Gilbert Stuart The Man Who Painted Washington

The face is familiar. Every American has scanned it a thousand times; it passes from hand to hand in millions of ordinary business transactions every day of the year. It is Gilbert Stuart’s image of George Washington, and it adorns, of course, the United States dollar bill. Yet not one American in a hundred could tell you anything of the artist whose perception of the Father of His Country would eventually become the most readily recognized portrait ever made of any famous person.Read more »

The American City

A gathering of turn-of-the-century paintings

Our cities began as muddy accidents. First settlers would set up shop on a promising spit of land; a steamer would tie up at a convenient bend in a river; two railroads would cross on an empty prairie; and soon there would be some warehouses, a saloon, a brothel, a jail, a church—a city. For the most part the cities grew up unplanned, a sort of cancerous response to the wealth being produced in and around them.Read more »

Artists Of The Santa Fe

 

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway grew in a cloud of violence that quickly became legendary. Wherever the fledgling railroad went in the 1870’s, it left a raw and brawling cow town in its wake. At the Colorado ranges gunplay broke out between the work crews of the Santa Fe and the rival Denver & Rio Grande.Read more »

Mallet, Chisel, And Curls

Vinnie Ream sculptured Lincoln while she was still a teen-ager

President Lincoln had been dead more than three years in May of 1868, and the model of his statue still rested unfinished in young Vinnie Ream’s Capitol studio. Now its very completion was threatened by a band of bitter congressmen who had failed to eject Mr. Lincoln’s successor from the White House and, in their frustration, would try to turn Vinnie’s ambition to ashes as well. Read more »

Of A Merry Christmas Past

 

If ever there was a year when Americans could look on their works with pride, it was 1902. From the sparsely settled, fledgling nation of a century before, America had become one of the great industrial powers of the globe. Her cities bristled with skyscrapers. Her inventors had given the world the telephone and the electric light. People were chugging around in horseless carriages powered by fuel sucked out of the ground in Texas.Read more »

Olana

High on a hill above the Hudson River Frederick Edwin Church indulged his passion for building an exotic dream castle

“Sometimes the desire to build attacks a man like a fever—and at it he rushes,” the successful young landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church wrote from abroad to his friend and patron William H. Osborn in 1868. Church, his wife, and his young son were on an eighteen-month tour of Europe and the Middle East, but it was clear that he had other things on his mind than the average tourist did. Soon after they arrived home with boxes of “rugs—armour—stuffs—curiosities, etc. etc.Read more »

Personal Recollections Of The War By A Private Soldier

By one of those happy accidents that nourish historians and magazines of history, an antiques dealer, sorting through the contents of the attic of a house in Mahopac, New York, in 1962, came across two notebooks that had apparently belonged to a Union soldier in the Civil War. She promptly bought them. One of the volumes contained copies of letters; the other, in a different hand, had a title page written in elaborate calligraphy, as shown at the left.Read more »

Arctic Twilight: The Paintings Of Kivetoruk Moses

Kivetoruk Moses spent his youth and middle years zestfully hunting seal, reindeer, and polar bear through the Alaskan snows. He became rich trading in furs and sled dogs in Siberia and his native Cape Espenberg on the Seward Peninsula. In 1954, when injuries from an airplane crash ended his hunting days, Moses started a new career by teaching himself to paint—as a means of keeping green his memories of those best of times.Read more »

Frederic Remington’s Wild West

In the summer of 1885 a young artist from New York by way of Kansas City found himself resting by a campfire with a couple of prospectors out in Arizona Territory at a time when Geronimo was on the prowl, perhaps “even in our neighborhood.” It was about 9 o’clock in the evening, and the three men were drowsily relaxing, puffing on their pipes and looking up at the stars through the branches of the trees overhead.Read more »