The Sad End Of George And Martha

A true story of their final days on the Florida seashore

 

One summer afternoon not so very long ago, the police department of Holmes Beach, Florida, a village on the Gulf Coast a few miles north of Sarasota, took custody of an insignificant-looking package that immediately caused extreme apprehension around the little white station house on Marina Drive.

 
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FDR The Last Photo

A picture taken the day before President Roosevelt’s death has been hidden away in an artist’s file until now

Commissioned to paint Franklin Roosevelt, Elizabeth Shoumatoff arrived in Warm Springs, Georgia, in early April, 1945. Before starting her day’s work on April 11, she asked an assistant, Nicholas Robbins, to snap a few pictures of the President.

One of these, the last taken, is a haunting document of Roosevelt’s final hours. Never published before, it is shown on the opposite page. Mrs. Shoumatoff, who died in 1980, left a memoir of this photo session and the fateful day that followed:

A Sargent Portrait

It took half a century for his critics to see his subjects as clearly as he did; but today he stands as America’s preeminent portraitist

John Singer Sargent, in common with Holbein and Van Dyck, was an international painter of portraits who did his major work in England. It was in his studio in London’s Tite Street, during the 1880s and 1890s and in this century up to 1907, when he abandoned what he derisively called “paughtraits,” that he re-created on canvas the world of the AngloAmerican upper classes. His success was as great as that of his two predecessors, but his posthumous reputation has had a bumpier time. Read more »

A Passion In Miniature

Peter Marié, a bon vivant of the Gilded Age, asked hundreds of Society’s prettiest women to allow themselves to be painted for him alone

FOR A DEBUTANTE in turn-of-the-ceiitury New York, the highest mark of approval was having Peter Marié request a miniature portrait. Marié, a descendant of French planters in Santo Domingo and a beau of the old school, had made a fortune in New York before retiring at the age of forty in 1865. He went to all the grandest parties, entertained, belonged to New York’s best clubs. And he greatly admired beautiful women.Read more »

“If I Had Another Face, Do You Think I'd Wear This One?”

…so Lincoln joked. Actually he was eager to pose for portraits.

 

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN was a paradoxical figure to the many artists who portrayed him. He felt ignorant about art, admitted to having an “unpracticed eye,” and he was given to publicly mocking his appearance. Once accused during a debate with Stephen Douglas of being two-faced, Lincoln is said to have replied, “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?” Read more »

Democracy Delineated

Declaring himself a “thorough democrat” George Caleb Bingham portrayed the American voter with an artist’s eye—and a seasoned politicians savvy

Between 1847 and 1855 George Caleb Bingham completed a half dozen or so canvases that are among the most unusual and interesting documents in the history of American painting. They are well known to students, critics, and art historians but they are only occasionally reproduced in books that celebrate the “finest” American paintings. Others of Bingham’s works are duly included in such selective compilations, for at his best he was a highly competent artist. Read more »

Too Many Philosophers

When Winifred Smith Rieber confidently agreed to paint a group portrait of America’s five pre-eminent philosophers, she had no idea it would be all but impossible even to get them to stay in the same room with one another.

Mother was off again, this time to New England to paint the Harvard philosophy department—all five of its members, and on a single canvas. Mother had known the Harvard philosophers before, but only slightly, when my father had studied under them during his graduate years.Read more »

Our Misplaced President

Historians are still puzzling over the discovery of an official White House portrait of President Roger Darcy Amboy, who appears to have held our nation’s highest office somewhere between Van Buren and Buchanan. Obscured by drapes for over a century, the painting was discovered by an Amboy descendant who had come to urethane the baseboards. Read more »

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 »

As They Saw Themselves

The man who paints his own likeness in a sense turns inside out the famous line of Robert Burns. He is given the gift to show others how he sees himself. This is a revelation of no small interest or importance. We see the man as he idealizes, romanticizes, or possibly disguises himself. And we see him in the mirror of his times. Every artist is to some extent a prisoner of the fashion, the aesthetics, and the painting idiom of his age.Read more »