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


The Forest City Rises: Symbol and Value in Cleveland's First Pictures

by David Steinberg


We have a painter in this city who can't be beat. He paints white oak pannels, &c. so curiously that they exceed in transparency the best crown glass. He painted a steamboat so faithfully that it blew up and took fire just as he was giving the finishing touch to the larboard smoke pipe. In a battle scene he delineated a cannon with such fidelity that it went off one night, taking the whole piece with it, and has not been heard of since.
-- Cleveland Herald, 25 August 1847
At another time a slave was in the greatest danger of apprehension. At a supreme moment a plan was conceived, and Alonzo Pease [was] sent for. . . . Mr. Pease brought materials, and worked an hour upon the slave. At the end of that time the latter was a very respectable Caucasian, and had the satisfaction of knowing that all the paints could be washed off. In this disguise he left the house, entered a carriage, and was driven right through the crowd of slave-hunters in the most public way, without recognition.
-- A. L. Shumway and C. DeW. Brower, recounting events in Oberlin during the 1850s[1]


As these anecdotes make clear, during the middle of the nineteenth century people in Cleveland and its environs held complementary conceptions of the painter's enterprise. The first extract presents painting as an art that creates one-to-one correlations between the world of experience and miniature worlds on panel. The apocryphal story of a painter depicting a cannon that goes off echoes such ancient boasts of the artist's power as the tale of the Chinese painter who, upon completing the eyes of a bird, was astonished to see his work fly away. Writing for a local newspaper, and referring to no painter in particular, a Clevelander hitched this sort of brag to civic pride: "We have a painter in this city who can't be beat." The second text presents artifice as painting's method and subterfuge as its end. Working on a human body, portraitist Alonzo Pease reportedly painted Caucasian features on an African slave. A remark about the temporary nature of this disguise relieved the unnamed black man, who had been afraid that he would go through the future alienated from his identity, trapped in interminable "whiteness." As his evasion of the slave hunters showed, painting can have a lasting effect upon the world despite the impermanence of its materials.

Characterizing the painter's art in terms of truth in one case and deception in another, these stories exemplify contemporary beliefs that painting concerned more than the imitation or forgery of nature. Although the first townscapes, portraits, genre scenes, historical subjects, and landscapes created by men and women affiliated with Cleveland are naturalistic artifices on many counts, their engagement with goals other than representing how things look fulfills the expectations the anecdotes raise. Symbolizing the values of the people who made and viewed them, these paintings presented visions of the world that responded to and stimulated local emotional needs. As elements of contemporary social life, these paintings came into being through historical modes of production and then circulated within historical practices of display. As the town of Cleveland transformed itself into an industrial city, these symbols, values, needs, modes, and practices changed.

Even the spaces established by settlers had symbolic purposes. Public Square, never the geographic center of habitation, has been Cleveland's conceptual center from the time of the town's founding. Laid out by 1801 and partly cleared of trees before 1810, the square was first planted with saplings in 1827.[2] By about 1850, those trees had matured enough to allow the space to serve as a focal point for a publicity campaign identifying Cleveland as the "Forest City." Mid-century urban taste required the presence of trees so that citizens could claim a harmonious coexistence with nature. By contrast, a different fashion for place making had been current at the outset of the century during the important work of defining Cleveland as something other than an undifferentiated part of the wilderness. According to that early planning strategy, the image of man and his creations needed to be foremost.

The two oldest surviving paintings of the square, dominated by prominent public buildings, show that institutions were central to early ideas of what Cleveland was. In the first of these canvases (fig. 1), Joseph Parker shows the northwest corner, featuring the original First Presbyterian Church (built 1831 - 33). In a slightly later painting (fig. 2), Sebastian Heine presents the southwest quadrant, with the Second Court House (built 1828). By locating a church and a courthouse on their central axes, these compositions elevate specific buildings to the status of emblems representing Church and State.

In the more ambitious of these townscapes, First Presbyterian Church presides over a parade of the Cleveland Grays, the first uniformed militia west of the Alleghenies. The combination represents Cleveland as a community that inspires and sustains highly visible private initiatives undertaken with the public welfare in mind. Most of the town's citizens appear as either discretely massed spectators or lockstep marchers. The view is from a hotel called the Cleveland House, which was located on the south side of Superior Street to the west side of the square (see the Cleveland city plan, p. 5).[3] The vantage point, directly opposite the three figures visible through the second story window at left, suggests that we are part of a similar audience watching the festivities. Viewers and viewed alike thus participate in a celebration of collective identity.

Charles Giddings, merchant, shipowner, and director of the Commercial Bank of Lake Erie, commissioned this canvas in 1839 from a traveling theatrical producer, actor, and scenery painter named Joseph Parker.[4] Patron and painter bestowed the canvas on the Grays at the conclusion of a day of marching and convivial feasting that celebrated another gift from Giddings to the militia: a banner painted by Jarvis Hanks.[5] As the Grays sat in Parker's theater, "the curtain rose and such cheering was never heard before. Before them was presented the whole scene of the day ingeniously and truthfully transferred to canvas by Parker," who then sang his "Presentation of the Flag" set to the music of the Marseilles.[6] While the painting's content illustrates a civic occasion, its orchestrated reception actually constituted such an event.

Although a communal aesthetic circulated within and around Parker's painting of the Grays, the canvas made pointed reference to at least one town resident. Between the central axis of the painting and its right edge, the six-year-old house of patron Giddings rises prominently in a three-quarter view. Like his giving a flag and a townscape to the local militia, his buying and developing real estate on the perimeter of Public Square positioned him as a leading citizen within the local prestige order. That his house was subordinate to the church shows that Giddings knew his place within the community both literally and figuratively. Such a qualified yet unambiguous claim to a public profile was the only way to pursue high rank in a town where citizens typically affirmed their reliance upon one another by collective symbolic actions.

Easel painting was only one of many kinds of painting done in the pre-Civil War town. Neither Parker nor Heine thought of himself as what we might today call an artist. The former indulged in scenery painting as it was demanded by his theatrical work, while the latter advertised as a "sign and ornamental painter." In 1845 Heine informed the public of his partnership with Louis Chevalier by announcing that they were available for painting "Signs, Portraits, Miniatures, Transparencies, Drawings, Designs, Flags, Banners, Sceneries, Landscapes, Fire Boards, Imitation of Wood & Marble, &c."[7]

Both varied formats and great variety in the training of people who made pictures in Cleveland during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century help explain the virtually uninterrupted stylistic diversity of local production through the period. Perhaps the most disparate images were the gift drawings made by members of the Shaker Community at North Union, the sole known example being James Mott's The Throne of God (fig. 3).[8] By signing his name "Instrument James M. Mott," the draftsman articulated his self-image as the recipient of a spiritual gift that he translated into visible form. Using concentric circles and radiating lines, Mott mapped a cosmos centered on "The Throne of God, and the center of the Heavens." He wrote the names of the cardinal directions on the perimeter of the second outermost circle, a shape that defines one limit of "The boundless space that surround the City of the Saints."

In terms of commercial painting, Cleveland developed proto-urban qualities during the 1840s and 1850s. By contrast with the hunt-and-gather approach to commissions that characterized the practices of itinerant painters who moved through smaller villages and towns, artists who came to Cleveland found that the city supported a slash-and-burn strategy within the local economy. They came, stayed for a few years or so, and then, either exhausting themselves of local patronage or tiring of pursuing it, continued on their way.[9]

Among the painters who positioned themselves in the life of the community, Jarvis Hanks and Allen Smith, Jr., were the most successful. First active in town in 1825 and again from 1835 until his death in 1853, Hanks spent more time in Cleveland than anywhere else during a peripatetic career. Overlapping with Hanks beginning in 1842 (although no record of contact between them exists) and expending most of his energies locally until 1883, Smith worked briefly in Detroit and New York City before settling in the West. While these men constitute two axes of continuity in the local art scene, they cannot be said to have changed the largely fragmentary character of its painting production; their pictorial styles and public images could hardly have been more different.

In 1825 Hanks advertised his availability to produce a great range of painting types, although the first item on his list offers a crucial link with the idea and practice of easel painting as a fine art: "Portraits, Gilt & Smelted Signs, Landscape, Tavern Signs, Common Signs, Military Colours for regiments and independent companies, Masonic Transparencies, Carpets, Aprons, &c. &c."[10] While he painted a number of portraits in Cleveland, especially after 1835, Hanks still produced works in other formats, his highly praised flag for the Grays visible in Parker's painting being one prominent example.[11] In January 1838 he boldly advertised his exclusive devotion to portraiture, but by March he had capitulated to the limits of the marketplace, announcing that "he will not, however, refuse to execute Banners, Flags, or other works of a pictorial character."[12]

One way that Hanks cultivated portrait commissions involved an exhibition room installation that linked his art with the history of the town, a public relations gambit documented by a newspaper account:

On entering his Rooms, our eye was arrested by the life-like portrait [fig. 4] of an old pioneer of the city, familiarly known as Uncle Abram. The delineation of features and colorings are so perfect, as to leave no one for a moment at a loss as to the original. He sits before you, evidently wrapped in the contemplation of soon requiring for himself the last, sad offices he has for years performed for his fellow men. -- There is still however, a glow of health on the furrowed cheek, that, while it speaks of ripe old age, solemnly hints to the young gazer -- 'You may need my services, before I require thine.'[13]

The canvas shows Abraham Hickox at the age of seventy-two. Born in 1765 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Hickox worked as a blacksmith and held the municipal office of sexton after migrating to Cleveland in 1809. Because the stencil formerly visible on the back of the canvas dates the painting to 1837 (two years before the newspaper notice), it is clear that the portrait was not a private painting done at the sitter's request. In addition, it hung in the exhibition room above a conspicuously contrasting full-length portrait of a lady. Hanks did both works at his own expense so that he might have on hand pieces to demonstrate his talent and help him secure commissions, choosing for one the portrait of a man popularly associated with the settling of Cleveland. By preserving a founder's likeness and exhibiting it without charge, Hanks demonstrated his public-mindedness and fostered patronage at the same time.

Hickox administered last rites in his capacity as sexton. The reporter's account alludes to this fact in its invocation of the death of both sitter and viewer. A conventional part of contemporary thinking about the genre of portraiture, the iconography of death also figures in the reporter's concluding recommendation that readers have their portraits painted:

In a few sittings, a second self may be obtained, pleasing to look upon in the after life and note the changes of time, and worth more than gold to such as cherish a remembrance, when the canvass alone reflects the looks of kindness and love treasured of the departed in the living heart of hearts.

Here the words "after life" refer specifically to the duration following the occasion of portrait painting when viewers could compare aging sitter and immutable effigy, but they also introduce a consideration of the relationship between portraiture and the period following the sitter's death. While communal beliefs about salvation affirmed the existence of a heavenly afterlife, portraits cultivated an earthly afterlife for the sitter in collective as well as private memory. By including in the lower area of the painting a shadow cast by an unknown object from outside the frame, Hanks characterized portraiture as a genre that summons to viewers' minds ideas about presence and inevitable absence.

Unsigned and undated, one of the most remarkable paintings in the history of Ohio art was probably created by Hanks on an excursion to the southern part of the state between September 1840 and February 1841.[14] With six figures -- three depicting people who were alive and three those who had passed away -- Death Scene, The Stone Family (fig. 5) brought together on a single canvas a family separated by death.[15] Elizabeth Cook Spencer Stone sits at the center of the composition; her husband, Augustus Israel Stone, appears at the upper right. The pair married in May 1836 and settled in Marietta, where Stone was a merchant. In April 1840, Mrs. Stone gave birth to twins. The twenty-five-year-old mother died a little more than two months later, the infant Elizabeth Spencer lived slightly more than four months, and the infant Augustus Israel survived his sister by only a month.[16] Faced with the loss of his wife and two newborns, Stone commissioned the painting, which includes at lower left a portrait of Selden Spencer Stone, his only surviving child, and at upper left Mrs. Stone's mother, Prudence Cook Spencer. Just before his first visit to Cleveland, Hanks had painted Stone's mother in Marietta (1825, private collection).[17] Fifteen years later, the longstanding acquaintance between Hanks and Stone seems to have led to the creation of a unique family portrait.

Best understood as the product of a painter's artifice, the canvas does not transcribe how things looked during any given instant in 1840 so much as represent ideas that the patron held dear about his departed wife and children. Given the Second Great Awakening's widely influential emphasis on human agency, the prescriptions about "Preparation for Death" offered in 1834 by William Sprague, a Presbyterian minister from Albany, New York, can help articulate the ideals that Hanks tried to put before the Congregationalist Stone in Marietta. Sprague counseled that good Christians should meditate "on the amazing scenes which must open upon the spirit the moment death has done its work, and on the riches of that grace which secures to the believer a complete victory in his conflict and a triumphant entry into heaven."[18] What Sprague asserted with words, the painter endowed with the status of fact through pictorial rhetoric.

Some of the persuasive aspects of the painting derive from the idea that Mrs. Stone's actions express her beliefs. So thoroughly has she released herself from earthly attachments, for example, that she clasps her hands piously rather than support the babes spilled precariously on her lap.[19] Her upward gaze also signifies a mind fixed on divinity. Hanks made his awareness of this convention explicit in a reminiscence about how his own mother looked when he departed for service in the War of 1812:

Her eyes were overflowed with tears, and raised to Heaven. I can never forget her expression at that moment -- it was one of deep sorrow mingled with patient submission. She seemed to say, though spoke not, -- "Thy will be done, O Lord -- Unto thy protection, God of hope and mercy, I resign my boy!"[20]

With her gentle smile, however, Mrs. Stone conveys confidence about her eternal fate rather than resignation about the timing of its commencement. She seems at peace, secure in her acceptance of Christ and receipt of grace. Hanks emphasized her raised face by setting it amid two compositional diagonals running toward the upper right, one aligning the heads of Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Stone, and Mr. Stone, and the other connecting the top of Selden's head to Mrs. Stone's highlighted shoulder to Mr. Stone's hands. These vectors have their counterpoints in the chair crest, chest of drawers, and baseboard that gird the composition with vertical and horizontal elements.

Yet in a calculated ambiguity attributable to the artist's pictorial skills, the viewer cannot tell whether Mrs. Stone is a living person who controls the movement of her hands and face, or if these are traces of prior movements in a now-inert body.[21] The decision to clothe her in a burial gown appears to place her squarely among the deceased.[22] But by painting pink highlights on her otherwise pallid skin and by endowing her with a sentient eye, Hanks intentionally obscured whether Mrs. Stone is going through the mysterious transition from this world to the next or has already arrived on the other side. The rendering of her head as a dynamically foreshortened, bone-solid armature of sockets and ridges contributes to this confusion of a clear distinction between life and death and, in turn, to the painting's capacity to proclaim death's defeat.

Because the same theology that enabled adults to assist in their own salvation through free will also fostered anxieties about human beings who died unpracticed in exercising responsibility for themselves,[23] the representation of the Stone twins, who had been baptized, posed a special problem in creating the proper pictorial meaning. The painter's solution was to show the deaths of mother and twins as more or less simultaneous, even though all three died at different times over a span of three months. This imaginative scenario enabled him to link his characterization of the twins with that of their mother, a person whose capacity to enjoy the rewards of eternal life was less open to question.

In these ways Hanks provided the surviving Stones with reassuring claims about their recently departed kin, as well as with a model for the proper way to approach their own lives and deaths. In terms of precedents within the history of art, Death Scene combines two types of figural arrangements: the portrait of a dying woman in a moment of spiritual illumination (fig. 6), and the group portrait of a mother who died in childbirth in the company of surviving family members. Although relevant easel paintings exist, both types are most common in English tomb brasses and sculpture groups, formats to which Hanks had no access.[24] On the whole, the rarity of prototypes indicates that the painter arrived at his conception with relative independence from a specific visual source, suggesting that the emotional necessities of new religious beliefs served as the mother of pictorial invention.

In 1842, three years after the article on the portraits in Hanks's studio, the Herald ran a paragraph about paintings by Allen Smith, Jr., on exhibition for visitors to his studio: "Our jolly, good-looking collector of Customs figures on canvass large as life and quite as natural, and a popular auctioneer is to be seen in striking likeness in everything except knocking down."[25] Rather than promoting himself through a nostalgia-tinged portrait of an early settler, the recently arrived Smith exhibited pictures of progress-oriented men whose work fostered the town's circulation of goods. Placing economic exchange at the center of his public self-definition, Smith overtly bid for the patronage of other successful participants in the town's commercial life and accurately calculated the potential marketplace for portraiture. In 1848, for example, he painted portraits of William Gordon (fig.7), a phenomenally successful wholesale grocer, and his wife during the year that Gordon first served on Cleveland's city council.[26] Smith's portrait of Lucy Bidwell (fig. 8), painted about 1850 when the sitter was thirty-nine years old, demonstrates that an unmarried female business proprietor in Cleveland could also become wealthy enough to commission her own likeness.[27] For two decades following 1837, Bidwell sold fancy goods and millinery from a series of shops, usually on Public Square. Wearing a unique quilted housecoat, she fashions herself as stylishly as the clients whom she served. The diaper pattern dominating the portrait's opulent frame repeats the quilting design to create a carefully coordinated ensemble based on values similar to those that made Bidwell so accomplished in her field.

In contrast to many who painted for the community, Smith placed easel painting at the center of his practice from the time he first arrived.[28] While his mainstay was portraiture, he also produced genre scenes, a type of painting that he first practiced when training at the National Academy of Design in New York City in the early 1830s. Over the next two decades, Smith painted at least fifteen works of this kind.[29] Several featured children, but the sole surviving example demonstrates his commitment to exploring adult issues. Painted the same year as his portraits of the Gordons, The Young Mechanic (fig. 9) explicitly raises questions about the nature of class structure and social opportunity in Cleveland.

The painting depicts two boys of similar age and intelligence but whose rank could not be more different. The wealthy boy, identified by his new suit and straw hat, holds a miniature boat -- perhaps a toy or a model for a full-size boat -- while the skilled manual worker (or "mechanic" as they were called at the time) sits barefoot among wood shavings. The dilapidated room suggests the mechanic's relative poverty, yet in order to get anything built, the wealthy boy must pay a visit. Another sign of the laboring boy's power is his neglect or refusal to rise in respect. As if allegorical figures of capital and labor, the two eye each other across the foreshortened worktable.

At right angle to this standoff is the direct relation that the composition fosters between mechanic and viewer. The working boy's face promotes empathic engagement with his situation. The table projecting to the right defines a point of view on the left side of the painting, literally and perhaps figuratively "on the mechanic's side." As if the shadow cast into the picture from outside the lower left corner were the viewer's own, entering into pictorial space would only require passing through the low gate.

The painting indirectly registers Smith's concern about the kind of dependent relationship that existed between himself and wealthy men. As a seeker of portrait commissions, he had to rely upon the vagaries of potential sitters seeking out his studio. The dynamics of mutuality structuring his genre scene turns a similar spatial liability into a symbolic asset. In addition, the painting's attention to the materiality of things suggests that Smith recognized and claimed a kinship between the mechanic's work and his own. Pieces of wood rendered in depth as well as parallel to the picture plane cram the composition, each revealing its grain and offering evidence of its construction process. A length of frayed ingrain rug (a common household textile) has been adapted from its normal use as a floor covering to decorate the table's end. The absence of well-established institutions and social practices in Cleveland promoting the idea of the fine arts as an elevated endeavor establishes a context for interpreting woodworking as a metaphor for the craft of easel painting. Appropriately, comments on Smith's painting when it appeared at New York City's American Art-Union drew attention to how it was painted: "The 'Young Mechanic' is a most careful and truthful interior of a carpenter's shop, with figures." "Every part is executed with the most commendable observation of nature."[30]

Providing a national constituency of lottery subscribers with a steel engraving each year as well as with an annual chance to win a painting between 1839 and 1852, the American Art-Union served as a vehicle for accommodating middle-class desires about art ownership to democratic ideals of social organization. Given his painting's egalitarian identification of the origin of personal tensions in class-based social divisions, Smith carefully matched his subject matter with his exhibition venue and perhaps created his canvas with that forum in mind.

Keyed to concerns widespread throughout the United States at the time, The Young Mechanic nonetheless originated in local circumstances that New York viewers could not have recognized. As the Elyria Republican complained in 1837: "For our part, we have no hope of Cuyahoga county . . . she has a central aristocracy composed of capitalists, rag barons [paper mill owners], and speculators, that contaminates the whole political atmosphere."[31] Obviously biased by a spirit of competition, this regional perspective still provides some insight into the characteristic links between Cleveland's financial and political orders. In a development parallel to the disgust registered by the newspaper of a rival region, efforts to raise the lot of skilled manual workers resulted in the organization of a mechanics' lyceum in the early 1840s to offer lectures and foster group solidarity. Painted in a city whose economic base was shifting from shipping and manual skills to manufacturing and banking, Smith's picture of a static face-off suggests how some people worried that social mobility might become a thing of the past because of an institutionalized gap between classes. Rather than proposing any solution to this dilemma, however, the painting only sets it forth in memorable visual terms.

In addition to selling a canvas to the Art-Union in 1848, Smith painted a suite of six portraits of the founding teachers of the recently established medical department of Western Reserve College.[32] Whether the department took the initiative to commission these portraits as a means of celebrating the distinguished faculty it had collected or the painter prompted the enterprise, this exceptional early instance of institutional largesse in Cleveland offered Smith an alternative to dependence upon individual purchasers. While Hanks also identified a source of income in this new resource within the city, he conceived of it in terms of traditional transactions between painter and patron. "Medical students who are about to leave the city to commence practice would do well to see Hanks and Howlett, sign painters."[33]

Like other portrait painters practicing in the 1840s, Hanks and Smith had to compete with the great promises to improve the speed and accuracy of making likenesses that accompanied the advent of photography in 1839. A newspaper notice from just two years later indicates how quickly entrepreneurs aligned the new technology with expectations traditionally linked to painted portraits. "All bachelors, at least, should visit Mr. G[arlick], and thus not entirely deprive posterity of a little image of their noble selves."[34] Photographic products such as daguerreotypes and ambrotypes required special equipment, technological expertise, and conceptual skills, which led to the rapid professionalization of photographers and to the occasional promotion of their reputations in lofty terms.

With the dissemination of the hybrid technique known as "photograph painting" around the middle of the 1850s, a niche opened for painters to participate in all the excitement. One notice from 1855 refers to "a life size photograph, colored by Smith" as "a perfection of portraiture."[35] One decade later, on the occasion of the storefront exhibition of a portrait of lawyer Franklin Backus (probably fig. 10),[36] a newspaper writer considered the process still sufficiently unknown to warrant description:

This portrait is from the studio of North and Schwerdt, of this city, and is properly a colored photograph, although it seems a painting. The face is first thrown upon canvass by a camera, and the contour is thus obtained with distinctness, when the brush follows with the life-like coloring.[37]

While not explained in the article, people often treated canvases with chemicals so photographic negatives could be printed on them, enabling painters to work from fixed designs in well-lit rooms.[38] Just who painted the unsigned portrait of Backus is not resolved by the article's mention of photographer William North and painter Christian Schwerdt's studio. The stylistic similarity between this photograph painting and autograph works by Smith such as his portrait of Lucy Bidwell suggests that painters sometimes worked anonymously in studios run by photographers.[39] During North's long tenure in Cleveland from 1851 into the late 1870s, he worked with several painters, including Alonzo Pease, the painter of the disguised slave in Oberlin.[40]

Photography probably figured into the practices of regional portrait painters in several different ways. Judging by the strong areas of well-drawn and crisply defined shadows in Archibald Willard's portrait of his niece Minnie Willard (fig. 11), he most likely based that painting directly on a photograph. Perhaps a photograph also served Pease as a model for a portrait of his mother, Lydia (fig. 12). The trace of a grid that has become visible through the canvas's delicately painted, now-translucent flesh tones reveals that the artist employed the traditional device of squaring for transfer. Conventionally used to ensure that complex designs initially worked out in small studies would be accurately copied onto large surfaces, this method could have helped Pease recreate the proportions of the face.

In an example of continuity within painting practice, the German emigré Julius Gollmann drew separate pencil studies of fourteen sitters as the basis for perhaps the most ambitious group portrait ever made in Cleveland, An Evening at the Ark (fig. 13).[41] Using oil paint to copy these studies to a large canvas, Gollmann composed his figures in a room whose visual drama comes from three interior light sources: a gas lamp, a fireplace, and a burning piece of wood used to light a cigar. The painting represents a group of amateur naturalists organized in the mid-1830s under the aegis of William Case. They met in a building jokingly dubbed "The Ark" that Case owned on Public Square. Early on, the Arkites opened their collection of natural history specimens to public view, but after the founding of the Cleveland Academy of Natural Sciences in 1845, the group's mission drifted toward providing members with a recreation forum.[42] Case exercised nearly boundless civic zeal in other arenas during subsequent years, serving two terms as mayor in 1850 - 52. In the late 1850s, he posed with businessman William Gordon and painter Allen Smith, Jr., in a photograph (fig. 14) that emblematically represented his centrality to the best of what Cleveland had to offer in the realms of commerce (Gordon at left) and the fine arts (Smith at right).[43] Around the same time, having commissioned Gollmann to commemorate the Arkites, Case acquired a pictorial vehicle for advancing that group's prestige.[44]

The men depicted in An Evening at the Ark boldly proclaim possession of social stations that in no way depend upon adherence to the genteel arts of deportment and housekeeping.[45] The poses tend toward rudeness (figures slouch or sit with knees raised above their waists, one tilts a chair back on two legs) and the room and its appointments grimy and messy (the wallpaper above the mantle is peeling off, wood scraps litter the floor, a spring protrudes through the worn couch at right). Propriety in such matters might be important to upwardly mobile men of lesser standing, but not to the Arkites. Rather, their bohemian self-presentations signal their identities as already-improved, profoundly refined people who can afford to appear in moments of leisure. Conspicuously exempted from the room's disarray, however, are the Arkites' immaculate suits. Free of creases, stains, and wear, these extensions of the figures' bodies connote a Christian model of cleanliness in order to suggest the sitters' status as their society's elect.

Through this artifice, the painting absorbs and unifies the dichotomous tensions that structured and animated The Young Mechanic. By demonstrating its sitters' capacity to invert and control conventional attributes of social class, the painting declares their social power. Looking out of the picture space with paper in hand, Case appears as the group's architect. Explicitly presented as doing nothing, he implicitly conveys his visionary role among a collective of leaders in society, business, and military service.

The mid-century link between art and social status articulated itself in many ways in Cleveland. From the mid-1830s until the late 1850s, a steady trickle of opportunities existed for men and women to become lady and gentleman amateur artists. Most art lessons centered on technique. While Mr. and Mrs. Honfleur offered only drawing lessons, Hanks, Miss Crosby, Alfred Boisseau, Miss Noble, Josiah Humphrey, and Miss Fox taught both drawing and painting.[46] Occasional opportunities to learn about watercolor, monochrome painting, and mezzotint, as well as perspective drawing, also existed.[47] Other lessons centered on such approaches to subject matter as flower painting, drawing from nature, and landscape drawing.[48] On the wall above the fireplace in An Evening at the Ark hangs a watercolor of a bird, possibly a replica of the Kentucky warbler that Case had painted and included in an exhibition of Arkite renderings of natural history specimens.[49] In contrast to, for example, the pay-per-view show that Thomas Stevenson held of his pupils' work in a rented space in the Commercial Buildings in 1842, the Arkites' capacity to hold an exhibition in their own quarters announced their firm position atop Cleveland's social hierarchy.[50]

In 1860 a question raised in the press over access to the activities of a new organization called the Cleveland Sketch Club brought to the fore art's frequent, yet often unarticulated exclusivity. The club met in members' homes or, in the case of club president and sculptor William Walcutt, in an artist's studio. To each meeting, every participant would bring a sketch based upon a predetermined topic.[51] Yet just after word of the club reached the public ear, the Cleveland Daily Review published a complaint that the club "wears somewhat of a conservative air to outsiders. Many a friend of art, or adept at the pencil, would like to lend a hand if there were a room in common for the club, instead of putting each member to the inconvenience of a conversation at home." Responding as if club representatives, the editors of the Leader parried with the declaration that members preferred private homes so that "meetings may wear more of a social air and be more truly a conversazione. It is not intended for a public exhibition, and 'friends of Art,' or 'adepts at the pencil,' must furnish an original sketch as a warrant of their fitness for membership."[52] Eventually, unofficial city sponsorship of a different group in 1876 would go some way toward opening access to a social organization devoted to creating works of art.

With regard to the economics of viewing, many and varied relations existed between patrons, painters, and audiences in Cleveland at mid-century. Reprising the theme of altruistic public display that the Ark initiated with its natural history museum and watercolor exhibition, An Evening at the Ark appeared at the newsdealers Hawks and Brothers in 1859. In this instance, however, public betterment did not come about only from seeing the exhibition, for the showing raised money to benefit an unspecified "Home for the Sick and Friendless."[53] This accomplishment of good works through an exercise in noblesse oblige on Case's part offers a defining complement to the world of the painting in which hardly a single figure lifts a finger.

Other portraits appeared in shop windows free of charge, appealing to viewers for whom the sitter was at least as important as the photographer or painter. Such a hierarchy of values underlies the previously mentioned problem with attributing the photograph painting of Franklin Backus. By contrast, the sitter's reputation as a lawyer would have determined his picture's popular reception in 1865. Perhaps his best-known argument resulted in the appointment of a new jury for the remaining defendants of the Ohio-Wellington Rescue trial after one of their number had been found guilty.[54] For viewers just before the conclusion of the Civil War, the sight in a frame maker's window of the portrait of a man firmly associated with the cause of abolition presented an icon of social ideals around which to rally.[55] Arms held behind his body lending him a slight forward arch, face looking resolutely into the distance, the figure of Backus could also have embodied the idea of perseverance that further progress would require.

Perhaps more than any other private individual in Cleveland during the nineteenth century, banker Truman Handy paid for portraits to keep himself in the minds of his contemporaries. Commissioned over a lifetime that lasted from 1807 to 1898, his likenesses by Hanks (1838, Western Reserve Historical Society), Caroline Ransom (1893, Western Reserve Historical Society), and F. W. Simmons (1896, Western Reserve Historical Society) span the nineteenth-century history of local portraiture. Handy also represented himself in 1860 as a benefactor of the recently founded Young Men's Christian Association, giving that institution a now-lost, life-size portrait of himself by one E. D. Howard.[56]

Using the old public relations ploy of painting a portrait at one's own expense, Pease and Ransom exhibited their likenesses of former Ohio congressman Joshua Giddings in, respectively, an Oberlin store during 1859 (fig. 15) and a Cleveland studio during 1861 (fig. 16).[57] Giddings had served in Congress until his health failed in 1858 but remained active in state affairs. Pease and Ransom, by promoting themselves in terms of this veteran politician, linked themselves with antislavery reform and with the region's political identity. Ransom also had social aspirations, and in 1866 her studio was the site of an evening's entertainment of solos and duets that ladies and gentlemen attended "by invitation."[58] Through her acquaintance in the mid-1860s with Civil War officer and future president James A. Garfield, Ransom managed to forge a link between her career and national politics. In 1866 the portrait of Giddings she had shown in Cleveland became the first work of art by a woman acquired by the federal government, purchased for $1,000 from an appropriation to the Joint Committee on the Library for decorating the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Even though Ransom moved to Washington in the mid-1870s, she returned to Cleveland every year, producing a portrait of geologist Charles Whittlesey on one such trip (fig. 17).

In terms of the relations between paintings and audiences, the practice of paying to see enormous canvases taken on national tours by artists and other entrepreneurs offers the most telling mid-century development in local viewing experiences. Beginning in 1840, a large painting made its way to Cleveland about once a year. Rembrandt Peale's Court of Death (1820, Detroit Institute of Arts), for example, arrived in 1847 while on a tour that began in New Haven and went to Hartford, Boston, Troy, Auburn, Geneva, Rochester, Buffalo, and then crossed Lake Erie to Detroit before arriving in Cleveland. Subsequently, the painting went to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Mobile, and New Orleans.[59] While there were few local easel painters at any point during the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s, there were nonetheless many paintings to see.

This trend dovetailed with the practice of spending hours at the exhi-bition of panoramas -- canvases hundreds of feet long that work crews gradually scrolled from spool to spool across rented theater stages. Some of these paintings represented current events such as the Mexican War (1848) or passage to California for the gold rush (1849).[60] Because of the many homesick potential customers created by the Irish potato famine immigration starting in the late 1840s, numerous panoramas -- including one in 1866 called the Hibernicon -- featured Ireland.[61] Entrepreneurs showed relatively recent fires and wars that lent themselves to special polemical or pictorial interest: the conflagration of Moscow (1812), the wars for liberty in Italy and Hungary (1848), the bombardment of Sebastopol (1854 - 55), the Crimean War, (1853 - 56), the burning of Chicago (1871).[62] While the people who ventured to such showings could experience the local pleasures of seeing a "seven-mile mirror" of the Great Lakes or a panorama of Cleveland, they could also enjoy exotic travel panoramas featuring Niagara Falls, the Hudson River, New York City, the European continent, Italy, the Mediterranean shores, Jerusalem, and the Arctic.[63] Viewers could take an ocean voyage to Europe, travel on a whaler, or get a glance at the whole world.[64] Panoramas devoted to national and sacred literature presented scenes from the Bible, Paradise Lost, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Pilgrim's Progress.[65] Some panoramas commemorated modern men: the murder of Joseph Smith, the funeral of Napoleon, Pilgrims and Revolutionary Fathers, and the life of Lincoln.[66] There was even a panorama on oil regions shown in 1865, the year John D. Rockefeller stopped working for commission merchants to devote his full attention to oil.[67] One wonders about the influence that such a vast representation of seemingly limitless resources might have had upon the ambitions of this shrewd and enterprising twenty-six-year-old.

The Civil War -- subject of several panoramas, including one by sometime portraitist and future figurehead of Cleveland's artistic community Archibald Willard [68] -- spurred a sense of historical self-consciousness in the city. As war loomed, people searched for precedents to help them to make sense of the identity-threatening crisis that endangered their country's existence. For this reason, around 1860 many men and women participated in the creation of public symbols representing themes from the War of 1812.[69] A resounding victory over its former mother country that defined the United States as a world power, the war offered citizens a confidence-bolstering image to contemplate in a time of despair. This was the moment when the city commissioned sculptor William Walcutt to create the Perry Monument representing Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie. Officials dedicated the statue at the center of Public Square on 10 September 1860 (see fig. 203), soon renaming the square Monumental Park in its honor. The next year, Ransom painted for a militia company called the Perry Light Infantry a banner that bore the hero's portrait.[70] A few years earlier, she had painted landscapes of Perry's Lookout, the site on Gibraltar Island from which Perry had watched British movements, and of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, the burial place of three American and three British officers following the Battle of Lake Erie.[71] In 1860 the event associated with the latter site prompted Louis Chevalier, former Cleveland partner of townscape painter Sebastian Heine and current resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, to create a history painting (fig. 18).

Chevalier appears to have been inspired in his choice of subject by a published address given by Dr. Usher Parsons, former surgeon of the American ship Lawrence and witness to the events at Put-in-Bay. After describing the hasty burial in the deep of the lake given to most of the forty-one British and twenty-seven Americans killed at the Battle of Lake Erie, Parsons noted:

On the following morning the two fleets sailed into this bay where the slain officers of both were buried in an appropriate and affecting manner. They consisted of three Americansand three British officers.... Equal respect was paid to the slain of both nations, and the crews of both fleets united in the ceremony. The procession of boats, with two bands of music, the slow and regular motion of the oars striking in exact time with the notes of the solemn dirge, the mournful waving of flags and the sound of minute guns from the ships, presented a striking contrast to the scene presented two days before, when both the living and the dead, now forming in this solemn and fraternal train, were engaged in fierce and bloody strife, hurling at each other the thunderbolts of war.[72]

While Chevalier's imaginative sense of two-dimensional design generated the "solemn and fraternal train" that winds across the midground like a swath of funeral bunting, he strove for accuracy in his representation of the background ships, submitting by mail sketches to Parsons as well as to Scorpion sailing master Stephen Champlin, captor of the British ship Queen Charlotte.[73] With its minute images of the slain officers' flag-draped coffins in the third and fourth boats closest to the shore, Chevalier's canvas not only honored the dead but also reminded viewers of the sacrifices that war entailed. In this way, he contributed to his contemporaries' preparation for the work of mourning that, if there was war, would surely come into their collective and personal lives.[74]

Cleveland's sparse landscape production at mid-century during the heyday of the Hudson River school suggests how an appetite for making such pictures had not swept throughout the United States.[75] Visitors to the show window of Sargeant's frame shop could see Louis Rémy Mignot's Sunset in the White Mountains (1861, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), but that painting had been imported from New York City and had no local progeny.[76] The only known pastoral scene to have been produced in Cleveland (fig. 19) clarifies the atypicality of local interest in landscape painting, for Harvey Rice -- its early owner and perhaps its patron -- had an exceptional relationship to local lands.[77]

Rice began his lifelong career as a public servant representing Cuyahoga County in the state legislature. His appointment in 1831 as agent to sell 56,000 acres of Western Reserve land for the state school fund resulted in $150,000 going to subsidize instructing the region's young. In The Sunny Bank (Kingsbury Run), painted during Thomas Stevenson's second Cleveland period, the cattle grazing in the verdant ravine running between Warrensville Heights and the Cuyahoga River give the scene a utilitarian dimension. As direct recipients of the land's yield and as agricultural products themselves, they attest to nature's beneficence. Looking at this imagery, Rice may have considered Kingsbury Run's value in his capacity as a private citizen, for he owned land along it. But the painting would also have engaged him in his role as a promoter of the common good, because in his experience undeveloped land could initiate a causal sequence leading to abundant cash and then to improvements in public education. His painting thus represented Cleveland as a land of several varieties of plenty.

Unlike landscapes, paintings of local waterways were as numerous as townscapes. Sometime during George Clough's first stay in the city between 1862 and 1865, he used this kind of subject to pay tribute to Cleveland as a center of transportation and commerce (fig. 20).[78] In the lower right he pictured the Ohio canal from a vantage point on the eastern shore of the Cuyahoga at the base of what is now West 3rd Street; the building is a weighhouse erected in 1851.[79] A canal boat in the process of being weighed appears inside, while the horse that will draw it inland waits on the nearby bank. Counterposed to this right-to-left movement is the sequence of three paddle-wheel steamboats in different stages of completion on the far shore. In this way, Clough instilled his topographic view with rhythms primed to the progressive ideals that were making Cleveland into a city. Yet with the inexorable challenge of the railroads, canal use had gradually declined during the 1850s. While the canal side of the painting has but a single smokestack, the belching fumes across the river indicate both the concentration of factories on the city's west side and the status of manufacturing as the promise of future economic success.

Smith's ambitious view of Public Square (fig. 21) embraces the conceptual span defined by the paintings by Stevenson and Clough while registering the impact of entrepreneurship on local ideals of social participation in the thirty years since Joseph Parker's view of Public Square (see fig. 1). A comparison with Parker's painting may, in fact, have been intended. Smith made his canvas the same year that the newly founded Western Reserve Historical Society acquired Parker's painting. Both are similar in size, and both represent a vantage point from the second floor of the building occupying the southwest corner of the square (see the Cleveland city plan, p. 5).[80] While these points establish a basis for comparison, Smith challenged the conception of communal life championed by Parker with a program that promotes individualism.

Whereas the town may be said to master the viewer in the early painting, the viewer masters the city in the later canvas. No architectural symbol dominates Smith's scene: the second First Presbyterian Church (begun in 1853) stood beyond its left edge and the Second Court House was razed sometime after 1858. Rather, the drama of the painting derives from its pictorial space: barreling swiftly into the middle distance, the vista of the street defining the square's south side cleaves the composition in two. The shadow created by the late afternoon sun behind the hotel sweeps from the bottom edge of the painting diagonally across the street and up a facade. Although the shadow is specifically the trace of a building, it simultaneously suggests the presence of a human body -- albeit monumentalized -- in front of the picture plane. In contrast to Parker, Smith depicted neither mirroring counterparts to his viewer nor a defining civic institution. The viewer's commanding gaze is a solitary one. The probability that Smith's picture is a photograph painting suggests profound links between the promulgation of individualistic ideologies and the then-novel proliferation of images made using camera lenses.

The historic shift from a communal to an individualistic aesthetic that determined these different ideal visions of the square has a precise correlate in the financial circumstances that brought the paintings into being. While Giddings commissioned Parker to paint his scene as a gift for a civic militia, Smith made his painting as an independent commercial venture for the marketplace. The year after he created it, the minutes of the Western Reserve Historical Society recorded: "It was hoped that some of our wealthy citizens would have procured and placed in the Society Rooms Mr. Smith's valuable painting of the Public Square as it appeared in 1869. Let us indulge the hope that at some future time it will find its way to our rooms."[81] Eventually, in the course of his successful law practice in Cleveland, former state supreme court judge Rufus Ranney acquired the painting.[82] Citizens like Ranney who acted in a public capacity could find on this canvas a pictorial complement to how they thought about their relationship to the city, inasmuch as its design cultivates the feeling of mastery that facilitates independent actions. This is not to say that the individualism given form in the 1869 view of the square was not compatible with the city's betterment. Rather, the change from the early to the later views signifies the development of a belief that the common welfare depended upon solo rather than collective initiative.

Commercial life defined in individual terms percolates through the right side of the painting. In Cleveland as in other cities, people often referred to a block by the name of the property owner responsible for its development. Richardson's Block, denoted in letters filling a scrolled cornice at the block's center, announces the name of the individual responsible for that civic venture. The business activities of Wansor Stoves spill out far onto the sidewalk. In some way, that private concern encroaches on public space, yet in terms of the daily experience of pedestrians, it only contributed to a sense of the thorough integration of private and public spheres. So fully did businesses dominate the square in the late 1850s that the new courthouse had to be sited elsewhere.

By choosing a view with trees on the left and buildings on the right, Smith created a composition that succeeds as a rebus for the "Forest City." With this verbal formulation as well as its imagery, the painting promoted the slogan coined to help shape a coherent image for the rapidly changing city. The concerted program of tree planting generally associated with William Case's terms as mayor (1850 - 52) necessarily included Cleveland's symbolic center. Many commercial enterprises -- including the hotel whose view Smith depicts -- adopted the phrase. A comparable imposition of an urban-pastoral ideal occurred in 1861, when the city council dubbed that space Monumental Park. Smith later abridged this official name when titling the canvas The Park, in 1869.

Around 1877 Smith gave form to his ambivalence about the varied fruits of economic prosperity that had come to structure city life in the three and a half decades since his arrival in Cleveland. Picnic at Gordon Park (fig. 22) depicts land that former patron and lifelong businessman William Gordon had begun to buy in 1865 and whose development led to it being called "one of the most exquisite private grounds in the country. It is a beautiful tract of land on the shore of the lake, where hundreds of men have been employed in beautifying it with walks, drives, grottoes and bowers."[83] Gordon opened the park to visitors every week, and Smith took advantage of one of those occasions to paint it at his own expense.[84]

Similar to The Young Mechanic (see fig. 9) in its concerns with the working class, Picnic at Gordon Park differs from that early work in its representation of the fruit of economic individualism rather than of troubled collectivism. Smith's spirited empathy with manual workers had prompted him to divide the first painting equally between a mutually acknowledging worker and a patron. Three decades later, however, he placed a laborer with shovel in hand in a compositionally marginal position. This low pictorial status does not seem entirely unwarranted, for he is not a specialized artisan-entrepreneur but rather one of the hundreds of unskilled wage earners who built the park. Standing in a place owned by and named for Gordon, the poor man has toiled on the rich man's turf and terms and now stands alienated from the products of his labor.

Yet, like other paintings produced in Cleveland on either side of the divide occasioned by the Civil War, Picnic strove to play an active role in constituting the city's mental culture. While the social betters toward whom the laborer gazes predicate their enjoyment of leisure activities upon forgetting about all forms of labor, Smith stubbornly refused to render the worker and his work invisible. By incorporating that viewer, the painter not only asserted the crucial difference between Gordon Park and uncultivated nature, but also drew attention to how his depiction of the world is not neutral. Once again, he demonstrated the inextricable relationship between representation and having a point of view.



1 Oberliniana: A Jubilee Volume of Semi-historical Anecdotes Connected with the Past and Present of Oberlin College (Cleveland: Home Publishing, 1883), 28 - 29. The late 1850s were active years for the Underground Railroad in Oberlin. Pease was in both Oberlin and Cleveland during 1858, the year of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue.

2 Edmund H. Chapman, Cleveland: Village to Metropolis: A Case Study of Problems of Urban Development in Nineteenth-Century America (Cleveland: Western Reserve Historical Society and Press of Western Reserve University, 1964), 5, 10, 22.

3 The Cleveland House is visible to the right in Heine's painting.

4 D. W. Cross, "The Log Book. II. Cleveland Grays -- The Presentation of the Flag." Magazine of Western History 8 (May 1888): 8. Cross was a Cleveland Gray in 1839, so his article is actually a reminiscence. Parker's first name is mentioned in the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) annual report of 1869, reprinted in D. W. Manchester, "Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio," Magazine of Western History 7 (February 1888): 382. Because of the similar conceptions evident in Parker's and Heine's paintings, the latter, undated canvas has often been assigned a date of 1839. A more reasonable proposal is about 1845, however, because that year Heine made his first appearance in the occasional, often annual, list of local residents called the city directory. It is unlikely that he made his canvas much later as the Cleveland House, visible at right, burned down in 1845.

5 "The design and execution of the Standard are worthy the reputation of Mr. J. F. Hanks as an Artist. On a ground of light azure appears on one side an encampment of the GREYS -- on the opposite, the arms of the State of Ohio. It is richly decorated, and when borne through our streets yesterday, the frequent exclamations of 'splendid!' 'generous!' 'admirable!' passed deserved compliments on Artist, Donor, and the corps proudly marching beneath its waving folds" (Daily Herald and Gazette [23 May 1839], 2). One of the Grays present at this occasion, Colonel A. S. Sanford, donated the view of Public Square to the WRHS; the banner has not survived.

6 Cross, "Log Book," 8.

7 Elijah Peet, Peet's General Business Directory of the Cities of Cleveland and Ohio, for the Years 1845 - 46 (Cleveland: Sanford and Hayward, Printers, 1845), unpaginated.

8 For Mott's drawing, see Edward Deming Andrews and Faith Andrews, Visions of the Heavenly Sphere: A Study in Shaker Religious Art (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1969), 114; Daniel W. Patterson, Gift Drawing and Gift Song: A Study of Two Forms of Shaker Inspiration (Sabbathday Lake, Maine: United Society of Shakers, 1983), 95. For gift drawings, see Sally M. Promey, Spiritual Spectacles: Vision and Image in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Shakerism (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1993).

9 By far the earliest portrait painter known to have practiced locally was Samuel Dearborn, who after working in Pittsburgh stayed from about 1807 to 1809, and then moved to Lexington, Kentucky. Alvah Bradish numbers among the many other painters who came and departed in short order, leaving barely a trace. Having practiced in Rochester, he worked in Cleveland in 1836 and again in 1840 before eventually settling in Detroit in 1852. For Bradish in 1836, see Eckstein Case to Frederic A. Whiting, 17 October 1919, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives; for 1840, see Cleveland Herald (8 June 1840), 3. Case Western Reserve University owns his Leonard Case, Sr. (1836).

10 Cleveland Herald (14 October 1825), 1.

11 During the same period, Hanks painted a banner for the City Guard commissioned by "the Ladies of Cleveland" (Daily Herald and Gazette [5 July 1839], 3).

12 Daily Herald and Gazette (13 January 1838), 2, and (2 March 1838), 2.

13 Daily Herald and Gazette (6 May 1839), 2.

14 Cleveland Daily Herald (4 September 1840), 2, advertised Hanks's availability for music lessons, while the Daily Herald and Gazette (19 February 1841), 2, announced that he "has returned from his southern visit." For evidence of similar trips before and after the winter of 1840 - 41, see Daily Herald and Gazette (17 April 1839), 2; Morning Daily True Democrat (5 May 1852), 3, refers to "his southern winter tour."

15 Phoebe Lloyd, "Posthumous Mourning Portraiture," in Martha V. Pike and Janice Gray Armstrong, A Time to Mourn: Expressions of Grief in Nineteenth Century America, exh. cat. (Museums at Stony Brook, 1980), 85, emphasizes that the canvas "is manifestly not a rendering of an actual event."

16 J. Gardner Bartlett, Gregory Stone Genealogy: Ancestry and Descendants of Dea. Gregory Stone of Cambridge, Mass. 1320 - 1917 (Boston: privately printed, 1918), 422 - 23. See the entry for 2 July 1840 in Nancy Riley, compiler, Harmar Congregational Church Marietta, Ohio 1840 - 1855 (Waterford, Ohio: privately printed, 1987), 9: "Augustus Israel and Elizabeth Spencer -- infant children of Augustus I. and Elizabeth C. Stone -- were baptised at the house of Mr. Stone -- Mrs. Stone being very low, and not expecting to live." For references to Augustus Stone's activity in the Commercial and Exporting Company of Marietta, the temperance movement, and the Anti-Slavery Society, see Andrew R. L. Cayton and Paula R. Riggs, City into Town: The City of Marietta, Ohio, 1788 - 1988 (Marietta: Marietta College Dawes Memorial Library, 1991), 112 - 13, 146, 150.

17 In "A Biographical Memoir of Jarvis Frary Hanks. written by himself," unpublished mss., 1831 (Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society), 59, Hanks recalled that around April 1825 he stayed a month in Marietta when "I painted...Mr. & Mrs. Sardine Stone of Point Harmer, and some others." Lloyd, "Posthumous Mourning Portraiture," 85, notes that Hanks painted seven Stone family portraits.

18 William Sprague, Letters on Practical Subjects to a Daughter (New York: D. Appleton, 1834), quoted in James J. Farrell, Inventing the American Way of Death, 1830 - 1920 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980), 37.

19 My thanks to Virginia Krumholz for this observation. Lloyd, "Posthumous Mourning Portraiture," 85, notes how Hanks's device of situating the babes between their mother's legs manifests their filiation.

20 Hanks, "A Biographical Memoir," 5 - 6.

21 Philippe Ariès, Images of Man and Death. trans. Janet Lloyd (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 1985), 247, describes the canvas as showing "the moment of death" but also characterizes the mother as "already in the grip of rigor mortis."

22 For a daguerreotype from about 1846 showing a dead woman with a similar white burial gown, see Stanley B. Burns, Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America (Altadena, Calif.: Twelvetrees Press, 1990), pl. 21.

23 Farrell, Inventing the American Way of Death, 39, 232 n. 70, considers this issue.

24 See, for example, John Trumbull, Sarah Trumbull on Her Deathbed (1824, Yale University Art Gallery); John Souch, Sir Thomas Aston at the Deathbed of His Wife (1635, City of Manchester Art Galleries). On the former, see Sarah Cohen, "Sarah Trumbull on Her Deathbed" in Helen A. Cooper, ed., John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter, exh. cat. (Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 168 - 69; on the latter, see Judith W. Hurtig, "Death in Childbirth: Seventeenth-Century English Tombs and Their Place in Contemporary Thought," Art Bulletin 65 (December 1983): 610 - 15. A taxonomy of slightly earlier sculpture groups appears in Nicholas Penny, "English Church Monuments to Women Who Died in Childbed between 1780 and 1835," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 38 (1975): 314 - 32.

25 Cleveland Daily Herald (16 December 1842), 3.

26 Brief biographies of William Gordon appear in W. Scott Robison, History of the City of Cleveland (Cleveland: Robison and Crockett, 1887), 472 - 75; Magazine of Western History 5 (December 1886): 292 - 302.

27 See Joan J. Bidwell, Bidwell Family History 1587 - 1982 (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1983), 114. Bidwell was born in 1811 in Connecticut.

28 Morning Daily True Democrat (21 May 1852), 3, reports the exception of Smith designing a flag.

29 For a list of these paintings, see David Steinberg, "Mr. Smith Goes to Cleveland, and Other Stories," in Cleveland as a Center of Regional American Art (Cleveland: Cleveland Artists Foundation, 1994), 12 - 13 n. 11. The newly discovered Sheep Washing in the Reserve (1851, Berry-Hill Galleries, New York) should be added to Smith's oeuvre. Of these paintings, locations are known for only The Young Mechanic and Sheep Washing.

30 Reviews from Evening Post (New York) and New-York Courier and Enquirer, reprinted in American Art-Union Bulletin 1 (25 November 1848): 29, 36.

31 Reprinted in Daily Herald and Gazette (25 August 1837), 2.

32 Smith also sold paintings to the Art-Union in 1846 and 1849. The medical department of Western Reserve College, established in Cleveland in 1843, was formally organized the next year while the college itself was still in Hudson, Ohio.

The portraits, which depict Horace Ackley, Jacob John Delamater, John Delamater, John Lang Cassells, Jared Kirtland, and Samuel St. John, are now at Case Western Reserve University. For biographical information, see Frederick Clayton Waite, Western Reserve University Centennial History of the School of Medicine (Cleveland: Press of Western Reserve University, 1946), 74 - 103.

33 Daily True Democrat (13 February 1849), 2.

34 Cleveland Daily Herald (9 September 1841), 3.

35 Cleveland Morning Leader (13 October 1855), 3. There are references to crayon daguerreotypes in 1852; see, for example, Morning Daily True Democrat (9 January 1852), 4.

36 The Case Western Reserve University School of Law portrait appears to have been a gift from Backus's widow, along with a donation of money, in 1907. This provenance coincides with that of the painting from North and Schwerdt's studio, which, in the absence of any information to the contrary, appears to have been commissioned by Backus himself.

37 Cleveland Morning Leader (15 March 1865), 4.

38 Mention of printing photographs on ivory, wood, linen, and silk appears in Marcus Aurelius Root, The Camera and the Pencil, or the Heliographic Art (1864; repr. Pawlet, Vt.: Helios, 1971), 304; J. Towler, The Silver Sunbeam (New York: Joseph H. Ladd, Publisher, 1864; repr. Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Morgan and Morgan, 1969), 150 - 52, describes the transfer of collodion positives to japanned leather, linen, and paper. Aaron Scharf, Art and Photography (London: Allen Lane the Penguin Press, 1968), 33 - 34, briefly considers these processes.

39 In 1865, the year of the Backus exhibition, Smith returned to Cleveland after about four years in Cincinnati. Cleveland Morning Leader (13 October 1855), 3, records an early collaboration between Smith and North on a photograph painting.

40 See Cleveland Morning Leader (21 January 1858), 3, and (27 February 1858), 1.

41 The drawings, owned by the WRHS and currently unlocated, are reproduced in Walter B. Hendrickson, The Arkites and Other Pioneer Natural History Organizations of Cleveland (Cleveland: Press of Western Reserve University, 1962), between 22 and 23.

42 For anecdotes conveying the flavor of the homosocial bonding that took place at the Ark, see D. W. Cross, "The Ark and Its Founders. William and Leonard Case," Magazine of Western History 10 (June 1889): 140 - 46 (the article was installment six of Cross's series "The Log Book"; Cross appears in An Evening at the Ark as the gentleman wearing glasses); Eckstein Case, Notes on the Origins and History of the "Ark" (Cleveland: Printed for the Rowfant Club, 1902), 37 - 40.

43 Although undated, the photograph cannot date much before 1859 judging from the appearance of the sitters. That year, both Gordon and Case were 41 years old and Smith was 49. Smith moved to Cincinnati around then. By the time he moved back in 1865, Case was dead. In 1859 Gordon was president of the Cleveland Iron Mining Company.

44 After Case's death in 1862, the painting was owned by his brother Leonard Case, Jr., and exhibited under the title The Arkites -- Portraits in the Catalogue of Paintings, Statuary, &c., in the Fine Art Department, of the Cleveland Sanitary Fair (Cleveland: E. Cowles, 1863), no. 10.

45 For a consideration of national trends in these directions, see John Kasson, Rudeness and Civility: Manners in Nineteenth-Century Urban America (New York: Hill and Wang, 1990).

46 On the Honfleurs' lessons, see Daily Cleveland Herald (10 November 1836), 2. On Hanks, see Daily Herald and Gazette (13 January 1838), 2, and (2 March 1838), 2; Cleveland Herald (6 October 1845), 2; Daily True Democrat (1 January 1851), 3, (15 January 1851), 2, and (13 January 1852), 3. On Crosby, see Daily True Democrat (18 May 1848), 2. On Boisseau, see Morning Daily True Democrat (25 December 1852), 2, (5 January 1853), 2; Forest City Democrat (23 January 1854), 4. On Noble, see Cleveland Morning Leader (18 August 1855), 3. On Humphrey, see Cleveland Morning Leader (11 September 1855), 2, (1 October 1855), 3, (10 October 1856), 4, and (20 March 1857), 4. On Fox, see Cleveland Leader (2 September 1871), 4.

47 Watercolor lessons were advertised by Thomas Stevenson in Cleveland Daily Herald (3 November 1841), 2, (3 January 1842), 2, and (3 January 1843), 3. Lessons in monochrome painting by Miss H. P. Snell were advertised in Cleveland Morning Leader (28 September 1854), 3; mezzotint lessons by E. D. Cobb in Cleveland Daily Herald (29 August 1840), 2; and lessons in perspective drawing by Jehu Brainerd in Daily True Democrat (8 October 1849), 2.

48 Flower painting was advertised by E. D. Cobb in Cleveland Daily Herald (29 August 1840), 2; drawing from nature by Mrs. Child in Cleveland Daily Herald (17 September 1841), 2; landscape drawing by Mr. Wood in Daily True Democrat (23 June 1851), 2.

49 Former Arkite Hamilton Smith made this tentative identification in a letter to Peter Neff, 16 December 1894, quoted in Hendrickson, The Arkites, 4, 6. He also states that a catalogue accompanied this exhibition.

50 On Stevenson's show, see Cleveland Daily Herald (9 February 1842), 3, (22 February 1842), 2, (25 February 1842), 2, 3, and (10 March 1842), 3.

51 Information on the Sketch Club draws from Cleveland Morning Leader (10 March 1860), 3, (15 March 1860), 3, and (12 April 1860), 3. The club began with two meetings before 10 March 1860: one at the home of Mr. Smyth, where people brought sketches they had made on the topic "Life," and another gathering at the home of Miss Cleveland, where "Truth" was the subject. On 14 March, 14 people brought drawings of "Peace" or "Piece" to Miss S. A. Noble's home. On 11 April, Walcutt hosted the group. Sometime after 12 April, Miss Shuhr hosted the club at Walcutt's studio, where people saw one another's interpretations of "The Parting."

52 Cleveland Leader (15 March 1860), 3.

53 Cleveland Morning Leader (13 May 1859), 3, refers to the canvas as a "grand historical painting." Presumably the newsdealers charged admission or took donations. In 1859, Bays' Asylum, St. Mary's Orphan Asylum, Cleveland Orphan Asylum, Monas Relief Society, and Ladies Home Missionary Society were all active relief organizations in the city.

54 R. C. Parsons, "Franklin T. Backus," Magazine of Western History 3 (November 1885): 8 - 15.

55 Cleveland Morning Leader (15 March 1865), 4. The article specifies that the frame maker Sargeant exhibited this photograph painting in his show window.

56 Cleveland Morning Leader (12 March 1860), 3.

57. On Pease's canvas, see Oberlin Students' Monthly (June 1859): 319; (July 1859): 361. That same year, Pease also painted portraits of Oberlin trustee John Keep and Professor John Morgan on speculation. The college took up a collection to pay for the portraits following a lecture; see Oberlin Students' Monthly 1 (July 1859): 361; Oberlin Students' Monthly 1 (October 1859): 473. The next year, the Oberlin Musical Union bought Pease's portraits of Oberlin president Charles Grandison Finney, Professor James Harris Fairchild, Dr. James Dascomb, and former president Asa Mahan with commencement concert proceeds; see Oberlin Students' Monthly 3 (December 1860): 62 - 63. On Ransom's canvas, which she had offered for sale at New York's National Academy of Design in 1860, see Cleveland Morning Leader (24 January 1861), 1. Sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward, a Ohio native, made a now-unlocated bust of Giddings around 1858 while in Washington, D.C.; see Lewis I. Sharp, John Quincy Adams Ward: Dean of American Sculpture (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1985), 144 - 45.

58 Cleveland Leader (28 September 1866), 4.

59 Ellen Hickey Grayson, "Art, Audiences, and the Aesthetics of Social Order in Antebellum America: Rembrandt Peale's Court of Death" (Ph.D. diss., George Washington University, 1995), 637 - 41.

60 On the Mexican War, see Daily True Democrat (1 May 1848), 2, and (7 March 1849), 2; Morning Daily True Democrat (10 September 1853), 2. On the gold rush, see Daily True Democrat (22 August 1850), 2, (6 May 1851), 2, (5 March 1852), 2, and (3 March 1859), 2.

61 See Morning Daily True Democrat (19 January 1853), 3; Cleveland Morning Leader (19 May 1858), 2, and (24 December 1860), 1; Cleveland Leader (26 April 1866), 3, (31 December 1870), 1, and (31 March 1873), 1.

62 For the fire in Moscow, see Cleveland Daily Herald (10 May 1843), 2, and (13 October 1854), 3. For the wars of liberty in Italy and Hungary, see Morning Daily True Democrat (21 December 1852), 3. On the bombardment of Sebastopol, see Cleveland Morning Leader (22 January 1856), 1. For the Crimean War, see Cleveland Morning Leader (13 January 1859), 3. For the Chicago fire, see Cleveland Leader (9 January 1872), 4.

63 On the Great Lakes panorama, see Cleveland Morning Leader (7 November 1854), 3. For Cleveland, see Cleveland Morning Leader (28 December 1854), 3. On Niagara Falls, see the Morning Daily True Democrat (30 April 1853), 2; Cleveland Morning Leader (15 March 1859), 3. On the Hudson River, see Daily True Democrat (24 July 1848), 2. For views of New York City, see Daily True Democrat (14 June 1853), 3; Cleveland Morning Leader (1 March 1858), 2. On the voyage to Europe, see Cleveland Morning Leader (10 August 1855), 3. Regarding Italy, see Cleveland Morning Leader (29 October 1859), 3. For the panoramas showing the Mediterranean, see Daily True Democrat (20 September 1850), 2. For the Holy Land, see Cleveland Morning Leader (5 December 1856), 1; Cleveland Leader (26 January 1867), 4. For the Arctic, see Cleveland Morning Leader (27 October 1858), 1.

64. Concerning Europe, see for example the Cleveland Morning Leader (20 April 1857), 3. For whaling voyages, see Daily True Democrat (23 December 1849), 2; Cleveland Morning Leader (22 December 1859), 2. Regarding a glance at the world, see Morning Daily True Democrat (23 December 1852), 2.

65 Regarding scenes based on the Bible, see Daily True Democrat (12 July 1849), 2; Cleveland Morning Leader (28 September 1860), 1. For Paradise Lost, see Daily True Democrat (26 November 1849), 2; Cleveland Leader (24 September 1864), 1, and (2 October 1865), 4. For the panorama of Uncle Tom's Cabin, see Cleveland Morning Leader (7 July 1860), 1. On Pilgrim's Progress, see Cleveland Leader (7 July 1860), 1.

66 On Joseph Smith's murder, see Daily True Democrat (13 July 1849), 2. For Napoleon's funeral, see Daily True Democrat (13 November 1850), 2. Regarding Pilgrims and Revolutionary War personages, see for example Cleveland Morning Leader (27 August 1857), 3. For Lincoln, see Cleveland Leader (1 December 1865), 4.

67 On oil regions, see Cleveland Leader (21 October 1865), 4.

68 On Willard's panorama of the Civil War, see Cleveland Morning Leader (12 March 1862), 2. Tours of other proprietors' canvases are noted in Cleveland Morning Leader (3 February 1863), 3, (14 April 1863), 3, and (9 June 1864), 4.

69 I would like to thank Carl Ubbelohde for sharing his thoughts on this topic.

70 Cleveland Leader (26 July 1861), 3.

71 Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1868), 505, 518, 532 n. 1.

72 Usher Parsons, "Speech of Dr. Usher Parsons at Put-in-Bay Island...," in An Account of the Organization & Proceedings of the Battle of Lake Erie Monument Association, and Celebration of the 45th Anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, at Put-in-Bay Island on September Tenth, 1858 (Sandusky, Ohio: Henry D. Cooke, 1858), unpaginated. Parsons apparently cribbed his account from that of another witness, Samuel R. Brown, Views on Lake Erie (Troy, Mich.: Francis Adancourt, 1814); see Lossing, Pictorial Field Book, 532 n. 2.

73 See Stephen Champlin to Chevalier, 15 February 1860, 27 August 1860, and 29 August 1860, William L. Clements Library of Americana, University of Michigan.

74 The painting, which served as a model for a lithograph of 1875 titled Burial Scene, of the Officers Slain, at Perry's Victory on Lake Erie, Sept. 10th 1813, appeared in the section of the 1878 loan exhibition devoted to Cleveland artists called "Home Art." See Catalogue of the Loan Exhibition 1878, rev. ed. (Cleveland: Leader Printing, 1878), room 7, no. 103.

75 For the Hudson River painters as "the first New York school," see Angela Miller, The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825 - 1875 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1993).

76 Leader (2 April 1862), 3, reported the painting's display upon its recent purchase by Henry F. Clark, one of the newspaper's editors.

77 The painting was left to the WRHS by Rice's heir Walter.

78 J. Gray Sweeney considers Weighhouse (there identified as Lockhouse) in relation to a pictorial type that he calls the harbor view in Great Lakes Marine Painting of the Nineteenth Century, exh. cat. (Muskegon Museum of Art, 1983), 80 - 82. At some point the painting was acquired by Dr. D. H. Beckwith, who, in addition to owning a portrait of himself by Allen Smith, Jr., also had Bull-Fight by P. B. West, an animal painter who lived in the city between 1876 and 1880. Clough offered an unlocated Cuyahoga River, Ohio for sale as no.144 at the Brooklyn Art Association in December 1869.

79 A Photo Album of Ohio's Canal Era, 1825 - 1913, rev. ed. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1992), 59, reproduces a 1859 photograph of the other side of the weighhouse, taken from the same shore on which Clough stood, but slightly downriver. Alfred Boisseau's View of Cleveland (ca. 1853, WRHS) offers a more comprehensive view of the canal and river system, and includes the weighhouse slightly to the right of center.

80 The building itself had changed, however, for two years after fire destroyed the Cleveland House in 1845, another hotel, soon named the Forest City House, replaced it.

81 Record Group 60, box 1, vol. 1:121, WRHS Archives. The painting was eventually given by Charles Strong.

82 Smith still owned the painting, then called The Park, in 1869, at the time of the 1878 loan exhibition; see Catalogue of the Loan Exhibition 1878, room 7, no. 9. The painting did not appear in the first edition of the catalogue. Ranney's ownership is mentioned in Cleveland Plain Dealer (18 April 1943), Art Gravure sec.

83 Robison, History of the City of Cleveland, 475.

84 Smith owned the canvas when he exhibited it at the 1878 loan exhibition; see Catalogue of the Loan Exhibition 1878, room 7, no. 4.

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.

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