Friday, June 29, 2012

Portraits of Women by Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860)

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Portrait of Harriet Cany Peale 1840
Rembrandt Peale (1778–1860) was an artist & museum keeper. Rembrandt Peale was born the 3rd of 6 surviving children (11 had died) to his mother, Rachel Brewer, & artist father, Charles Willson Peale in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The father taught all of his children the general arts & science & to paint scenery & portraits.

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) The Sisters (Eleanor and Rosalba Peale)

Rembrandt began drawing at the age of 8 but left his father‘s instruction at 13, a year after his mother’s death & father’s remarriage. Peale visited Europe several times to study art especially Paris, where he studied the neoclassical style.

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Rosalba Peale at a Window

Motivated by his father’s 1786 American Museum of Philadelphia, Peale opened his own museum in Baltimore. Peale painted over 600 paintings, concentrating on popular depictions of George Washington & Thomas Jefferson. But he also painted many 19th-century American women as well.

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Rosalba Peale 1820

Rembrandt & his wife Eleanor May Short had 9 children: Rosalba, Eleanor, Sarah Miriam, Michael Angelo, & Emma Clara among them.  He taught his children to paint, just as his father taught him.  And he painted their portraits.

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Portrait of the Artist’s Wife Eleanor May Short Peale, ca. 1805.

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Olive Foote Lay

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Mary Denison, Later Mrs. Alexander C. Bullitt 1822

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Marie Wheelock Allen 1825

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Juliana Westray Wood

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Jane Griffith Koch 1817

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Helen Miller (Mrs. Charles G. McLean) 1806

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Dolley Madison

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Alida Livingston Armstrong and Daughter 1810.

Rembrandt Peale (American artist, 1778–1860) Caroline Louisa Pratt Bartlett

Rembrandt Peale (American artist, 1778–1860) Michael Angelo and Emma Clara Peale

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Before the I Phone...

Alexander Graham Bell & the 1876 Telephone

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the 1st telephone call in his Boston laboratory, summoning his assistant from the next room.

In Scotland, Bell was born into a family of speech instructors, plus his mother & his wife both had hearing impairments.

As Professor of Vocal Physiology at Boston University in 1875, on a device to send multiple telegraph signals over the same wire by using harmonics, Bell reported that he heard a twang, which led him to investigate whether his electrical apparatus could be used to transmit the sound of a human voice.

Bell's journal, now at the Library of Congress, contains the following entry for March 10, 1876:  "I then shouted into M [the mouthpiece] the following sentence: "Mr. Watson, come here -- I want to see you." To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said.

Bell continued in his journal, "I asked him to repeat the words. He answered, "You said 'Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you.'" We then changed places and I listened at S [the speaker], while Mr. Watson read a few passages from a book into the mouthpiece M. It was certainly the case that articulate sounds proceeded from S. The effect was loud but indistinct & muffled.  Watson's journal, however, says the famous quote was: "Mr. Watson come here I want you."

That disagreement, though, is trifling compared to the long controversy over whether Bell truly invented the telephone.  During the 19th century, the development of the modern telephone involved an array of lawsuits founded upon the patent claims of several individuals.  Another inventor, Elisha Gray, was working on a similar device, & recent books claim that Bell not only stole Gray's ideas, but may even have bribed a patent inspector to let him sneak a look at Gray's filing. After years of litigation, Bell's patents eventually withstood challenges from Gray & others.

When telephone exchanges were first established, the companies primarily employed men to act as the operators. However, many of the young boys initially employed proved to be untrustworthy, likely to play pranks whilst on the phone and not connecting the phone lines correctly. This resulted in the telephone becoming one of the first businesses to extensively employ women. In America, Emma Nutt became the world's first female operator, working at the telephone exchange in Boston. Customers were reported to have been so pleased by Nutt's voice that over time, the early phone operating profession became strictly women-only.

Early American telephone exchange

Early telephone exchange in Paris


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why is June 19th celebrated as Juneteenth?

Celebrating Juneteenth in Austin, Texas on June 19, 1900 (Austin Public Library)

June 19th marks 2 anniversaries.  On June 19, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill that was passed by both the House and Senate declaring,

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States now existing, or which may at any time hereafter be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

Martha and Pinkie Yates in a buggy decorated for the annual Juneteenth celebration in front 319 Robin St. in the Fourth Ward (c.1895-1905). (Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library)

This law would ban slavery in the existing & future federal territories of the United States. The federal law followed the April, 1862 emancipation of the slaves in the District of Columbia. It preceded the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, & the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865 & ratified on December 6, 1865.

Major General Gordon Granger

On June 19, 1865, a declaration was made in Galveston, Texas by Union Army Major General Gordon Granger stating that:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

Emancipation Day celebration in Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1905.

Despite the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued 2 1/2 years earlier & the 13th Amendment was awaiting ratification by the states.  The pronouncement, during this period of legal limbo for slaves, was greeted as a momentous occasion all the same. What has since been known as “Juneteenth,” this day marks the celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth celebration in Eastwoods Park, Austin, 1900 (Austin History Center)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

German-born American artist Raphael Strauss (1830—1901)


This portrait of 2 children near the banks of the Ohio River is my favorite painting by Raphael Strauss who worked in the United States during the last half of the 19th century. Strauss was born in Bavaria. He sailed to the United States & was married to Caroline Baermann in 1858. They lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was vice president of the Cincinnati Art Club & was listed in the city directory for more than 20 years.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New England ladies by Ethan Allen Greenwood 1779-1856

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) An Older Woman

Portrait painter & lawyer Ethan Allen Greenwood attended school at the Academy at New Salem, & the Leicester Academy, before heading for college. He graduated from Dartmouth & attended Columbia College, where he studied law.

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Ann Gewyer Amory

In 1806, after he graduated from Dartmouth College; & he trained under artist Edward Savage, whose New York museum he bought from Savage's son in 1918. Greenwood produced perhaps as many as 800 portraits using the physiognotrace technique. By 1813, he was keeping a studio in Boston, & associating with other artists, including Gilbert Stuart.

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Eunice Hardin

His New England Museum enjoyed considerable popularity. Greenwood also established museum branches in Portland, Maine, & Providence, Rhode Island. However around 1834-1839, he experienced financial difficulties, & as a result his assignees conveyed the collections of the New England Museum to Moses Kimball.

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Harriet Hawking

Following the death of his father in 1827, Greenwood returned to his hometown of Hubbardston, MA, where he entered politics.  He married Caroline Carter Warren in 1829, & built a large house on the family homestead.

 Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Martha Bridgham

The Barre Patriot newspaper reported in July of 1849, "The large mansion house of the Hon. Ethan A Greenwood, of Hubbardston,was entirely consume d by fire on Friday, July 13, between the hours of eight & ten. All of the barns & other buildings, some half dozen in number we learn, together with 25 tons of hay, 160 bushels of grain, twowagons, a cart, & many farming tools were likewise consumed. The house was situated some two or three miles from the village & was not inhabited at the time of the fire. It was without doubt the work of an incendiary. The loss is said to be about $5000, - insurance $1500. Since writing the above we learn that an Irishman formerly in the employ of Mr Greenwood has been arrested on suspicion of having fired the buildings. Some difficulty had arisen between him & Mr Greenwood, & he had threatened retribution."

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Mrs Prescott

Greenwood died in Hubbardston in May of 1856.

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Rebecca Tufts Whittemore

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Sally Reed Sessions

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Sally Shurtleff (Mrs Benjamin Shurtleff)

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Sarah Ward Brigham

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Woman in Blue Dress

Ethan Allen Greenwood (American artist, 1779-1856) Zillah Chenery Abbott