The Unexpected Art Of Louis Comfort Tiffany

“The most helpful thing I can think of,” Louis Tiffany once wrote, “is to show people that beauty is everywhere…up-lifting…healthgiving.” He showed that beauty most memorably in the opulent, iridescent, glass that made a Tiffany vase or lamp the hallmark of a well-appointed turn-of-the-century home. Read more »

Rendering The Alamo

On the morning of March 6,1836, a band of 187 Texas revolutionaries died at the hands of some three thousand Mexican troops within the crumbling pile of stones called the Alamo. The romance that still hovers about the place already was flourishing a decade after the massacre, a fact that led a young Mexican War volunteer to make the earliest known paintings of the Alamo—published here for the first time—and to participate in what was almost certainly the first (albeit minor) historical preservation project in the history of the United States Army. Read more »

Shades Of Rebellion

A few years back a Massachusetts hardware salesman named Stuart Goldman bought a trunk which, he believed, had been sealed since 1799. When he opened it, he found the crisp silhouette of the Continental officer at left. The soldier was identified as Major Hugh Maxwell of Charlemont, Massachusetts; the artist, only as “P.C.” Intrigued by his find, Goldman set about tracking down F.C., and eventually learned that the initials stood for Frederick Chapman.Read more »

The Ellerslie Log

The 407-ton packet Ellerslie left New Orleans on December 30, 1848, on a royage that now would be forgotten save for the discovery of a series of watercolor sketches done by one of the passengers, James Guy Erans, a minister and maritime artist bound for the ship’s home port of Baltimore. Read more »

The Colossus Of Staten Island

A ponderous memorial to a people who refused to vanish

 

Had one man’s grandiose vision been realized, the first sight to greet immigrants arriving in the New World after 1913 would not have been Bartholdi’s graceful, torch-bearing Goddess of Liberty, but something more nearly resembling the world’s largest cigar-store Indian. Read more »

The Other Frederick Church

By the late 1850’s Frederick Church was the most popular artist in America. “He alone,” wrote a contemporary, “with the confidence of success, exhibits his single works as they are completed.” Holding opera glasses, visitors would come to study a solitary canvas —almost always a landscape of enormous complexity, a huge, classical composition crowded with photographic detail. But Church’s admirers never saw the studies he also produced—hasty notations, tossed off in a matter of minutes, but filled with sunlight and greenery and tumbling clouds.Read more »

The Sun Paintings Of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes

 
 

No nineteenth-century American was more enthusiastic about the advent of the camera than Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes.Read more »

The View From Fourth And Olive

A remarkable collection of daguerreotypes by the St. Louis photographer Thomas Easterly illuminates the zest and chaos of city life in the Age of Expansion

Throughout his working life, Thomas Easterly’s St. Louis acquaintances knew him as “the daguerrean,” a title that reflected the man’s stubborn espousal of the first photographic method known in America. Long after his colleagues had adopted newer techniques, Easterly stuck by his belief in its superior qualities. “Save your old Daguerreotypes,” he urged, “for you may never see their like again. … By no other process can so perfect and durable a likeness be produced and every unprejudiced artist will bear testimony to what we assert.” Read more »

An Artist-sportsman’s Portfolio

A. B. Frost faithfully recorded the woodland pursuits of himself and his affluent friends

Arthur Burdett Frost, who at the turn of the century was perhaps the best-known and most popular illustrator in America, sketched and painted his way from relatively humble beginnings to hobnobbing with the leisure class. A significant element in this ascension was his lifelong fascination with sports of field and stream: he often hunted and fished with gentlemen of affluence, and depicted their passionate pursuits on paper and canvas with such accuracy and verve that they came to consider him the sportsman-artist par excellence.Read more »

The American Pantheon, According To Coyle

Carlos Cortez Coyle did not know much about art, at least not in the formal sense. But he knew whom he liked, and he painted his heroines and heroes with naive enthusiasm. Coyle was born in Kentucky in 1871 and did not begin painting seriously until he was fifty-nine, after a knockabout career as a shipbuilder and lumberman.Read more »