AP History Notes

The world's best AP history notes
Posts Tagged ‘art’

The Mysteries of Dido Belle’s Portrait (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Yesterday’s Guardian contained an article by Stuart Jeffries about the painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray that inspired the new movie Belle.

This painting was once attributed to Johann Zoffany but is now considered to be by an unknown artist, making its interpretation harder. In particular, the article quotes differing theories on why Dido is posed the way she is:
Why does Dido look as if she’s rushing past her cousin on an errand? For [novelist Caitlin] Davies, one possibility is that this started as a single portrait. “It looks like the portrait of Elizabeth ...

Read the original post.

Mrs. General Washington (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

This image comes courtesy of the Library of Congress. The New York Public Library states that it appeared in the 1 Apr 1783 issue of The Rambler’s Magazine; or, The annals of gallantry, glee, pleasure, and the bon ton; calculated for the entertainment of the polite world; and to furnish the man of pleasure with a most delicious banquet of amorous, Bacchanalian, whimsical, humorous, theatrical and polite entertainment. What we today call a “men’s magazine.” So of course it showed George Washington in a dress.

Read the original post.

Popping Up on the Freedom Trail: A Kickstarter Campaign (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Denise D. Price is an artist and paper engineer in Cambridge who’s started a Kickstarter campaign for The Freedom Trail Pop-Up Book.

The book promises “16 architecturally accurate pop ups, profiles of each of the five historic weathervanes along the trail and written history about landmarks like the U.S.S. Constitution and the Old South Meeting House.” Other highlights:
  • A fully three dimensional, two-page pop-up of the Massachusetts State House
  • Old Corner Bookstore illustration with moveable sign 1717 to 1826
  • A pop-up interpretation of Paul Revere’s [actually Henry Pelham’s] etching of the Boston Massacre
The Freedom Trail ...

Read the original post.

Historical Diaries Panel at Plymouth, 13 May (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Tuesday, 13 May, I’ll be at the Plymouth Public Library as part of a panel discussion on using diaries in historical research. This event will run from 7:00 to 8:30 P.M. in the Otto Fehlow Meeting Room, and is free and open to the public.

The other panelists will be Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, author of One Colonial Woman’s World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit, and Ondine Le Blanc, Director of Publications at the Massachusetts Historical Society and thus one of the people behind the publication of Ellen Coolidge’s travel diary.

I’ll describe my ...

Read the original post.

The Fate of Don Galvez’s Portrait (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Yesterday’s posting described how in May 1783 Oliver Pollock gave the Continental Congress a portrait of Don Bernardo de Gálvez, who as Spanish governor of Louisiana had been a strong ally for the new U.S. of A. After being displayed for a day in the Congress’s chamber, the painting was moved to the house that chairman Elias Boudinot was renting in Philadelphia.

The next month, soldiers of the Pennsylvania Line marched on the capital to demand their unpaid wages. They surrounded the Pennsylvania State House. Some authors say they were upset with the Congress, some with the Pennsylvania ...

Read the original post.

Congress’s Portrait of Bernardo de Gálvez (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

A couple of folks have pointed us to a Los Angeles Times article that begins:
Teresa Valcarce wants to see Congress keep a promise it made in 1783.

Back then, the year the Revolutionary War ended, Congress agreed to display a portrait of Bernardo de Galvez in the Capitol to honor the Spanish statesman’s efforts to aid the colonies in their struggle against Britain.
But in 1783, there was no “Capitol” for the Continental Congress to make any commitments about. That national legislature met in buildings it borrowed from other governments, including Pennsylvania’s state house (now called Independence Hall...

Read the original post.

On Course to Midway: The Battle of Coral Sea (Naval History Blog)

An interesting history-related post from Naval History Blog:

By the Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

The Battle of Coral Sea, fought in the waters southwest of the Solomon Islands and eastward from New Guinea, was the first of the Pacific War’s six fights between opposing aircraft carrier forces. Though the Japanese could rightly claim a tactical victory on “points,” it was an operational and strategic defeat for them, the first major check on the great offensive they had begun five months earlier at Pearl Harbor. The diversion of Japanese resources represented by the Coral Sea battle would also have significant consequences a month later, ...

Read the original post.

Viewing the “Shot Heard” Exhibit at the Concord Museum (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Last week I took in the Concord Museum’s new “Shot Heard Round the World” exhibit about the events of 18-19 Apr 1775. It was quite an impressive gathering of artifacts related to one historic day.

This is definitely a military-based show. I counted six powder horns (one pierced by a musket ball), five swords, and four muskets, versus two looking-glasses and one clockface. Some of the items are already famous, such as one of the lanterns said to have hung in the Old North Church and William Diamond’s drum.

Other objects I’d never seen before in person or photograph. ...

Read the original post.

Mary Livingston Maturin Mallett (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

For many years, the John Singleton Copley portrait I showed yesterday was tentatively identified as showing William Livingston (1723-1790), wartime governor of New Jersey and signer of the Constitution.

That was probably because in the late 1800s it was owned by a New Yorker named Livingston. Another possible connection lay in how that portrait’s frame matched one around Copley’s portrait of a woman named Mary Mallett, born Mary Livingston in New York.

However, the man in the portrait wears the coat of a British army aide-de-camp, and William Livingston never held any rank in the British army. Furthermore, other ...

Read the original post.

Capt. Gabriel Maturin’s “impenetrable Secrecy” (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

In late 2012, The Magazine Antiques [yes, I know] published an article by Christopher Bryant about a John Singleton Copley portrait he had recently identified.

In 1768, Gen. Thomas Gage came to Boston to oversee the arrival of troops patrolling the town, and while he was there Copley painted him. Evidently the general and his wife liked the result enough that they wanted the artist to visit New York in 1771 and paint her as well. So Gage’s officers went to work to make that happen, Bryant wrote:
While Captain John Small flattered and cajoled Copley to come to New ...

Read the original post.

The Fleets Get N.S.F.W. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

I’ve been writing about the Fleet family, enslaved to Thomas Fleet and trained in the printing business. Isaiah Thomas recalled that in the 1750s a black man named Peter Fleet carved woodcuts for ballads, and the initials “P.F” appear in a small book called The Prodigal Daughter.

On 7 Jan 1751, Thomas Fleet’s Boston Evening-Post featured a woodcut with what looks like Peter Fleet’s typical hatching as its very first item—a rare example of new art in a colonial newspaper. That image illustrated a poem titled “To Mr. CLIO, at North-Hampton, In Defence of MASONRY.”

Though nominally written in ...

Read the original post.

The Art of Peter Fleet (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Finally I’m getting back to the family of enslaved printers in pre-Revolutionary Boston, Peter Fleet and his sons Pompey and Caesar.

In his history of printing, Isaiah Thomas mentioned the last two by name, so when scholars spotted the initials “P.F” at the bottom of the woodcut shown here, they guessed it had been carved by Pompey Fleet.

In fact, Thomas had written that Pompey’s father had carved woodcuts for Thomas Fleet, Sr. Once people remembered the 1743 will of a slave named Peter owned by the Fleet family, they realized that “P.F” could also stand for Peter Fleet.

...

Read the original post.

The Other Fleet Brothers: “brought up to work at press and case” (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Last week I spoke to the Freedom Trail Foundation guides as they were preparing for a new season leading people around Boston.

I talked about newspapers and the people who printed them—a group that included not only white men but women (Margaret Draper), children (apprentices like Benjamin Russell and Peter Edes), and blacks—and for that last group I couldn’t offer any specifics beyond Isaiah Thomas’s memory of a man carving woodcuts for a rival printer.

But then I dug a little deeper, finding some information I should have remembered reading and some that appears to ...

Read the original post.

#PeopleMatter: Office of Naval Intelligence Celebrates 132 Years Service to Navy and Nation (Naval History Blog)

An interesting history-related post from Naval History Blog:

 

Rear Admiral Elizabeth L. Train

Rear Admiral Elizabeth L. Train

Rear Adm. Elizabeth L. Train, USN, Commander, Office of Naval Intelligence

  On March 23, 1882 Secretary of the Navy William H. Hunt signed General Order 292 establishing an “Office of Intelligence” in the Bureau of Navigation to support the modernization of the U.S. Navy in an era of rapid technological change. As our nation’s oldest intelligence agency, ONI has experienced and catalyzed significant change over the course of its long history.

Office of Naval Intelligence in the Bureau of Navigation State, War, and Navy Building, corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and 17th Street NW

Office of Naval Intelligence in the Bureau of Navigation
State, War, and Navy Building, corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and 17th Street NW

It ...

Read the original post.

A Miniature Henry Knox (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

In Dealings with the Dead (1856), Lucius Manlius Sargent told this anecdote about the Rev. Mather Byles, Sr., a Loyalist minister who stayed in Boston after the siege and became notorious for being unable to resist a pun:
He was intimate with General [Henry] Knox, who was a bookseller, before the war. When the American troops took possession of the town, after the evacuation, Knox, who had become quite corpulent, marched in, at the head of his artillery.

As he passed on, Byles, who thought himself privileged, on old scores, exclaimed, loud enough to be heard—...

Read the original post.

Dorchester Heights, Sixty Years Later (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

W. H. Bartlett painted This watercolor in 1836, showing the view of Boston from the top of Dorchester Heights. Two years later it was adapted into this engraving; the Boston Public Library shared both on its Flickr page. There was also a color print, and later artists copied the image.

In the background is the skyline of Boston, topped by the dome of the State House on Beacon Hill. Some church steeples stick up as well. In the foreground are the remains of the earthworks built on Dorchester Heights in 1776, though most of what we see ...

Read the original post.

Painting the Legend (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

The Skinner auction house reports that that watercolor I’ve been discussing sold for $39,975, above the estimate. I hope its new owner is pleased with the painting and the little historical mystery it brings.

Thinking about what makes an artifact interesting reminded me of a story I noted back in 2006, right after I started this blog. As reported by National Public Radio and the New Yorker, the story started in 1975 when Alexander McBurney, a doctor in Rhode Island, bought the painting shown here.

A picture of a Revolutionary-era black mariner in uniform is extremely ...

Read the original post.

The Bottom Line on the Pitcairn Painting? (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

I’ve been discussing this small watercolor painting whose label says it shows Maj. John Pitcairn and was created by Paul Revere. That picture appears to have been first reported in Art in America in December 1922. At that time it was paired with another, also credited to Revere and labeled “A View of South Bridge, Lexington.”

Now I didn’t know Lexington had a significant or picturesque south bridge in the early republic. For someone unaware of local Revolutionary history but playing off the buzzwords of the late-1800s Colonial Revival, “the South Bridge at Lexington” might make a nice bookend ...

Read the original post.

What Stands Behind That Watercolor of Maj. Pitcairn? (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

This is another detail of the watercolor painting that Skinner is offering for sale this weekend, labeled as showing Maj. John Pitcairn of the British Marines and painted by Paul Revere.

This detail comes from the other side of the painting, or actually from inside the wooden frame. In investigating the picture, the folks at Skinner opened the frame and looked inside. There were scraps of newspaper glued to the wood as part of the matting process, and specialist Joel Bohy kindly sent me an image of them. This is one portion of that photograph.

I’m not an ...

Read the original post.

The Signature Style of Paul Revere (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Yesterday I showed a watercolor painting of a British officer that the Skinner auction house is selling this weekend. And here’s the detail that makes this image so interesting: the words at the bottom of the picture identifying the subject as “Major John Pitcairn” and the artist as “P. Revere.”

I’m skeptical of most things from the Revolution that aren’t clearly contemporaneous, and some that are. I was therefore skeptical about the authenticity of this portrait. As Skinner says, it’s the only known painting credited to Paul Revere. For his engravings he relied on other artists like Christian ...

Read the original post.

When Would Paul Revere Have Painted Major Pitcairn? (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

This weekend the Skinner auction house is offering this watercolor painting of a British army officer on horseback, which is labeled at the bottom “Major John Pitcairn” and “P. Revere del.” for “Paul Revere drew this.”

According to a typewritten note glued to the back, this picture was owned by the furniture-maker Duncan Phyfe. Thus, this one artifact links three historic names famous during the Colonial Revival.

In his blog post on the painting, Skinner specialist Joel Bohy offered this hypothesis about how the painting came about:
Pitcairn was quartered at a home in Boston that belonged ...

Read the original post.

A Newly Recognized Example of Paul Revere’s Silver Work (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

The Newport Historical Society received this teapot in a large gift of artifacts, historic clothing, and documents from Frances Raymond in 1998. In fact, her gift was so large that it took a long time before a staff member was able to examine the teapot closely and see that it’s marked “Revere.” The maker’s mark and rococo style indicate that it came from the workshop of Boston silversmith Paul Revere in the 1760s. (Compare it to the one that John Singleton Copley painted in Revere’s hand.)

On Thursday, 6 March, the Newport Historical Society will host a lecture by ...

Read the original post.

Footnotes on “Reporting the Battle of Lexington” (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Last night’s talk at the Lexington Historical Society was fun, and I learned new stuff while preparing it.

For instance, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston owns this John Smibert portrait of Samuel Pemberton painted in 1734 when he was eleven years old. Not too young to shave his head and wear a wig, however. In 1770, Pemberton was on the committee with James Bowdoin and Dr. Joseph Warren to prepare Boston’s official report on the Boston Massacre.

The main thesis of my talk was that the Massachusetts Patriots, and Warren in particular, learned from that episode ...

Read the original post.

The Council Chamber at the Old State House, 28 Jan. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Tuesday, 28 January, the Bostonian Society will unveil its makeover of the Old State House’s Council Chamber, where the Massachusetts Council considered legislation and met with the governor. This was considered the most opulent public space in colonial Boston and the center of imperial power in Massachusetts.

Working with craftspeople trained at the North Bennet Street School, the society has furnished the room as it appeared in 1764, when the building was still called the Town House and Britain’s North American empire was at its peak.

The event announcement explains:
Although the original Council Chamber table and chairs ...

Read the original post.