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Corsair 1839

Mar 16 1839, p. 9, “The Pencil” no gd pict shd be ptd in NY whose merits not here discerningly recorded, no artist advance or fall without being cheered or reminded, a true calendar of state of arts, criticize fairly and truly every work of the engraver, ptr, draughtsman and sculptor.  We will do this as much as we can.  No genl standard of crit in fine arts, no possibility of one that will regulate the taste of any two persons.  no means of definig connoisseurship. Lit shd cherish the fine arts, not be severe, inspire boldness and power


April 13, 1839 p. 74 “The Pencil”

Doughty, the Painter: residents on Hudson to be congratulated that the poet of ptrs has taken up residence, sweet pencil beaut river, those who have built country seats with favorable points for scenery and wish their taste justified and commemorated by one of the first ptrs in the world, would do well to give him a commission to put their residences in his foregrds, distinction is desirable for one’s improvements upon nature. 

            Young Powell v remarkable port Dr Alban Smith

            Wish Queen V was half so beaut as in Mr Stout’s statue, still a look in it like her, as near a likeness as is impt in a classic statue, of rather a plain tho v winning face. only in the face that any artist cld do more than justice to her, for if fashion for likenesses to be taken a la Pauline Bonaparte, we shd fancy that she would stand too on the throne as the Queen of beauty. Her fig tho not fully devd promised eminently beaut and hands and feet indicate exquis symmetry of frame.  She stands much better than his statue, mouse like feet wld have rm to play hide and seek in the shoes he has given her, but drapery shoulders bust and head all beaut. (later notes its destruction, perhaps sarcastically that $3000 is a low estimate of its value)


May 4 1839 “Pencil Notes on a First Visit to the Gallery”

Very well, indeed Mr Inman! Bishop Croswell to the life and a gd pict.  Gambadella, gd face, flesh as warm as my hand, 206 a woman capital piece of coloring, captivating, bright, one defect, fair creature’s right arm Siamesed to her left hand.

            195 Spirit energy maintien personified, Page a ptr after my own heart, theme fit for Titian, manner most masterly, face air attitude drapery all in keeping all of a tone of color fresh clear genius. shd like to own.

            if underlip not a little nearer to a cherry than poetry allows, lady in The Token by Rossiter might make one believe Stuart Newton was still alive and ptg, pleased ot have done.

            Boys trapping is a gem that will be remembered, Mr Mount! Alexander’s picture of his wife done lovingly and well.

            Portia 238 Gambadella fair dame, fairly tinted, holding ice in her mouth.

            dislikes Gov Mason having his flannel shirt in the port, gentlemanly looking men in real life, here a butcher stripp’d for slaughter, don’t be done by A Smith.

            No 11 has superfluous length of left leg, large wen on calif, a foot to spare.

            Hite’s miniature is Mine Host to the life, his mini of a gman also one of most free and clear pieces.  Miss Hall hasn’t sent her best, yet beaut, would walk far to see hers, she shd be industrious and paint none that are not fair and fitting subjects

            10 by Catherwood and 63 96 103 by Selous, a London artist, are 4 lscapes worth buying, not often avail.

            Powell’s port of Alban Smith shd be kept by the artist, v gd.

            Col Stone looks pleased at sitting down on something warm, an animal extacy in upturned roll of the eyes, as if looking round to thank some fat old lady for having taken off the chill fr his chair.  Is it so, Col, or is there a litter of puppies under you?  I will never believe Page ptd that pict.

            Thanks, Doughty, for another leaf out of Paradise. Returning fr Schl your best work hitherto.  How complete is that boy’s attn to his bk in Portraits of Brothers by Freeman.  Frothingham’s Naval Officer is capital, looks a norwester to be sure

            for port of lady one loves, Ingham’s miniature finish is delightful, one longs to get near to it. Cut off 180’s head, set in round frame, more adorable image of delicacy of skin and beauty of contour, spoiled by the bust.

            gman in the scarlet cravat either cut his throat or designs to, shd be some meaning in such a monstrosity.

            friend Reynolds shd have worn his black wig not his red when he sat for his pict, a handsomer man too, Shegogue somewhat wrongs him.


May 18, 1839 p. 152 “The Gallery”

Asks dear Doctor with his catalogue in hand to come sit and discourse in cataractical fashion the disappointments every man of taste and experience must feel among these faint shadowings and lame haltings after beauty.  Doctor seems to be deaf too.

            neither in portraits called flattered, of fair dames, nor in pictures fr fancy, seen beauty comparable to living ones, never mind the beau ideal yearned after in reverie.  Even Titian or Giorgione or Veronese are outdone by some 20 live women, twenty times more beaut, like the three Sheridans, Mrs Norton and her sisters, or some in Philadelphia angelic.  If alien came, blush to tell these were the types of Earth’s women.  Response is that these are portraits of everyday people, not fancy pictures, how can the artist make them more beaut than nature?

            most of the portraits are complimentary, sat for at the artist’s request to stand in his studio as specimens of skill, has chosen a face thru which he could show his aspiration after the beaut.  We do see in marble forms that realize our utmost dream, in old sculpture, but not the old masters, nor in this whole Gallery.

            misfortune of poor ptrs to marry for means not according to their genius, and in beauty killing care and fret and householdry of wives, merge all enthusiasm for the sex in general.

            Page shd give us his loftiest conception of beauty next year.  Alexander, did artistlike skilful pict of his wife, shd give the face with which he and I traveled to Venice.  Huntington’s 56 shows he might paint a woman if he would, and Rossiter in his Love Token has proved a grt deal but not enuf, and not least Inman if he chose might compose a face that came to even your exacting and difficult ideal.  Sully might give a memorable Venus too for he comprehends beauty, tho his pict of Mrs Wood is indeed wooden.

            any strikes your eye, doctor? Weir’s Indian Captives, cut in two, savage and his prisoner separately each a perfect and beaut poem, but staggering anachronims in rest can’t get over.  Shd have consulted the history prof at West point for his proprieties of time, but how beautifully ptd that fault aside!

            on the whole, rather the worst exhib I ever saw,s cores of abominable daubs on upper tiers, hideous subjects, hideously done


June 1 1839 hi praise for Allston exhib; sad re Leggett


Jul 6 1839 p. 270 “Fine Arts” reprints comments on exhib of RA as they apply to those here, esp closing observations on port ptg.

            RA justly accused of monotony, all portraits. every artist who fails elsewhere becomes a port ptr, due to ignorance and vanity of the public.  historical and fancy compos sell only to connoisseurs, who recognize lack of talent, but the artist who descends to existing and real will make cheaply vulgar facsimiles of vulgar features and will find a Huggins or Bugguns to employ him.

            portraitist must have mind cultivated in perception of worldly and conventional distinctions, conversant with manners, aspect and demeanor of most elegant society, want of this gives multitude of portraits that do not resemble either a lady or a gman.  Incapable observers, lacking tact refinement perception developed by communion with world mean can’t fix on canvass the subtle spirit or air of refinement and grace.  reason why ports deficient in individuality, in ease of attitude, gentleness of expression, ladylike repose and self-possession.  Instead formal histrionic, hot and fussy, or unnaturally pallid languishing and insipid, not the fault of subjects, need to be endowed with embellishments as Reynolds did, elevate most plebeian countenances into objects of admiration


July 6 1839 comments about RA in London could be applied here, esp closing observ on port ptg, too many, but real problem is aren’t given repose, self posession, gentleness of expression, quality of a gentlewoman, port ptr must have cultiv perception of worldy nd conventional distinctions, be thoroughly conversant with manners aspect and demeanor of most eleg society, that’s what most of them want, even with artitical merit don’t bear resemblance to either a lady or a gman


Oct 26, 1839 p. 518, The Victim of Style”

became a correspondent for a newspaper, tried to study composition and prose of eminent authors.  wrote a ludicrous acct of courtship of an old bachelor in our village, great amusement, but paid dearly, disclosed he’d written it, and after that shunned by all.  excluded fr annual ball, would publish the bad dancers.  Neighbors assumed that pieces in the paper were written by him and were about them, no matter what the article was, as he could be known by his style, all at once became firm believers in style, even the men of sense

            puffs Audubon’s splendid pics


Nov 9 1839 556 puffs Alexandre collection.

Dec 28 1839 excerpts Yellow Plush

runs a series of Thackeray’s criticisms Dec 28, 1839, Jan 18 1840, on French art at the Luxembourg, etc; dislikes neo-classicism esp history ptg, mocks Scott and the gothic, classical and Christian humbug, likes lscape by Poussin.  Paris a paradise for painters and penny a liners.  dislikes sham sublime, but likes some of the romantics, thinks Vernet is clever.  Favors anti-historicism, if not some sort of realism


Corsair Feb 29, 1840 p. 811 “Bal Costume”

truly happy congratulate fashionable world brilliant result grand Fancy Ball Mr and Mrs Brevoort in Ninth St, another link in the grt chain that bind us to the higher circles of Europe, and deserves honourable mention in every journal.  boasts another advantage, for which the good tradesmen of NY shd be thankful, as we are sure, upon a moderate calculation, that at least 50,000 dollars have fd a trans fr the purses of the rich to the pockets of those who in these dull times stand in need.  Streams of the softest light poured through the purest exotics sent forth their sweetest exhahalations sounds harmonious and bewitching, reason yielding to the senses became captive to the fairy spell. nearly 400 guests in full costume, taste fashion elegance and classical beauty gay and brilliant throng