Editor's note: The following text was reprinted in Resource Library on July 3, 2009 with permission of The Cleveland Museum of Art. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, please contact The Cleveland Museum of Art through this phone number or Web site
Fine Art in an Industrial Age
by David Steinberg
In the mid-1870s, a critical mass of men in Cleveland came to pursue painting as a fine art. Not only did this new density accelerate the pace of interaction between artists, it also fostered clubs and schools devoted to teaching and exhibiting. Ironically, this intensified community interest in painting heightened awareness of the limits of local education and inspired many artists to travel abroad. Upon return, they often imported attitudes toward picture making that prompted their retreat to northeast Ohio's agricultural hinterlands for subject matter. As part of this constant motion between other cities and towns, painters threaded through Cleveland's visual art support systems, some run on a shoestring solely by artists and others that involved the local, cash-rich fortunes that arose with the Civil War manufacturing boom.
The Art Club, the first of the artist-based institutions, came into being in 1876 through the efforts of men who wanted to draw from the live model, a commitment that resulted in a modest current of figurative art in the city. A photograph of the club's life-drawing class from 1887 (fig. 23) shows a male domain down to its anonymous nude model, a janitor by trade. Women who "stand confessed, like Mother Eve," but with narrow bandages concealing their eyes and perhaps their identities, posed for the club as well. Gender codes also marked the spaces where easel painters brought their work to public notice:
Although it had an open membership, the club considered itself primarily a masculine sphere of action, a circumstance that fostered the organization of the Western Reserve School of Design for Women during 1882. On the whole, these institutions were distinct both in the gender of their students and in the kinds of skills they encouraged -- drawing the figure for club members and preparing for design careers for students at the school. A painting of 1879 by the Art Club's first principal instructor, Frank Tompkins, of "a fair young girl glancing over the contents of a portfolio in the corner of a studio" tenuously bridged these zones by defining females as consumers rather than makers of fine art.
Predictably, far fewer women studied abroad than men. Anna Stuhr Weitz's trip to Paris in 1887 and Caroline Whittlesey's two years in Holland, Italy, and Paris beginning in 1893 were rare among their sex. By contrast, De Scott Evans went to Paris in 1877, a trio of fellows left for Munich the next year, and other ambitious men went alone or in small groups to these and other European cities over the coming decades. Some artists returned to Cleveland permanently, others occasionally, a few never.
During this period in Cleveland, the careers of almost everyone who aspired to making fine art intertwined with overtly commercial uses of paint and art in the city. The most influential exception was the Indiana native De Scott Evans, who studied in Cincinnati and served as professor of fine arts at Mount Union College, Ohio, before migrating to the Cleveland area in 1874 at the age of twenty-seven. The subjects of his early religious and literary paintings bespeak lofty ambitions: Christ Establishing the Holy Sacrament, King Lear, Witch Sycorax, and Musidora. One work, Siren of the Wine Cup (fig. 25), probably done while Evans was still in Cincinnati, uses an allegorical figure to prompt viewers to meditate on the pleasures and, ultimately, the perils of alcohol. He showed these and other paintings in the college art gallery, including among them his copy of a self-portrait by Rubens, a work that suggests some pretension to joining a lineage of artistic greatness.
By contrast, the early production of Archibald Willard, who moved to Cleveland in 1873 at the age of thirty-three, suggests how the division between commercial and fine art can easily be blurred. Willard painted wagons and portraits in Wellington, Ohio, before the Civil War and a panorama in 1865 after his military service. He returned to work for the wagon makers and, at that time, also amused himself by making humorous, moralizing easel paintings that caught the imagination of Cleveland photographer and entrepreneur James F. Ryder. Convinced he could make a fortune selling mass-produced imagery, Ryder persuaded Willard to move to Cleveland to aid in realizing that dream. By December 1876, Evans and Willard helped found the Art Club.
The presence of these men in the city precipitated the impulse to make fine arts from several young commercial artists. Working with a house and sign painter for two years beginning in 1873 when he was twenty, Adam Lehr studied easel painting with Evans in 1874 and with Willard the next year. Lehr did his first noncommercial painting in 1876 but maintained partnerships with house and sign painters until late into the decade. He began exhibiting with the Art Club in 1877 and in 1880 - 81 studied at New York City's Art Students League, which had been founded in 1875. Perhaps he intended to follow in the footsteps of Tompkins, a former resident of New York State who, having completed two years' training at the league in 1877, promptly began teaching at the Art Club. Despite this exposure to fine art ideals, Lehr periodically advertised his work as a painter or letterer of signs until the end of the century. In contrast to such concurrent pursuits of commercial and fine arts, Otto Bacher moved sequentially from one to the other. Painting signs and ship inscriptions in 1874 at the age of eighteen, he proudly listed himself in the 1875 city directory as "art student DeScott Evans," only to begin study soon thereafter with Willis Adams, an Antwerp-trained painter from Massachusetts. Bacher chose a symbolic day, 4 July 1876, for his first dated etching, the result of amateur trials in an unfamiliar medium pursued alongside Sion Wenban, a photo retoucher working for Ryder. Bacher's full commitment to art brought him to Munich in 1878 to study at the Royal Academy, and Adams and Wenban accompanied him on the trip. Bacher's boon companion Frederick Gottwald, who had gilded ship figureheads and painted landscapes for passenger boat saloons, studied with Willard for five years beginning in 1875 when he was seventeen. In 1881 Gottwald moved to New York for a year at the Art Students League (possibly overlapping with Lehr) and then, following in Bacher's footsteps, went on to Munich for three years.
Young commercial artists who worked with neither Willard nor Evans made similar transitions. John Kavanagh, who seems to have begun professional life in 1872 at the age of fifteen working as a printer for photographer William North, enrolled for a year in the Antique class at New York's National Academy of Design in 1876. Upon his return he listed himself as an artist in the city directory and created highly regarded crayon portraits. In 1882 he set off with Tompkins for two years in Munich that overlapped with Gottwald's stay. In the mid-1880s, Max Bohm also set out upon an exclusive pursuit of painting as a fine art. When he designed commercial lithographs in 1884 at the age of sixteen, he had already spent a year drawing the figure at the Art Club (he is the student to the far left in fig. 23). In 1887 he set off for Paris with his aunt, the painter Anna Stuhr Weitz, to study with Boulanger at the Académie Julian. While Bohm returned to his native city only occasionally during the balance of a career in art that flowered into the most widely celebrated of any Clevelander of his day, the local art community continued to exhibit and report on his paintings. Of the young Art Club painters who later played major roles in the city's art life, F. W. Simmons appears to have been the only one with-out commercial ties. He came to Cleveland from northwest Pennsylvania around 1879 at the age of twenty to study with Tompkins. Simmons also studied in New York at the Art Students League before 1883, when he returned to his adopted city and taught in the local league founded the previous year.
How these ventures were financed is not completely understood. Self-funded trips like Bacher's, which immediately followed his exhibition and sale held just for that reason, appear to be exceptional. Alexander Gunn of the Worthington Iron Company spotted Lehr's talents as a sign painter and paid for his studies at the Art Students League. Theodate Pope, daughter of Cleveland iron magnate and art collector Alfred Atmore Pope, wrote about Kavanagh in her diary for 1886: "Poor fellow, he is I sincerely believe a true artist and all he needs is money to get to Paris with.... I said I would give up candy and soda water for a year...in order to send him." The girl's father, who already owned a portrait of his mother by the painter (see fig. 36), ended up supporting a trip that allowed Kavanagh to stay in Paris for three years beginning in 1886. Brigadier general and railroad tycoon John H. Devereux supported local artists in several ways. He subsidized Bacher's first exhibition at Brooks Military school and later paid Willard "enough to buy a small farm" so that Devereux could donate to his hometown of Marblehead, Massachusetts, a large version of the painter's The Spirit of '76.
As a crucible for artistic energies, the Art Club surpassed all expectations. From the outset, it had a quasi-official status in Cleveland because civic officials, persuaded by city clerk and amateur draftsman William Eckman, allowed the club to meet in the top story of a building newly occupied by City Hall in the beginning of 1876. In brokering this deal, Eckman used his public vocation to support his private avocation. Having arrived in the city in 1853, he was working as a Western Union Telegraph Company operator in 1867 when he achieved a modest reputation for drawing burlesques of current events and humorous sketches -- a talent exercised throughout the forthcoming decade (fig. 26). At the Art Club's first meeting in December 1876, Eckman's fellow students of the human figure demonstrated their recognition of his efforts by granting him the honor of first pose (fig. 27). A letter from Cleveland Herald editor Charles Fairbanks two years later shows how Eckman's enthusiasm for whimsical drawing was contagious (fig. 28).
In 1881, while maintaining many of the same personnel, the Art Club changed its character because of a reorganization effort spearheaded by new arrival Miner Kellogg, a cosmopolitan sixty-year-old American-born painter. Under the name of the Cleveland Academy of Art and with a board of incorporation buttressed by such wealthy citizens as T. D. Crocker, John H. Devereux, William Gordon, John D. Rockefeller, and Jeptha H. Wade, the academy raised $4,000 for a collection of casts in 1882. That year a local imitation of New York's Art Students League organized to fill the now highly visible need for an informal life drawing class. Also in the course of 1882, perhaps inspired by the first issues of the Art Student from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Palette Scrapings from the Saint Louis School of Fine Arts, two issues of the Art Club Courier, the first art paper in Ohio, appeared. The next year The Sketch Book, which had a run lasting just over a year, promoted local artists and sought to raise the level of knowledge about works of art.
This imposing coalition of artists and industrialists soon ran out of steam. In 1885, when Gottwald helped found a reorganized Art Club upon his return from Munich, the only trace left by the academy was a debt of rent to the city. The Art Students League eventually merged with the new Art Club, and among the members were the children of a number of German émigrés from the revolution of 1848. This ethnic affiliation, symbolized by the long-lived Gottwald, later led people to call the group the "Old Bohemians." While the photocollage of artists published in 1902 for the fiftieth anniversary edition of the German-language newspaper Waechter und Anzeiger pictured fourteen Clevelanders of German descent, men such as Adams, Evans, Kavanagh, Simmons, Tompkins, Wenban, and Willard, among other Art Club members, did not share this heritage.
The Art Club's commitment to studying the figure had one unfortunate consequence, for around the beginning of 1875 it inspired Evans to play a joke at the expense of an African-American newsboy. According to Justice John P. Green, the suit brought by the boy's mother was "the most humorous episode that occurred in my office."
Court records indicate that the "newsie" was one Alexander Coram, who, instead of delivering the note, went home. His mother, America Coram, sought three hundred dollars "for personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff by the unlawful willful and malicious ill treatment deception & personal violence of the Defendant towards the plaintiff."
Evans intended to make a witty link between diverse ideas about what constituted the "natural." In the realm of pictorial representation, this referred to drawing or painting from live models and to rendering landscape out of doors -- both of these practices being distinct from the increasingly disparaged exercise of copying works of art. The Art Club's commitment to drawing the figure arose in this climate of opinion. Yet with a different meaning, the same word "natural" also pervaded the discourse of race theory. Stimulated by an idea current among some U.S. citizens of European descent that people of African and Native American origin were more primitive, closer to nature, and therefore more natural than themselves, Evans covered the black boy's face with markings suggestive of Indian war paint in order to invoke two racial types of the natural on a single body. His note to a studio neighbor added yet a third idea to the mix by alluding to the boy's desirability as an object of artistic study.
Finding in favor of the plaintiff, the progressive jurors clearly saw Alexander Coram as a person rather than a body. Furthermore, having no ties to the artworld, they had no basis for finding Evans's joke funny even though they might grasp its content once explained. In a passionate display of sensitivity to the Corams' experience, they awarded one hundred dollars. Less than the three hundred requested, this considerable amount was nonetheless a substantial punishment for Evans.
Omitting this event from its brief biography of the artist, The Sketch Book instead concerned itself with the sources of the painter's mature style. "In the spring of 1877 Mr. Evans went to Paris, where he remained one year studying under Wm. Bougureau [sic], the famous French artist for whose works Mr. Evans entertained the liveliest admiration; here he acquired the taste for ornate interiors and bric-a-brac productions, in which he has since met with much success." Mother's Treasures (fig. 29), one of two known surviving works by Evans from his trip to Paris, combines the figural style of the Académie Julian's famous master with elaborate settings and materials derived from the example of Parisian favorite Alfred Stevens. Using the theme of filial love that appears in a Bouguereau work such as Charity (1878, private collection), the painting strives toward, but does not satisfactorily replicate, the French artist's characteristically crisp contours and softly modeled volumes. Yet it was the depiction of yard goods that attracted a Cleveland reviewer's eye during the Loan Exhibition 1878, a show of art larger than any previously held in Cleveland, shortly after Evans returned: "His silks, satins, and velvets, it seems, could not possibly be painted better." The title of the canvas and the classicizing profile of its eldest figure suggest that the artist's conception derives from a story recounted by the Roman historian Valerius Maximus: When asked by a materialistic woman which of her treasures she valued most, the mother of the Gracchi indicated her children. Yet the values promoted in the anecdote and the painting are not identical, for the noble matron painted by Evans, surrounded by offspring as well as material splendor, need not choose between alternatives; she has it all. Owned by land developer T. D. Crocker, the painting offered visitors to his Tuscan villa on Euclid Avenue a reassuring image of the compatibility of familial and financial success.
The bric-a-brac style that Evans imported to Cleveland was his most valuable contribution to the city's visual culture. After his return from Paris, he advertised himself as a portrait painter, while newspaper notices drew special attention to his success in children's portraits -- a genre that enabled him to epitomize the values set forth on an elaborate and imaginative scale in Mother's Treasures. In the Taxidermist (fig. 30), a painting sent to New York to be shown at the National Academy of Design in 1881, Evans set elegantly attired young ladies of the upwardly mobile middle class into the decrepit workshop of a man who stuffs animals for a living. With her late canary in hand, one lady ponders the possibilities for that departed loved one's permanent exhibition. Perhaps the small bell jar that the taxidermist holds aloft will not do and the larger alternative by his right arm would make a more fitting final resting place. While the wealthy also visited a poor tradesman in The Young Mechanic (see fig. 9) by Allen Smith, Jr., Evans coded his transaction in terms of light feminine sentiment rather than weighty masculine industry. The taxidermist aims to please, and when he succeeds in that goal, the women will leave without needing to return to his shop or to question the inequality of the social relations there enacted.
In the Taxidermist Evans limited his treatment of elaborate objects to the materials and cuts of the ladies' dresses, but in most of his genre scenes figures appear in settings as lavish as their clothing. With its carefully rendered still-life elements, a painting like George Senyard's Frances Caroline Whitbeck (fig. 31) suggests how Evans's style served as a model for other painters in Cleveland. Yet the squalor surrounding the taxidermist creates a jarring perspective from which to consider its better-dressed figures. Similarly, the concluding comment in the artist's biography in The Sketch Book shows how other members of Cleveland's artistic community also distanced themselves from the materialism they perceived in the society that enjoyed and bought his paintings.
Not only did the content of certain paintings prompt distaste, but the rooms devoted to "Bric-a-brac" at the Loan Exhibition 1878 and to "Curios" at the Art Loan Exhibition of 1894 suggest that some contexts in which paintings appeared did not please everyone either. Given Adam Lehr's singular commitment to the social leveling theories of Henry George -- so ardent that he chose "Adam Lehr: Single Taxer" as his epitaph -- it is probable that he was one such fault-finder.
Offered for sale and hung "on the line" in New York City, the Taxidermist apparently had national impact precisely because it left Cleveland. On the return route to his native San Francisco after studying art in Munich, Henry Alexander began an extended stopover in New York in 1883. He created The First Lesson (The Taxidermist) (fig. 32) after he arrived home in 1885. With his elderly protagonist attending to a small bird in a shop filled with strange and startling juxtapositions of corpses, Alexander seems to have taken his inspiration from Evans. Alexander, however, depicts a particular San Francisco taxidermist's shop and changes the narrative about exchange to one concerning the generational transmission of craft practices.
Around the same time, Evans created a modern variant of the paragone, recast in terms of painters and taxidermists (fig. 33). Featuring a bird identical to the one in the left foreground of the Taxidermist, he integrated his presentation of how taxidermy enlivens the inert with a bravura display of two arts of deception specific to painters. One is the ability to imitate objects; Evans captures the not-quite-animate quality of a properly stuffed bird. The other is the rendering of pictorial space. The parrot casts a shadow upon an exquisitely scored and stained backdrop of fitted boards, and the glass shards in front of the illusionistic box partly obscure the objects behind them. To great effect, the head and lively eye of the bird appear as if seen directly; the viewer need not look through a glass but can see face to face. Playing with artists' proverbial ability to make "speaking likenesses," Evans included an inscribed card that, in effect, gives his painting the power of language. It is not a surrogate voice for the now-mute bird, however, but for its (fictional) French taxidermist or exhibitor, one Pierre Gastereau. Translated into English, the text reads:
Culminating in an assertion about the moment they are read, these sentences re-enact the dynamic between real absence and fictional presence otherwise in play throughout the canvas in pictorial terms.
Evans taught Lehr and Bacher, so it is not surprising that both young artists produced still lifes of animals before planar backdrops; Lehr continued to work in this format throughout his career. While Evans's bird perches teasingly close to the realm of the living, Lehr's game (fig. 34) offers no such ambiguity. The limp head, splayed feet, and jutting wings as well as the slashes of dark feathers across the illuminated breast connote just how broken and vulnerable a body this is. According to these examples of the genre of still-life painting, a mastery of the ability to render both the near-quick and the stone-dead served as defining aspects of the painter's art.
Toward the end of the 1880s, New York art critic George Sheldon perceived a national trend among artists:
In the latter city, artists from Cleveland studied the human figure alongside their compatriots, many of whom followed the dictates of Professor Ludwig Löfftz in devoting attention to one particular type of humanity. As recalled by the German painter Lovis Corinth, who like Kavanagh and Gottwald also studied at the Royal Academy in the early 1880s, " 'Ruins of mankind' we used to call them. We scrutinized their faces and tried to render the study in a grayish-green tone. We called such a work 'good in tone.' " Kavanagh's haunting rendering of an elderly man's head (fig. 35) gains in expressive qualities from the golden tonality of his paper. Undated, he may have drawn it in Munich or upon his return home in 1884. He clearly created his oil portrait of the mother of Alfred Atmore Pope (fig. 36) locally and received praise for it during an exhibition at Ryder's Gallery. Writing about the painting without knowing its sitter's identity, Kenyon Cox illustrates the effects of this kind of portrait on viewers.
Kavanagh also seems to have found pictorial prototypes congenial to his temperament in the unsentimental reports of contemporary social conditions painted by the German Max Liebermann, who was active in Munich in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Soon after Kavanagh returned to Cleveland, he began "a sketch of a street scene during the recent cold snap, showing a half frozen newsgirl and two Samaritans bending over her."
Gottwald also drew and painted heads of elderly people, but more central to his practice after returning to Cleveland was creating modest narrative situations using these pictorial elements. His Old Card Players (fig. 37) shows the enduring impact of this instruction. The significance of such iconography for painters and viewers in the cities to which American painters returned after their studies at the Royal Academy has not received the attention it deserves. Yet in young cities like Cleveland pictures of the elderly may have provided reassuring images of venerability and continuity in the face of ceaseless change.
Munich was also a popular destination for Cleveland's well-to-do in the 1880s. In the course of a conversation with a German art dealer, Bacher's former traveling companion Wenban noted that the man:
Working his hometown connections while abroad, Wenban sought to secure a position for himself in a foreign art market, but he made no headway in interesting a dealer in his work.
Painters from Cleveland continued to go to Paris long after Evans's brief sojourn. After coming back from Munich, Kavanagh first hoped to resume study in Germany but soon set his sights on the French capitol. One of the fruits of the three-year stay that began in 1886 was Washerwomen (fig. 38), a genre scene modeled on the example of Jules Breton, that hung at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889 and, after Kavanagh's return home, in the Art Club exhibition of 1891. His repeated acts of hauling out the canvas for other shows offer an early glimpse of his inability to forge a successful career locally. F. W. Simmons also sought out Paris, making four trips there between the mid-1880s and 1900. He produced A Daughter of Italy (fig. 39) before his return in 1900 and received praise for it during a benefit exhibition for a maternity hospital in Cleveland.
Throughout these decades of men traveling abroad in pursuit of skills worthy of great artists, Archibald Willard stayed in Cleveland, riding to some extent on the wave of income and reputation created around 1876, the year that he painted several versions of the most famous conception in the history of Cleveland art -- The Spirit of '76, first called Yankee Doodle. Decades later, he recalled: "[T]he original canvas was the regulation chromo size, and then, as I became ambitious to be represented at the Centennial, a large painting was made and sent to Philadelphia." If that describes the canvas now in Marblehead, Massachusetts, then the centennial painting was ten feet high and eight feet wide. As large as life, the painting attested to the magnitude of its creator's ambitions. Willard came to make many replicas of this pictorial success, the last begun in 1912 (fig. 40) in response to a commission from Cleveland City Hall. Willard's reminiscences about the initial development of his design suggest that he came to believe in the inspired nature of his conception over the years that he continued to recall its origin. Just thinking about The Spirit of '76 elevated his opinion of himself as an artist. Yet such lofty beliefs make strange bedfellows with the commercial impulses that both motivated Willard to realize his ideas and fueled the processes by which people consumed the resulting imagery. From this perspective, the man who brought Willard to Cleveland, James F. Ryder, was a key player in the events of 1876.
A year earlier, exercising a business savvy keenly attuned to discovering latent opportunities, Ryder recognized that there would be an enormous market for a chromolithograph with nationalistic content when the country celebrated the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. Even though festivities would be held from coast to coast, Ryder knew through his connections with the National Photographic Union that Philadelphia, the city where the document had been signed, was to host an exhibition that included a Photographers' Hall. In what turned out to be a pioneering effort to coordinate the rhythms of the marketplace with those of a national celebration, Ryder charged Willard with the task of devising an image that would sell. For the former Civil War soldier and painter, the War of 1812 offered a middle term between his own day and the War of Independence. His first image of three marching men drew upon his memories of drunken War of 1812 veterans drumming in a local militia parade. As he had done with the paintings that initially brought him to Ryder's attention, Willard sought to create a work in a comic, burlesque mode. The various accounts of the process by which he developed an image befitting the seriousness of the historic events of 1776 and the forthcoming events of 1876 double as narratives on the matter of Willard becoming serious about art. As both photographs and chromolithographs, the resulting image circulated nationally in countless copies.
While The Spirit of '76 came into being only because of Ryder's vision of the potential market for mass-produced imagery, the paintings with which Willard realized his conception have been scrutinized extensively as historians steeped in fine art ideas about originality have searched for an original version. Having wrestled with this matter in some detail, the artist's descendant and biographer Willard Gordon has trenchantly asked, "Which then was the 'original'? The original what? The original cartoon? The original sketch? The original design for a painting? The original canvas? The original Centennial painting? The original masterpiece?" Similarly, a newly discovered document about the history of Willard's efforts to realize his conception shows the limited utility of efforts to link The Spirit of '76 with assumptions about aesthetic autonomy and genius. Not only did he engage in an ongoing dialogue with Ryder about his different ideas but, as recounted by the daughter of Cleveland photographer J. M. Greene, the painter was not even wholly responsible for realizing his design.
Such ruptures in the ideology of the masterpiece find their complement in the exhibition history of the painting, for it did not hang in Memorial Hall with most of the easel paintings in the exhibition but in the Art Annex. Judging from press notices, the painting was virtually ignored.
The success of Willard's design lay partly in its capacity to symbolize the significance of an entire war for U.S. citizens in 1876. Just as his corps of men could not be stopped on the battlefield, so too was their nation's advent a product of inexorable forces. These figures' allegorical identities partly derive from the distinct role that each plays in an ensemble representing the three ages of man. Painting each figure just before his right foot falls, and with the right feet of the two rightmost figures precisely overlapping the left feet of the two leftmost figures, Willard endowed this collection of types with an expressive unity of design.
Ambiguities in both Willard's original and revised titles indicate the close connection between his vision of the American past and the circumstances of his moment of creation, for "Yankee Doodle" named a song inextricably linked with nineteenth-century Independence Day celebrations, and the " '76" in The Spirit of '76 refers as readily to 1876 as to 1776. Showing marching musicians, the painting alludes to the festive parades that played a central role in centennial celebrations nationwide. Willard's decision to cast only Caucasians in his musical military march-cum-parade resonates with the increasing segregation that characterized parades across the country after mid-century. Furthermore, contemporary viewers gladly consumed imagery that interpreted their forebears in nation building as "on the move," for they sought to see this quality in themselves as they endeavored to stride confidently into their own collective future. Expressing these values in the language of economic individualism, Ryder used imagery strikingly similar to Willard's.
The image of drummers in motion had a specific wage-earning connotation in the 1870s, for "drummers" were also men who drummed up business while traveling from place to place. Willard's The Drummer's Best Yarn (1885, private collection), a genre scene about storytelling among traveling salesmen, demonstrates the painter's explicit investment in a themat-ics of earning. As a physical object, the centennial canvas dramatized the ideal of motion itself, for it traveled from city to city by train once the Philadelphia Exposition had closed.
For decades after the centennial, the prospect of having a repeat success occasionally lured Willard to attempt historical and allegorical subjects on patriotic themes. On the occasion of the Columbian quarter-centenary in 1892, for example, he designed (and Ryder published) a humorous image that declared the identity of baseball as a quintessential American game by attributing its invention to the original Americans (fig. 41). Willard rendered both spectators and players comic. The Italian explorer and his entourage spy demurely on the strange event at hand, and the Indians appear in a variety of grotesque attitudes. In this manner, the artist unintentionally estranged his viewers from their national pastime, a factor that probably contributed to the print's limited success. Nonetheless, Willard's conception may have had an impact upon local memory, for in 1915 the Cleveland baseball franchise was named the Indians.
Bearing the modern title The Young Tycoon (fig. 42), one painting by the artist sublimated his financial preoccupations into humor. Depicting a shoe-shine boy at the outset of his working life, Willard has that figure strike a surprisingly adult attitude, with jacket confidently grasped, thumb cocked, and gaze knowingly trained on some distant object. This incongruity lies at the heart of various ways that Willard's conception makes meaning. From one perspective, the imagery promises that financial success must greet the efforts of so determined a child. Yet it is unclear if he possesses more confidence than ability, and his low station sets up a barrier to him achieving any lofty goal. Nonetheless, we cannot be sure that we are not seeing a boy at the outset of a fabulous rise, an uncertainty that endows the implied narrative with a certain thrilling quality.
Another way to interpret the figure is that, while he possesses a boy's proportions, he is in some way already the grown man that he will become and already complacent about the wealth that will be his. To the extent that this conceit generated the painting's imagery, Willard may have been inspired by "How I Served My Apprenticeship," an autobiographical essay of 1896 by Andrew Carnegie. Recalling the hardships of his first job and the consolation of his being able to earn money for his family, he reminisced:
Taking his imagery from this "rags to riches" story or from some other contribution to that cultural myth, Willard simultaneously brought the plight of the underprivileged working class into the realm of Cleveland's visual culture, rendered it risible, and invoked the outside chance of someone striking it rich.
Having met Willard by the end of 1876 during the first Art Club meetings, Bacher experimented with what could be learned from the elder artist, and so made occasional forays into the realm of caricature (fig. 43). More important to the long-term development of his art, however, was his experience of Cleveland as a financially driven urban center that he sought to avoid or resist, a circumstance revealed by the differences between his early and late representations of the rural community of Richfield, Ohio. After his trip to Munich in 1878, which he followed up with extended travels to Italy in the company of Frank Duveneck in Florence and James A. McNeill Whistler in Venice, in late 1882 Bacher returned to Cleveland and subsequently established a coed summer art colony at Richfield. Over the course of that season and of the following summer, he worked on Ella's Hotel, Richfield, Ohio (fig. 44), a canvas enriched by out-of-doors observation but probably worked-up in a studio. His success in capturing the effects of glare and bright light attest to his sensitivity to certain optical phenomena. Yet while the horse's gait indicates that the attached wagon is in motion, the starkly drawn spokes suggest that it is standing still. Bacher signed and dated the painting just before leaving for Paris early in 1885.
During the period in New York City following his return to the States in 1887, Bacher revisited Richfield in memory and on canvas. When he had first lived in Richfield, he depicted a leisurely paced economic life. Perhaps the working man transporting the large can on the midground wagon in Ella's Hotel casts a judgmental gaze at the slothful foreground porch occupants, but such morality would be a minority opinion. Once removed from the realities of the place, however, Bacher eventually structured a composition that showed his awareness of the processes by which small businesses in Richfield were being incorporated into larger networks (fig. 45). The men in the picture space of his genre scene, divided into two contingents by the steeply sloping floorboards, consider a deal. The cigar-smoking drummers to the left have propositioned the storekeeper at right. Of the drummers, one continues persuading blandly while the other studies their potential client's face under cover of lighting up. The man seated on the barrel is so absorbed in matters at hand that he forgets to hold his drinking glass upright. Curiously, in its capacity to invoke the dynamics of urban-rural interaction, the scene as presented may resemble no event in the history of Cleveland art so much as Ryder propositioning Willard to move from Wellington to Cleveland.
In the mid-1880s, Bacher had wanted Richfield to be an idyllic respite from Cleveland. Almost a decade later, picturing a collision between the irresistible force of modern business and more traditional ways of buying and selling, he finally expressed his anxiety about the urban center's impact upon a surrounding community. Paradox charges this entire sequence, for, after all, the painter himself had only been able to get to the town via the city.
During almost every year of the 1880s, and into the 1890s, the Art Club sponsored sketching expeditions to rural areas for large parties. The first such occasion occurred in 1877, when a steamer brought plein-air enthusiasts to the Black River. While the brass and string band might not have facilitated communion with nature, the announcement that "Willard will give a series of charcoal sketches for the edification of the passengers" meant that drawing lessons were available for those so inclined. Willard himself pursued out-of-doors landscape painting as a pastime throughout his career (fig. 46). By contrast, R. Way Smith's professional life centered upon such productions. He was instructor of "landscape from nature" during the first season of the Western Reserve School of Design for Women in 1882 - 83 and made the sale of such paintings his principal means of support. In 1888 a reporter visiting his studio described a landscape painted in the open air, "with nature's model posing for him." Of another work, the same writer claimed that "the picture is one of the kind that tend to take a person's thoughts away from the cares of business and bid him list to nature's teachings." Steeped in early and mid-nineteenth-century romantic conventions about the redemptive power of nature, the article integrated its claims about landscape painting's capacity to affect their viewers with allusions to the poetry of William Cullen Bryant and John Keats. A late landscape by Smith (fig. 47), although benefiting from the knowledge and skill he had gained from his direct studies of nature, was clearly painted in the studio. Its simple but carefully composed story concerns sheep faced with the threat of brewing storm clouds. The poor creatures cluster, move away from their grazing, and turn toward a gate silhouetted against the sky. With its suggestion that some man-made shelter lies beyond, the gate creates a narrative structure that reiterates Smith's practice. While an artist must go out into nature to satisfy his aesthetic needs, that journey is always undertaken with reference to the realm of society from which he has come and to which he must inevitably return.
Occasionally, the passion for painting out of doors inspired the herding instincts in some artists. Under such circumstances, leaders arose who directed seasonal schools in rural communities. The group that Bacher taught at Richfield in the summer of 1883 became the local prototype for this kind of venture. In 1888, three years after Gottwald returned from Munich and was appointed principal instructor at the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, he established a summer colony at Zoar that was to become an annual affair. In the early years of this century, after studying at Munich's Royal Academy and receiving an appointment as professor at the same school in which Gottwald taught (by then renamed the Cleveland School of Art), Henry Keller started a summer school in Berlin Heights.
In his early engagement with commercial art, Keller followed the career pattern previously set by Cleveland fine arts painters during the 1870s and 1880s, but he neither frequented the Art Club nor made a clean break from commercial art during his twenties. Instead, beginning in 1887 at the age of eighteen, he took a year of the industrial design curriculum of the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. After fine arts training in Germany during 1890 - 91, he returned to Cleveland and began designing posters for Morgan Lithograph Company while pursuing art studies at a local night school and in Cincinnati and New York. Only beginning in 1899 at the age of thirty, when he began three years of art training in Düsseldorf and Munich, can he be said to have begun an exclusive pursuit of fine art.
The stylistic directions taken at Cleveland's art colonies were imminent in the principles laid out in The Sketch Book in 1883. As the periodical's name implies, the editor valued efforts to record in graphic form the direct observation of nature, and such productions need not be highly finished. To the contrary, a fully completed surface could connote that one had spent too much time making the representation and not enough attending to its source. Referring to the specific lithography technique used to produce The Sketch Book, an editorial noted that "finish is neither desired, nor in any great degree possible by the process employed; the character of the subject is all that is aimed at, and simplicity of method is a merit rather than the reverse." Once launched upon the elusive goal of capturing "the character of the subject," artists sought appropriate prototypes that gave them the impression that, if properly emulated, they would achieve what they sought. Perhaps the signal events in this pursuit were the public displays of different paintings of haystacks by Claude Monet that took place in two consecutive years in the early 1890s. These showings came about through the largess of local collector Alfred Atmore Pope, who made these paintings available for viewing as soon as he acquired them. Bubbling with enthusiasm over the version set in winter, a reviewer of the Art Club's 1892 exhibition wrote:
Composed of bright, unmodulated colors laid down with broad brush-strokes, these paintings signaled a major advance in technique to contemporary advocates of the aesthetics of direct painting. Although not appreciated by all viewers, similar approaches to out-of-doors subjects by artists in Cleveland and from Cleveland can be seen for the next forty years.
Working at Zoar under Gottwald's tutelage, George Adomeit created stark horizontal bands of light and dark to punctuate the viewer's movement into pictorial space (fig. 48). At Berlin Heights, Keller devised a metaphor for his own work in the fields, an image of men carefully stacking bales on a wagon (fig. 49). Abel Warshawsky, who studied with Gottwald in Cleveland between 1900 and 1905, moved to France, re-importing impressionism to its source (fig. 50). On his annual trips to Italy between 1907 and 1915 and on subsequent travels in that country in the 1920s, Gottwald brought an academic impressionism that emphasized structure, drawing, and conventional devices for creating pictorial recession (fig. 51). Made in pursuit of the elusive ideal of direct contact with nature, these paintings nonetheless employ mediations and artifices. Their high-key palettes suggest the effects of brilliant sunlight for indoor viewers. Flaunting raw edges of the pieces of paint that cover their surfaces, these paintings declare direct traces of the individual moments of time that transpired during their creation. Over the course of the years during which such ploys became conventional wisdom, many contemporaries lost interest in this enterprise of capturing "the character of the subject."
The history of Cleveland art around the turn of the century includes many representations of rural life and spaces from the perspective of people socialized into urban ways of thinking and trained in urban painting techniques. Yet a complementary rural point of view can be discerned in the paintings and sculptures of Chagrin Falls blacksmith Henry Church, Jr., who lived his entire life in this village about fifteen miles east of Cleveland. Church pursued the urban art of illusionistic oil painting, albeit in an amateur style of hard edges and unmodulated surfaces. His reputed train trip to the city (Chagrin Falls got its first railroad line in 1877) to receive advice on materials from Archibald Willard, whose fame as the creator of The Spirit of '76 had penetrated to this nearby hinterland, makes explicit his link with art making as practiced by city folk. Working on paper and composition board, Church used standard formats for still lifes (fig. 52) and honorific portraits. In one particularly expressive challenge to these standards, he fashioned himself as a man who conceived and made art independently of urban norms (fig. 53).
While obviously an amusing animal painting featuring two monkeys fighting over a lone banana, The Monkey Picture also succeeds as a composition that intentionally violates the conventions of a decades-old type of still-life painting. This type features a table with an edge adjacent and parallel to the picture plane. A vista into deep space to one side relieves an otherwise shallow central space dominated by abundant fruit. Church's straightforward interpretation of this format in another painting clarifies that he understood his monkey painting -- a work that is manifestly not a depiction of still life (that is, inert nature) -- as a gleeful departure from such norms. In this sense, he conceived of his identity as a painter in terms analogous to the depicted monkeys who upset the ordinary order of things. The innovation at the level of content that inspired Church to introduce his monkeys has several similarly jarring counterparts in his pictorial challenges to typical presentations of space and scale. At left, the normally proportioned tail of one monkey extends an uncanny distance to encircle the head of a tiger-skin rug, apparently animated and upset by the turn of events. While that rug has the usual proportions for an object in the middle distance, the goblet that crashes onto it, although no larger than other objects on the table, seems gargantuan in its new situation.
Working with the dialectic between infraction and punishment, Church self-consciously included in his painting a policeman in pursuit. Running by the cage from which the animals have escaped, the uniformed officer appears bent on their return. A similar tension informs the comic self-portrait by Fairbanks (see fig. 28), for the witty publisher's fate is as yet uncertain. In both images, urban civil servants act to restrain. For Fairbanks, only being apprehended for a gravely serious crime (of which he may or may not be guilty) can excuse him from honoring the social nicety of accepting a dinner invitation in Cleveland. At issue in The Monkey Picture are the violations of wild beasts and an artist who breeches iconographic and formal decorum. Connecting his painting practice to the chain of associations linking monkeys with actions coded as "natural," the resident of Chagrin Falls asserted an artistic identity in opposition to the city and its laws about the proper places for animals and the proper behavior of picture makers.
Relative to the state of the arts in Cleveland, Church's professional concerns were archaic for the late nineteenth century, a fact in which he took pride. In 1891 the sign outside his studio read "Portrait, Landscape, Banner and Sign Painting a Specialty. Gilding, Bronzing, Glass and Screens. Old Paintings Retouched." In the diverse formats mentioned, this advertisement recalls the activities of such Cleveland painters from the 1840s as Hanks and Heine. The sign's transcription comes from a city newspaper reporter who sought the painter out as a curiosity. He described Church as a man who thinks that "he who can paint a portrait should also be able to paint a sign and who then, in defiance of probable ridicule, openly states that he is ready to do either kind of work." Engaging in a discussion in which both parties understood that in their day painters held up an exclusive pursuit of fine art as either a norm or a goal, Church subverted his interlocutor's expectations.
Another aspect of Church's posturing emerges in a consideration of his procedure for sculpting The Rape of the Indian Tribes by the White Man (finished 1885, South Chagrin Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks), an elaborate figural program carved in living rock on which he worked in secret for years. According to a later newspaper article, Church hoped that when people came across the completed work in the woods they would conclude about its authorship:
This scheme, frustrated when residents discovered Church at work on the sculpture in 1885, draws upon ideas similar to the ones that had motivated James Mott in 1844, when that Shaker believed himself to be a vessel for divine creativity (see fig. 3). Yet once Church's project had been exposed, his prior efforts to create a "miraculous" work forged for him a paradoxical public character as someone who claimed to receive spiritual gifts and sought to create false impressions.
With its winged squadron holding instruments of artistic creation near symbolically relevant parts of his head, Church's Self-Portrait (fig. 54) explicitly advances the point about divine inspiration. A harp and cello play by his ear, a sculptor's chisel and hammer shape his cranium, and a paintbrush touches his eye. Larger and more elaborate than such oval portraits of famous men from his hand as Lord Byron (ca. 1880s, after Thomas Phillips's portrait of 1814, private collection) and Rubens, Michael Angelo, and Raphael (ca. 1880s, private collection), his portrait of himself, like The Monkey Picture, once again varies a standard format. That Church depicted himself attended by celestial creatures has no bearing on the possibility of such visits. Yet the act of composing and realizing such a didactic program is as much an act of creative public relations as it is of inspired creation. This pose was not without its effects upon his contemporaries. The aforementioned newspaperman called his article "A Genius Near Home," and on the occasion of Church's death, an admirer declared, "No one can look upon his handiwork, either in painting or carving, and not see a born genius."
The abundant mental imagery to which Church gave form in paint and stone sometimes resulted in conjunctions of beasts. In Angel of Night (fig. 55) the two owls that are the angel's attributes are as fully realized as characters as the figure whose identity they define. The Young Lion and the Fatling Together (fig. 56) invokes the imagery of Isaiah 11:6 - 9: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." Made with the intention of ornamenting the Chagrin Falls village square, the sculpture was to have provided local viewers with a vision for the future of their community, a scriptural ideal of earthly harmony achieved through the reconciliation of antagonistic forces. Ironically, through acts of vandalism prior to 1937, the sculpture lost both its child and the forged chain by which he led the lion.
Around the same time that Church sought to consolidate community identity with his public sculpture, Cleveland received its greatest wave of immigrants. The pictorial community also became even more cosmopolitan during the period immediately before World War I. Visiting his home city in 1909 - 10, Max Bohm exercised the skills that made him a European success. Demonstrating the strong sense of two-dimensional pattern making that James A. McNeill Whistler had pioneered, as well as a striking juxtaposition of tight modeling and broad brushstrokes, he painted an uncommissioned portrait of a Cleveland woman (fig. 57) who, a decade prior, had declined his marriage proposal because of her doubts about his ability to earn a living. The portrait that the young William Zorach painted of his sister Mary (fig. 58) around the same time shows his familiarity with the palette and brushwork of Munich painting, learned in his case after two seasons at the National Academy of Design.
It was also during this time that painters turned to industrial subjects. Grace Kelly, the daughter of poor Irish immigrants, applied to the urban scene the freely brushed, translucent veils of watercolor that she had learned with Keller at Berlin Heights (fig. 59). While she depicted the factories of her own neighborhood from a pedestrian's point of view, August Biehle painted those same Flats (fig. 60) from the window of his office at the Sherwin-Williams Company, makers of paint and varnish, where he supported himself after his return from studying easel painting in Munich. His composition offers a view into the valley around the Cuyahoga, piling up buildings and spewing smokestacks high into the picture space. Around 1893, the company's advertising manager George Ford had conceived of a view from an even more distant vantage and drew a paint can pouring its contents over the planet. Designers soon adjusted his conception, tilting the globe on its side so that Cleveland became the point from which paint was to "cover the earth" (fig. 61).
Shortly before his death in 1918, Archibald Willard choreographed a tableau vivant of his famous trio for a Flag Day pageant in Wade Park. The coherent patriotic display of this Flag Day celebration contrasted dramatically with the assertion of ethnic identity that occurred during the Fourth of July parade the next month. Potentially divisive, these signs of difference within the community gave way to a full-scale riot during the May Day commemoration in 1919, when long-term residents of the city who associated newer immigrants with radical socialist politics expressed their disapproval through violence. While many in the city sought to march forward with an economy dependent on the city's industrial success, the narrow racial background of the members of Willard's blueblood brigade meant that it was not a symbol around which all could rally.
1 A typed sheet on the photograph's verso provides this identification.
2 "The Nude in Art," Cleveland Plain Dealer (5 April 1880), 1.
3 Cleveland Plain Dealer (24 January 1895), sec. 2, p. 5.
4 Nancy Coe Wixom, Cleveland Institute of Art: The First Hundred Years 1882 - 1982 (Cleveland: Cleveland Institute of Art, 1983) offers the best history of this school, founded by Sarah Kimball as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, first taught by Harriet Kester, directed by Georgie Norton beginning in 1891, and endowed by such figures as Mrs. Henry Bingham Payne and Mrs. Liberty Holden.
5 Cleveland Plain Dealer (20 February 1879), 4. This painting anticipates several works by De Scott Evans in Cleveland in the late 1880s that treat both women and paintings as aesthetic objects; see Nannette V. Maciejunes, A New Variety, Try One: De Scott Evans or S. S. David, exh. cat. (Columbus Museum of Art, 1985), figs. 10, 11.
6 See Charleen Akullian, "Max Bohm: Romantic American Visionary," American Art Review 6 (October - November 1994): 116; Cleveland Plain Dealer (24 January 1895), sec. 2, p. 5.
7 Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Mount Union College, 1873 - 74 (Alliance, Ohio: Monitor Steam Printing House, 1873), 12. Some background information about Evans's appointment can be found in Newell Yost Osborne, A Select School: The History of Mount Union College and an Account of a Unique Educational Experiment, Scio College (Mount Union College, 1967), 486. Maciejunes, A New Variety offers the most comprehensive survey of Evans's career to date. The untitled nude dated 1873 in that publication (Figure 9) must be the aforementioned Musidora.
8 Cleveland Plain Dealer (8 December 1876), 4; The Voice (10 December 1876), quoted in William W. Andrew, Otto H. Bacher (Madison, Wis.: Educational Industries, 1973), unpaginated. According to The Voice (26 November 1876), quoted in Andrew, Otto H. Bacher, Willis Adams and Bacher held a life class in their shared studio during the winter of 1875 - 76.
9 The information in this and the next paragraph is pieced together from several sources, the most important being a typescript, "Our Artists," Cleveland -- Art and Artists, Clipping Files, Ingalls Library, Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). From internal evidence, this text can be dated to between 1895 and 1897; possibly Willard was its author.
10 For Adams, see Roger Black, Willis Seaver Adams/ Retrospection, exh. cat. (Hilson Gallery, Deerfield Academy, 1966).
11 Otto A. Weigmann, Sion Longley Wenban 1848 - 1897 (Leipzig: Verlag von Klinkhardt and Biermann, 1913), 47 - 48, catalogues four etchings made in Ohio by Wenban before he began his long and eventually successful career in Germany.
12 The trio's German work drew much attention when sent back to Cleveland for the Art Club exhibition the following year. Cleveland Plain Dealer (15 December 1879), 1.
13 See undated newspaper clipping, ca. 1892, roll 1499, frame 22, Archives of American Art (AAA), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
14 Tompkins remained longer than Kavanagh and was the man who informed Gottwald in 1885 that the position of chief instructor was open at the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. Gottwald returned to Cleveland immediately, but Tompkins, who had few ties to Ohio, eventually settled in Boston.
15 While there, he may have crossed paths with Kavanagh, who pursued the same course of study that year during his second European trip.
16 In 1892 twelve large canvases by Bohm, painted in among other places Brittany and Bavaria, appeared in an Art Club exhibition. In 1899 a one-man show of his works was held at his father's house on Detroit Street. See Cleveland Plain Dealer (3 October 1892), 8; Waechter und Anzeiger (9 August 1902), 121.
17 Diary, 4 August 1886, archives, Hill-Stead Museum (Farmington, Conn.). My thanks to Sandra L. Wheeler for bringing this passage to my attention.
18 Kenyon Cox, "The Collection of Mr. Alfred Atmore Pope," in Noteworthy Paintings in American Private Collections, ed. John LaFarge and August F. Jaccaci (New York: August F. Jaccaci Company, 1907), 1:294.
19 Cleveland Plain Dealer (13 March 1921), magazine sec., p. 8; Willard quoted in Cleveland Plain Dealer (17 April 1880), 4. The asking price for this version of The Spirit of '76 had been $5,000, although the amount settled upon seems to have been somewhat less. At some point, Devereux also gave his portrait by Bacher to Marblehead; both paintings now hang there in Abbot Hall. Bacher's long friendship with the Devereux family is indicated by a painting of Venice that he inscribed as a gift to the general's daughter (1887, Adams Davidson Galleries, Washington, D.C.).
20 Mary Sayre Haverstock, "Art Life in Old City Hall," in F. C. Gottwald and the Old Bohemians, exh. cat. (Cleveland Artists Foundation, 1993), 43 - 46, offers the best account of the Art Club's relation to City Hall. The building, built in 1867 on the former site of William Case's Ark, stood on the Case Block adjacent to Case Hall. In 1882 the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, founded that year in a private home, also had quarters at City Hall.
21 Leader (9 August 1867), 4.
22 Bacher gave this drawing to the recently retired Eckman as a gift in 1885, praising its recipient extravagantly as "not only the first to pose and to help art in this city -- but he has also been first in everything related to art in this city." See container 1, folder 11, William H. Eckman papers, Western Reserve Historical Society. Because Art Club histories have sometimes centered upon Willard, he has been identified as the subject of Bacher's drawing and remarks; see Haverstock, "Art Life in Old City Hall," 44. "Our Artists," Ingalls Library, CMA, clarifies that "the first pose was W. H. Eckman, familiarly and well known as 'Billy.' He was attired in a fetching costume, topped with the ridiculous short coat with a disproportionate cape that was worn in the Centennial year."
23 See Kellogg's clippings scrapbook from these years, roll 986, AAA.
24 The only known reference to the Art Club Courier appears in "Our Artists," Ingalls Library, CMA. William H. Gerdts, Art across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting 1710 - 1920 (New York: Abbeville Press, 1990), 2:215, suggests that the Boston and St. Louis periodicals inspired Cleveland's The Sketch Book, but the discovery of the existence of the Courier establishes that a local impulse to publish predated The Sketch Book.
25 This collage, reprinted in Samuel Orth, History of Cleveland (Chicago and Cleveland: S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1910), 1:between 458 and 459, features Otto Bacher, Max Bohm, Frederick Gottwald, George Groll, George Grossman, Herman Herkomer, John Herkomer, Adam Lehr, Louis Loeb, Arthur Schneider, O. V. Schubert, Dan Wehrschmidt, and Emil Wehrschmidt. As a prominent painter in England, Herman's nephew Sir Hubert von Herkomer recalled his impoverished childhood in Cleveland between 1851 and 1857 in The Herkomers (London: Macmillan Publishers, 1910), 21 - 30.
26 John P. Green, Fact Stranger than Fiction: Seventy-Five Years of a Busy Life with Reminiscences of Many Great and Good Men and Women (Cleveland: Riehl Printing, 1920), 168 - 69. My thanks to Mark Cole for bringing this passage to my attention, and to Martin Hauserman, Jacob Latham, and Judy Satina for invaluable help excavating the case.
27 Justice of the Peace Docket, Cleveland Township, 1875, 1; see also 502 - 4.
28 The use of such models is indicated by art criticism as well as painting titles, for example, the 21 February 1885 notice in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Kavanagh "is working on a darkey's head in oil," a reference to the Study of a Negro (collection unknown) exhibited by Kavanagh at the National Academy of Design that year.
29 The Sketch Book 2 (February 1883): 20.
30 The other painting is pure Bouguereau -- a copy of the 13-year-old War (First Discord) (1864, private collection) that Evans imitated down to its signature, which has led to speculation that he tried to pass it off as a genuine Bouguereau to Charles Olney, who purchased it for $1,200 in 1892 and later gave it along with his entire collection to Oberlin College. Although inscribed "W. Bouguereau 1864," the painting is attributed to Evans in an annotation to a list of Olney's collection by Oberlin botany professor Frederick O. Grover: "This was not painted by Bougereau [sic] but by his pupil -- Evans of Cleveland while studying with Bougereau." My thanks to Marjorie Wieseman for transcribing this document. See also Wolfgang Stechow, Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College, 1967), 54 - 55.
31 See Nancy Troy, "From the Peanut Gallery: The Rediscovery of De Scott Evans," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 36 (Spring 1977): 42. On transatlantic tastes in this direction, see Rémy G. Saisselin, The Bourgeois and the Bibelot (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1984).
32 For Charity, see the entry by Louise d'Argencourt in William Bouguereau 1825 - 1905, exh. cat. (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1984), 204 - 6.
33 Cleveland Leader, miscited as September 1878 when quoted in Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, Artists of the Nineteenth Century and Their Works, 4th ed. (Boston: Ticknor, 1884), 242. The review probably dates from October.
34 Catalogue of the Loan Exhibition 1878, rev. ed. (Cleveland: A. W. Fairbanks, 1878), room 7, no. 6, lists Crocker as the owner of Mother's Treasures. For biographies of Crocker, see obituaries in Cleveland newspapers following his death on 17 September 1899. Given Crocker's longstanding affiliation with Mount Union College, including a period as a trustee, he could have played some role in encouraging the initial move to Cleveland made by its professor of fine arts, Evans. The prompt appearance of Mother's Treasures in Crocker's collection suggests that it may have been painted with him in mind and that he may have played some role in supporting Evans's trip abroad. Evaluations of the artist's career at the time almost always mentioned this painting.
35 Only four years after this canvas was painted, Carl Akeley, the future organizer of the Akeley African Hall at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, got his first professional opportunity when called upon to preserve P. T. Barnum's famous Dumbo after a train killed that ele-phant. While Evans stresses taxidermy's contribution to making a feminine keepsake, Donna Haraway, "Teddy Bear Patriarchy: Taxidermy in the Garden of Eden, New York City, 1908 - 1936," Social Text 9 (Winter 1985): 20 - 64, offers a remarkable consideration of how taxidermy could also be enlisted in supporting a male-dominated, capitalist social order.
36 The sitter died in 1886 at the age of forty-eight. Both internal and external evidence suggest that the portrait is posthumous: The tree stump in the window vista offers a symbol of mortality, and Senyard first appears in the city directory in 1887.
37 The Sketch Book 2 (February 1883): 20.
38 Henry George (1839 - 1879) published Progress and Poverty in 1879.
39 The early provenance of this painting is not known. Its owner reports that it was found in a taxidermist's shop.
40 See the evocative entry by Sally Mills in Marc Simpson, Sally Mills, and Jennifer Saville, The American Canvas: Paintings from the Collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1989), 188.
41 The paragone denotes the Renaissance debate over the relative merits of painting and sculpture. Homage to a Parrot is one of a set of related still lifes whose authorship has posed problems to students of American art because most are signed "S. S. David" or some similar, probably pseudonymous variant. Given its kinship with Taxidermist (1881) and its use of French, which suggests a date close to Evans's Paris trip, Homage appears to be among the earliest of the group. This inquiry has been pursued by Maciejunes, A New Variety; Troy, "From the Peanut Gallery," 36 - 45; William H. Gerdts and Russell Burke, American Still-Life Painting (New York: Praeger, 1971), 167 - 68.
42 For Bacher, see Still Life -- Birds (1876, Berry-Hill Galleries, New York) reproduced in Otto Bacher 1856 - 1909, exh. cat. (R. H. Love Galleries, Chicago, 1991), 15. For Lehr's early use of this format, see The Sketch Book 2 (February 1883): 23.
43 George William Sheldon, Recent Ideals of American Art (New York and London: D. Appleton, 1890), 4. My thanks to David Park Curry for bringing this passage to my attention.
44 Michael Quick, "Munich and American Realism," in Munich and American Realism in the 19th Century, exh. cat. (E. B. Crocker Art Gallery, 1978), offers a useful introduction to the art of Americans in Munich.
45 Corinth's autobiography of 1926 is quoted in Horst Uhr, "Lovis Corinth's Formation in the Academic Tradition: Evidence of the Kiel Sketchbook and Related Student Drawings," Arts Magazine 53 (September 1978): 94 n. 15.
46 See the review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (14 October 1885), 5.
47 Cox, "The Collection of Mr. Alfred Atmore Pope," 1:294.
48 Cleveland Plain Dealer (14 February 1885), 1. The sketch may have led to the canvas Poverty, exhibited at the National Academy of Design later that year.
49 See the similar studies of heads produced by J. Ottis Adams and Samuel Richards, Indiana painters who also studied in Munich in the early 1880s, discussed in Martin F. Krause, Jr., Realities and Impressions: Indiana Artists in Munich 1880 - 1890, exh. cat. (Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1985) F. W. Simmons, who studied in Munich a decade after Kavanagh and Gottwald, offered a late rehearsal of this conventional practice when painting Old Peasant (1893, CMA).
50 Wenban to Geo Wenban, 20 December 1889, quoted in Weigmann, Wenban, 13.
51 A belated instance of a tie between Munich painting and Kavanagh's work may be his unlocated Sisters, apparently painted in Paris and shown in Cleveland in 1889 after his return. Judging from its description, "Three Sisters of Mercy are singing in the corner of a church.... The faces of the three are exquisite and full of expression" (Cleveland Plain Dealer [10 November 1889], 5), the painting had much in common with a canvas done in the Munich area during Kavanagh's residence, Wilhelm Leibl's Three Women in Church (1878 - 82, Kunsthalle, Hamburg).
52 See Cleveland Plain Dealer (29 September 1891), 8, (3 October 1892), 8. The painting appeared at the 1892 exhibition of the Boston Art Club as Lavereuses. The polite words of the 1894 art loan show reviewer invite disbelief: "It speaks well for the good qualities of Kavanagh's "Washerwomen on the Seine" that, though often exhibited, its familiarity does not make it tiresome" (Cleveland Plain Dealer [4 January 1894], 2). The painter's malaise while at home had even been noted after his first trip during a studio showing of work done in both Munich and Cleveland: "The pictures painted...in Munich show the result of this congenial art atmosphere, and those executed in Cleveland, although good, are tempered by the cold, forbidding surroundings that chill the artist's inspiration" (Cleveland Plain Dealer [9 July 1886], 8).
53 See Cleveland Plain Dealer (11 December 1900), 8. "The brilliant little Italian girl is one of the finest things among the number and is greatly liked."
54 Willard quoted in Spencer Adams [Gertrude Hunter], "Art," Cleveland Town Topics (2 November 1912), 13.
55 Willard F. Gordon, "The Spirit of '76"...An American Portrait: America's Best Known Painting, Least Known Artist (Aero Publishers, 1976), 25, notes that the Marblehead painting as it currently appears differs from representations of the centennial painting.
56 See A. M. Willard, "The Picture That Would Not Be Funny: The Story of the Most Popular Historical Painting in America," The Housekeeper 35 (July 1912): 5 - 6; and Adams, "Art." The City Hall commission may have been prompted by the first article, a nationally published description of the events leading to his conception of 1876. By the time of the interview with Willard published by Adams in November 1912, that final reprise of his centennial design was almost complete. Ryder had already codified the outlines of Willard's accounts some two decades prior; see James F. Ryder, "The Painter of 'Yankee Doodle,' " New England Magazine n.s. 13 (December 1895): 482 - 94.
57 Thomas H. Pauly, "In Search of 'The Spirit of '76,' " American Quarterly 28 (Fall 1976): 444 - 64, centers on the commercial context in which Willard's imagery arose and circulated.
58 Amos J. Loveday, Jr., "The Spirit of '76," in Archibald M. Willard and "The Spirit of '76," exh. cat. (Ohio Historical Society, 1992), 9, reproduces the drawing that Willard made in 1895 in an effort to recreate the already-lost drawing of this subject.
59 Efforts to disentangle the different versions include Rip Pratt, "The Duplicate in Abbott Hall," Yankee 26 (September 1962): 52 - 57, 94 - 95; Gordon, "The Spirit of '76"; Loveday, "The Spirit of '76," 8 - 10. For a provocative challenge to the idea of the original, see Rosalind Krauss, "The Originality of the Avant-Garde: A Postmodernist Repetition," October 18 (Fall 1981): 47 - 66.
60 Gordon, "The Spirit of '76," 38.
61 Caroline Greene Williams to Frederic Whiting, 15 October 1919, CMA Archives. "Father told me not to say anything about this as Willard was his friend, but now all the parties have passed away and I think you ought to know what an able man Geo. Clough was."
62 Pauly, "In Search of 'The Spirit of '76,' " 449 - 50.
63 See Mary Ryan, "The American Parade: Representations of the Nineteenth-Century Social Order," in The New Cultural History, ed. Lynn Hunt (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1989), 131 - 53.
64 James F. Ryder, Voigtländer and I: In Pursuit of Shadow Catching (Cleveland: Cleveland Printing and Publishing, 1902), 236. Pauly quotes part of this passage in "In Search of 'The Spirit of '76,' " 460.
65 See the insightful discussion of the latter painting in Timothy B. Spears, One Hundred Years on the Road: The Traveling Salesman in American Culture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995), 113 - 17. While Spears discusses later titles such as The Drummer's Latest Yarn and The Drummer's Last Yarn, the Cleveland Plain Dealer called the painting The Drummer's Best Yarn ([31 January 1885], 4, and [7 February 1885], 1). Ryder reproduced it as a sepia postcard.
66 Historians generally credit the Penobscot Indian Louis Sockalexis, who played with the team during the 1897 - 99 seasons, with inspiring the Indians name. On his irrelevance to the 1915 Cleveland Plain Dealer contest for naming the team, see Philip Althouse, "The Sockalexis Myth," Free Times (8 - 14 November 1995), 3.
67 First published in Youth's Companion (23 April 1896), repr. in The Gospel of Wealth and Other Timely Essays (New York: Century, 1901), viii. On achieving a partial degree of financial independence from his family, Carnegie wrote: "I think this makes a man out of a boy sooner than almost anything else, and a real man, too, if there be any germ of true manhood in him" (ibid., vii). Infrared analysis of the shoe-shine box at the lower right of Willard's painting reveals that it originally bore the initials "A C," a tantalizing clue for any effort to see the painting as an evocation of the young Andrew Carnegie.
68 Thomas Eakins's The Fairman Rogers Four-In-Hand (A May Morning in the Park) (1879 - 80, Philadelphia Museum of Art) offers a slightly earlier effort to depict the effects of spinning wheels.
69 The relationship between Bacher's painting and Simmons's apparently similar but unlocated A Country Road exhibited at just around the same time is unclear: "In the foreground is the wooden piazza of an old-fashioned country hotel with the dusky country conveyance, the occupant of which is engaged in conversation with the landlord, who is resting one foot upon the wheel" (Cleveland Plain Dealer [24 January 1885], 1).
70 Cleveland Plain Dealer (29 May 1877), 4. For an overview of the issues surrounding this sort of cultural practice, see Roderick Nash, "The Exporting and Importing of Nature: Nature-Appreciation as a Commodity 1850 - 1980," Perspectives in American History 12 (1979): 517 - 60.
71 Cleveland Plain Dealer (20 May 1888), 5.
72 See, for example, Cleveland Plain Dealer (24 June 1889), 3.
73 See Rotraud Sackerlotzky, Henry Keller's Summer School in Berlin Heights, exh. cat. (Cleveland Artists Foundation, 1991).
74 The Sketch Book 1 (July 1883): 5.
75 Cleveland Plain Dealer (3 October 1892), 8.
76 As noted in an exhibition review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (7 January 1894), 7: "The impressionist school is poorly understood by people in general, and yet it is a strong, vigorous institution and a formidable rival to the realistic one. There are several fine examples on exhibition and, as may be imagined, are misunderstood to a great extent. They are not for casual glances, but for deep study." Quoted in Nancy Coe, "The History of the Collecting of European Paintings and Drawings in the City of Cleveland" (M.A. thesis, Oberlin College, 1955), 25.
77 See the information supplied by Church's daughter, Mrs. Jessie Sargent, in Sam Rosenberg, "Henry Church of Chagrin," in Sidney Janis, They Taught Themselves: American Primitive Painters of the 20th Century (New York: Dial, 1942), 103. Lynette I. Rhodes, American Folk Art: From the Traditional to the Naive, exh. cat. (Cleveland Museum of Art, 1978), 36 n. 37, notes that, among other volumes from the 1870s and 1880s, Church owned the August 1883 issue of The Sketch Book. Jane E. Babinsky and Miriam Church Stem, The Life and Work of Henry Church, Jr. (Chagrin Falls, Ohio: privately printed, 1987), unpaginated, notes that Willard lived near his exact contemporary Church when the former's father preached in South Russell in 1850.
78 The problem of dating Church's paintings deserves mention. While he had sketched in charcoal since entering his father's blacksmith shop in 1849 at the age of thirteen, the only firm date for his career as a painter may be that of his father's death in November 1878, when, "finally freed of the parental censorship, [he] took to painting, hunting, and sculpture in earnest" (Sargent quoted in Rosenberg, "Henry Church," 103). Church "painted until the end of his days" (Sargent quoted in Rosenberg, "Henry Church," 102). The dates "late 1870s" for Still Life (fig. 52) and "c. 1895 - 1900" for The Monkey Picture (fig. 53) suggested in Jean Lipman and Tom Armstrong, ed., American Folk Painters of Three Centuries (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1980), 178 - 79, derive from the reasonable assumption that Church's conventional still life preceded his take-off on that format, yet there is no reason to believe that it took him two decades to reformulate the idea motivating the more conventional work. The nearly identical settings in these paintings and the striking "before" and "during" effect they create when viewed together suggests that Church conceived them as pendants, perhaps to be exhibited jointly in Church's Art Museum, his gallery built in Geauga Park around 1888. Rhodes, American Folk Art, 27, reproduces a photograph of this building. A photograph of Church working on a still life reproduced in Babinsky and Stem, Life and Work of Henry Church, shows a third version of this still- life format framed in the upper left corner. Because Church kept his sculpting secret until the discovery in 1885 of Rape of the Indian Tribes, his Self-Portrait (fig. 54), which includes a winged sculptor, would not have been done before that year.
79 For another example, see Wagguno, Fruit and Baltimore Oriole (1858, National Gallery of Art), reproduced in Deborah Chotner, American Naive Paintings. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue (New York and Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 387.
80 In 1882, six years before Church's Art Museum in Geauga Park, Jeptha Wade donated to the city Wade Park, at first a home for deer to which other animals were gradually added. The first zoo building on the site was erected in 1889.
81 Stonehouse, "A Genius Near Home," Cleveland Plain Dealer (12 July 1891), 12.
82 Ibid. While it is clear that the histrionic writing style belongs to Stonehouse, this analysis is based upon an assumption that the sentiments expressed are Church's.
83 "Unique Character," Chagrin Falls Exponent (23 April 1908), 4.
84 Information from Sargent, quoted in Ray Turk, "Lifts Mystery Veil from Squaw Rock: Daughter of Smithy Who Made Carving Tells of His Work," Cleveland News (7 August 1932), magazine sec., p. 4. My thanks to Victor and Carol Studer for providing the citation data.
85 According to "Unique Character," "the sculptured lion and the lamb with the child to lead them...was the expression in stone of his high ideal of what the dawn of right, justice and peace would bring to the world." Because village trustees did not meet Church's proposal with enthusiasm, the sculpture stayed on his front lawn until shortly before his death.
86 A monumental stone frog, made by Church without a site in mind, nearly decorated Public Square in an installation partly conceived by Harvey Rice, who in 1857 had introduced the proposal for erecting the Perry Monument in that space. Around 1887, on a visit to Chagrin Falls, Rice and Jay Athey saw Church's sculpture, purchased it, and charged Church with the task of having it sent downtown by flat car. They probably intended the frog for the southwest quadrant of the square, landscaped at the time with a lagoon. Before it could be installed, however, the sculpture was either stolen or lost.
87 This information, from a typescript after a letter by Bohm's daughter, was provided by Alfred J. Walker Fine Art, Boston.
88 Ford first conceived a similar image for a cleaning-compound manufacturer in 1890. The company officially adopted the logo and slogan in 1905. See Kathleen McDermott and Davis Dyer, America's Paint Company: A History of Sherwin-Williams (Cambridge, Mass.: Winthrop, 1991), 27, 50.
89 Cleveland Plain Dealer (15 June 1918), 2.
90 On this sequence of events, see John Bodnar, "Public Memory in an American City: Commemoration in Cleveland," in Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, ed. John R. Gillis (Princeton. N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), 74 - 89.
About the author
David Steinberg was assistant curator of paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art and assistant professor of art history at Case Western Reserve University at the time he wrote this text. He holds a B.A. from Yale College and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, both in art history.
Resource Library editor's note:
The above text was reprinted in Resource Library on July 3, 2009, with permission of the The Cleveland Museum of Art, which was granted to TFAO on May 21, 2009.
This essay appeared in the exhibition catalogue Transformations in Cleveland Art 1796 - 1946. Steinberg's essays from this catalogue were adapted and appeared in the July - August 1996 issue of American Art Review.
Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Laurence Channing of The Cleveland Museum of Art and Shana Herb Johannessen for their help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.
RL readers may also enjoy:
Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Cleveland Museum of Art in Resource Library.
Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History. Individual pages in this catalogue will be amended as TFAO adds content, corrects errors and reorganizes sections for improved readability. Refreshing or reloading pages enables readers to view the latest updates.
Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.
Copyright 2009 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.