Wednesday, March 12, 2014

18C American Women & Girls with Dogs & Cats


Dogs & cats appear in portraits of 18C American women, but I am not sure if these pets are emblems or symbols or copies of English prints, or are they actual pets?

Before the 1760s, most dogs appear in colonial American paintings with children. Smaller pet dogs often were referred to as comfort dogs. Most other dogs depicted in 18C English & Anglo American paintings were sporting dogs.  William Shakespeare had noted fox-hunting hounds in A Midsummer Night's Dream, when Theseus, duke of Athens, tells Hippolyta of "the music of my hounds, matched in mouth like bells / Each under each. A cry more tunable / Was never holloed to nor cheered with horn." 


1710 Justus Engelhardt Kuhn (fl 1707-1717). Eleanor Darnall 1704 - 1796 with Dog

During the 17C in colonial British America, life for a dog could prove tenative, especially during the Salem witch trials. From June to September in 1692, 156 people were accused; 14 women, 5 men, & 2 dogs were hanged--children accused the dogs of giving them the "evil eye."

However, Pennsylvania's founder William Penn (1644-1718) took a more sympathetic approach to dogs.  He wrote in his Reflexions and Maxims that "men are generally more careful of the breed of their horses and dogs than of their children."


1710s Justus Engelhardt Kuhn (fl 1707-1717) Young Girl with Dog

An increase in dogs as pets occurred just as scientific classification of species of plants & animals was growing. The 1st official classification of English breeds was published in 1570, by British physician John Caius (1510-1573) in De Canibus Britannicis, or Of English Dogges.  Among other types, he identified bloodhounds & terriers, otter hounds & Maltese. During the 18C, an era of taxonomies & catalogues, Georges Buffon (1707-1788) & Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) expanded on the definition of Caius, with Linnaeus listing such animals as the Shepherd's Dog, the Pomeranian, the Iceland Dog, the Lesser Water Dog, the Mastiff, & the Barbet.

1715 Attributed to Charles Bridges (1670-1747). Child of Rev. Richard Chase (1692-1742) of London and Maryland, and his wife Margaret Frances Townley (d. 1741) with Dog

As the scientific interest in dog species grew, the expanding love of humans for canines was endorsed by philosophers, playwrights, and poets. Voltaire wrote, "the best thing about man is the dog." Alexander Pope declared that "histories are more full of examples of fidelity of dogs than of friends."


In Pope's Essay on Man, he writes condescendingly of Native Americans & their faithful dogs.

Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the Solar Walk, or Milky Way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, an humbler heav'n;
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,
Some happier island in the wat'ry-waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christian thirst for gold.
To be, contents his natural desire,--
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire;
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.


1728 New York Depeyster Limmer. Depeyster Twins: Eva & Catherina with Dog

Writing tributes to beloved pets increased into the 18C.  In 1693, English poet & diplomat Matthew Prior (1664-1721) wrote a short elegy at the death of True, a pet of Queen Mary II:
Envious Fate has claim'd its due, 
Here lies the mortal part of True.

English poet John Gay (1685-1732) published "An Elegy on a Lap-Dog" in 1720:

 He's dead. Oh lay him gently in the ground! 
 And may his tomb be by this verse renown'd. 
 Here Shock, the pride of all his kind, is laid; 
 Who fawned like man, but ne'er like man betray'd.


1730s Child of the Pierpont Family with Dog

In Scotland, Robert Burns (1759-1796) wrote that "the dog puts the Christian to shame."

In the British American colonies in 1738, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "There are three faithful friends—an old wife, an old dog, and ready money."



c. 1735 Charles Bridges (1670-1747). Anne Byrd with Dog

The rise in fox hunting in both England and its American colonies spawned a need for a medium-sized hound with the stamina to follow prey for miles, a keen nose for scent, & a bark that could summon his master from a distance. While women did not participate in the hunt itself, they were part of the audience & the elegant suppers that followed the hunt.

One of the first packs of hunting dogs was brought to America in 1650 by Robert Brooke of Maryland. They were black & tan & chased the slower gray fox. Often recorded as English hounds, these dogs now are thought to have been the Irish Kerry Beagle.


Historian James Horn tells us that in 1799, a wry New England minister gave a glimpse of the sport:

From about the first of Octor. this amusement begins, and continues till March or April. A party of 10, and to 20, or 30, with double the number of hounds, begins early in the morning, they are all well mounted. They pass thro' groves, Leap fences, cross fields, and steadily pursue, in full chase wherever the hounds lead. At length the fox either buroughs out of their way, or they take him. If they happen to be near, when the hounds seize him, they take him alive, and put him into a bag and keep him for a chase the next day. They then retire in triumph, having obtained a conquest to a place where an Elegant supper is prepared. After feasting themselves, and feeding their prisoner, they retire to their own houses. The next morning they all meet at a place appointed, to give their prisoner another chance for his life. They confine their hounds, and let him out of the bag—away goes Reynard at liberty—after he has escaped half a mile—hounds and all are again in full pursuit, nor will they slack their course thro' the day, unless he is taken. This exercise they pursue day after day, for months together. This diversion is attended by old men, as well as young—but chiefly by married people. I have seen old men, whose heads were white with age, as eager in the chase as a boy of 16. It is perfectly bewitching. The hounds indeed make delightful musick—when they happen to pass near fields, where horses are in pasture, upon hearing the hounds, they immediately begin to caper, Leap the fence and pursue the Chase—frequent instances have occurred, where in leaping the fence, or passing over gullies, or in the woods, the rider has been thrown from his horse, and his brains dashed out, or otherwise killed suddenly. This however never stops the chase—one or two are left to take care of the dead body, and the others pursue. 



1720s-30s Gerardus Duyckinck (1695-1746). Around 1735, the New York artist Gerardus Duyckinck painted the portrait of young Jacomina Winkler, who was probably 10 or 12.  She is holding a very unhappy, probably fanciful, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in her lap.  Poses & dogs were often copied from English mezzotint engravings.

Avid fox hunter George Washington, who named his dogs Sweet Lips, Venus, & True Love, during the Revolutionary War, even returned a dear pet, a stray terrier, to the enemy - its owner, British General Howe, along with a note that read: "General Washington does himself the pleasure to return ...a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands."

Thomas Jefferson did not particularly share his fellow Virginian's attachment to dogs.  In 1789, returning from his assignment as ambassador to France, he imported "shepherd's dogs" for Monticello & later presented Washington with puppies.



1755 John Singleton Copley (1738-1815). The Gore Children with Dog

In Williamsburg and its environs, the Virginia Gazette often carried advertisements for lost dogs. In 1751, Alexander Finnie, who ran the Raleigh Tavern, offered to pay "Half a Pistole" to anyone who returned his "spaniel BITCH, with white and brown spots." In 1752 Williamsburg, a pet dog Ball, a reddish spaniel was lost, and his owner James Spiers was willing to part with a dollar to get him back. In 1774, Glasgow, a brown-and-white bulldog with an iron collar, had gone missing and his owner offered 20 shillings for his return. In the same paper in 1777, a pet black Pomeranian called Spado was stolen and a $20 reward was offered.

In the only written connection between dogs and women that I have found yet---in 1775, Williamsburg's Virginia Gazette printed,  

"On the Death of a Lady's Dog"
Thou, happy creature, art secure 
From all the troubles we endure..


1758  John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Mary and Elizabeth Royall with Dog


1767 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Girl with Bird and Dog


1771 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Mary Elizabeth Martin with Dog


1785 John Singleton Copley (American, artist, 1738-1815) Daughters of King George III (Sophia, Mary and Amelia) Painted while Copley was in England.


1730 John Smibert (1688-1751). Mrs Nathaniel Cunningham with Dog


C 1750 John Wollaston (1710-1775) Magdalen Charlton (Mrs. Thomas Dongan) with Dog


c 1760 Benjamin West (1738-1820). Anne Allen (later Mrs. John Penn) with Dog.  John Penn (1729-1795) was the last governor of colonial Pennsylvania, serving from 1763-1771 & 1773-1776, & he was a grandson of William Penn. Portrait of the daughter of West's benefactor Chief Justice William Allen may have been painted as West was traveling from Pennsylvania to Italy and then to England.


1760 English artist James McArdell (1728-1965) after Joshua Reynolds Joshua Reynolds (English Rococo Era Painter, 1723-1792) The model for Copley's painting below.


1763 John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) Mrs Jerathmael Bowers with Dog


c 1770-90s Unknown artist, Child with a Dog


1772 William Williams (Colonial American painter, 1727-1791). The William Denning Family with Dog


1773 Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). Christian Stelle Banister & Son John with Dog


Begun in 1773 Charles Willson Peale (American painter, 1741-1827) The Peale Family with Dog


Ralph Earl (American born painter, 1751-1801) Portrait of a Child. Painted while Earl was in England


1787 Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Hartley Family with Dog


1785-90 Beardsley Limner Possibly Sarah Bushnell Perkins (1771 - 1831). Elizabeth Davis (Mrs Hezekiah Beardsley) with Dog


1790 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801). Abigail Starr (Mrs. William Taylor) and Son Daniel with Cat


1787 Christian Gullager (American artist, 1759-1826 Sarah Greenleaf (Mrs Oflin Boardman) & Benjamin Greenleaf Boardman with Dog


1787 Unknown artist, Child with Dog


1789 - 1791 Payne Limner. Martha Payne with Cat


1790 Payne Limner Alexander Spotswood Payne & John Robert with Dog


1797 Christian Gullager Christian Gullager (American artist, 1759-1826) Baby with Dog


1798 John Ritto Penniman 1782–1841  Family Group with Dog

By the dawn of the 19th century, there could be no doubt that dogs were an integral part of the American family.


 John Trumbull (American painter, 1756-1843) Sarah Trumbull with a Spaniel 1802


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Squirrels in paintings of 18C American Women & Children

1757 Joseph Badger (American artist, 1708-1765). Rebecca Orne (later Mrs. Joseph Cabot)

In the British American colonies, people raided squirrel nests for their young, & the young squirrels were sold in the city markets. I am curious about animals appearing in paintings with 18C Americans. Are they real? Or are they just emblems symbolizing some quality trait of their owners?

Reliable art historians Roland E. Fleischer, Ellen Miles, Deborah Chotner, & Julie Aronson suggest that these squirrels are not real. They suggest that the squirrels are either copied from emblem books such as Emblems for the Improvement and Entertainment of Youth published in London in 1755, or from English prints. The latter theory is supported by the fact that some of the squirrels depicted in the paintings are composites of squirrels found in both America & England.  The 1755 emblem book describes the meaning of the emblem, "A Squirrel taking the Meat out of a Chestnut. Not without Trouble. An Emblem that Nothing that's worth having can be obtained without Trouble and Difficulty." 


Actually squirrels in imagery seem to have had various symbolic meanings throughout the ages. Sometimes they were seen as symbols of grasping covetousness; because of their hoarding food for winter, they were seen as greedy.  At other times they were seen as an affectionate friend. Later squirrels were symbolic of obedience & personal restraint.


All right, we all know that patience & diligence are virtues, but is there more than meets the eye here, or perhaps less?



1765 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Frances Deering Wentworth (Mrs. Theodore Atkinson, Jr.)

British clergyman, Edward Topsell (c 1572-1625) , described squirrels in his Beastiary as “sweet sportful beasts and…very pleasant playfellows in a house,” despite their predilection for chewing up their owner’s woolen garments. Since they could easily chew their way through wood, special tin cages were developed, possessing metal bars sturdy enough to house them.

While visiting the British American colonies in 1748, Peter Kalm noted, “The gray and flying squirrels are so tamed by the boys that they sit on their shoulders and follow them everywhere.”   Colonial tinsmiths began making amusing cages for these pet squirrels in the forms of mills with waterwheels.


1760s William Williams (American artist, 1727-1791). Deborah Hall. Detail

From The Virginia Gazette, December 15, 1768
A young Lady's COMPLAINTon the DEATH of her SQUIRREL .

A thing so pretty as my PHIL,
A thing so sprightly and so queer,
The pet I lov'd so very dear,
To rob me of the pretty elf,

For him I've lost each night's repose,
Nothing enjoying but my woes.
Oh could my squirrel but survive,

But he is gone ! ne'er to return!
And useless 'tie to sigh and mourn.
I'll therefore seek another pet ,

Amongst the fops or empty beaus,
Because he'd surely make me fret,
And prove a very worthless pet.

In The Pennsylvania Gazette of October 10, 1771, Melcher Wisinger announced that he had wire work for sale including cages for birds and squirrels.


An advertisement in The Pennsylvania Gazette of October 10, 1792, gave notice that William Zane had for sale squirrel chains.


On Dec. 31, 1798, Philadelphia resident Elizabeth Drinker noted in her diary that her son William had “bought a flying squirrel in market, brought it home to please the children,” and added ruefully, “I should have been better pleased had it remained in the woods.” 

Later, in 1799, Drinker noted in another entry that. “An account in one of the late papers of a natural curiosity, I think ’tis called, to be seen in Walnut Street; a fine little bird, a beautiful flying squirrel, a rattlesnake, and other animals, are living in the most amicable terms in a neat, strong box or cage. William went yesterday to see them; the bird was hopping about, ye squirrel laying asleep in a corner; 2 or 3 frogs in the box; the snake appeared torpid, but would stir when disturbed by a stick. The torpid situation of ye snake accounts to me for their friendly living together.”


1770 Attributed to Cosmo Alexander (American artist, 1724-1772).

In the 19th century New American Cyclopaedia the squirrel is examined in detail. "The cat squirrel, the fox squirrel of the middle states, is...found chiefly in the middle states, rarely in southern New England; it is rather a slow climber, and of inactive habits; it becomes very fat in autumn, when its flesh is excellent, bringing in the New York market 3 times the price of that of the common gray squirrel...They are easily domesticated, and gentle in confinement, and are often kept as pets in wheel cages... The red or Hudson's bay squirrel...is less gentle and less easily tamed than the gray squirrel."



1760 Joseph Badger (American artist, 1708-1765). Portrait of Two Children. One hold a coral teething rattle and the boy on the left holds a pet squirrel.


Peter Kalm, the Swedish-Finnish explorer & naturalist who traveled through North America from 1748 - 1751, published an account of his travels in a journal En Resa til Norra America, which was translated into German, Dutch, French, & English.  He described more than squirrel pets in British colonial America.  Although there are no paintings including pet beavers or raccoons, Kalm noted,

“Beavers have been tamed to such an extent that they have brought home what they caught by fishing to their masters. This is often the case with otters, of which I have seen some that were as tame as dogs, and followed their master wherever he went; if he went out in a boat the otter went with him, jumped into the water and after a while came up with a fish."


“The raccoon can in time be made so tame as to run about the streets like a domestic animal; but it is impossible to make it leave off its habit of stealing. In the dark it creeps to the poultry, and kills a whole flock in one night. Sugar and other sweet things must be carefully hidden; for if the chests and boxes are not always locked, it gets into them and eats the sugar with its paw. The ladies, therefore, have some complaint against it every day."



1760 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Boy (Henry Pelham) with a Squirrel.


1760 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Boy (Henry Pelham) with a Squirrel. Detail


1771 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Daniel Crommelin Verplanck with Squirrel


1790 Denison Limner Probably Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822). Miss Denison of Stonington, Connecticut possibly Matilda.


1798 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801). Elizabeth Eliot (Mrs. Gershom Burr)


Thursday, March 6, 2014

American Colonial Era Artist John Hesselius 1728-1778

In colonial Philadelphia, Swedish painter Gustavus Hesselius (1682-1755) had a son John in 1728, who lived and worked in Pennsylvania, Maryland, & Virginia for 50 years. Gustavus taught his son John Hesselius (1728-1778) to paint; but their styles were different, & his more colorful son was quite successful securing commissions to paint flattering portraits of gentry women & their children.

1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. Richard Brown

In addition to the instruction from his father, John Hesselius probably was influenced by the work of the elegant Robert Feke (1707-1751) in Philadelphia as well. Later John moved to Maryland, where he came in contact with the rococo work of Englishman John Wollaston (1710-1775), who seemed to have an additional affect on his painting style.


1760s John Hesselius (1728-1778). Jean Dick (Mrs. Anthony Stewart)

When John Hesselius turned 35 in 1763, he courted & married a well-to-do, young widow, Mary Woodward, daughter of wealthy Colonel Richard Young, in Annapolis, Maryland. He spent the remaining years of his life as a leisurely country gentleman on her estate "Bellefield," meeting the local gentry a& gaining many lucrative commissions in both Maryland and Virginia. In Annapolis, he also met & became Charles Willson Peale's (1741-1827) first painting instructor. Charles Willson Peale would have no trouble attracting women to sit for his portraits, and neither would John Hesselius.

My favorite John Hesselius painting is not a portrait of a woman, but a painting of a family playing out in a garden.


1751 John Hesselius (1728-1778). The Grymes Children- Lucy Ludwell Grymes 1743-1830, Philip Ludwell Grymes 1746-1805, John Randolph Grymes 1747-96, & Charles Grimes 1748-?  They were the children of Phillip Grymes and his wife Mary Randolph who were born at "Brandon" on the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County, Virginia. In the year following this painting, another daughter, Susanna Grymes was born into the family.


1750 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Millicent Conway Gordon.



1757 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. Matthew Tiglman Anna Lloyd & dau Anna Maria.



1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. William Carmichael.



1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Anna Dorthea Finney 1735-1817.



John Hesselius (1728-1778). Eleanor Addison


1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs Middleton.



1762 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Elizabeth Chew Smith


1763 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Rebecca Holdsworth and grandaughter Rebecca Woodward.



1764 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Ann Bond (Mrs. Edward Fell). Detail Maryland Historical Society


1764 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Elizabeth Galloway (Mrs Thomas Sprigg).


1764 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. Richard Galloway.



1765 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Margaret Tilghman Carroll Mrs Charles Carroll the Barrister.



1765 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Sarah Taliaferro (Mrs. William Dainerfield).



1770 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Portrait of Susannah Rose Lawson (Mrs. Gavin Lawson)(1749-1825)



1771 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Ann Fitzhugh Rose.