The Mentor: American Miniature Painters, January 15, 1917, Serial No. 123

The Mentor: American Miniature Painters, January 15, 1917, Serial No. 123

Author:
Elizabeth Lounsbery
Author:
Elizabeth Lounsbery
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Lounsbery, Elizabeth
Miniature painting — United States
Portrait painters — United States
Portrait painting
American — 19th century
The Mentor: American Miniature Painters, January 15, 1917, Serial No. 123

THE MENTOR 1917.01.15, No. 123,
American Miniature Painters



LEARN ONE THING
EVERY DAY
JANUARY 15 1917
SERIAL NO. 123
THE
MENTOR

AMERICAN
MINIATURE
PAINTERS

By MRS. ELIZABETH LOUNSBERY
Author
DEPARTMENT OF
FINE ARTS
VOLUME 4
NUMBER 23
FIFTEEN CENTS A COPY

Art and Life

We are close to realizing the greatest joys to be found in this workaday world when we accept art as a vital part and not a thing separate and distinct from our daily lives. Then we come to know the true values of things—to “find tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

“Art, if we so accept it,” says William Morris, “will be with us wherever we go—in the ancient city full of traditions of past time, in the newly cleared farm in America or the colonies, where no man has dwelt for traditions to gather round him; in the quiet countryside as in the busy town—no place shall be without it.

You will have it with you in your sorrow as in your joy, in your working hours as in your leisure. It will be no respecter of persons, but be shared by gentle and simple, learned and unlearned, and be as a language that all can understand. It will not hinder any work that is necessary to the life of man at the best, but it will destroy all degrading toil, all enervating luxury, all foppish frivolity.

It will be the deadly foe of ignorance, dishonesty, and tyranny, and will foster good-will, fair dealing, and confidence between man and man. It will teach you to respect the highest intellect with a manly reverence, but not to despise any man who does not pretend to be what he is not.”

JOHN LAWRENCE.
By John Trumbull.
Actual size 3-3/4 inches high.
IN THE POSSESSION OF
THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

 
AMERICAN MINIATURE PAINTERS

John Trumbull

 ONE 
THE work of John Trumbull as a historical painter has already been considered in The Mentor (No. 45), and in that number, too, the main facts of his life are told. John Trumbull was a patriotic American and a leader in the artistic and public life of his day, both in England and in America. His position was much more than that of a painter. His attitude toward painting was not one of complete and whole souled devotion. “I am fully sensible,” he wrote at one time, “that the profession of painting as it is generally practised is frivolous, and unworthy a man who has talents for more serious pursuits. But to preserve and diffuse the memory of the noblest series of actions which have ever presented themselves in the history of man is sufficient warrant for it.” We see accordingly that John Trumbull’s idea of the work of a painter was to write history on canvas with a brush—and his pictures bear out his idea.
His life governed and controlled his art. He was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1756, a son of the Colonial governor of that State, and from early years he revealed a mental vigor that was extraordinary. He was an infant prodigy in learning. He entered Harvard College in the junior year at the age of fifteen, and the time he spent there was occupied in omniverous reading and study—which finally came near wrecking his health. When he was a student he visited the great painter John Singleton Copley, and became impressed with that great painter’s idea of the dignity of an artist’s life. He determined to study art, and he was learning to paint when the War of the Revolution began. This event determined the character of his art life. His skill in drawing being noted by General Washington, he was set to work making plans of the enemy’s works. He was then promoted to a position on the general staff, and, afterward, served as colonel under Gates. But aggrieved at what he considered a tardy recognition of himself by Congress, he resigned from the army, went to England and there, meeting the distinguished artist, Benjamin West, took up under him the study of painting. When Major André was executed there was a spirit of retaliation aroused in England, and Trumbull was arrested and imprisoned as a spy. It was only the intercession of Benjamin West that saved his life. After seven months’ imprisonment he was released, on condition that he leave the country. He did not leave, however, but continued his studies with West, and did not return to the United States until 1789.
And so we see that Trumbull’s life was more that of a patriot than a painter. Art was not the controlling factor with him, but the servant. He devoted his brush to the commemoration of great historical events, such as the battles of Bunker Hill and Trenton. And when he painted portraits he selected the prominent patriotic figures in the public life of his time—Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and others of like importance.
It was only natural then that he should turn with an interest little short of enthusiasm to the portrait of that brave and gallant officer, Captain Lawrence. The face of Lawrence, as shown in Trumbull’s miniature, is more rotund, more genial—not to say jovial—than we are led to believe it to be from other portraits. John Trumbull knew Lawrence, however, and found great satisfaction in this portrait. The special interest to us that distinguishes the portrait from others of Lawrence, is that it imparts a sense not so much of the military as of the personal character of the man. As pictured here, by Trumbull, he is a very human hero. In studying this portrait, we feel anew the gripping pathos of Lawrence’s tragic end.
PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION
ILLUSTRATION FOR THE MENTOR. VOL. 4, No. 23, SERIAL No. 123
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.


THE HOURS, By Edward G. Malbone
Actual size: 7 inches high, 6 inches wide.
COPYRIGHT, 1895, BY THE PROVIDENCE ATHENAEUM
IN THE PROVIDENCE ATHENAEUM

 
AMERICAN MINIATURE PAINTERS

Edward G. Malbone

 TWO 
EDWARD GREENE MALBONE was born in Newport, Rhode Island, August 17, 1777, and died in Savannah in 1807. While a boy he frequently visited the local theater in his native town to watch the process of scene painting, and, later, tried his hand at this work—attaining what was considered by the townspeople great success. As a child he was quiet, reserved and self-absorbed. At sixteen he showed an indication of great talent in his first portrait miniature. Encouraged in his efforts by the English Consul at Providence, he devoted himself to the study of drawing heads and painting miniatures, and, at seventeen, he became professionally identified with miniature painting in Providence, and, in 1796, fairly established as a miniature painter in Boston.
In 1800 he accompanied his friend and fellow artist, Washington Allston, to Charleston, and the following year the two went together to Europe. It was during his stay in London that Malbone painted his most important miniature, “The Hours,” now owned by the Providence Athenæum. This shows, at three-quarter length, the figures of three beautiful women, who represent, as the Greeks personified them, Eunomia, Dice (die´-see) and Irene—the Past, the Present and the Coming Hour. They have a general resemblance and seem as if they might represent the same individual in different moments of emotion and development.
On the left is seen Eunomia or the Past, with an expression of pensive reluctance rather than regret. The central figure is Dice, or the Present—looking straight out from the picture. Her right arm is slightly raised toward Eunomia, at the left, while the left hand reaches half deprecatingly toward the Coming Hour. Irene, or the Coming Hour, is shown leaning upon the left shoulder of the Present.
This miniature was given to his sister by the painter during his lifetime, and, later, was purchased from the family by the subscription of twelve hundred dollars for the Providence Athenæum.
Although urged by Benjamin West to remain in England, where his art would win him ample appreciation and employment, Malbone preferred to return to America, and on his arrival traveled for several years—stopping in the principal cities to paint miniatures. “These,” to quote Tuckerman, “are among the few pleasant and precious artistic associations with the past in this country.”
Ill health finally took Malbone to Jamaica, but finding that his illness was incurable he left there, with the intention of returning to New England, but died in Savannah—in the prime of his life and success—before he could reach the North. Malbone is now considered the most important of all miniaturists of his time.
PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION
ILLUSTRATION FOR THE MENTOR. VOL. 4, No. 23, SERIAL No. 123
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.


THE GOLDEN HOUR.
By W. J. Baer
Actual size. 4 inches high, 5 inches wide.
COPYRIGHT. 1896, BY W. J. BAER
IN THE POSSESSION OF
MR. ROBERT S. CLARK, NEW YORK CITY

 
AMERICAN MINIATURE PAINTERS

William J. Baer

 THREE 
ART beckons and the artist follows. Only an artist knows what the lure of art is. The field of art is full of enticements. Little incidents, apparently insignificant, have sometimes been sufficient to change an artist’s career and direct him toward his most brilliant achievements.
William J. Baer was thirty years of age before he painted a miniature. More than that, he had never seen a miniature that interested him, and he believed that miniature painting had limitations that precluded it from serious consideration. He was an instructor of drawing at Cooper Institute, New York City, an illustrator for magazines, and a painter of portraits, and had no thought of painting miniatures when, in 1892, he finished a very successful portrait of the late Alfred Corning Clark of New York. Mr. Clark was so pleased with the painting that he expressed a desire to have a copy of it in miniature. Mr. Baer did not believe that a result could be obtained worthy of the effort, so he refused to try it. Mr. Clark renewed his request, and Mr. Baer again refused. A short time after, however, having some leisure, his mind turned back to Mr. Clark’s request, and, upon consideration, he was prompted to make a quiet attempt at miniature painting. He supplied himself with the necessary materials, and made his first experiment by copying a head from one of his own pictures, a profile of a young woman. The result was surprising to him—detail, patience, eyesight and hand served him well. In another week he had painted the miniature of Mr. Clark from his original sketch in oil colors. When Mr. Clark saw it he was delighted and asked for another. And so, out of what was at first a mere diversion, Mr. Baer developed a perfected art.
With the showing of Mr. Baer’s miniatures at the First Portrait Show in 1894, his success was definitely assured.
In 1896 he painted his first ideal miniature, “The Golden Hour,” now owned by Mr. Robert S. Clark of New York City. The idea of this exquisite picture developed from an effort of Mr. Baer’s to paint in profile from memory the head of an auburn-haired girl that he had seen. A well-known English girl who had posed for Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Frederick Leighton, happened then to call at his studio. Several sittings, in which a number of pencil and red chalk drawings were made, gave him an entirely different idea. The profile developed into a lovely dream picture, in which woman’s crowning glory, her glowing hair, was poetically idealized. The picture shows two profiles, like twin sisters—the first with hair of dark copper tinge, the second at the left with hair of brilliant auburn, melting into the sunset colors of the sky.
This was the first of a number of ideal works by Mr. Baer, and was followed at intervals by others of like charm. “Primevera,” painted in 1908, which is Mr. Baer’s most important and ambitious endeavor, represents Flora, the handmaiden of spring, and is a delicate color poem.
Mr. Baer was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 29, 1860. He studied art in Cincinnati and in Munich. He returned to America in 1885, and for several years was an instructor in various art institutions. In 1897 he received the first-class medal for miniature and ideal subjects in New York, and he was an organizer and a former president of the American Society of Miniature Painters. Mr. Baer is at present treasurer of that society and an associate of the National Academy.
PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION
ILLUSTRATION FOR THE MENTOR. VOL. 4, No. 23, SERIAL No. 123
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.


MRS. BECKINGTON, By Alice Beckington
Actual size: 5-1/4 inches high, 4-3/8 inches wide.
IN THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK CITY

 
AMERICAN MINIATURE PAINTERS

Alice Beckington

 FOUR 
ALICE BECKINGTON is one of the leading members of the American Society of Miniature Painters, and she now holds the office of vice-president. She was born in St. Charles, Missouri, on July 30, 1868. She was a pupil at the Art Students’ League in New York under Carroll Beckwith—after that she studied in Paris with Benjamin Constant. Miss Beckington was a close friend of Miss Thayer’s, and the work of the two shows a sympathetic understanding. Miss Beckington’s work is serious, fine in taste, and dignified in character. She does not play lightly with her art. Her pictures have a pleasing warmth of color; that is to say, blacks and browns, golden flesh colorings, and grays that are never cold. Occasional cool effects are, however, to be found in her work, for Miss Beckington has a full appreciation of the value of harmoniously contrasting color. The picture reproduced on the reverse side of this sheet is taken from an original miniature in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is a portrait of Miss Beckington’s mother, the original ivory plate being slightly smaller than the reproduction here given.
As may be seen, it is a work of distinction. The character of this refined woman is portrayed with simple eloquence. The pale blue of the dress and the delicately toned background set off in a poetic and sympathetic manner the character of this fine gentlewoman. The picture is thoroughly representative of Miss Beckington’s work, and amply explains her high standing among our miniature painters. Just as many persons in social life who are assured in their exclusive positions dress simply and unaffectedly, so Miss Beckington paints—with directness and sincerity, without display or striving for effect.
Miss Beckington, referring to her early efforts in miniature painting, says that it was during the four years when she was working in oils in Paris that she became interested in miniature painting—and that in this work she was self-taught. Her first portrait of her mother was accepted by the Salon in Paris in 1894, and upon her return to New York she exhibited pictures annually at the National Academy. She believes that the great principles of art that obtain in oil painting should apply to miniature work as well; and she paints her miniatures in the same manner as she would paint in oils—with only the difference in treatment required by the conditions of a small sized picture.
PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION
ILLUSTRATION FOR THE MENTOR. VOL. 4, No. 23, SERIAL No. 123
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.


PERSIS.
By Laura Coombs Hills
IN THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM
OF ART NEW YORK CITY
Actual size: 6-3/4 inches high, 5-1/16 inches wide.

 
AMERICAN MINIATURE PAINTERS

Laura Coombs Hills

 FIVE 
LAURA COOMBS HILLS is a favorite of lovers of miniature painting. She has a fine, fresh style of her own. Her spirit is buoyant, natural, and without affectation. She is a craftsman of extraordinary talent. No difficulties seem to daunt her. Her coloring is positive, and she seems undismayed in rendering any tone of dress or background or face. Her painting of flesh color, particularly, is just and true. Temperamentally, Miss Hills must be counted as one of the soundest and truest of miniature painters, by which is meant that she looks at life with clear seeing eyes, and records what she sees truthfully and with sympathetic understanding. The accompanying picture, Persis, is a good example of Miss Hills’ work. It shows a child with brownish-red hair, wearing a dark shade of pink ribbon. Her dress, of the faded pink variety, wherein the lights approach flesh coloring and the shadows are silvery, merges into golden tints. The background of sofa and tapestry offers a variety of greens throughout, with a note of clear orange in the bit of cushion to the left of the child’s right arm. The floor and the arm of the sofa repeat the color of the hair. A few patches of blue and blue-green in the tapestry supply a relief for the colors of the figure and the cushions.
It was somewhat over twenty years ago that Miss Hills began to paint miniatures. Up to that time she had done some illustrating and decorative painting, worked on china, and some commercial designing. She was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, September 7, 1859, and was a pupil of Helen M. Knowlton, of the Cowles Art School in Boston, and also of the Art Students’ League in New York. She was in England on a visit when a girl friend of hers remarked on her work, and asked her why she did not turn her brush to miniature painting. Miss Hills was at first reluctant to attempt a new line of art. But after some consideration she got several pieces of ivory, persuaded some young girls to sit for her, and in a short time turned out seven miniatures. She was surprised to find how easy the work appeared to be. She had understood that miniature painting was difficult and required a special talent. She was not wrong about that, but until she undertook the work she was not aware that this special talent was hers. She was delighted. Her outlook was clear and full of promise. She had a work of beauty to do and she knew that she could do it well.
People interest Miss Hills, and the picturing of people, especially young people, is a delight to her. The people she paints are very real, and they are distinct and individual. She has painted over 200 miniatures, and they are something more than portraits. They have a pictorial quality that gives them a very special charm and distinction. It has been observed that if the subjects that she has pictured in her miniatures had been rendered in oils on large canvases, “they would be found decorative and impressive.” Miss Hills was a member of the Society of American Artists in 1897, and was made an associate of the National Academy in 1906. She is a member of the Boston Water Color Club, Copley Society, New York Woman’s Art Club, and the American Society of Miniature Painters. She has exhibited in several of the world expositions, and has received a number of medals for merit.
PREPARED BY THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION
ILLUSTRATION FOR THE MENTOR. VOL. 4, No. 23, SERIAL No. 123
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY THE MENTOR ASSOCIATION, INC.


PORTRAIT OF A CHILD.

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The Mentor: American Miniature Painters, January 15, 1917, Serial No. 123
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