi the act, Tompkins, hearing T was in the 
house, left the dinner table to seek me, and found me putting 
on my shirt. I slept that night amidst shavings and fleas in 
an unfinished garret, and next day departed for home. 

I was, as Doctor Franklin has expressed it, at this time, 
"a young man of fifty." I was young and active in reality, 
and capable of as much fatigue as at the age of thirty. I had 
never been in the western portion of the State of New York; 
and although I knew that towns and villages had succeeded to 
the forest and the wigwam, when I actually saw the progress 
of civilization, the scenes of activity and prosperity, of culti- 
vation, fertility and riches, day after day a succession of sur- 
prises and of pleasures heretofore unknown, filled my mind 
with delight. The remaining tribes of the Six Nations were 
objects of curiosity to me; and I had frequent intercourse with 
Webster and Parish, the Indian interpreters, men yet in the 
prune of life, who, when children, had been carried off by the 
savages, adopted by them, and as young men, had roamed 
with them through the wilderness which I was now traversing 
as a paradise. 

I saw a great deal of the population of the State, from the 
Dutch inhabitants on the Mohawk, to the New England men 
further west from Utica to Buffalo, but I saw them under 
circumstances which exhibited them to disadvantage. They 
congregated at the paymaster's call, and on receiving at a 
public house small sums of money (for most of them had only 
been out a short time) they were too much disposed to spend 
it in drunkenness, and in many instances quarrelling and 
blows followed. I could communicate many facts respecting 


the militia, and much that interested me relative to the remains 
of the Iroquois, but that the subjects would be out of place 
in this work, and other subjects demand the space. 

In 1816 I was travelling under orders on Long Island, and 
then north to St. Regis, on the St. Lawrence. My mission to 
St. Regis was on business with that tribe of Indians; and if I 
might in this memoir give my experience of this people at this 
time, and in 1815 when I visited the Onondagas, with Webster 
the interpreter (a white man, stolen when a child and educated 
as an Indian), I could state some facts curious and elucidative 
of the character of a race fast passing away. 

In the autumn I returned home and resumed the profession 
of painter, much less qualified for it than in 1814, for in that 
year I painted one of my best portraits, which is now with the 
widow of the subject (J. J. Holland, Esq.), at Vice-Chancellor 
McCoun's, for whom I have in much later days painted a 
child's picture, on which I would willingly rest my reputation 
as an artist. In a sick chamber, and in aiding to re-establish 
what is called the American Academy of Fine Arts, many 
months now passed away. I was elected a director and keeper, 
had a salary of 200 dollars a year and rooms for painting 
assigned to me, and painted in the year 1817 and 1818 many 

My business hi New York failing in October 1819, I deter- 
mined to try Virginia for the winter, and leaving a provision 
with my family, took 150 dollars with me and letters to 

I dined with my friend T. A. Cooper, at his house at Bristol, 
and took letters from him to Virginia and North Carolina. At 
Philadelphia I stopped a day or two with Sully, who always 
instructs me. He was, at this time, painting his great picture 
of the crossing of the Delaware, and occupied the Philosophical 
Hall adjoining the State House. He told me that he had not 
had a portrait to paint for Philadelphia since May last. Such 
are the fluctuations in an artist's fortunes. In conjunction with 
a frame maker, Mr. Earl, he had built and opened an exhibi- 
tion gallery, with little profit. Among the pictures were Leslie's 


" Death of Rutland," Ward's " Anaconda, Horse and Indian," 
and a landscape by Gainsborough. S. F. B. Morse was at this 
time painting oil portraits successfully at Charleston, S. C., 
and C. Fraser, miniatures. Trott was in Philadelphia at this 
time, but doing nothing, and was about visiting Savannah 
and Charleston. 

I now, for the first time, saw Mr. West's picture of "Healing 
in the Temple." My first sensation was disappointment. My 
admiration followed; but the principal figure then and since, 
appeared very deficient. I saw Allston's " Dead Man Revived," 
at the Pennsylvania Academy, and could not but prefer much 
of it to the "Healing in the Temple." 

Oct. 20th. Embark for Newcastle cross to Frenchtown, 
and again embark in a steamboat for Baltimore and arrive at 
Baltimore before daylight next morning. At 7 A.M. embarked 
in steamboat for Norfolk, touched at Annapolis and went 
ashore, and on the morning of the 22d landed at Norfolk. 

I was now in a new region, and all appeared strange to me. 
The immense number of negroes was very striking. After 
a time Norfolk appeared to me, in many points, to resemble 
the place of my birth at the time of my childhood no doubt 
the black slave servants made a principal feature in this like- 
ness; but the roads and walks, the want of cultivation in the 
surrounding country, and the hospitable manners of the in- 
habitants added to the resemblance. Norfolk had been long 
on the decline, and Richmond had the ascendant. I knew no 
one in the place and had not brought a letter. I took up my 
quarters at the steamboat hotel, intending to proceed immedi- 
ately up James River; but my landlord, Matthew Glenn, find- 
ing my plans and intentions from conversation with me, en- 
gaged me to paint two portraits of his daughters; his own 
portrait followed, and I remained in Norfolk fully employed 
until the last of April, 1820. 

I soon found some acquaintance here from the north. Mr. 
Crawley was settled here as a drawing master and portrait 
painter. I found myself at home in Norfolk, and my ease a& 
well as profit was most materially owing to Thomas William- 


son, Esq., cashier of the branch bank of Virginia, whose 
hospitable house was literally a home, though I continued to 
board at my hotel. Mr. Williamson has remained steadily to 
this day (1834) my firm and beloved friend. 

When it was evident that I should be from home the whiter, 
I wrote to Alexander Robertson, and enclosed my resignation 
as keeper of the American Academy. He was elected keeper 
and secretary, without salary. Mr. Trumbull had procured 
a law that the keeper should never be chosen from the directory. 
Mr. Joshua Shaw, landscape painter, passed a few days at 
Norfolk. My reading this whiter, 1819-20, was not of much 
profit, except diligent study of Adam Clark's edition of the 
Bible and notes. 

On the 24th of April, 1820, 1 left Norfolk on my way home, 
having promised to return the next winter. If I were to name 
those from whom I had received attention and hospitality, I 
should include all the enlightened part of the population. 

At Baltimore, on my homeward journey, I found three por- 
trait painters. Rembrandt Peale, who was living there, and 
had a museum and gallery Sully and Eickholtz visitors. 
The latter painting good hard likenesses at thirty dollars the 
head, had most of the business. I found Peale much inferior 
to my preconceived opinion of him, and far below Sully in 

The 27th April, 1820, I passed in Philadelphia: visited 
West's picture again, and Allston's, and saw no reason to 
change the opinion I had formed at my last visit. On the 28th 
I arrived at home, and found my family well. I was now an 
itinerant portrait painter. In New York little or nothing 
to do. I had received a handsome sum of money at Norfolk; 
but my expenses, and my family expenses at home, soon 
rendered it necessary to look out for more; and I determined to 
try Lower Canada (new ground to me), and return in time to 
take my wife to Norfolk in the autumn, where Williamson was 
to have a painting room built for me. Accordingly, in the 
afternoon of August 9th, 1820, 1 proceeded by steam to Albany, 
and by stage to Lake Champlain. Passed the lake, and on 


landing, on the 13th, at St. John's, found myself in a foreign 
country; as we rode on to La Prairie it being Sunday, we met 
the French peasants coming from church in the costume of 
Normandy, as their fathers left it. 

At Montreal I found employment until the 9th of October, 
when I judged it best to seek home; but curiosity, the desire 
to see Quebec, and visit the Plains of Abraham, where my 
father fought by the side of Wolfe to see those places which 
had been made so familiar to me in infancy, when, sitting on 
his knee he told me of battles on the ice and marches with 
snowshoes, and all the stirring events of war, so fascinating to 
the child and so repulsive to the "thinking, understanding man." 

It would be superfluous to describe a place so well known 
and oft visited as Montreal; but I should do injustice' to my 
readers, and to my friends found or made there, if I did not 
copy some passages from my journal. I had taken a letter 
from Dr. Mitchill, which introduced me to Dr. Paine, now 
a practitioner in New York, but then a young physician in this 
foreign country: through him I had the kind offices of Mr. 
Cunningham, bookseller and librarian, and the society of Mr. 
and Mrs. Barrett. "Walk with Dr. Paine round the mountain 
by the north, and over part of it, my friend botanizing, while 
I enjoy his conversation and the beautiful scenery. This 
walk reminded me of days long past, when I studied botany, 
and traversed the fields and rocks of Manhattan with Dr. 
E. H. Smith. 

"The whole island of Montreal is a plain, except this hill, 
which gives it name. It is all capable of the highest cultivation, 
and a great part is in that state : farms, orchards, villages, and 
glittering spires, appear in every direction. We took shrub and 
water, with cakes and bread, at a small Canadian public house; 
and were served by a neat, polite, and pretty landlady." As 
a contrast to this neat and comfortable auberge, I mention one 
more truly Canadian. Being out on a pedestrian excursion, 
with a companion, "after a walk of ten miles we sought food 
and refreshment at a tavern of larger size and more prepossess- 
ing appearance than common. The keeper agreed to give us 


(having nothing else) some bread, eggs, and brandy. The 
brandy came first, and proved to be miserable rum. The land- 
lady brought in six eggs in a soup plate and one large pewter 
spoon : she then went out and brought in part of a loaf of sour 
brown bread grasped in one hand and a saucer with salt in the 
other, and with the spoon she ground the salt from coarse to fine 
in the saucer. We saw before us our dinner, its condiments, and 
its furniture : no plates, no knives ; six eggs to be managed as we 
could with one large spoon. Nothing more was to be had; and, 
much amused by the specimen of Canadian tavern keeping, 
we soon dispatched the eggs, and departed as hungry as we 
came. This was not a hovel, but a good-looking house, with a 
large sign, several apartments decorated with pictures of 
saints, virgins, and abundance of crucifixes, and immediately 
opposite the village church." 

At the Mansion House Hotel, splendidly kept by an English- 
man, I became acquainted with a very intelligent Scotch 
gentleman, Mr. William Thomson, attached to the commis- 
sariat. He had been with the army on the continent of 
Europe, was well acquainted with books, men, and pictures, 
and drew correctly himself. He favored me with the reading 
of a journal kept by him in France and Holland, with many ex- 
cellent sketches. 

The governor, Lord Dalhousie, one of Wellington's generals, 
with his aid, visited my painting room. He is a plain gentle- 
manly soldier. He spoke of himself as a stranger in the country; 
and, after some pleasant chat, said he should be glad to see 
me at Quebec, and I must call upon him; adding, "but I shall 
not be there until the end of the month." The next day he 
departed, amidst drums, trumpets, and peals of cannon, to 
visit Upper Canada. 

The convents, churches, etc., were visited of course, and I 
by invitation breakfasted with Mr. M'Gilvary at his very 
pleasant house on the road to La Chine. "He has a fine head 
of himself by Stuart, which he finds fault with, because the 
drapery is slighted, and a beautiful portrait of his brother by 


I find the following comparison between Norfolk and Mont- 
real in my journal. " They have two similar customs; they 
sweep their chimneys by pulling a rope up and down with 
brushwood attached to it and they bring their country 
produce to market in one-horse carts, which are arranged in 
order on the market square. In both places the inhabitants are 
supplied with water by carting in casks, as in former times at 
New York; but how different are the two places in many 
respects : the cold, close, cautious, inhospitable manners of the 
motley and jarring population here, contrast as strongly with 
the free, open, warm-hearted Virginians, as the solid prison- 
like hybernacles, the stone houses, with their deep retiring 
windows, and doors, and iron window shutters do with the 
light ever-open habitations of the children of the South. But 
then here is no slave population ! Oh, what a paradise would 
Virginia be, if it had, instead of its negroes, the intelligent 
population of the Middle States, or even the hardy ignorant 
French peasants of Canada, for in Virginia they would not 
remain as they now do, French peasants" 

I made several excursions in the neighborhood of Montreal, 
and passed one day at Leney's cottage, who, giving up his 
profession of engraver, was cultivating a farm near the banks 
of the St. Lawrence. I was hospitably entertained at La Chine 
by Col. Finlay and his family. On Monday the 9th of October, 
I embarked in the steamboat "Telegraph" for Quebec. After a 
very stormy passage down the river, with torrents of rain, 
which form waterfalls from the precipitous banks of the river, 
we arrived at the very picturesque and famous city of Quebec. 
I had never before the true idea of a fortified town, and this 
is a second Gibraltar. The lofty rock of Cape Diamond frown- 
ing on the lower town; the tiers on tiers of guns mounted in 
every direction, with the irregularity of streets as you mount 
to the upper town, all fortress and garnished with cannon, so 
unlike anything I have ever seen, baffles my poor talent at 
description. The river, a magnificent sheet of water, lies far 
below, and above all, is the Castle and Government House 
on Cape Diamond. I arrived on Wednesday; on Thursday I 


saw the town, and walked over the Plains of Abraham; and on 
Friday, a cold day, and part of the time snowing, I walked to 
the Falls of Montmorency, made sketches with benumbed 
fingers, enjoyed scenery of the most superb kind, almost aton- 
ing for starvation from cold and hunger (for I could not obtain 
a piece of bread that I could eat) and got back to the hotel at 
Quebec to a dinner and the warmth of a fire that reminded me 
of my distance from home. 

I remained after my return but a few days at Montreal, and 
then pressed my homeward journey; arriving on the 24th of 
October, after pleasant travelling with summer-like weather. 

Leaving our son and daughter to keep house hi New York, 
myself and wife proceeded on OUT promised visit to Norfolk the 
13th of November, 1820. We passed some very pleasant days 
with the family of Charles Chauncey, Esq., of Philadelphia 
stopped a day at Baltimore, and on Tuesday the 21st of No- 
vember, found our friend Williamson ready to conduct us 
from the steamboat to his hospitable mansion at Norfolk. 

Previous to this time I had painted a great many portraits, 
and (never satisfied) my style and palette were ever changing. 
I did my best always, but much depended on my sitters. The 
best head I had painted was my friend John Joseph Holland, 
who felt and sat like an artist, and my own head painted with 
great care and study from a mirror. I had likewise painted 
since resuming the oil brush, an historic or Scripture piece on 
a cloth eight feet by five. The subject was the young Saviour 
with the doctors in the Temple, and parts of this were good; 
the boy's head was truly fine. This picture was rolled on a 
cylinder made of unseasoned wood, and being packed up was 
left unopened for many months on taking it from the 
packing case, it fell into pieces and was lost entirely. 

After staying a few days with Mr. and Mrs. Williamson, 
we removed to a boarding house, very pleasantly situated in 
Granby Street, but I had to wait some days before my new 
rooms were ready for me; that accomplished, I put up my pic- 
tures and commenced painting. My exhibition room contained 
sixty pictures of my own painting; the principal being the 


picture above mentioned. I hired a person to attend it, and 
printed catalogues in due form. 

This winter passed pleasantly; my wife owing much of her 
enjoyment to Mr. and Mrs. Williamson's attentions; and in the 
latter part of May she accompanied Mrs. Williamson to their 
country seat at Ferryville, near the shores of the bay, and on 
the banks of an inlet, where I passed many days in rambling, 
and in fishing excursions with my friend. 

I painted many portraits during this second residence in 
Norfolk, and made a sketch 36 inches by 30, as a model for an 
intended great picture, to be called " Christ Rejected." This I 
composed according to the printed descriptions of Mr. West's 
picture of that name. I made use of the parts of figures he 
had published, composing, as far as I could, to suit them, the 
principal groups and figures. The following is an extract from 
my scanty journal, dated February 19, 1821. 

"Monday. A fine clear day. I am this day fifty-five years 
of age; this is the second birthday in Norfolk; but since the 
last what a variety of scenes have I passed through! I yester- 
day answered a letter from my amiable friend Doctor Paine, 
of Montreal, which revived the events of last fall, and may per- 
haps lead me again to Canada. But in all thy will be done, 

God! And may I remember that if I truly wish thy will to 
be done, I shall strive to do thy will; and that thy will is truth 
and love." 

We left Norfolk and returned home the last of June, 1821, 
taking with us Master John Williamson, the second son of our 
friends. To paint a great picture, now occupied all my thoughts. 

1 purchased of my friend Sully a cloth 18 feet by 12, which he 
had imported from England but where to put up a canvas 
of that size, and have a proper light on the work? 

Not being able to put up my canvas hi a proper place, I 
raised it in the garret of the house I occupied in Leonard Street, 
with conflicting lights all below the centre of the cloth, and 
thus proceeded with my work through a hot summer, some- 
times discouraged, but generally pleased to see effects produced, 
which I had thought beyond my power. In November, I took 


down the canvas, and packed it for the purpose of transporta- 
tion to Norfolk, where I purposed to pass a third winter, and 
knew I had a better place than my garret to work on the 
picture, as well as better prospect of lucrative employment 
while finishing it. It was accordingly shipped, and on the 22d 
of November, 1821, with my young friend John Williamson, 
I embarked again for Virginia by the way of Philadelphia. 
At Philadelphia I saw my friend Sully and family, and of 
course his beautiful copy of the Capuchin Chapel West's 
picture the pictures of the Academy, etc. At Baltimore, I 
visited Rembrandt Peale's Museum and Gallery. He had just 
finished his picture of "A mother attracting her infant from a 
precipice." It did not please me as a composition. I think 
the subject better for the page than the canvas. We arrived 
on the 27th. 

After some days' recreation with Williamson at Ferry ville, 
living upon the best oysters and hoecake in the world, I got 
up my 18 by 12 cloth, and worked assiduously at it through 
the winter, except at intervals when employed on portraits or 
otherwise. I boarded at a new hotel kept by Major Cooper; 
having remained with my friend Williamson until January 8th, 
1822, during the preparations for opening the new house. 

I had become acquainted at Williamson's with a very fine 
young man of the name of Douthat, who had married a lovely 
woman, and was settled on a fine plantation up James River, 
near the house of his father-in-law Mr. Lewis, the proprietor 
of Wyanoke, famous in early Virginia history. I had promised 
Douthat to visit Westover, the name of his residence. In 
the beginning of February Williamson went up to Douthat 's. 
On the llth of February my young friend John Williamson 
called to show me a letter from his father, saying, that Mr. 
Douthat was much disappo'nted at my not coming had pre- 
pared a room for me, and engaged several portraits for me to 
paint; thus joining profit to the pleasure of visiting the hospit- 
able planters of James River. Williamson pressed my coming 
up immediately, and I made my arrangements for so doing. 

On the 15th I went up the river in a good steamboat, passed 


James Island, where all that remains of the old Jamestown is 
a ruined belfry of a church; about sunset passed Wyanoke 
where the English made their second attempt at settlement, 
and after dark, arrived opposite Westover, the third place 
attempted. The Whites chose an island, and two presque 
isles, as affording easier defence against the savages. Douthat 
came off in his boat, and escorted me to his splendid mansion. 
I here found my friends Mr. and Mrs. Williamson, and the 
warmest welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Douthat. The next day 
we proceeded by water to Wyanoke, the plantation of Mr. 
Lewis. This place, so well known in our early history as the 
second spot selected by the English for their settlement, is 
nearly surrounded by the waters of James River. At the time 
of my visit it formed a model for a well-cultivated Virginia 
plantation, as worked by slave labor, under a wise and humane 
master. I have remarked in my journal, that "I should not 
have known Virginia if I had not come up James River," for 
Norfolk and the neighborhood is by nature a part of North 
Carolina, and although my friend Williamson's plantation at 
Ferryville (once the site of a town, with a church long aban- 
doned, and a Courthouse where Patrick Henry was heard, 
and where now a part of the plantation negroes reside), al- 
though Ferryville was a source of delight to me and many 
more, its master's chief occupation being in Norfolk, and the 
soil very poor, it did not represent the seat of a Virginia planter. 
At Wyanoke all was in high cultivation and perfect order. 
The overseer was intelligent, and was directed by the master. 
The house servants, though occupying a building separate 
from the mansion, as is the case on the plantations, and even 
in many instances in the towns of Virginia, were orderly and 
fully employed in the duties imposed by the owner's hospi- 
tality. I had lived well all my life (except with old Bobby Davy 
in London), and certainly the luxuries of Norfolk, and the 
good cheer at my friend Williamson's did not mislead me in 
my estimate of the living at Wyanoke and Westover, but I 
could not avoid looking with surprise at the well-covered table, 
especially at breakfast, where the varieties of hot breads of 


the finest kind exceeded anything I had met with. Indian 
corn bread in three or four shapes, all excellent; buckwheat 
cakes; cakes of different kinds made of the best wheat flour in 
the world, and loaf bread of the same, all hot and all as perfect 
in the cooking as the material; and all this as accompaniment 
to the fish, flesh, and fowl, and the usual liquid beverage of the 
breakfast table. 

Westover, the third station selected by the English colo- 
nists, is like Wyanoke, a presque isle. The estate had been 
recently purchased by Mr. Robert Douthat. The house had 
originally been the most splendid probably on the river, and 
was still a magnificent mansion. In the garden is a marble 
monumental ornament, with sculptured urns, shields, and coats 
of arms; and an inscription, commemorating the Hon. Wm. 
Byrd, former owner of this and other great estates in Virginia. 
He died in 1744. Having been educated in England, he en- 
joyed the friendship of the great of that day, and was, after 
his return, president of his Majesty's council for the colony. 
He inherited his estates from his father, who lies buried, with 
others of the family, in a large walled cemetery on the estate. 
The son of the president of the council was likewise educated 
in England, or at home; is said to have been an accomplished 
gentleman, one consequence of his home-bred education: an- 
other was, that he became famous for losing 10,000 guineas on 
one cast of the die; and the result is, that the fourth generation 
are in comparative poverty, and have sold the estate and palace 
to one who begins a new dynasty, and calls America his home. 

Discerning men have expressed astonishment at the servile 
adulation which Americans pay to the customs and opinions 
of England. It is an evil which has been planted in our courts 
of justice; but, with wigs and gowns, is giving way to com- 
mon sense and the democratic principle; yet it shows itself 
mischievously even in our legislative councils, although our 
constitution of government is opposed to monarchy and aris- 
tocracy: but is it to be wondered at, when we recollect that 
men yet live who were taught in infancy to reverence the king 
next to God, and to obey him implicitly and "all in authority 


under him"; and that, up to this day, we look to England for 
our books, and fear to praise (almost to read) one of native 
growth, until some hireling English or Scotch reviewer has 
stamped it with the seal of his approbation? 

At the time when the elder Mr. Byrd built his palace at 
Westover, not only a man's opinions, but the bricks and stone 
and woodwork of an American gentleman's house were im- 
ported from England: and if the colonists had not resisted 
the usurpations of the English aristocracy, we might at this 
time have sent our cotton and wool, our leather and fur, as 
well as our thoughts to that country, to be worked over before 
we were permitted to use them. 

There was more costly magnificence in and about the house 
at Westover than I had seen anywhere in our country; but 
all had become dilapidated, and was under the repairing hand 
of the present possessor. The wall which surrounded the 
house was entered through gates of lofty iron railwork: the 
brick pillars were ornamented with eagles, globes, vases, and 
other well-executed sculptures, all brought from home. 
The house is large and heavy, with spacious hall and staircase. 
The rooms high and wainscotted, from the floors to the richly 
decorated ceilings. All the sculptured work, and, in fact, every 
other part, if well wrought, was, at that tune, necessarily 
imported. The situation of the house was well chosen; com- 
manding extensive views of the superb river, the opposite 
shores, and the surrounding plantation. The buildings on the 
Westover estate, beside the mansion house, consist of fourteen 
brick houses, and several framed ones of wood. The dwelling 
place for the dead has been judiciously walled in, at a due 
distance from that of the living who are to rest there, and out 
of sight. I visited it one cold morning, and copied some of 
the inscriptions. It is not an uninteresting fact to Americans, 
that the first husband of Mrs. Washington (Mr. Custis) had 
been intended, by his father, as the husband of one of this 
Byrd family; Colonel Byrd, of Westover, being, at that time, 
"from his influence and vast possessions, almost a Count 
Palatine of Virginia." 


At Wyanoke was a son of Chief Justice Marshall, and his 
wife, a daughter of Mr. Lewis, with occasionally other visitors. 
I remained among these hospitable and excellent people, 
sometimes at Douthat's and sometimes at Lewis's, until the 
7th of March, and painted several portraits. On that day I 
embarked for Richmond, and had the good fortune to find 
General Taylor, of Norfolk, on board, who, on our arrival, 
next morning, at Richmond, pointed out some of the principal 
edifices. I then rambled over the city, and up the banks of 
James River to the canal, from whence the view of the rapids, 
the water, and the town, is strikingly beautiful. I visited the 
museum, the capital, and examined Houdon's statue of Wash- 
ington, which I did not and could not admire. Of the artist 
and his work I shall speak hereafter. I called on Mr. Petticolas, 
and introduced myself to him. Of him and his paintings here- 
after. I visited some ladies I had become acquainted with at 
Norfolk, and, refusing invitations, dined as I had breakfasted, 
at a hotel. Notwithstanding all the agreeables at the hospitable 
mansions I had come from, I felt like a prisoner escaped from 
confinement. It was not so with me at Williamson's he 
made me at home his house was "mine inn," and he paid 
me for using it. 

I visited Bishop Moore without seeing him and the church 
built where the theatre was burned; I saw its monument, in- 
scribed with the names of forty-nine women and twenty men, 
who perished on the occasion. My visit to Richmond was too 
hurried to allow of describing its beauties, and most readers 
will be glad of it. On Sunday, the 10th of March, I embarked, 
and arrived late at night at Norfolk; seeing nothing on the 
passage that excited my feelings, except a brig loaded with 
negroes for New Orleans! 

Sully's copy of the Capuchin Chapel was brought to Nor- 
folk, and I did my duty towards it. It received in two 
weeks' exhibition upwards of two hundred dollars. I now 
worked assiduously at my "Christ Rejected," and before I 
left Norfolk exhibited it in what I then thought a finished 
state. I printed a descriptive pamphlet, in which I pointed out 


all the figures borrowed from West. During its exhibition I 
painted several portraits. I visited my old friends Mr. and Mrs. 
Irwin, at Fort Monroe. 

It is hazardous for a man to visit Virginia, the temptations 
to indulging appetite are so great. Yet excess is as seldom 
seen at Norfolk as at the northern cities. I must mention three 
temptations peculiar to the country: toddy just before dinner; 
and in summer mint juleps before breakfast, the fresh mint 
spread over the top of the bowl, and the ice and sugar dis- 
guising the fiery poison; and last, not least, egg-nog in the 
winter, a Christmas custom. 

On the 3d of June, 1822, 1 left Norfolk, I presume for the last 
time, though it is as a home to me. I gave Williamson a 
portrait of myself, and the original sketch of the "Christ 
Rejected," in which, as I remember, the Magdalen is abomi- 
nably bad, poor thing! and I had no power to make her better. 
I engaged a young Irishman of the name of Doherty, who 
aspired to be a painter, to take charge of the "Christ Re- 
jected," and shipped it by way of Baltimore for Philadelphia, 
where I had engaged Sully and Earl's gallery at ten dollars 
the week. My other pictures I shipped by sea to New York. 
At Baltimore I saw for the first time Gruin's very fine picture 
of the "Descent from the Cross," presented to the Roman 
Cathedral by the King of France. At Philadelphia I left 
directions for Doherty respecting the exhibition of my picture, 
and proceeded home, where happily I found all well. Of works 
of art I found the only thing new to be pleased with, Lawrence's 
great full length of West, a perfect likeness in the face, but 
far too large and tall for truth. The composition perfect. 
For this portrait, Sir Thomas Lawrence received from a num- 
ber of gentlemen of New York two thousand dollars; but his 
English and Scotch biographers make a present of it from this 
great and generous man to the American Academy of Fine 
Arts, in return for making him a member of that illustrious 
body. Such is biography. Cunningham adds, "The Academy 
of Florence, having heard that Lawrence had painted one of 
his finest portraits as a present to the American Society," 


(here the biographer stumbled on the right name, "society"), 
"instantly elected him a member of the first class; but Sir 
Thomas, probably penetrating the motive of their kindness, 
sent nothing." This motive, assigned to the Academy of 
Florence, is probably as groundless a fabrication as Sir 
Thomas's generosity to America. We are glad to have so fine a 
picture of our great countryman, by so great a painter as his 
successor; but it was bargained for, the price fixed by the 
painter, and paid for by those who subscribed the money. The 
bills and receipts are vouchers against romance in the shape of 

Rembrandt Peale was now in a large house in Broadway, at 
a rent of nine hundred dollars; this lasted one year. He had 
been in New York from 1st May, and had begun one head. 
On the 9th of June I was again in Philadelphia, to see to put- 
ting up my picture, and working on it before opening it for 
exhibition. I could see its faults better than at Norfolk; but 
in a good light and room I was surprised at its effect, and en- 
couraged by seeing that, with all its imperfections, it was a 
powerful picture, with some good parts, far beyond my expec- 
tations; for I knew my deficiencies well better than any one. 
As Doherty was new to the business of exhibiting pictures, I 
remained some days, amusing myself principally by walking 
on the banks of the two rivers that enrich and beautify the 

I had reason to be gratified by the impression made upon 
the public, and the surprise it excited among the artists. 
Sully, my friend, talked with me of its faults, and how to 
amend them. "But you have a precious line of light upon 
those soldiers' heads." "Oh!" cried Robinson, an English 
miniature painter, and pretty clever, "throw shadow over 
those soldiers' heads, sir, such a light destroys that part of 
your picture." For my own part, I never see the picture with- 
out wondering, that, with my defective drawing (and, I may 
add, coloring), I could produce a painting with the merit 
it possesses. I had, after taking up the pencil when beyond 
the middle of life, tried to remedy my deficiencies; and it may 


be an argument for industry and determined application, that 
so late and with so many interruptions, I should have succeeded 
as far as I have. 

I had an opportunity, during this visit, to see my former 
friends, the mother of Charles B. Brown, one brother, and the 
widow of another. His widow was out, and I did not see her 
while in the place. A Mr. Street, a young man, carried me to 
see his pictures, and seemed delighted with them. 



ON the 22d of June I sent my picture by sea, Doherty 
attending it, to Boston, having engaged a very fine room for 
its exhibition, and I returned home, little the better as yet in 
cash by my experiment. I again visited Boston, and in July, 
1822, I put up my picture in Doggett's great room, a noble 
place, soon afterward appropriated to other purposes; and 
although I had my vanity gratified, I experienced that very 
warm weather is unpropitious to exhibitions. My old friend 
Stuart seemed surprised at the effort I had made, and pointed 
out some faults heaven knows there were enough of them. 
Jarvis and his pupil Henry Inman came to Boston to seek 
employment, but did little. Henry's beautiful little water- 
colored likenesses were a source of some profit. Jarvis, in a 
very friendly way, pointed out an error in the neck and head 
of the Magdalen, and observed, "Henry noticed it." I subse- 
quently endeavored to remedy the defect. In Mr. John 
Doggett I found a most friendly man. My friends, Francis 
J. Oliver, Mr. Heard, Mr. Pollard, and others, were still, as 
ever, my friends. Sereno E. Dwight, the son of Dr. Dwight, 
was now a preacher established in Boston. I had some por- 
traits to do, and passed an agreeable summer. In New York 
an alarm prevailed of yellow fever, but no apprehensions were 
entertained in the quarter where my family resided. Still my 
experiment in great historical painting yielded little profit. 
Again I shipped my picture further east, to Portland; and 
here the tide of fortune turned. This place yielded, over all 
expenses, between two and three hundred dollars in two weeks. 

On hearing of this success, I passed rapidly by land on to 
Portland, for the purpose of stopping at all the towns, and 
securing rooms for exhibition. I obtained public buildings, 
courthouses, and churches, free of charge. After one day at 



From the collection of The Brooklyn Museum 


Portland, I returned by land to Boston again, after having 
given Doherty a plan of operations for the winter. I visited 
Newport on my way home, and arrived safely, and with money 
in my pocket, to my family, and again set up my easel for por- 
traits; but I was now represented as being employed in his- 
torical compositions, and for that reason I had few calls for 
portraits. Perhaps stronger reasons existed younger candi- 
dates and better painters were in the market. I this winter, 
that of 1822-3, painted a sketch for another great picture of 
the size of the first. The subject chosen was "The Bearing of 
the Cross," in which I introduced a crowd of figures attending 
upon the victim; but they are not "figures to let," but the 
characters of the evangelists, most of whom had appeared hi 
the "Christ Rejected." Barabbas, now at liberty, occupies 
one corner the principal figure is sinking under the cross 
the centurion is ordering the seizure of Simon the Cyrenian, 
etc. I was encouraged to proceed with this study by the suc- 
cess of the "Christ Rejected," from which I received flattering 
accounts and comfortable remittances of cash. At Portsmouth 
a sermon was preached, recommending attention to the 
picture, and the selectmen advised its exhibition on a Sunday 
evening. My visits to the eastern towns had facilitated my 
agent's operations, and he was successful. 

In the spring of 1823 I was invited by James Hackett, 
then keeping a store at Utica, to come to that place, with 
assurances of his engaging some work for my pencil; and 
early in April I proceeded, after a short stop at Albany, from 
whence I took some letters from Samuel M. Hopkins and 
Stephen Van Rensselaer to gentlemen in Utica, and arrived 
by stage in due time at Bagg's hotel. In 1815 I had boarded 
for weeks at this house, then acting as paymaster, and had 
seen with astonishment the growing town on a spot where in 
1787, Governor George Clinton made his treaty hi the wilder- 
ness with the Six Nations. Even in 1815 a rich population and 
flourishing villages surrounded Utica, and extended west to 
Lake Erie, through the thriving towns of Geneva, Canan- 
daigua and Batavia to Buffalo (then in ruins as burnt by the 


English); but now eight years had increased Utica to a city, 
and its public buildings, courthouse, banks, churches and 
hotels, filled me with almost as much surprise as I felt on my 
first visit. Mr. Hackett, since so well known as a comedian, 
received me cordially, and I found old acquaintances in James 
and Walter Cochran, and made lasting friends in J. H. Lothrop, 
Esq., cashier of the bank of Ontario, E. Wetmore (since his 
son-in-law), Mr. Walker and his son Thomas, and in short 
during a spring and summer's residence became as much at 
home in Utica as I had been at Norfolk. I painted a number of 
portraits. I left Utica for four days to visit Saratoga, and 
contract with a builder for an edifice sufficient for the exhibi- 
tion of the "Christ Rejected." I left the stage on the post- 
road and walked to Balston, where having slept, I walked to 
Saratoga Springs before early breakfast, accomplished my busi- 
ness and proceeded on foot to Schenectady next day returned 
by stage to Utica. In July my wife met me in Albany at Samuel 
M. Hopkins', and returned with me to Utica, where we took 
board with Mrs. Skinner, a sister of my late friend Dr. E. H. 
Smith. Weir was in Albany exhibiting his picture of Paul at 
Athens without success. Sir Thomas Lawrence's " West " was 
sent to Philadelphia and exhibited with a loss of more than 
$100; Sully 's "Capuchin Chapel" lost by its exhibition at 
Saratoga Springs, as did my "Christ Rejected"; the last, $50. 

It may be supposed that having some taste for the pictur- 
esque and more for rambling, I did not omit the opportunity 
neighborhood gave me of visiting Trenton Falls, to which 
place I rode once and once walked, stopping a day in clamber- 
ing rocks and making sketches. The village of Trenton I 
had visited as a paymaster in 1815. I now found with one of 
its inhabitants a good portrait by Copley. 

The last of August my wife left me to return home, and 
about the middle of September Doherty arrived with my pic- 
ture, which was put up for exhibition in the courthouse. The 
exhibition hi Utica yielded in three weeks $184.75, giving a 
profit after paying the expenses and transportation to Utica, 
of $124.75. 


My friend Dr. M. Payne had removed from Montreal to 
Geneva, and requested me to send on the picture to that place. 
I accordingly directed a building to be erected for it, and in 
the meantime sent it to Auburn. On the 18th of October, 1823, 
I left my friends of Utica and arrived at my house in New 
York on the 21st. 

In December I took a painting room at the corner of Nassau 
and Pine Streets, but sitters were shy. The "Christ Rejected" 
was still successful, and I employed a part of the winter of 
1823-4, in painting a scene from James Fenimore Cooper's 
" Spy." I had recently become acquainted with him, and ac- 
quaintance has ripened into friendship. 

On the 23d of February 1824, I purchased a large unpre- 
pared cloth, intended as a floor cloth, and having access to 
the garret of the house in which I had my atelier, I nailed it 
to the floor, and gave it several coats of white lead, which 
being dry, I proceeded to outline the "Bearing of the Cross" 
from the sketch previously made. So high and so low was the 
commencement of this my second big picture. 

This winter I became a member ot a club which called itself 
the Lunch members admitted by ballot, one black-ball ex- 
cluding the candidate. Of the members I recollect G. C. Ver- 
planck, J. F. Cooper, Halleck, Anthony Bleeker, Charles 
King, James Renwick, James Kent, J. Griscom, Brevoort, 
Bryant and Morse, as of my acquaintance before and since. 

About the beginning of May I hired a building with an en- 
trance from Broadway, and prepared it for my picture, which 
now approached New York, and on the 21st opened it for exhi- 
bition. The attention paid to it so far exceeded my expecta- 
tion, that I was encouraged to proceed with the " Bearing of 
the Cross." The receipts were in fourteen weeks $650. Mr. 
TrumbulPs fourth picture for the government was exhibiting 
part of the time, and his friend Stone of the Commercial Ad- 
vertiser, who represented it as a wonder, said it did not pay 
the room rent. The American Academy had its exhibition 
during May and June. 

In the meantime I had put up my second picture in my 


garret in Leonard Street, but on removing the " Christ Re- 
jected " from Broadway, I put the " Bearing of the Cross " up 
in its place, as a far better light to paint on it. I exhibited it 
in this place, but not with the success of the first. The 
" Christ Rejected " was exhibited in the gallery of the Ameri- 
can Academy of Fine Arts on shares, and yielded me profit. 

In November I visited Philadelphia, where Trumbull's 
" Resignation of Washington " was exhibiting free of rent in 
the State House, and yielding no profit. My errand at this 
time was to find a place for putting up the "Bearing of the 
Cross," which was done by engaging Sully and Earl's gallery 
on shares. 

To paint exhibition pictures and show them was the busi- 
ness of my life at this time; and from Philadelphia the "Bear- 
ing of the Cross" was sent with Doherty to Washington; to 
which place I went, partly to make arrangements for the pic- 
ture at Baltimore, and partly to settle my paymaster's ac- 
counts the treasury having made me defaulter to the amount 
of some thousand dollars; but on investigation the debt was 
brought down to one dollar, and that proceeded from an error 
in addition. 

I found at Gadsby's Hotel Causici the sculptor, and in the 
capitol Rembrandt Peale's painting of Washington on horse- 
back, with Lafayette, etc., at Yorktown the worst of his 
pictures. I visited the capitol with Messrs. Cambreleng and 
Van Rensselaer. I saw Trumbull's picture of the surrender of 
Burgoyne for the first time, having been at Norfolk when he 
exhibited it. I found it better than the " Resignation," but 
can say no more in its praise. The whole set was in bad odor. 
C. B. King agreed to exhibit my picture in his gallery. I 
visited my friend Major Vande venter, at Georgetown, and the 
place brought vivid reminiscences of the year 1807. I had 
formerly painted pictures of the major and his wife; but his 
picture did not satisfy, and I now took the opportunity of 
painting another for him, and staid some days with his most 
amiable and exemplary family. 

A distinguished member of Congress told me that the 


Custises, the relatives of Washington, had told him that they 
did not consider Peale's certificate picture like the general at 
.any period of his life, yet, he continued, "they signed Peale's 
certificate, stating that it is the true and only likeness of Wash- 
ington." He then mentioned a distinguished senator, whose 
name was appended to the same certificate, who told him that 
it was not a likeness in his opinion. On his reminding him of 
his signature, the reply was, "I could not deny the man." So 
much for certificates and for the love of truth ! This conversa- 
tion passed as we stood before Peale's picture of "Washington 
at Yorktown," which was, as it deserved, condemned. The 
dishonorable and immoral practice of certifying to falsehoods, 
or to that of which we are ignorant, is not confined to America. 
I found at Washington a Scotchman who told the Yankees 
that he could cure all diseases by a steam bath impregnated 
with herbs. He knew each person's disease by smelling the 
patient; that he had left four agents to cure the people at home, 
and had come with one assistant to cure us. He was furnished 
with due certificates signed by the lords and commons of Eng- 
land, and at their head the name of the Duke of York. 

I called with my friend Vandeventer on General Jackson, 
and was pleased with my reception and his manners. My 
friend, James Fenimore Cooper, visited Washington at this 
time, and I had the pleasure of his company, and that of some 
of his former naval associates on my return. I think he will 
remember the story of the Irish sportsman rabbit hunting, 
who, seeing a donkey looking over a hedge swore he had 
found the father of all rabbits. On his journey, February 
1825, 1 became acquainted with Robert Gilmor, Esq. of Balti- 
more, and saw his choice collection of pictures. On the six- 
teenth I arrived, after a very fatiguing journey, at my house, 
and found my family well; but in a few days was confined to 
my bed by illness for ten days, and to my chamber many 
more a lamentable beginning of the fifty-ninth year of my 

My next exertion as an artist was the composition of a third 
picture, connected with the crucifixion, which I called "Cal- 


vary." This winter and spring I finished the sketch in oil, 
thirty inches by twenty-five probably my best composition. 

Before transferring it to the large canvas, I painted from 
nature the principal figures and groups separately. I had 
none of that facility which attends the adept in drawing, and 
now felt the penalty one of the penalties of my idleness and 
folly when I had the Royal Academy of England at my com- 
mand, and the advice of the best historical painter of the age 
always ready for my instruction and both neglected. I now, 
and for some years before, studied the casts from the antique 
and unproved, but my drawing remained deficient. I had 
neglected "the spring of life," and it never returns. 

When studying the casts in the gallery of the American 
Academy of Fine Arts, I was very much struck by the defi- 
ciency apparent in those of Canova when compared with the 
antique. I was mortified to see that the man who was called 
the greatest genius the modern world had produced as a 
sculptor, was in my estimation a pigmy, and I felt, until some 
years after, when I saw the Mercury of Thorwaldsden in the 
gallery of the National Academy of Design, that it was in vain 
for a modern to emulate the statuary of antiquity. 

In April I made a journey to Baltimore received my 
" Bearing of the Cross " from Rubens Peale, and had it trans- 
ported to Philadelphia, where it was put up in Sully & Earl's 
gallery it proved an unprofitable exhibition; but I passed 
the first week of May very pleasantly with Sully and other 

From the 23d to the 28th of May I made a pleasant excursion 
to New London and Norwich, to direct a young man in the 
mode of exhibiting my "Christ Rejected" in those places and 
further east. Returning home, I found some portrait painting 
awaiting me, and continued my studies for the "Calvary." 
Warned by the bad effect of my floor-cloth experiment (for I 
never got a good surface for the "Bearing of the Cross"), I 
had a cloth prepared at McCauley's manufactory, Philadel- 
phia, which proved satisfactory. I likewise ordered a canvas, 
twenty feet by ten, having determined to make a picture from 


the etched outline of West's "Death on the Pale Horse," tak- 
ing, as my guide, the printed description; and in the summer 
of 1825 was busily employed in studies for the "Calvary" 
and in painting the above-named picture. 

Having determined to finish my "Death on the Pale Horse" 
before the "Calvary," I exerted myself for that purpose, and 
making an arrangement with the directors of the American 
Academy of Fine Arts for the use of the gallery at twenty-five 
dollars a week, I opened the picture to the public in two 
months and twenty-six days from the commencement of the 
outline. This exhibition was successful, and my picture was 
only taken down to make way for David's "Coronation of 

In November I became acquainted with the person and 
paintings of Mr. T. Cole, since so well known as the celebrated 
landscape painter. I did the best I could to make the public 
acquainted with the extraordinary merit of his pictures even 
then, and it is among the few of my good deeds. He has proved 
more than I anticipated, and I have been repaid by his friend- 
ship and gratified by his success. Mr. Trumbull attracted 
my attention to Mr. Cole, by the most liberal praises of his 
painting, and expressions of surprise at the taste and skill he 
had manifested. 

In January 1826, 1 had the " Bearing of the Cross " on ex- 
hibition at Charleston, the "Death on the Pale Horse" at 
Norfolk, and the " Christ Rejected " at Washington. 

It may be amusing to my readers to see a specimen of the 
literary talent of one of my agents, an honest old man, who 
was indebted to his native country, England, for his education. 
It is a letter dated Pitsburg (meaning Petersburg in Virginia), 
March 15th, 1826. 

"The proceeds of the painting was 110 dollars in Richmond 
it wos very bad weather all the time I Cold not Geat 
the Church in Pitsburge, it wos sold to the Freemasons for a 
Log, and it wos Poold all to Peasses in the in Side, I have a 
Ball Room in the sentre of the Town, it is a much better 
Plass. I open'd on Mounday Eavning at 6 o'clock, at seven it 


began to rain. I receive $1.50; Tuesday $17.50 Wensday $6.25 
Thursday at 1 o'clock $6.25" the time he closed his epistle 
"I leave year on Sunday for Norfork 25 P. S. I pay $1.50 
Per Day four the room Your Humbel Sarvent - 

This, beside being a literary curiosity, will give the reader 
some notions of the mode of exhibiting from town to town, 
and the contingencies upon which profit depends. It may be 
supposed that the eloquence of this showman did not add to 
the attraction of my picture; but I have known some of the 
tribe, who, by management and an oily tongue, have made 
money for their employers and for themselves. 

In February I had recurrence of abscess with attendant 
illness, an evil which has occurred at intervals, and in my mind 
is traced to that I have recorded of my early days in London. 
On the 19th I find in my journal, "I this day complete the 
sixtieth year of my age; physically worse am I morally 
better? As a man, I hope I am a little improved; as an artist, 
more. My health worse, my fortune a little better by the in- 
crease of income from the works of my pencil." 

I was this winter anxiously employed in painting on the 
" Calvary," in an apartment granted to me by the corporation 
of the city. 

At this time the National Academy of Design was created, 
composed of and governed by artists only. I became an active 
member, being elected an academician. In the spring I con- 
tinued to paint studies from nature, for the "Calvary," and 
likewise painted several portraits. In the month of May the 
National Academy of Design opened their first annual exhibi- 
tion, which has increased in interest yearly. 

About this time I sent my picture of "Christ Rejected" to 
the far West, and it produced profit and compliments; but it 
likewise produced a letter which I will lay before the reader, 
as a proof of the effect which a picture may produce in exciting 
ambition, and of the kind of stuff ambition may be made of. 
"Urbana, Ohio, Champaign county, Dec. 30th, 1826. Mr. 
William Dunlap, I write my respects to you through the 
influence of the gentleman that had your painting through this 


country. I informed him that I was an artist of that kind 
also; am in low circumstances; am 20 years old, and have a 
great genius for historical painting; and he informed me to 
write to you, informing you on the subject of painting. He 
told me that I ought to make some specimens of my work, 
and if it would justify, I could go to the National Academy of 
Fine Arts. I wish you to write to me on the subject if you 
please. The citizens of this place thinks, with tuition, I would 
make a superior to any artist they had ever saw. I went 40 
miles to see your painting, and it creates a new feeling in me. 
Nothing more at present, but remain your humble servant. 
H. H." 

I saw two pictures in the possession of Mr. Samuel Maverick, 
said to be Hogarth's; one of them has a drummer which 
would not dishonor the great painter. These pictures were 
brought to this country by Mr. Charles Caton, himself a 
painter of merit, and were painted by him. The latter part 
of this month I passed at Albany, having taken my "Death 
on the Pale Horse" thither, and being enabled, by the polite- 
ness of Mr. Stevenson the mayor, Doctor Beck, Mr. Ganse- 
voort, and other gentlemen, to have it exhibited in the great 
hall of the Academy, where the effect was far beyond what I 
had seen from it elsewhere. Mr. Croswell advised and assisted 
me in the most friendly manner in the accomplishment of my 

I resided at this time with my good friend Cruttenden, and 
the conversations at his table were ofttimes amusing. We 
had with us a rough judge from one of the western counties, 
who was particularly annoyed by a young man of New York, 
of rather much pretensions to multifarious knowledge. Upon 
the dandy's talking, with a dictatorial air, of Belzoni and the 
Orrery that he had discovered in an Egyptian pyramid, the 
old man lost all patience and broke out with "Belzoni is not 
so ignorant as to talk of an Orrery in an Egyptian pyramid. 
No, sir, you will not find the word in his writings. The word is 
modern a name given to a modern invention, in honor to 
Lord Orrery. You mean, if you mean anything, the Zodiac." 


The young man walked off, and the judge supposing him to be 
an Albanian, turned to me, "You must not expect anything 
from this stupid place. There are not three men in it that ever 
thought. I'll tell you an anecdote. At a time of yellow fever 
in New York, two miniature painters, Trott and Tisdale, came 
to this city; they took a room and painted some heads. This 
was about the year '96. It was a novelty, and the gentlemen 
of Albany visited the painters and were pleased with them; 
and on occasion of a ball they were getting up, they sent them 
tickets of invitation. But before the ball took place they had 
time to reflect and consult; and the result was, that a note was 
written to the painters to say that the gentlemen of Albany 
must recall the invitation, as, according to the rules, no me- 
chanics could be admitted." I insert this freely, because of the 
known intelligence of the inhabitants of a city where our legis- 
lature convenes, our highest courts sit, and many of our judges 
and first men reside, who are accustomed to think and act with 
propriety. "Sir," he continued, "I saw both the notes myself," 
which were probably from shopkeepers or their clerks, whose 
knowledge might not rise higher in the scale than such notes 

From Albany, where I received profit from my exhibition, 
and pleasure from my friends, I proceeded to Troy, and had 
the picture exhibited with profit; and thence to Utica, where 
I found a man apparently equal to the charge of my picture; 
which was exhibited profitably, and sent on westward. In 
Utica I found great change enormous growth some of my 
friends gone from thence, and some removed by death; but 
Lothrop and his charming family, with many others still 
ready to add to my pleasure and welfare. I painted at this 
time several portraits. 

At Syracuse, a new place, I had my picture put up in an 
unfinished church, where it did but little, and I sent it on to 
Auburn and passed on to Geneva. After a few days I went to 
Canandaigua and to Rochester. I will copy a passage from my 
journal "When I saw Utica in 1815, I was astonished; 
in 1823 I admired its growth and again in 1826. Syracuse, 


Auburn, and Geneva, are all causes of admiration from their 
prosperity, as is Canandaigua, but all sink into insignificance 
in comparison with Rochester, when the time of its first settle- 
ment is considered. In 1815 it was unknown: now the canal, 
bridges, churches, court house, hotels, all upon a great scale, 
excite my astonishment anew at the wonders of the west." 
I viewed the Falls of the Genesee River, and soon after em- 
barked in the canal boat, and passed many flourishing villages 
to Lockport, where the excavations for the canal are of a 
magnitude to excite the surprise of the untravelled. The canal 
brought me into Tonawanda Creek, where another scene of a 
milder aspect is presented, and I soon saw the great Niagara. 
One of my pictures was on exhibition at Buffalo, and I ordered 
it on to Detroit. In the towns I had passed I made arrange- 
ments for the picture of "Death on the Pale Horse," which was 
to follow. 

Buffalo, which I had left in 1815 a desolated village, I now 
found a large and thriving town, with splendid hotels, large 
churches, a theatre, a noble court house, showing enterprise 
and prosperity; while steamboats and other vessels indicate 
the commerce of the inland sea. Rain induced me to return 
without visiting again the Falls of Niagara: I have ever re- 
gretted the omission. In the canal boat I retraced my way 
home. I landed at a village called Lyons, slept and proceeded 
by stage to Geneva, thence to Auburn, and at Syracuse em- 
barked on the canal for Utica, where I arrived on the 21st of 
October. A manuscript was here lent me, which I read with 
interest, written on the Bible and New Testament, by John 
Q. Adams, as instructions to his son, by this indefatigable 
man. Extract, respecting the latter:- "If it be objected, 
that the principle of benevolence towards our enemies, and 
forgiveness of injuries, may be found, not only in the books of 
the Old Testament, but even in some of the heathen writers, 
and particularly in the Discourses of Socrates, I answer, that 
the same may be said of the immortality of the soul, and of the 
rewards and punishments of a future state. The doctrine was 
not more of a discovery than the precept. But the connection 


with each other, the authority with which they were taught, 
and the miracles by which they were enforced, belong ex- 
clusively to the mission of Christ." 

At Utica I again was employed to paint several portraits; 
receiving, as usual, the kind attentions of my friends, and in- 
dulging my propensity to ramble about the neighborhood. 
On the 4th of November I left Utica, and on the 8th was 
happy with my family. 

During this winter of 1826-7 I painted on my picture of 
Calvary, but had part of my time occupied by an engage- 
ment with the managers of the Bowery Theatre to write 
occasionally for them. As the subject of filling the vacant pan- 
els of the rotunda, at Washington, was at this tune agitated 
in Congress, I wrote to G. C. Verplanck on the subject. The 
following is an answer to my letter. "Washington, Jan. 29, 
1827. Dear Sir : I do not know, at this moment, how I can be 
useful in furthering your views. The whole subject of decorat- 
ing, as well as finishing the capitol, is now in the hands of a 
committee, to which I do not belong. General Van Rensselaer 
is the chairman. I understand that they are very anxious to 
press the completion of the building; and Mr. Bulfinch, the 
architect, complains much of the precipitancy. If so, probably 
they will recommend so large an appropriation to the archi- 
tect as to leave little for other artists. As soon as they make 
their report I will send you a copy. 

"Besides the four vacancies hi the rotunda, I have been 
urging the propriety of placing some works of art connected 
with the history, or at least with the scenery of the country, 
in the large room of the President's house, which is now filling 
up. Its size (80 or 90 feet by 50), its height, etc., fit it ad- 
mirably for the purpose; and it would be honorable to the 
nation to apply it thus, instead of filling it merely with mirrors, 
curtains, and chandeliers, like a tavern ball room, or at best, 
a city drawing room on a large scale. I am, etc." 

A member of the Senate wrote to me " Col. Trumbull is 
here, and has been all whiter seeking to be employed to fill 
the vacant panels." About this time the letters written by 


Trumbull to the President (for which see his biography) were 
published by the directors of the American Academy, and the 
originals, by unanimous vote, deposited in the archives. 

During the winter and spring of 1826-7 I not only painted 
on my "Calvary," but put up and painted on the "Bearing 
of the Cross," and finished several portraits; one of which, 
Thomas Eddy, was for the governors of the New York Hos- 
pital; who afterwards ordered a copy, to place in the Asylum 
for the Insane, an institution owing its being to Mr. Eddy. 
Several copies of this portrait were ordered. 

I experienced, during the winter of 1827-8, a great diminu- 
tion of profit from my exhibition pictures, which were travel- 
ling east and west. The incidents attending them would fill 
a volume. At one place a picture would be put up in a church, 
and a sermon preached in recommendation of it: in another, 
the people would be told from the pulpit to avoid it, as blas- 
phemous; and in another the agent is seized for violating the 
law taxing puppet shows, after permission given to exhibit; 
and when he is on his way to another town, he is brought back 
by constables, like a criminal, and obliged to pay the tax, and 
their charges for making him a prisoner. Here the agent of 
a picture would be encouraged by the first people of the place, 
and treated by the clergy as if he were a saint; and there 
received as a mountebank, and insulted by a mob. Such is the 
variety of our manners, and the various degrees of refinement in 
our population. On the whole, the reception of my pictures 
was honorable to me and to my countrymen. 

In February, 1828, I was introduced to Horatio Greenough, 
who will occupy a distinguished page in this work. About this 
time I painted, and gave to James Hackett a full length, about 
17 inches by 12, of himself as Jonathan. In April I wasted 
some time in studying lithography and making experiments 
I say wasted, because I did not succeed. 

On the 5th of May, 1828, I opened for exhibition my long- 
wrought-on picture of "Calvary." I will indulge myself by 
extracts from an essay which appeared in the "Mirror," writ- 
ten by a stranger to me, recently from South Carolina. 


"This picture is eighteen by fourteen feet. The subject is 
the moment before the crucifixion of Jesus, and the prepara- 
tions for the sacrifice. How far this great and truly poetical 
design has been brought into life and being on the canvas, it 
is for the spectator to feel and judge. The first impression on 
the eye is the living mass, the amphitheatre of figures, that sur- 
rounds the base of the mount, and gradually ascends, thickens, 
and fades into distant perspective. The eye then retraces its 
progress, and pauses on more distinct and separate impres- 
sions, dwelling with delight on the beautiful grouping, and 
classically correct costume of tjie multitude assembled to wit- 
ness the death of the great Author of Christianity. 

"But it is not true, that 'the eye of the spectator is first 
attracted to the principal figure that of the Redeemer who 
stands near the top of the mount.' Had this 'attraction' ex- 
isted; had this effect been produced: the picture would have 
been more complete in its epic purpose. On the contrary, 'the 
eye is attracted,' instantly, and instinctively, to the groups in 
the foreground; the striking and passionate attitudes of the 
first followers of Jesus; and the expression of ecclesiastical 
persecution against the reformer, which burns among the priests 
and Pharisees. The 'principal' figures are, therefore, the 
multitude; and Jesus, in the background, is but auxiliary to 
the great effects. 

"The four figures on the left, consisting of Mary the mother, 
Mary Magdalen, Mary the daughter of Cleophas, and John, 
compose a group of the deepest interest. Abstract them from 
the picture, and, in themselves, they constitute an eloquent 
commentary on the subject. The strong expression of grief, 
the grace of form, the intellectual beauty which distinguishes 
the females we have never seen exceeded. 

"The high priest, in the next group, ought, perhaps, to be 
placed nearer his victim; but it is a classical and finished 

"On the right, the harmony of this beautiful picture is sus- 
tained with equal, if not superior effect. The female whose 
exquisite neck is presented to the spectator, and the wife of 


Pilate 'in costly robes,' are beautifully delineated. We then 
ascend the hill, pass on from object to object, from the Pharisee 
disputing with Joseph, to Peter and Barabbas; Simon support- 
ing the cross, the Roman soldier, women, and other spectators 
fill this portion of the picture. On the extreme right is seen a 
female with two lovely girls. The Asiatic guards which occupy 
this division of the foreground, are also in strict and classical 

The reader must not think that I consider this praise as 
just. Although the picture is my best composition and most 
finished, it is, in my opinion at present, very defective. Writers 
who describe pictures are generally ignorant of true merit, and 
partial in their criticisms or eulogiums. 

I had at this period commenced my " History of the Ameri- 
can Theatre," which eventually yielded me some remuneration, 
both from the publishers here and in England, but of course 
occupied much of my time; and I had before this learned that 
time was my only property, and the proper use of it the only 
support of my family. 

My income was at this time very low. I had contracted 
debts to support me while painting my last large picture. I 
sold to Mr. Eickholtz of Philadelphia, my lay figure which was 
one of the best, and purchased for me from the maker in Paris. 

In June I went to Philadelphia to make arrangements for 
exhibiting the "Calvary" in that city, which was done in the 
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, through the liberality of 
the Hon. Joseph Hopkinson, president of that institution. It 
was exhibited during the months of October and November, 
1828, occupying the more the pity! though for a short time, 
the place of Allston's great picture. The profit was little. I 
had in the meantime an exhibition open in New York, which 
yielded something, and I painted a few portraits. In October 
the "Bearing of the Cross" was sent on a tour to the west. 
In the winter the "Calvary" was exhibited in Baltimore, but 
none of these efforts were successful to any extent. I received 
something from successful dramas at the Bowery Theatre, and 
painted during the winter, principally after the commence- 


ment of 1829, several portraits. From my journal I extract an 
entry, not made for the public eye: 

"Thursday, 19th of February, 1829 1 am this day 63 
years of age, active, and I think stronger than a year ago. I 
believe I am improving as an artist. As a man, I hope I am 
but it is little! May God receive my thanks for his blessings, 
and may his will be done!" 

In March my "Calvary" was exhibiting in Washington 
with praise and profit. I painted a portrait of Samuel S. 
Conant, which led to a visit of some profit and much pleasure 
in a region new to me Vermont. About this time the Com- 
mon Council notified all the occupants of the old almshouse 
to vacate on, or before first of August next. A very pleasant 
club was formed, of which I remained a member until it 
expired, like all mortal things. It was called the Sketch Club. 
The members met at each other's houses, sketched and con- 
versed principally on art, took refreshments, and unfortunately, 
sometimes suppers. The National Academicians were most of 
them members, as were many of my literary friends. 

In July I had a severe recurrence of the disease which has 
pursued me through life. In the latter part of the same month 
I received an invitation from Samuel S. Conant (at that time 
at his father's in Vermont, disabled by a lameness, which some 
years after caused his death), to come and paint eight portraits 
of his father's family at Brandon. In August I received a 
definite invitation and agreement for eight portraits from John 
Conant and sons. In this month I made a tour to Albany - 
Troy Saratoga to prepare the way for the exhibition of 
"Calvary," returned to Albany, and staid at my friend Samuel 
M. Hopkins', most pleasantly with his amiable family, while I 
painted several portraits at the Academy Hall. My friend 
Cruttenden engaged two fancy pictures to be painted at New 

I stopped on my way to Brandon at Castleton, a very pleas- 
ant village, and became acquainted with Doctor Lewis Beck, 
brother to my friend Doctor Beck of Albany, and with Doctor 
Woodward, afterwards of vital importance to me. Passing 


through Rutland, I reached Brandon, and took up my resi- 
dence with the hospitable family of the elder Mr. Conant. 

Vermont, a rough country and newly settled, is a perfect 
contrast to Virginia. A black face is not to be seen in Brandon. 
Every man works and all prosper. John Conant, like every 
other father of a family in the State, came from the old New 
England States. The country was settled and obtained its 
independent self-government in despite of its neighbor, New 
York. Mr. Conant was a first settler at Brandon, built his own 
house with his own hands (and a very good one it is), and by 
prudence and industry established a manufactory of iron ware, 
and a family of children, together forming riches that princes 
might envy. I remained with this worthy family until the 21st 
of October, when ice, and the snow on the mountain, warned 
me to seek home. Painting, and rambling over hills and by 
the side of Otter Creek, a river that falls into Lake Champlain, 
with reading (for I found books and readers here), filled up 
my time agreeably, and I took leave of my Brandon friends 
with an impression of deep esteem. Mr. Chauncey Conant 
conveyed me over the Hubbard Town hills to Castleton, and 
pointed out on the way one of the spots made memorable by 
a skirmish between a foraging party from Burgoyne's army 
and the Vermontese militia. At Castleton he left me, and I 
proceeded by stage to Albany, suffering severely from cold on 
the way. 

At New York I found Mr. West's youngest son, Benjamin, 
with his father's "Christ Rejected." As I had been fully 
persuaded that England would never permit that great work 
to be carried across the Atlantic, I had, as I have stated, made 
use of the etchings of figures published from it, and always 
avowed the obligation. On seeing the picture, I put out all 
the figures borrowed, and introduced others of my own, worse. 
I lost the Barabbas, but I gained by a group of the Virgin and 
others, which now occupies his place. I admired Mr. West's 
noble picture, the principal figure of which I think one of the 
finest I ever beheld: yet, strange as it may appear, I frankly 
avow, that my picture, with all its faults, rose in my estimation. 


It must not be supposed that I was, or am, so blind as to com- 
pare my drawing, touch, coloring, or finishing, to West's: be- 
side that all the originality of the subject is his. But I found 
that my grouping and disposition of the light and shade, the 
attitude of Christ, and the situation of Pilate, the executioner 
and others, were as different as if I had never read a description 
of his picture. 

This winter I painted two pictures for my friend Cruttenden, 
and a few portraits. Among others, one of my best efforts, 
a child returning from school, for the Hon. William M'Coun, 
vice-chancellor; and a female study, which I called the "Historic 
Muse," bought in 1833, by H. C. Beach, Esq. This, Sully said, 
was my best picture. 

I received rather more than of late from my travelling pic- 
tures; and on the 19th of February 1830, 1 find in my journal, 
"I am today 64 years of age active, and enjoying generally 
comfortable health." 

In March was exhibited a collection of the best pictures 
from old masters which America had seen. The gallery of the 
American Academy of Fine Arts was hired by a man of the 
name of Abrams, who fitted it up admirably for the occasion. 
This man (as I was informed by an intelligent English gentle- 
man, an amateur painter) was a picture dealer and cleaner in 
London; and having, in conjunction with another dealer, of 
the name of Wilmot, collected a number of good pictures, 
under various pretences, they concerted the scheme of flying 
with them to New York. Here they were stopped, and Abrams 
imprisoned. Wilmot, under the name of Ward, escaped the 
catchpoles, and embarked for Liverpool in the same vessel 
with my informant; and contrived, by cards and betting with 
the passengers, to gain upwards of three hundred guineas. On 
his arrival he was recognized before he could reach the great 
hiding place, London, and seized by those he had defrauded. 
Abrams made some compromise, by which he was permitted 
to exhibit the pictures for the benefit of the proprietors; and 
he did it adroitly, with an impudence worthy of a picture 

Mr. Morse, the President of the National Academy of De- 
sign, having gone to Italy, I, as vice-president, exerted myself 
for the institution: and on returning from a council meeting, 
in the evening, my wife put in my hand a letter which she, by 
accidentally answering a knock at the door, had received from 
a man who gave it and hastily departed. That no hand writ- 
ing might be recognized, the whole was in imitation of printed 
letters. A note of the Bank of America for one hundred dollars 
was enclosed. The letter was as follows: 

"Wm. Dunlap, Esq. 

"My dear Dunlap During the high wind on 
Sunday the enclosed 100 dollar bill was blown up here from 
your BANK NOTE WORLD. As we have every thing here with- 
out money and without price, several of your old friends 
thought it best to send it down to you. I accordingly inclose 
it, hoping you will receive it as coming from ABOVE. 

"Your friend before and after death, 1 

I never have had suspicion or hint of the author or authors 
of this delicate communication; but I hope, if any of the parties 
see this book, they will accept my thanks and assurances, 
that the God-send was appropriated as it was intended. 

On the 1st of April I visited Philadelphia, to solicit pictures 
for the exhibition of the National Academy. I of course saw 
all the painters and obtained a number of pictures. I called to 
see Mr. and Mrs. Darley, and found them in the house where 
I had passed so many happy hours with Charles Brockden 
Brown, his wife, children and friends. 

Shortly after returning home I received an invitation to come 
to Castleton, Vermont, and paint ten portraits, which occa- 
sioned my going to that pleasant village again, and passing 
the summer with Solomon Foote, Esq. principal of the high 
school, then just opened. 

My friend S. S. Conant was at this tune at Clarendon 
Springs, in the hope of help for his lameness. I visited him 
on the 4th of July; and passing the night there, walked next 

1 Brown, who was Dunlap 'a intimate friend, had been dead twenty years. 


day to Rutland. In the evening I walked to West Rutland, 
and sleeping there, returned by daybreak in the stage to 
Castleton, where I entered the high school (the door on the 
latch, as is the case all through the place) and went to bed 
without the knowledge of the family. 

In August, by invitation I went to Rutland, and painted 
some portraits. I remember the place and its pleasant walks 
with pleasure; and with still more, General Williams and his 
family. Having an invitation from Mr. Ira Smith, of Orwell, 
and knowing it was near a landing place on Lake Champlain, 
from which I could readily embark, by steamboat, for White 
Hall, I proceeded thither and painted several portraits : but my 
old enemy, my chronic disease, which had given me warnings 
of late, came upon me with deadly force, and I was confined 
to my bed, with nurses and sitters-up, for sixteen days. Far 
from my family and among strangers, in a country tavern, my 
situation would appear hard; but I found kind people, a most 
kind nurse in the sister of the landlady, Adeline Wilson, to 
whom and to Doctor Woodward, of Castleton, who came to 
me and directed the practice of a younger physician, Doctor 
Gale, I shall with life retain gratitude. My situation was 
such, that it was suggested I should send for my wife; but 
Woodward told me not to do it, as it would give her anxiety 
and trouble, cause unnecessary expense, and that, although I 
was a very sick man, I should be up again in about the time, 
at which it really so occurred. I wrote to my wife only to 
inform her of my convalescence. In October I was able to 
finish the portraits begun and two more, making eight (one 
a present to my landlord) and on the 21st of October I com- 
menced my homeward journey, and soon was happily in the 
midst of my family. 

During the winter of 1830-1, 1 painted a few portraits, and a 
hasty picture of the "Attack on the Louvre," in the Parisian 
Revolution of July 1830. It was exhibited, but without suc- 
cess. I wrote and delivered lectures on historical composition 
in painting to the students of the National Academy. On the 
anniversary of my birth I wrote: "February 19th, 1831 I 


am this day sixty-five years of age. I am in health, having 
no return of my disease since the attack at Orwell, in Septem- 
ber last. I hope I am better; and I am thankful to God for 
great blessings. Richer I am not, but hope supports me. I 
labor daily, rising between six and seven." I painted on the 
"Louvre" and some portraits during the winter, and on the 21st 
of April delivered an address to the students on distributing 
premiums, which was published by the academy. It made 
some impression, and prompted letters to me from various parts 
of the Union and from Europe, particularly a very welcome 
one from J. Fenimore Cooper, from Paris. In the summer 
of 1831 I painted some portraits, and repainted a great part 
of the " Bearing of the Cross." 

Few persons who have lived to old age have experienced so 
many and so violent attacks of disease. During that period 
of my life which is not introduced in this work, when I was 
engaged for many years in directing the New York theatre and 
writing plays, I passed my summers at my native place, 
Perth Amboy, and seldom a year passed without illness; some- 
times bilious fever or remittents, and more than once with 
extreme danger to life. 

From the 25th of June to the 9th of July 1831, I was in 
great distress from a recurrence of my chronic complaint: on 
the 1st of July my friend Dr. McLean brought Dr. Mott to 
me, who performed that which in my case Post had declared 
impossible. From that tune I recovered, and, to dismiss the 
subject, I remained in good health until the autumn of 1833, 
when I was much distressed and continued so until February 
1834, in which month Dr. Mott performed the operation of 
lithotomy, which was attended with difficulties very unusual; 
and I write at this moment, June 1834, under the afflictions of 
pain and weakness caused by the disease. My friends, Francis 
and McLean, have watched over me with the attention of 
affectionate brothers, and to them and the skilful operator I 
must remain grateful for life and a portion of health and ease, 
as long as life is lent me. But even their skill and attention 
would have availed little but for unwearied nursing of my wife 


and daughter. I have had, and have, many blessings; but 
those flowing from my family are the most precious. 

In August 1831 I was strong enough to paint several por- 
traits, and a project was agitated of publishing a quarterly 
review of fine arts in every part of the world to that project, 
perhaps, it being given up, is owing the present work. At this 
time a number of Ward's pictures were sent to New York 
for exhibition a cattle piece and several others very good; 
but the adventure sunk a great sum of money. Mr. West's 
"Christ Rejected" was put up for exhibition after having 
been eminently successful throughout the Union; but a repe- 
tition did not answer in New York. Nothing but novelty at- 
tracts our people. 

Having had an invitation to come to Burlington, Vermont, 
when at Castleton, I, finding myself pressed for money, left 
home on the 8th of September, and after a few hours spent with 
my friends in Albany, passed on the old track to Whitehall, and 
up the lake to the very pretty town I aimed at. As a second 
string to my bow, I ordered on my picture of "Calvary." 
But all would not do at promising Burlington. I had no pic- 
tures to paint, and the exhibition yielded very little; however, 
during its exhibition, I crossed the lake to the rough and un- 
promising Plattsburg, where I found warm friends, portraits 
to paint, and, having removed my picture thither, a profitable 

I put up at a tavern and was well treated, but my home was 
at Dr. Samuel Beaumont's. His wife was Miss Charlotte 
Taylor and my townswoman, and he has acted like a son or 
brother. I remained at Plattsburg until November 2d; then 
embarked on my return voyage with impressions of esteem for 
many left behind me, and none more than for Moss Kent, 
Esq. brother to my old friend the ex-chancellor. On the 6th 
of November I found myself at home with my family. 

Mr. Gouverneur Kemble had for some time past the collec- 
tion of pictures bought in Spain by the late Richard Meade, 
Esq. exhibited at Clinton Hall, but with loss. Doctor Hosack 
has supported the American Academy of Fine Arts, by erecting 


a very convenient building in Barclay Street, with good rooms 
for exhibition and for the casts. 

This winter of 1831-2, I was requested to give two lectures 
on the fine arts, in the Clinton Hall lecture room, for the benefit 
of the Mercantile Library Association. I complied. This 
addressing large assemblies of people was a new business to me ; 
and it is rather late at sixty-five or sixty-six years of age to 
begin to play the orator. I believe that I did not essentially fail 
in what was expected from me. I at this time lectured to the 
students of the National Academy. My prospects as to re- 
ceipts and the necessary means of living were this winter very 
gloomy, and my lecturing suggested the notion of putting up 
all my pictures in the Clinton gallery and lecturing on them. 
I carried this into effect and gained by the exertion. My 
" History of the American Theatre " was now nearly ready 
for publication. Towards spring I had some portraits to 
paint at generous prices. 

In the month of April 1832, I removed all my pictures to a 
gallery, the corner of Anthony Street, Broadway, and had a 
painting room adjoining. The profits of exhibition were to 
be shared with the owner of the building, but there were none, 
owing principally to the prevalence of Asiatic cholera, and 
partly to the improper occupation of the lower part of the 
house. During the summer I attended daily at this place, 
although the neighborhood was the seat of disease. Happily 
I had removed my family from that region to a distant and 
more airy situation in the Sixth Avenue. 

In October, about the tune of publishing my " History of the 
American Theatre," I visited Albany for a few days, and on my 
return for the first time stopped at West Point, but was disap- 
pointed in my views (which were to see the old and new objects 
worthy of attention) by incessant hard rain. I returned home, 
and in a few days went to Philadelphia. It happened to be 
election time, and I find this entry in my journal: "Sunday, 
October 14th My inn is thronged with what are called poli- 
ticians; men who gamble by betting on elections, and men 
seeking or seeking to keep offices. Swearing, drinking 


and wagering was the order of the day. It is a melancholy 
and degrading picture." On the 16th I returned home. 

In November, my ** History of the American Theatre" hav- 
ing been published, I received letters of compliment from every 
part of the United States, and published proposals for the 
work I now write on. 

About the last of December, Mr. Gimbrede the teacher of 
drawing at West Point died, and my friends urged an applica- 
tion in my favor as his successor. The answer was that Mr. 
Leslie was appointed. Mr. Leslie accepted the appointment, 
and acted upon it for a short tune. 

Tuesday, 19th of February 1833. I entered my 68th year 
of age. I find this entry in my journal. 

"My health generally good; my activity little impaired. 
My pecuniary circumstances better. My blessings many, but 
my thankfulness not adequately strong but I am thankful, 
and hope to be more and more so." 

The 27th in the evening I received the following : 

" New York, February 27, 1833. 

"Dear Sir: At a meeting of the committee of the citizens 
of New York, friendly to literature and the drama, held this 
evening at the Shakespeare Hotel, it was unanimously resolved 
that ten tickets, seats secured in Box No. 16, be presented to 
you and the members of your family, for the benefit to take 
place at the Park to-morrow evening. 

"We are with sentiments of esteem and great respect, 


" CHARLES KINO, Sec. Chairman. 

"To WUliam Dunlap, Esq." 

I returned an answer in the most respectful manner thank- 
ing the committee, but declining being present at what was 
called a festival in my honor. 

On the 5th of March I received the following from the hands 
of my good young friend, William Sidney M'Coun. 


"New York, March 5, 1833. 

"Dear Sir: It has become iny pleasing duty as the chair- 
man of the committee, appointed by the citizens of New 
York, who were convened to express their deep sense of the 
services rendered by you to the promotion of the fine arts, 
and the dramatic literature of our country, to inform you 
that a benefit has been appropriated, in which many of your 
fellow citizens have had an opportunity of expressing their 
estimate of those services, and bearing their testimony to your 
character as a private citizen. For the proceeds I refer you 
to the Hon. Wm. T. M'Coun, Treasurer. 

"Allow me, in the name of the committee, to congratulate 
you upon the success that has attended their efforts, and to 
add then* fervent wishes that the evening of your life may be 
as happy as the former part of it has been usefully and honor- 
ably employed in the advancement of the cause of virtue. 
"Accept, dear sir, 

"The expression of my personal regard and respect. 


"William Dunlap, Esq." "Chairman. 

I returned an answer very inadequate to my feelings. ' 
The net proceeds of this most flattering compliment as paid 
to me by the treasurer, the Hon. William T. M'Coun, Vice- 
Chancellor, was $2517.54. In addition to the above names, 
George P. Morris, Charles King, Doctors McLean and Francis, 
William S. M'Coun, William C. Bryant, and many other 
personal friends, with still more of my fellow citizens personally 
unknown to me, together with members of the dramatic corps 
zealously aided this most honorable testimony and opportune 
gift; a gift which has enabled me to labor on the present work, 
and supported me under the afflicting disease I have before 
mentioned. If this autobiography appears to others as it does 
to me, of undue length, it must be attributed to my knowing 
more (not of myself), but of the incidents occurring to me, than 
I know of those which influence the conduct of other men. 




THIS gentleman was the son of Joseph Wright, of Borden- 
town, New Jersey, and Patience Lovell of the same place, so 
celebrated afterwards as Mrs. Wright the modeller in wax. 
The subject of this memoir was born at Bordentown, on the 
16th of July, 1756. After the death of his father, his mother 
about the year 1772, carried him with other children to Lon- 
don; she became famous for her modelling in wax, and was 
enabled to give Joseph a good education. He was in his efforts 
to become a painter, aided by Benjamin West, and by Hopner, 
who married his sister. 

In a letter from Mrs. Hopner to her mother in 1781, who was 
then in Paris, and very successful in her wax modelling, she 
requests her not to write to Joseph in such style as will en- 
courage him to think that she will make a fortune for him; for 
she says, Joe is inclined enough already to be idle, and that he 
receives the money from the wax-work exhibition, and spends 
it at pleasure. Joseph, however, before he left England had 
made himself a good portrait painter, and had painted a like- 
ness of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George the Fourth. 

In the winter of 1782, Joseph was placed by his mother 
under the protection of Benjamin Franklin in Paris and the 
following letter from William Temple Franklin, a protegee of 
his grandfather, shows in some measure how the young painter 
was employed in the French capital. 

" A Monsieur, Monsieur Wright, 

"Hotel de York, 
"Rue Jacob Fauxbourg, St. Germain. Passy, Feb. 28, 1782. 

"Dear Sir: Inclosed are the directions of the ladies to 
whom I think you will do well to carry, and show your per- 



From the collection of The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 


formance. The former, Madame de Chauminot, will, I doubt 
not, employ you in taking her likeness, providing you are dis- 
posed and not exorbitant in your price. The time for waiting 
upon these ladies will be in the morning, from half-past twelve 
to two. The sooner you go the better. 

"I am, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 

"Mr. Wright." 

A passage in a letter from his mother to him, dated in this 
same year, August 16th, no doubt alludes to the result of the 
application advised by the above. "I am sorry for your sake 
that the Duchess forgot the character of her station, or her 
own character, in the affair of the two guineas. But I am so 
well acquainted with the world, that I am not disappointed. 
My dear son, silence, patience, prudence, industry, will put you 
above all those mean and little minds, and teach you how to 
act when you become great." 

In the autumn (October) of 1782, Joseph departed by sea 
from Nantz, and went, or was driven by stress of weather to 
port St. Andrew's, in Spain. He was shipwrecked probably 
on the coast of Spain. In a ten weeks' voyage he reached 
Boston, and wrote almost despondingly to his mother, having 
his journey south to New Jersey to perform, and being desti- 
tute of money. He had letters, however, both to Boston and 
Rhode Island, and found his way to Bordentown, I presume 
without difficulty. In the autumn I met him at headquarters 
at Rocky Hill, near Princeton, to which place he brought a 
letter from Doctor Franklin to Washington. This was in Octo- 
ber, 1783. At this time and place Mr. Wright painted both 
the General and Mrs. Washington, as I likewise attempted to 
do. Wright's pictures I then thought very like. He afterwards 
drew a profile of Washington and etched it, and it is very like. 

Congress then sitting at Princeton, Mr. Wright was employed 
to take a mould in plaster of Paris, from which a cast might 
be made of the general's features, to be sent to some European 
sculptor, as a guide for a marble bust or statue. The general 
submitted to the irksome task of lying on his back, with his 


face covered with the wet plaster. What a situation for a hero ! 
When the mask or mould was hardened, the artist took it off, 
but in his anxiety and trepidation, probably hurrying to release 
the general from thraldom, he let it fall and it was dashed to 
pieces on the floor. Washington would not carry his desire to 
comply with the wishes of Congress so far as to undergo an- 
other prostration, and the affair of a sculptured resemblance 
was deferred until Franklin brought out Houdon. 

In 1784, and probably in the winter of 1783, Mr. Wright was 
in Philadelphia, and there received the following letter from 
General Washington after his retirement: 

"Mount Vernon, 10th Jan. 1784. 

" Sir, When you have finished my portrait, which is in- 
tended for the Count de Solms, I will thank you for handing it 
to Mr. Robert Morris, who will forward it to the Count de 
Bruhl (minister from his electoral highness of Saxe, at the court 
of London), as the channel pointed out for the conveyance of 

"As the Count de Solms proposes to honor it with a place 
in his collection of military characters, I am persuaded you 
will not be deficient in point of execution. 

"Be so good as to forward the cost of it to me, and I will 
remit you the money. Let it (after Mr. Morris has seen it) 
be carefully packed to prevent injury. 

"With great esteem, I am, sir, 

"Your most obedient servant, 


"Ma. WRIGHT." 

I copy the above from the original letter, in the possession 
of Mr. Wright's children. 

How long Mr. Wright remained in Philadelphia, at that 
time, I know not. In 1787 he resided in Queen (now Pearl) 
Street, New York, where he for some years practised his pro- 
fession, having married Miss Vandervoort, the niece of the 
martyr to liberty and his country, Colonel Ledyard, who was 
murdered at Groton, near New London, by the British officer 






to whom he had presented his sword on surrendering the fort 
he had defended. 

Mr. Wright removed from New York about the time Con- 
gress did, and to the same place, Philadelphia. His children 
have a picture painted by him in Philadelphia, representing 
in small full lengths, himself, wife and three children. It was 
left unfinished, but the heads are very well painted. Among 
other distinguished men, Mr. Wright painted the portrait of 
Mr. Madison. I have before me a note from Mr. Madison to 
the painter, containing an apology for not sitting at an ap- 
pointed time, and fixing another time if agreeable to Mr. 
Wright. He was a modeller in clay and. practised die-sinking, 
which last gained him the appointment, shortly before his 
death, of die-sinker to the mint.* The yellow fever of 1793 
deprived his country of his abilities, he and his wife dying 
within a few days of each other, in the prime of life. His 
children (besides the portrait in the group above mentioned, 
which is too tall, but otherwise somewhat like) have a chalk 
drawing of his head, done from the mirror, which is more like, 
and very skillfully drawn. There is likewise a head of him 
modelled in clay by Mr. W. Rush, of Philadelphia, who, I am 
told, said that Wright taught him to model. 

While Mr. Wright lived in New York he accidentally saw a 
very venerable Jewish gentleman of the name of Simpson, who 
wore his grey beard long, and was remarkably handsome. 
His complexion did not indicate his descent from Abraham, it 
was a clear red and white. Wright with the enthusiasm of an 
artist, and with an eccentricity peculiarly his own, stepped up 
to the door of the house, at the window of which the patriarch 
sat, and knocking, was admitted. He introduced himself to 
the family, and begged the old gentleman to sit for his portrait, 
expressing his admiration of his picturesque appearance. The 
request was complied with, and at the distance of five-and- 
forty years, I recollect with pleasure the beautiful representa- 

* I have before me a design for a cent, made by Mr. Wright, and dated 1792. It 
represents an eagle standing on the half of a globe, and holding in his beak a shield 
with the thirteen stripes. The reverse had been drawn on the same piece of paper, 
and afterwards cut out. 


tion he made of the venerable Israelite. I am told that Mr. 
Simpson, the grandson, living at Yonkers, possesses this pic- 
ture in perfect preservation. 


This intelligent and very pleasant old gentleman (for such 
he was when I knew him) was born in Philadelphia in the 
year 1757. l He commenced modelling in clay about the period 
at which I introduce him to the reader. His performances 
are all in wood and clay he never worked any in marble. 
The first figure he carved was at about the third year of his 
apprenticeship, which far outstripped his master. 

My correspondent says, "His time would never permit, or 
he would have attempted marble. He used to say it was 
immaterial what the substance was, the artist must see dis- 
tinctly the figure in the block, and removing the surface was 
merely mechanical. When in a hurry he used to hire a wood 
chopper, and stand by and give directions where to cut, by 
this means he facilitated work with little labor to himself. 
The crucifixes in the St. Augustine and St. Mary's Catholic 
Churches, the Water Nymph at 'Fair Mount,' the figures in 
front of the theatre, with the statue of Washington in the State 
House, are his works in Philadelphia. It was always a source 
of regret that he had so little time spared him from his occupa- 
tion in ship carving where he succeeded so admirably, especially 
in his Indian figures. He died January 17th, 1833, aged 76." 

Mr. Rush was a coadjutor in 1789, with Charles Willson 
Peale and others, in attempting to institute an Academy of 
Fine Arts in Philadelphia. 

In 1812 Mr. Rush exhibited several busts and figures at the 
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: these were the bust of 
Linnaeus bust of William Bartram bust of Rev. H. Muh- 
lenberg figures of Exhortation, Praise, and a Cherubim. 

Mr. Rush was observing in his study of the human figure. 
"When I see my boys bungling in the carving a hand, I tell 
them look at your own hands place them in the same posi- 

1 William Rush was born in Philadelphia in 1756 and died January 17, 1838, aged 77. 




tion imitate them and you must be right. You always have 
the model at hand." These were nearly his words in a conversa- 
tion with me some years ago. 


Came to America in the year 1783, upon a speculation similar 
to that which John Trumbull happily commenced a short time 
after. Pine's very rational scheme was to paint portraits of 
the heroes and patriots of the American Revolution, and com- 
bine them in historical pictures of the great events which had 
made the United States an independent nation. 

Mr. Pine had proved himself an historical painter in Eng- 
land by several compositions of merit, some of which are ren- 
dered familiar to the world by good engravings. Why Allen 
Cunningham has not enrolled him in his list of eminent British 
painters must be left to conjecture : that he is more entitled to 
such distinction than Sir George Beaumont, is evident from 
Cunningham's own showing, in the biography of the accom- 
plished, liberal, and amiable knight. He was established in 
London as early as 1761-2. Mortimer, after leaving Hudson, 
with whom he had studied a short time, became a student 
with Pine. 

I learn from "Edwards' Anecdotes of Painters," that "Mr. 
Pine was born in London. He was the son of Mr. John Pine 
the engraver, who executed and published the elegant edition 
of Horace, the whole of which is engraved. Robert Edge 
Pine chiefly practised as a portrait painter, and was considered 
as among the best colorists of his time. He resided several 
years in St. Martin's Lane, in the large mansion opposite to 
New Street, Covent Garden. 

"In the year 1760 he produced a picture, as candidate for the 
premium then offered by the Society for the Encouragement 

1 Robert Edge Pine was born in London, according to Nagler in 1730, while Red- 
grave gives the year 1742. The later date seems impossible from the fact that in 1760 
he received the prize mentioned and there is a mezzotint by McArdell published in 
1752 of Mr. Lowe and Mrs. Chambers in the characters of "Captain Macheath and 
Polly" after a painting by R. Pine, which conclusively negatives the date given by 


of Arts, etc., for the best historical picture painted in oil colors; 
the figures to be as large as life, and the subject to be taken 
from English history. Mr. Pine selected the Surrender of 
Calais, and obtained the first prize of one hundred guineas. 
- This was the first time that the Society offered this liberal 
stimulus to the exertions of the British artists. 

"In 1762, he again offered a picture, as candidate for the 
similar premium, and obtained the first prize; the subject, 
' Canute on the Sea Shore, reproving his Courtiers for their 
Flattery.' At the same tune his former pupil, Mr. Mortimer, 
obtained the second premium. West arrived in London in 
1763, and took precedence of all the English historical painters. 

"In the year 1772, upon the death of his brother Simon, 
Pine went to Bath, and staid there till 1779. He returned 
to London in the early part of 1782, and made an exhibition 
at the Great Room, Spring Gardens, of a collection of pictures 
painted by himself; the subjects taken from various scenes in 
Shakespeare; but the exhibition did not answer his expecta- 
tions. It must be observed, that whatever merit those works 
might possess in their coloring and composition, his drawing 
in general was feeble in the extreme, as may be seen by the 
prints which were engraved after some of the pictures. 

"The peace of 1783 opened a new field for Pine; and as he 
did not meet with that employment he wished for in London, 
he quitted England and went to America. 1 

"The following may be considered among his best pictures: 
A whole-length portrait of his late Majesty George II. 
painted from memory. A whole-length portrait of the late 
Duke of Northumberland, in the committee room of the Mid- 

1 Pine did not reach America until the spring of 1784 and the following advertisement 
in the Pennsylvania Packet for November 15, 1784, shows that he was then in Phila- 

"Mr. Pine, 

being honored with the use of a commodious apartment in the State House, for the 
purpose of painting the most illustrious scenes in the late Revolution, hopes that 
those who are desirous of seeing his pictures, will not disapprove of contributing one 
quarter of a dollar on entrance, in order to be accommodated with proper attendance, 
fires and descriptive catalogues of the paintings. 

"N. B. Attendance will be given at the side door of the Congress chamber, every 
morning, except Sundays, at 11 o'clock. To open tomorrow." 


dlesex Hospital, in which his grace is represented as laying 
the first stone of that building. His picture of the Surrender 
of Calais is in the Town Hall of Newbury. It was bought of 
the artist by the corporation; and the print which was engraved 
from it, is dedicated to them by Mr. Pine." 

He took up his abode in Philadelphia, having brought his 
family with him, and resided at the corner of High and Sixth 
Streets. The following is part of a letter relative to him, from 
the Hon. Joseph Hopkmson, of Philadelphia, received May 
6th, 1833. - 

" I remember his arrival in this country; he brought letters 
of introduction to my father, whose portrait was the first he 
painted in America. It is now in my possession, and is a very 
fine one : it bears the date of 1785, and is now as fresh in color 
as it was on the day it was painted. Pine came to this country 
in the preceding year. His particular object was to paint 
the distinguished persons and events of our Revolution; but 
we were too young to give encouragement or patronage to 
historical pictures and he took to portraits ; which his wife 
also painted, and taught the art in this city. Robert Morris, 
who patronized him, built a house in Eighth Street, now stand- 
ing, suitable to his objects. He died here, I think, of an apo- 
plexy, but do not find in what year. He brought a high reputa- 
tion here was king's painter; and I have seen engravings from 
several of his pictures, particularly of Garrick. 1 I remember 
a large picture in his gallery, of Medea murdering her chil- 
dren, and several others, some from Shakespeare. Prospero 
and Miranda, in 'The Tempest,' I particularly recollect. Many 
of his pictures are scattered about in Virginia, where he went 
occasionally to paint portraits. He was a very small man 
morbidly irritable. His wife and daughters were also very 
diminutive; they were indeed a family of pigmies. After his 
death his family went back to Europe, and his pictures were 
sold by public sale. Many of them were bought and taken 
to Boston by a person whose name I forget (I think it was 
Bowen), who kept a museum there. This, I think, was about 

1 Pine painted at least four portraits of David Garrick. 


the year 1793; and of course his death was antecedent to that 
time, but how long I cannot say. His widow and daughters 
kept a school after his death. I believe he died before my father, 
which was hi the spring of 1791, and that the school was not 
opened till after his death. This is all the information now in 
my recollection. I think, by making some inquiry I may collect 
something more; hi which case I will communicate it to you. 

" Yours, etc. Jos. HOPKINSON. 

" P. S. He brought with him a plaster cast of the Venus de 
Medicis, which was kept shut up in a case, and only shown 
to persons who particularly wished to see it; as the manners 
of our country, at that time, would not tolerate a public exhibi- 
tion of such a figure. This fact shows our progress in civiliza- 
tion and the arts." 

Our people now flock to see the naked display of a Parisian 
hired model for the painter's study, and an English prostitute 
in the most voluptuous attitude, without a shade of covering 
enticing the man to sin; a perfect Venus and Adonis, under 
the names of Adam and Eve, and called "a moral picture." 

The paintings mentioned by Judge Hopkinson, as being 
removed to Boston, were all destroyed by fire, in a conflagra- 
tion of Bowen's Museum: 1 but they had the honor, with 
Smibert's copy of Cardinal Bentivoglio, of giving the first 
lessons hi coloring to the greatest colorist this country has 
produced. Mr. Allston has said, "In the coloring of figures 
the pictures of Pine, hi the Columbian Museum in Boston, 
were my first masters. Pine had certainly, as far as I can recol- 
lect, considerable merit hi color." 

The world can now form an estimate of the talents and ac- 
quirements of Pine only from the engravings published of his 
works, and the portraits of eminent men of our country still 
remaining among us. The former place him in a high rank, 
though not the highest, among modern artists, for composi- 
tion; and the latter give him a still superior station among 

1 The Columbian Museum, with the greater part of its collections, was destroyed 
by fire January 15, 1803. 


the portrait painters. The portraits of Francis Hopkinson, 
in the possession of his son, and of Doctor Johnson, President 
of Columbia College, in the collection of his grandson, Gulian 
C. Verplanck, are specimens of talent for the delineation of 
character of a high order; and for coloring, much beyond any 
of the artists, his contemporaries in this country, Stuart alone 

Robert Gilmor, Esq., of Baltimore, in answer to inquiries 
respecting our early artists, says, "Chas. W. Peale and Robt. 
Edge Pine were the earliest painters I recollect in Baltimore, 
and there are numbers of portraits by both here. Mrs. Caton 
has the Carroll Family, by Pine, painted at Annapolis; in 
which full lengths of C. Carroll of Carrollton, his son Charles, 
herself and her sister, Mrs. Harper, are painted. Mr. Patterson 
and Mr. Robert Smith have large family groups, by Pine also. 

The Hon. Francis Hopkinson, whose portrait Pine had 
painted with perfect success, 1 wrote to General Washington, 
explaining the design Pine had in view of collecting portraits 
for historical pictures of the events of the Revolution, and re- 
questing the general to forward the wishes of the artist, by 
sitting to him: and Washington wrote the following letter to 
Hopkinson, in reply : 

"Mount Vernon, 16th May, 1785. 

"Dear Sir 'In for a penny in for a pound' is an old adage. 
I am so hackneyed to the touches of the painter's pencil, that I 
am now altogether at their beck, and sit like Patience on a 
monument, whilst they delineate the features of my face. It is 
a proof, among many others, of what habit and custom may 
effect. At first I was impatient at the request, and as restive 
under the operation as a colt is of the saddle. The next time 
I submitted very reluctantly, but with fewer flounces: now, 
no dray moves more readily to the drill, than I to the painter's 
chair. It may easily be conceived, therefore, that I yielded a 
ready acquiescence to your request and to the views of Mr. 

1 The portrait of Francis Hopkinson is now in the gallery of The Pennsylvania 
Historical Society. 


"Letters from England recommendatory of this gentleman 
came to my hands previous to his arrival in America not only 
as an artist of acknowledged eminence, but as one who has dis- 
covered a friendly disposition towards this country for 
which it seems he had been marked. 

"It gave me pleasure to hear from you I shall always feel 
an interest in your happiness and with Mrs. Washington's 
compliments and best wishes, joined to my own, for Mrs. 
Hopkinson and yourself, 

"I am, dear sir, 
"Your obedient and affectionate humble servant, 


It would appear by the following notification, that Mr. Pine 
was dead before the 18th of April, 1789. 

"Kingston, Jamaica, April 18, 1789. 

"A very capital painting representing the quarter-deck of 
the * Formidable,' on the memorable 12th of April, 1782, with 
whole-length figures, large as life, of Lord Rodney, Sir Charles 
Douglas, Lord Cranston, and other British worthies, was 
exhibited to the British Club, and a handsome subscription 
immediately commenced to purchase it. This piece is the 
production of an American artist, Mr. Pine, lately deceased. 
The price is 200 guineas." 

Therefore we see that Mr. Pine was denied tune to make 
the collection of portraits necessary for his great undertaking. 
This agrees with the Hon. Judge Hopkinson's supposition 
that he died before 1791, the date of the decease of the Hon. 
Francis Hopkinson. 1 

Edwards says, that he died in 1790, leaving a widow and 
some daughters, who returned to England. 


Mr. Savage, I believe, was a native of one of the New England 
States. He was painting in New York in 1789; and had previ- 

1 R. E. Pine died of apoplexy in Philadelphia November 19, 1788. 


From the collection of the Worcester Art Museum 


ously been living in Philadelphia. 1 He would not be worth 
notice as an artist but as connected with others. He removed to 
Philadelphia, and there painted and pretended to engrave. 
The father of John Wesley Jarvis, put the boy, his son, to 
Savage, to learn engraving; and Savage, removing again to 
New York, Jarvis, as his apprentice, came with him, as did 
David Edwin, the celebrated engraver, whom he engaged in 
his employ. This was in 1798. Savage published prints from 
his own wretched pictures, mended and engraved by Edwin, 
but inscribed with Savage's name as engraver. Edwin, being 
asked why he did not put his name to his work, by one who 
knew Savage could do nothing with the tool or graver, replied, 
" I do not wish the credit which is to be derived from pictures of 
Mr. Savage's composition." "I soon found," said Jarvis, 

1 Edward Savage, who was both painter and engraver, was born in Princeton, 
Mass., November 26, 1761, the son of Seth and Lydia Craige Savage, and died there 
July 6, 1817. The first knowledge we have of Savage as a painter is that at twenty- 
eight years of age he was commissioned by Harvard University to paint the portrait 
of Washington. What preparation he had had for such an undertaking is not known. 
The portrait, however, speaks for itself and its excellence shows that ignorance inspired 
Dunlap to write so disparagingly of the work of Savage. In 1791 Savage went to Lon- 
don, subsequently visited Italy and returned to America in 1794. He married Sarah 
Seaver at Boston October 13, 1794. Soon after 1794 Savage went to Philadelphia and 
joined with Daniel Bowen in establishing the New York Museum, later removed to 
Boston and renamed the Columbian Museum. The story Dunlap tells and which has 
been repeated by others that Edwin "mended and engraved" the plates bearing the 
name of Edward Savage as engraver appears absurd. "The Washington Family" was 
published March 10, 1798. John F. Watson in "The Annals of Philadelphia" says that 
David Edwin, born in England in December, 1776, landed in Philadelphia in December, 

1797. This shows that at that date Edwin was twenty-one years of age. Immediately 
on his arrival he found employment with T. B. Freeman, the engraver, and on May 1, 

1798, Freeman published the plates of Harwood and Barnard, the actors, both bearing 
the name of Edwin as engraver. "The Washington Family" is a large plate measur- 
ing 18J4 by 24 J^ inches and Savage says in his letter to Washington of June 8, 1798, 
that it took him several years to execute it. It is a fair assumption that Edwin could 
not have had time while engraving two other plates for T. B. Freeman to engrave 
"The Washington Family" also, as all three would then have been made within a 
period of about four months. While the work of Edwin as an engraver is greatly su- 
perior to that of Savage, in fact to that of most of the men of the period, the work of 
Edward Savage as an engraver is not of the character Dunlap would lead us to believe, 
and if it is true that most of the good work on "The Washington Family" is from the 
hand of Edwin then we must assume that the excellent plate of "Liberty" which bears 
Savage's name as painter and engraver, the stippled plates of General Knox and of 
Washington and the mezzotint of David Rittenhouse here reproduced are all the work 
of Edwin or some other engraver, and if this is true of the plates mentioned why not 
ascribe to other hands all the excellent plates made by Savage? Edwin was a great 
artist and he does not need these claims to enhance his reputation; at the same time 
such statements do injustice to so good a painter and engraver as Edward Savage. 


"that I could paint better than my master, and engrave ten 
times better." 

After Jarvis left him, he had as pupils Charles B. King 
and John Crawley. He had a kind of museum and picture 
gallery hi Greenwich Street, in a building once used as a circus. 
He published the "Washington Family," engraved by Edwin, 
who made it tolerable, and perhaps Jarvis helped. Jarvis has 
said, "I assisted in engraving it I printed it, and carried 
it about for sale." Before he engaged Edwin he had visited 
London, and brought out a man whom he engaged to engrave 
for him at half a guinea a week, Savage paying his passage. 
This is similar to some of the early engagements made by 
managers with actors, who found, after then* arrival in America, 
that their weekly salary would not pay their board and lodging. 


Engraved in Philadelphia about this time. He was a pupil of 
Smither. "He tried," says Lawson, "to make designs and 
engravings for a magazine, but they were poor scratchy things, 
as were all the rest of his works." He was the master of Thac- 
kara and Valeance, and taught what he knew to his son Edward 
Trenchard, hereafter mentioned. 


M. Houdon was born at Versailles in 1741. 2 The celebrated 
sculptors of France immediately preceding him were Coisevoix, 
Vancleve, Lepautre, Legros, the two Coustous, and Bou- 
chardon. The works of these masters, placed under the eyes 
of the young man, had their influence in forming his taste, 
even without his being conscious of the aid he received from 
them. These masters were in fact the only instructors of 
Houdon until he had, by his untutored efforts, gained admis- 
sion into the Academy ; and he continued his studies without 

1 James Trenchard was one of the projectors of the "Columbian Magazine" of 
Philadelphia for which he engraved a number of plates, principally views. He was 
working in Philadelphia as early as 1777 and is said to have removed to England in 

1 On the 20th of March. 





placing himself under the formal direction of any professor. 
By his diligence he progressively advanced to skill, until he 
gained the great prize for sculpture in 1760, at the age of 

Pigalle, the successor of Bouchardon, encouraged the young 
man by his advice, but we see by the opposite mode in which 
these artists afterwards treated the same subject (the statue 
of Voltaire), that the younger had a genius which would not 
submit to copy the errors of his friend's style. He struck out a 
path for himself and followed it. 

Houdon had the advantage of a ten years' residence in 
Rome; and left in the porch of the church of the Chartreux 
the beautiful statue of St. Bruno, in marble, the product of his 
chisel. This statue is said to be the perfect representation of 
humility, in the costume of the pious Cenobite. Pope Clement 
the fourteenth said of it, "It would speak, if the rules of the 
order had not enjoined silence." 

On returning to France M. Houdon introduced a style, 
which, although not of the highest order, avoided the servility 
of imitation, and was free from the constraint of those leading 
strings of art which have been called the academic manner. 

His Morpheus gained him the honors of the Academy, and 
he shortly after presented to all students of the arts of design 
his invaluable anatomical statue "1'ecorche." This is a 
work for which he deserves our gratitude, inasmuch as it could 
not add to his fame, and he could only be remunerated for 
his labor by the pleasure of being useful to others. 

M. Houdon had now no rival in France; and his fame had 
reached America. He was invited to the United States for 
the purpose of executing a likeness of Washington in marble, 
and chiseling a statue of the hero of our revolution, a work 
which had been long contemplated. I have already noticed 
the attempt made by Mr. Joseph Wright, in 1783, to take a 
mask or mould in plaster of Paris, from which a cast might 
have been made as a guide to some sculptor, in the formation 
of a statue, and the accidental failure of Wright's effort. 

M. Quatremere de Quincy says, in his "Notice Historique sur 


la vie et les ouvrages de M. Houdon," which I have freely 
used, "The United States invited him to execute the statue of 
Washington." This is not fact. The State of Virginia had 
resolved to have such a statue, and Benjamin Franklin and 
Thomas Jefferson agreed with the sculptor to cross the Atlantic 
for the purpose of making a bust, preparatory to executing 
the statue for the State House at Richmond. Mr. Jefferson 
was probably authorized by his native State to engage an artist 
for the purpose. 

The same writer says, "Conducted to America by Franklin, 
he resided some time at Philadelphia, where he was lodged in 
the house of Washington himself." This is likewise erroneous, 
General Washington having retired to his house at Mount 
Vernon, at which place M. Houdon executed his bust, and took 
the measurement of the hero's person, to give perfect accuracy 
to the proportions of the statue; which was done in the presence 
of Mr. Madison. For the proof of this see the letters in the 

* Philadelphia, September 20, 1785. 

"Dear Sir I am just arrived from a country where the reputation of General 
Washington runs very high, and where everybody wishes to see him in person; but 
being told that it is not likely he will ever favor them with a visit, they hope at least 
for a sight of his perfect resemblance, by means of their principal statuary, M. Houdon, 
whom Mr. Jefferson and myself agreed with to come over for the purpose of taking a 
bust, in order to make the intended statue for the State of Virginia. He is here, but the 
materials and instruments he sent down the Seine from Paris, not being arrived at 
Havre when we sailed, he was obliged to leave them, and is now busied in supplying 
himself here. As soon as that is done he proposes to wait on you in Virginia, as he un- 
derstands there is no prospect of your coming hither, which would indeed make me 
very happy: as it would give me the opportunity of congratulating with you person- 
ally on the final success of your long and painful labors in the service of our country, 
which have laid us all under eternal obligations. 

" With the greatest and most sincere esteem and respect, 

" I am, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant, 


"Mount Vernon, September 26, 1785. 

" I had just written, and was about to put into the hands of Mr. Taylor (a gentle- 
man in the department of the secretary for foreign affairs), the inclosed letter, when I 
had the honor to receive your favor of the 20th instant. 

" I have a grateful sense of the partiality of the French nation towards me; and I 
feel very sensibly for the indulgent expression of your letter, which does me great honor. 
" When it suits Mr. Houdon to come hither, I will accommodate him in the best 
manner I am able, and shall endeavor to render his stay as agreeable as I can. 

" It would give me infinite pleasure to see you. At this place I dare not look for it, 
although to entertain you under my own roof would be doubly gratifying. When, or 





It is true, as the author goes on to say, that "he took the 
likeness of Washington en buste, and brought it home with 
him, to serve in the execution of the statue in marble," destined 
for the capitol in the city of Richmond, "where it may be 

In the diary of Governeur Morris, as published by the Rev. 
Jared Sparks, is the following insertion. "June 5th (1789). 
Go to M. Houdon's. He has been waiting for me a long time. 
I stand for his statue of General Washington, being the 
humble employment of a manikin. This is literally taking 
the advice of St. Paul, to be all things to all men, promise 
M. Houdon to attend next Tuesday, at half-past eight, to 
have my bust taken, which he desires to please himself, for this 
is the answer to my question, what he wants with my bust?" 

I have seen the statue of Washington in the capitol at Rich- 
mond. It is not so good a likeness as Ceracchi's bust in marble, 
size of life, or Stuart's original head of Washington. The 
statue is in the modern costume. The general has his full 
military dress, as worn in the war of our liberation. Of what 
use the person of Governeur Morris could be to the artist I 
cannot conceive, as there was no likeness in form or manner 
between him and the hero, except that both were tall men. 
And the measurements above mentioned, which Mr. Madison 
told Mr. Durand (at the time that artist went to Virginia for 
the purpose of painting his excellent head of that great man) 
he saw the sculptor make at Mount Vernon, would certainly 
not agree with the proportions of Mr. Morris. 

On his return to Paris, M. Houdon produced a statue of 
Diana, a copy of which was made in bronze. The original, in 
marble, was ordered by the Empress Catharine, of Russia, for 
the Hermitage. It is said that this Diana is more like one of 
the followers of Venus than the goddess of Chastity. M. de 

whether ever, I shall have the satisfaction of seeing you at Philadelphia is uncertain, 
as retirement from the walks of public life has not been so productive of that leisure 
and ease as might have been expected. 
" With very great esteem and respect, 

" I am, dear sir, your most obedient humble servant, 


Quincy, with great naivett, wonders that the artist should so 
represent Diana. He forgets that the statue was destined for 
Catharine of Russia. That she should order a Diana is the 

M. Houdon gained great credit by his representation of 
Voltaire. Pigalle had been employed to execute a statue of 
the poet and philosopher; and gave him in all the nudity of 
the Greek statuary, and all the detailed decrepitude of old 
age. The result was a figure fit for the anatomical school. 
Houdon's statue is sitting, and the drapery flowing and be- 
fitting a philosopher. It has the air of the antique, and is a 
true portrait of the man. The costume might be termed ideal, 
but accorded strictly with his character, at the same time avoid- 
ing the dress of the court or the street. Gulian C. Verplanck 
and Washington Allston saw this great effort of Houdon's 
genius at the same time. Allston stood silent before it for 
some minutes, and then exclaimed, "A living statue!" 

The statue called la Frileuse, gained M. Houdon great popu- 
larity, and principally by the charm of simplicity. It is the 
personification of cold, or winter. This simplicity was not 
the characteristic of Houdon's style in portraiture. He pro- 
duced likeness by too great attention to detail. Among the 
many portraits from his chisel may be mentioned Voltaire, 
Franklin, Gluck, Washington, Rousseau, D'Alembert, Buff on, 
Gerbier, Sacchini, Barthelemy, and Mirabeau. 

The revolution was inimical to the arts. Heads were taken 
off by a more summary process than those of the painter or 
sculptor; and the artist who had been favored by monarchs 
and nobles, became the object of suspicion when licentiousness 
had supplanted liberty, and was preparing the way for re- 
newed despotism. Houdon, during that reaction whose cause 
was the insolence of tyranny and the baseness of slavish 
submission during the tumult caused by the reins of govern- 
ment falling into the hands of those who had been rendered 
brutal by the usurpation of kings and courtiers during the 
hurly-burly of revolutions and insurrections, amused himself 
by finishing a statue of one of holy mother church's saints, 

Copyright by Detroit Publishing Co. 



From the collection of The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine ArU 


which had been long negleeted in his atelier. The old regime 
of despotic church and despotic State government, had been 
too closely connected, and too oppressive, to allow of separa- 
tion now that the once oppressed were the masters. The 
artist was denounced. He was accused of devoting his talents 
to the cause of oppression. No distinction could be allowed 
between religion and the hierarchy; and the hierarchy was as 
odious as the aristocracy or the monarchy. Happily the 
pleader who defended Houdon, bethought himself of turning 
the statue into a representative of Philosophy; denied its holy 
character; and saved the head of the artist by convincing the 
judges that he had no religion, and his marble saint no sanctity. 
The statue was pronounced to be Philosophy, the enemy of 
priestcraft and tyranny; and Houdon had only to undergo 
the fear of death as a reward for his industry and skill. 

A new generation of artists sprung up with the new genera- 
tion of mushroom kings, princes, dukes, and other nobles; 
and Houdon was found too old to contend with the aspirants 
of the colossal empire. He was however remembered; but it 
was only to afford him an honorable retreat in his old age. 
He was employed to model subjects intended for the colossal 
column of Boulogne-sur-mer, and his work was never applied 
as designed. 

When the hideous despotism of Bonaparte was overthrown 
by a combination of meaner tyrants, aided by injured and suf- 
fering humanity, Houdon had withdrawn from public life. 
He had played his part on the stage, and had retired full of 
years and honors. He was a member of the Legion of Honor, 
and of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He had been an active 
professor, and assisted still at the sittings of the Academy, 
without taking frequent part hi debate or deliberation; and 
terminated a long and honorable career at the age of eignty- 
eight, on the 16th of July, 1828. 


This artist made his first efforts as a painter in Philadelphia, 
about the year 1787-8. We shall draw our information re- 


specting this gentleman principally from a memoir, written by 
himself in 1805. His grandfather, Malcolm, he says "went 
from Scotland to St. Christophers or St. Kitts, where all his 
numerous family became extinct, except my father, a merchant, 
who died in Philadelphia when under 30 years of age, and 
when I was but two years old." 

His maternal grandparents, the Fellers, were natives of 
Bristol ; " whence James Peller, his great grandfather, went in 
the same ship with William Penn to the banks of the Dela- 
ware, and there hutted with him and other adventurers of the 
voyage; returned with him, and again went finally, conveying 
his family." William Penn was not under the necessity of 
hutting. This is a trifle perhaps, but truth is not to be trifled 

Mr. Malcolm says, "The house in which Mr. Peller resided 
was built by him about 1689; and there all my immediate 
relatives of this branch were born; nor was it taken down till 
about 1793, after we had sold it." 

James Peller Malcolm was born in Philadelphia, in the 
month of August 1767, and baptized in St. Peter's Church, by 
the Rev. Jacob Duche, elsewhere mentioned by me. Young 
Malcolm was admitted at the Quaker school; but as the 
enemies of his country approached Philadelphia, he was re- 
moved to Pottstown, and there received his education. He 
returned to Philadelphia in 1784. "During the period in which 
I received my education," he says, "I felt the strongest im- 
pulses to drawing and painting; and employed every leisure 
moment I could command in those fascinating pursuits. Mr. 
Benbridge, a relation and a brother student of Mr. West, who 
had spent several years at Rome, flattered me with his appro- 
bation and advised an immediate voyage to Great Britain." 

We stop to say that we do not think Mr. Benbridge was 
related to Mr. West; that he was not a "brother student," is 
certain. This error is excusable in Mr. Malcolm, who knew 
they were both Pennsylvanians, and both had studied in 

Mr. Malcolm visited England "immediately after he was of 


age." Of course some time in the year 1788-9. He continues; 
"After I had studied at the Royal Academy three years, and 
received many hints relating to the art from the late Mr. 
Wright of Derby, and Mr. West, I began to perceive that no 
encouragement was offered to the liberal branches of history 
and landscape, and therefore desisted from the pursuit. My 
subsequent efforts in engraving are the result of self-taught 

I have expressed my opinion of the words self-taught. 
Here is a gentleman who from the mature age of 21 or 22, 
studies drawing in the best school in Europe for three years 
mingles with artists, and sees all the best paintings and en- 
gravings, yet when he commences working on copper, instead 
of paper and canvas, considers his knowledge as proceeding 
from himself. 

There is reason to believe that Mr. Malcolm, after his dis- 
appointment in England, returned to Philadelphia, and that 
then his maternal property, the Peller House, was sold. Alex- 
ander Lawson says, "There was a young lad of the name of 
Malcolm, about '92 or '3, who drew and engraved an inside 
view of Christ Church, and some other things without any 
instructions, scratchy and poor, but indicating talent. He 
went to England, where he became an architectural draughts- 
man." See how the word scratchy agrees with Malcolm's taste 
as to engraving. Speaking of his works, he says, "Which I 
value only in proportion as they are approved by the admirer 
and judge of nature, rejecting the gloss of mere lines without a 
particle of true drawing." The works of Mr. Malcolm, as we 
see them in the " Gentleman's Magazine," as late as 1815, show 
this want of attention to lines and are scratchy. 

Mr. Malcolm's mother accompanied him to England, and 
her property having been exhausted for his education, he, by 
his industry as a writer and engraver, maintained her, and a 
wife and family, until he sunk "under a complication of dis- 
orders, originating in a white swelling of the knee, which from 
its first attack deprived him of the use of his limb." He died on 
the 5th of April, 1815. 


I believe Mr. Malcolm was a better man than artist. He 
continued his literary exertions through sickness and pain, and 
on completing a copious index for Mr. Nichols, he thus ad- 
dressed him, "The Almighty has been so merciful to me, as 
to enable me to complete your index; and thus have been ful- 
filled your benevolent intentions towards me and my family. 
Surely never was an index completed under equal continuance 
of pain; but it was a kind of refuge and solace against affliction; 
and often has it turned aside the severest pangs." 

Mr. Malcolm published plates to illustrate the environs of 
London, the designs by himself: letters between literary men 
illustrative of " Granger's Biographical History of England," 
1808. " Excursions in Kent, Gloucestershire, etc., etc.," with 
24 plates, 1807. Second edition, 1813. " Londininium redevi- 
vum," 4 vols. 4to, 1802-7, with 47 plates. ** Anecdotes of the 
manners and customs of London, from the Roman invasion 
to the eighteenth century, 1808-11," with forty-five plates. 
" Miscellaneous anecdotes illustrative of the manners and his- 
tory of Europe, during the reigns of Charles II., James II., 
William III. and Queen Anne, 1811," with five plates. "His- 
tory of the Art of Caricaturing, 1813," with 31 plates, 4to. 
His works for the " Gentleman's Magazine " were many, and 
for Nichol's " History of Leicestershire " he labored as a 
draughtsman and engraver for nearly twenty years. He like- 
wise designed and engraved many architectural views for 
various individuals and societies. Thus he labored to the age 
of forty-seven, and left his family dependent upon the charity 
of the British public. 


Mr. Dixey, an artist educated in London, is among our 
earlier sculptors among the pioneers who have aided the 
progress of art, and by their efforts contributed to exalt our 
national character. 

John Dixey was born in the city of Dublin, but left the 
metropolis of Ireland at an early age for London. He was a 
student of the Royal Academy, and both his assiduity and 


talent must have been apparent, as I am informed that his 
name was on the list of those who were selected from the 
students to be sent to Italy for finishing their education. But 
other prospects opening to him, he left England for America, 
and arrived in 1789. 

My informant says, "He was elected vice-president of the 
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1810 or 12," from 
which we know that he was at that time a resident of that city, 
although he lived many years in New York; he continues, 
"and exhibited, I think, on that occasion, a model in bas-relief 
of Hercules chaining the Hydra." 

The models he executed were the fruits of his leisure hours, 
made at such intervals as he could spare from the pur- 
suits which the state of the arts in this country, at that time, 
compelled him to resort to. He wished to revive the too much 
neglected art of sculpture, and his models were generally done 
at a considerable pecuniary sacrifice. His death occurred in 
1820. Besides Hercules and the Hydra, Mr. Dixey executed 
in 1818, a model of Ganymede, and the next year he carved in 
wood the Adoration of the Wise Men of the East. The cherub's 
head in marble, on the Hamilton monument, is from his 
chisel, and the figures of Justice on the city hall of New York, 
and the State House at Albany are his design and execution. 

The talents and acquirements of Mr. Dixey, for many years 
previous to his death, were principally directed to the orna- 
mental and decorative embellishment of public and private 
edifices. In the graceful and almost endless variety in which 
flowers are susceptible of being grouped, intermingled with 
the fanciful heads of men and animals, his chisel ever displayed 
both taste and ability. 

Mr. Dixey married in America and left two sons, who, as 
American artists, will be hereafter mentioned. 


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