Monday, February 23rd, 2015...9:00 am

American Paintings at Harvard

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The recent publication of American Paintings at Harvard, Volume 1: Paintings, Watercolors and Pastels by Artists Born Before 1826 (Harvard Art Museums, 2014) is a monumental achievement and makes fascinating reading. Theodore Stebbins, Jr., and Melissa Renn have led a distinguished team of scholars and curators and they are all to be congratulated on the creation of an authoritative reference work. We are pleased to report that five works from the Houghton Library collection are included in this first volume. Among them are Charles Wilson Peale’s watercolor on ivory portrait of George Washington, MS Am 1375, and the gift of William B. Osgood Field in 1943 (Catalogue no. 348).

Peale, Charles Wilson, 1741-1827. George Washington, c. 1775. MS Am 1375

A story was passed down in the family of the owner, Mrs. [Hannah Erwin] Israel, that she had received the miniature directly from Washington as his thanks for valuable information she conveyed to him about the British army and its plans. There is, however, no other support for this legend, though the warmth of Washington’s expression in the miniature sets it apart from the others Peale made at this time, and suggests that he or the general may have had a special purpose in mind for it. (p. 384)

Otis Allan Bullard’s portrait of Emily, Austin and Lavinia Dickinson, the gift of Gilbert H. Montague in 1950 (Catalogue no. 63).

Bullard, Otis Allan, 1816-1853. The Dickinson children, c. 1840.

In her left hand Emily holds a book of floral illustrations with a pink rose resting in its open pages, an image that speaks of Emily’s lifelong love of gardening and botany, and reflects her lasting interests in collecting and pressing flowers. (p. 110)

This post was contributed by William P. Stoneman, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts.

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