Category Archives: Museum object collection

Chauncey Bradley Ives’ Noah Webster

After Chauncey Bradley Ives (1810–1894), Bust of Noah Webster, ca.1840. Plaster cast. (ex) 4766. Gift of Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey.

During the 21st century renovation of Firestone Library, a cast plaster bust of Noah Webster (1758-1843) was relocated from the library tower to the newly constructed special collection vaults. It came with a possible attribution to the 19th-century sculptor John Henri Isaac Browere (1792-1834).

We can now confidently re-attribute the bust to Chauncey Bradley Ives (1810-1894), an American sculptor who worked primarily in the Neo-classic style. Today he is remembered for his portraits of celebrated Americans, both full-length statues and busts, including Noah Webster completed in 1840. Our bust was donated to Princeton by (or in honor of) Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey (died 1961). Mr. and Mrs. Bailey also donated a bronze cast of Ives’ Webster bust to Yale University in 1964, where the University also owns a painted cast plaster version of the bust.


In 1964, a New York Times reporter attended an outdoor auction of the household possessions and furnishings of the late Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey (died 1961). The sale included pieces belonging to Noah Webster, of whom Mrs. Bailey was a direct descendant.–“Picnicking’s Half the Fun at Auction,” New York Times November 14, 1964. This may explain their interest in having Webster’s likeness at the universities.  Mr. Theodore Bailey, Jr. was a member of the Princeton Class of 1926, and he presented a bronze bust of Webster to the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College.

Noah Webster, Jr. (1758-1843), a graduate of Yale, wrote the first American dictionary, entitled A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806) and followed it with An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). Before the age thirty, Webster had already published a three volume study: A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, including a speller (1783), a grammar (1784), and a reader (1785).

The former attribution was not a bad guess. In 1825, John Henri Isaac Browere (1792-1834) began using plaster life masks to create full three-dimensional busts of noted Americans, such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, De Witt Clinton, and Dolley Madison, among others. It was his hope to establish a National Gallery of Notable Americans, but critics were divided on the merits of his technique, dubbing him a mere mechanic and calling his New York studio a “plaster factory.”

At his death, Browere’s collection of plasters was hidden from view until 1897, when McClure’s reporter Charles Henry Hart tracked them down and published “Unknown Life Masks of Great Americans…The Story of Their Production, Concealment from the Public, and Recent Recovery,” —McClure’s Magazine 9 1897. The Chicago Daily Tribune followed this with a front page article “Long Hidden Life Masks of Famous Americans” and the plaster busts were exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair. Later, most of the collection was donated to the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York (formerly the New York State Historical Association). Browere’s work in plaster was not unlike the bust of Webster.

See: Life Masks of Noted Americans of 1825 by John H. I. Browere (Cooperstown, N.Y., The New York State Historical Association [1951?]). Firestone Library NB1293.N49

Need a Project, no. 11? Paper theaters

 

Seven years ago a couple toy theaters were posted online, simply to let the pubic know the Graphic Arts Collection holds a small selection of paper and model theaters, along with sets, costumes, figures, and props. Several are particular stages, such as the Globe Theatre where William Shakespeare’s plays were performed. The rest are 19th century toy theaters produced by such manufacturers as Benjamin Pollock and Skelt & Webb.

Today we are trying to do better, in terms of scholarly research. Above are two examples, one from Princeton and one from a private collection. We have been trying to determine if they are from the same manufacturer, the same period, and/or the same location. Unfortunately, there are only a few reference sources on toy theaters available digitally at this time and we have not been able to identify either theater. Can you?

 

There seems to be agreement that they are both either German or Austrian. Without examining the actual object it is difficult to know if either are made in molded card rather than carved wood, which was cheaper to produce. We also can’t check the back or bottom as we would normally.

Perhaps members of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild are checking online and recognize our two objects? https://www.britishpuppetguild.org.uk/  If you have information or a guess, please let us know at jmellby@princeton.edu

 

 


There is an interesting story online about the paper theater Goethe (1749-1832) gave his son August:

The toys of Goethe’s son August exemplify these two different species. On the one hand, we are told that August played with simple chestnuts which he threaded and hung from his neck, pretending that they were garlands of precious jewels and he a powerful Oriental monarch. On the other, August enjoyed setting up an elaborate toy theater with conventional cardboard figures representing Harlequin, Columbine, Doctor Faustus, and other characters. To these (and here is the act of subversion) August would add a live cat during his performances, “for the sake of realism.” –Artes de México No. 114, Juguete Tradicional II: Vida En Miniatura (Septiembre 2014), pp. 65-80 published by: Margarita de Orellana https://www.jstor.org/stable/24319076

If you are looking for an activity, the Victoria and Albert Museum has instructions in DIY paper theaters here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/m/make-your-own-toy-theatre/

Saint-Gaudens rejected


[Above] Louis Saint-Gaudens (1854-1913), previously attributed to Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), Study for World’s Columbian Exposition Commemorative Presentation Medal, reverse, no date. Inscripcast bronze with hand-painted corrections, presumably by Saint-Gaudens. American Numismatic Society Collection.
[Below] Louis Saint-Gaudens (1854-1913), previously attributed to Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), Study for World’s Columbian Exposition Commemorative Presentation Medal, reverse, 1892-1893. Cast plaster. 1974.63. Harvard Art Museum. Inscription, on recto: “The Columbian Exhibition in commemoration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Landing of Columbus *** to Williams Bradford. On shield: E Pluribus Unum. On verso: PHI”
In 1892, Augustus Saint-Gaudens accepted a commission to design the official award medal for the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. The United States Senate Quadro-Centennial Committee loved the design for the obverse or front, with Columbus taking his first step on the shores of the New World. Unfortunately, the nude male figure Saint-Gaudens called “the Spirit of America” on the reverse was deemed improper and replaced with a design by Charles E. Barber, chief engraver at the United States Mint. The medal was finally awarded to recipients in 1896.

Saint-Gaudens’ brother Louis is thought to have modeled the nude figure, for which the Harvard Art Museums has an 8 inch plaster and the Numismatics Society has a double-sided bronze. Only a few copies of the rejected medal were cast by Parisian medal engraver Ernest Paulin Tasset as a favor to Saint-Gaudens, who gave one to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Princeton’s medal was paged to the reading room this week, to see if ours has a design by Saint-Gaudens or Barber. For better or worse, ours is the official medal, with only one side designed by Saint-Gaudens.

See more: Michael F. Moran, Striking Change (2008).
See more: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/14941


World’s Columbian Exposition Commemorative Presentation Medal 1892–94, cast by 1896. Princeton Numismatics Collection. Note: naked women were not rejected.

See also in Firestone Library: Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907), James McCosh (1811-1894), 1889. Bronze. PP35. Inscribed on front face of base: JAMES MCCOSH DD.LL D / BY / AUGUSTUS ST GAUDENS / WHEN THOU WALKEST THROUGH / THE FIRE THOU SHALT NOT BE / BURNED NEITHER SHALL THE / FLAME KINDLE UPON THEE

Oliver Cromwell


The Laurence Hutton Death Mask collection includes 3 copies of the Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) death mask from the original at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Note only one has a wart over the eyebrow. Hutton wrote about them in Portraits in Plaster, pp. 206-13, quoted here at length.

…Cromwell, according to the Commonwealth Mercury of November 23, 1658, was buried that day at the east end of the chapel of Henry VII., in Westminster Abbey. Dean Stanley accepted this as an established fact, notwithstanding the several reports, long current, that the body was thrown into the Thames, or laid in the field of Naseby, or carried to the vault of the Claypoles in the parish church of Northampton, or stolen during a heavy tempest in the night, or placed in the coffin of Charles I. at Windsor, Mr. Samuel Pepys being responsible for the last wild statement. After the Restoration this same Mr. Pepys saw the disinterred head of Cromwell in the interior of Westminster Hall, although all the other authorities agree in stating that, with the heads of Ireton and Bradshaw, it adorned the outer walls of that building. It may be stated, by the way, that a trustworthy friend of Mr. Pepys, and a fellow-diarist, one John Evelyn witnessed “the superb funeral of the Lord Protector.”

He was carried from Somerset House in a velvet bed-of-state to Westminster Abbey, according to this latter authority; and “it was the joyfullest funeral I ever saw, for there were none that cried but dogs, which the soldiers hooted away with a barbarous noise, drinking and taking tobacco in the streets as they went.” It does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Evelyn, or to other eye-witnesses of the funeral, that this was a mock ceremonial, and that the actual body of the Protector was not in the hearse. Both Horace Smith and Cyrus Redding, early in the present century, saw what they fully believed to be the head of Cromwell. It was then in the possession of “a medical gentleman” in London. “The nostrils,” said Redding, “were filled with a substance like cotton. The brain had been extracted by dividing the scalp. The membranes within were perfect, but dried up, and looked like parchment. The decapitation had evidently been performed after death, as the state of the flesh over the vertebrae of the neck plainly showed.

A correspondent of the London Times, signing himself “Senex,” wrote to that journal, under date December 31, 1874, a full history of this head, in which he explained that at the end of five-and-twenty years it was blown down one stormy night, and picked up by a sentry, whose family sold it to one of the Cambridgeshire Russells, who were the nearest living descendants of the Cromwells. By them it was sold, and it was exhibited at several places in London. “Senex” gave the following account of the recognition of the head by Flaxman, the sculptor: “Well,” said Flaxman, I know a great deal about the configuration of the head of Oliver Cromwell. He had a low, broad forehead, large orbits to his eyes, a high septum to the nose, and high cheekbones; but there is one feature which will be with me a crucial test, and that is that instead of having the lower jawbone somewhat curved, it was particularly short and straight, but set out at an angle, which gave him a jowlish appearance. The head,” continued “Senex,” “exactly answered to the description, and Flaxman went away expressing himself as convinced and delighted.”

Another, and an earlier account, dated 1813, says that “the countenance has been compared by Mr. Flaxman, the statuary, with a plaster cast of Oliver’s face taken after his death [of which there are several in London], and he [Flaxman] declares the features are perfectly similar.” Whether or not the body of the real Cromwell was dug up at the Restoration, and whether his own head, or that of some other unfortunate, was exposed on a spike to the fury of the elements for a quarter of a century on Westminster Hall, are questions which, perhaps, will never be decided. The head which Flaxman saw, as it is to be found engraved in contemporary prints, is not the head the cast of which is now in my possession, although it bears a certain resemblance thereto. Mine is probably “the cast from the face taken [immediately] after his death,” of which, as we have seen, several copies were known to exist in Flaxman’s time. It is, at all events, very like to the Cromwell who has been handed down to posterity by the limners and the statuaries of his own court.

Thomas Carlyle was familiar with it, and believed in it, and he avowedly based upon it his famous picture of the Protector: “Big massive head, of somewhat leonine aspect; wart above the right eyebrow; nose of considerable blunt aquiline proportions; strict yet copious lips, full of all tremulous sensibility, and also, if need were, of all fierceness and rigor; deep, loving eyes, call them grave, call them stern, looking from under those shaggy brows as if in lifelong sorrow, and yet not thinking it sorrow, thinking it only labor and endeavor; on the whole, a right noble lion-face and hero-face; and to me it was royal enough.” The copy of the Cromwell mask in the Library of Harvard College is thus inscribed: “A cast from the original mask taken after death, once owned by Thomas Woolner, Sculptor. It was given by him to Thomas Carlyle, who gave it, in 1873, to Charles Eliot Norton, from whom Harvard College received it in 1881.”

A copy of this mask in plaster is in the office of the National Portrait Gallery, in Great George Street, Westminster; and a wax mask, resembling it strongly, although not identical with it, is to be seen in the British Museum. This latter, which is broken in several places, lacks the familiar wart above the right eyebrow. There is no record of either of these casts in either institution, and the authorities and experts of both have no knowledge as to how and when they found their way to their present resting-places.

Rev. Mark Xoble, in his House of Cromwell, however, said that the representative in London of Ferdinand II., of Tuscany, bribed an attendant of Cromwell to permit him to take in secret “a mask of the Protector in plaster of Paris, which was done only a few moments after his Highness’s dissolution.” “A cast from this mould,” he added, “is now in the Florentine Gallery. It is either of bronze, with a brassy hue, or stained to give it that appearance.” Elsewhere Mr. Noble said, writing in 1737, that “the baronial family of Russell are in possession of a wax mask of Oliver, which is supposed to have been taken off while he was living.” After a careful study of all the Florentine galleries in the winter of 1892-93, 1 failed to find this copy of the Cromwell mask or any record of its ever having existed there, although the Pitti Palace contains an original portrait of Cromwell from life by Sir Peter Lely, which was presented by the Protector to this same Grand Duke Ferdinand II.

see also: https://www.princeton.edu/~graphicarts/2008/10/life_and_death_masks.html

Cuir-ciselé from Berville


P. Berville. Wooden box containing leather working tools, 12 glass bottles with different colors and chemical substances, sealed and with illustrated original paper labels. 4 other glass bottles containing further colors with wooden screw top and with original illustrated paper labels. Brushes, paper and leather samples, four original watercolor designs for cuir-ciselé or diseño de cuero = Leather craft or leather design. Paris, ca. 1900. Dimensions: 420 x 350 x 105 mm.

Maison Berville was established around 1833 and managed by Jules Berville 1834-1869 at 29 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin; Léon Berville 1870-1895, 25 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, and P Berville, 25 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, 1896-1937.

Best known for their painting supplies, the highly esteemed Berville also sold scientific instruments and other technical devices (including camera lucida). This set includes all sorts of materials for working and coloring leather used in book bindings, clothing, and other decorative arts. Samples of paper and design seem to be added by the previous owner. Most of the pigment bottles are still half full of liquid.

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired this box, as part of its collection of portable painting boxes, map printing boxes, writing boxes, and other color sample kits.

Lugt, Les Marques des Collections 3338: “Le choix de la palette par un marchand de fournitures pour artistes peut se comprendre et il nous paraît plausible que le même Berville ait vendu de temps à autre des oeuvres graphiques. Ce Berville ne fut alors pas un collectionneur au sens propre du terme, mais un marchand occasionnel qui aurait adopté pour cette activité la marque décrite ici”.

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Modelage & décoration du cuir preparation pour bourrer le cuir

 

Pigments and other products were manufactured by the Paris-based firm Bourgeois aîné (1867-1965).

 

Hawkeye in Edinburgh

John Syme, John James Audubon, 1826, oil on canvas. White House Historical Association.

Within the first six months of John James Audubon’s arrival in Great Britain, he was immortalized with two portraits: an oil painting by John Syme and a life mask cast under the supervision of George Combe. James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans was taking Europe by storm and Audubon was everyone’s image of an American woodsman.

For the oil painting, he was instructed to wear his wolf-skin coat and later wrote, “if the head is not a strong likeness, perhaps the coat may be. …It is a strange-looking figure, with gun, strap, and buckles, and eyes that to me are more those of an enraged Eagle than mine.”

Still the portrait had lasting effect:Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans, released September 25, 1992.


N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), Last of the Mohicans, 1919. Oil painting reproduced as the endpapers of James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919).

https://library.princeton.edu/libraries/firestone/rbsc/aids/C0770/

November 27, 1826: …at nine was again with Mr. Lizars, who was to accompany me to Mr. Combe’s, and reaching Brower Square we entered the dwelling of Phrenology! Mr. Scot, the president of that society, Mr. D. Stewart, Mr. McNalahan, and many others were there, and also a German named Charles N. Weiss, a great musician. Mr. George Combe immediately asked this gentleman and myself if we had any objection to have our heads looked at by the president, who had not yet arrived. We both signified our willingness, and were seated side by side on a sofa. When the president entered Mr. Combe said: “I have here two gentlemen of talent; will you please tell us in what their natural powers consist?” Mr. Scot came up, bowed, looked at Mr. Weiss, felt his head carefully all over, and pronounced him possessed of musical faculty in a great degree; I then underwent the same process, and he said: “There cannot exist a moment of doubt that this gentleman is a painter, colorist, and compositor, and I would add an amiable, though quick-tempered man.”

Monday, December 18: At five I dined with George Combe, the conversation chiefly phrenology. George Combe is a delightful host, and had gathered a most agreeable company. . . . Mr. Combe has been to see me, and says my poor skull is a greater exemplification of the evidences of the truth of his system than any he has seen, except those of one or two whose great names only are familiar to me; and positively I have been so tormented about the shape of my head that my brains are quite out of sorts. Nor is this all; my eyes will have to be closed for about one hour, my face and hair oiled over, and plaster of Paris poured over my nose (a greased quill in each nostril), and a bust will be made.

Wednesday, December 20: Phrenology was the order of the morning. I was at Brown Square, at the house of George Combe by nine o’clock, and breakfasted most heartily on mutton, ham, and good coffee, after which we walked upstairs to his sanctum sanctorum. A beautiful silver box containing the instruments for measuring the cranium, was now opened … and I was seated fronting the light. Dr. Combe acted as secretary and George Combe, thrusting his fingers under my hair, began searching for miraculous bumps. My skull was measured as minutely and accurately as I measure the bill or legs of a new bird, and all was duly noted by the scribe. Then with most exquisite touch each protuberance was found as numbered by phrenologists, and also put down according to the respective size. I was astounded when they both gave me the results of their labors in writing, and agreed in saying I was a strong and constant lover, an affectionate father, had great veneration for talent, would have made a brave general, that music did not equal painting in my estimation, that I was generous, quick-tempered, forgiving, and much else which I know to be true, though how they discovered these facts is quite a puzzle to me.

January 14, 1826: After receiving many callers I went to Mr. O’Neill’s to have a cast taken of my head. My coat and neckcloth were taken off, my shirt collar turned down, I was told to close my eyes; Mr. O’Neill took a large brush and oiled my whole face, the almost liquid plaster of Paris was poured over it, as I sat uprightly till the whole was covered; my nostrils only were exempt. In a few moments the plaster had acquired the needful consistency, when it was taken off by pulling it down gently. The whole operation lasted hardly five minutes; the only inconvenience felt was the weight of the material pulling downward over my sinews and flesh. On my return from the Antiquarian Society that evening, I found my face on the table, an excellent cast.–https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Audubon_and_His_Journals/The_European_Journals

James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), Last of the Mohicans (Philadelphia: H.C. Carey & I. Lea, [February 1826]).
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), Last of the Mohicans (London: John Miller, [March] 1826).
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), Last of the Mohicans (Paris: L. Baudry, [April] 1826).

Stony Island Arts Bank

“How do we start to imagine ourselves as deeper caretakers of the things that exist in the world?” —Theaster Gates
In 2012 Gates purchased the Stony Island Trust & Savings Bank for one dollar. Today, “the Stony Island Arts Bank is a hybrid gallery, media archive, library and community center … built in 1923, the bank … had closed and the building remained vacant and deteriorating for decades. Reopened in October 2015, the radically restored building serves as a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, reimagine and share their heritage.” —https://rebuild-foundation.org/site/stony-island-arts-bank/

Forget about the $30 million sale of the Johnson Publishing’s historic Ebony and Jet magazine photo archive, the Johnson Publishing Archive + Collections was donated, free of charge, to the Arts Bank collection.

“The archive features more than 15,000 items including books, periodicals, ephemera, paintings, and sculpture, along with original furnishings and interior design elements custom-designed for JPC’s downtown Chicago offices by Arthur Elrod.”

The library, including complete runs of Jet and Ebony along with African history, American literature, and more, is open to all researchers.

Other collections include the University of Chicago glass magic lantern slides, over 60,000 slides of art and architectural history from the Paleolithic to Modern eras.

“In 2009, the Visual Resources Center’s historic collection of lantern slides at the University of Chicago was digitized and donated to artist Theaster Gates. Since then, a public digital collection has been made available online, the physical slides have been a part of several artist projects, and now the collection is permanently housed in the new Stony Island Arts Bank, a cultural venue for the community on the South Side of Chicago.” https://online.vraweb.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1069&context=vrab

They also quietly house the Edward J. Williams Collection: 4,000 objects of “negrobilia” – mass cultural objects and artifacts that feature stereotypical images of black people. https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-arts-bank-stony-island-ent-0705-20170628-column.html, and Frankie Knuckles Records: “Godfather of House Music,” Frankie Knuckles’ vinyl collection. “Frankie Knuckles, a club disc jockey, remixer and producer who was often called the “godfather of house” for helping that percussive genre of dance music spread from Chicago nightclubs to global popularity and influence, died on Monday at his home in Chicago. He was 59.”–https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/arts/music/frankie-knuckles-59-pioneer-house-dj-dies.html?ref=obituaries

The Stony Island Arts Bank is several blocks south of the site of the Chicago Columbian Exposition and the upcoming Barack Obama Presidential Center https://www.obama.org/the-center/. The New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA), who designed Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, will design President Barack Obama’s presidential library.

This October 2019 Gates brings his Black Artist Retreat, an annual event in Chicago, to New York for a two-day event including roller skating, music and performances.–http://www.armoryonpark.org/programs_events/detail/black_artists_retreat

see more: The HistoryMakers video oral history with Theaster Gates https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/10394330

The Faculty of the Early Sixties

111 years ago, the June 6 Daily Princetonian Extra reported that a bronze plaque was commissioned by Princeton University students in honor of the 12 men who had been their professors:

Among the events of especial interest during Commencement week, two ceremonies took place today which marked an addition to the memorials of Princeton classes. At twelve o’clock the Class of ’63, which celebrates its forty-fifth anniversary this year, unveiled in Marquand Chapel a bronze tablet inscribed “To the Faculty of the Early Sixties.” This event was followed at 2 p. m. by the breaking of ground for the new ’77 Dormitory. The Class of ’77 will give the dormitory at a total cost of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and the exercises to-day marked the commencement of what will be one of the most costly buildings of its kind on the campus.


The Faculty of the Early Sixties. John Maclean (President and Chemistry, portrait at the top); Joseph Henry (Natural Philosophy); Stephen Alexander (Astronomy); Matthew B. Hope (Belles-Lettres); James C. Moffat (Greek and History); Lyman H. Atwater (Philosophy); Arnold Guyot (Geology); George Musgrave Giger (Latin); John T. Duffield (Mathematics); J. Stillwell Schanck (Zoology); Joshua H. McIlvaine (English Language and Literature); Henry C. Cameron (Greek). In grateful remembrance of the characters, the lives, and the teaching of those whose names are hereon inscribed this tablet is erected by their former students surviving members of the class of 1865 -June 6, 1908.

 

Marquand Chapel was destroyed by fire during house party weekend in 1920 and for several years, worship services were held in Alexander Hall. The bronze tablet hung in various other locations until now, when it has been permanently sited in Firestone’s new Emeritus Faculty Reading Room.


In 2016 eighteen faculty members were transferred to emeritus; in 2017 nineteen faculty became emeritus; in 2018 fifteen transferred to emeritus… It’s surprising the room is still empty.

Happy Birthday Walt Whitman

“When Whitman finally died, among those first notified by his secretary-friend Traubel, was Eakins himself. He and a former student, [Samuel] Murray, came a final time to 328 Mickle Street. They’d arrived equipped to make Walt’s plaster death mask. Afterwards, the loyal secretary-disciple surveyed the old man’s body. He noted how, though the snowy drift of beard had been caked and disarrayed by Eakins’ work, there was no more damage than a slight reddening at the bridge of Walt’s nose. Such care had Tom taken. Whitman had requested that his young painter-friend be pallbearer at the funeral attended by thousands.”—Allan Gurganus, “The Lessons of Likeness.” This lecture was originally delivered on March 8, 2008, as part of the “American Pictures” program sponsored by Washington College, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Samuel Aloysius Murray (1870-1941) assisted by Thomas Cowperthwaite Eakins (1844-1916), Walt Whitman death mask, May 31, 1819. Plaster. Laurence Hutton Collection

Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

1

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this
air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

2

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded
with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation,
it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and
naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.


The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and
vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the pass-
ing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and
dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies
of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs
wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields
and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from
bed and meeting the sun.

Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d
the earth much?
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin
of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions
of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in
books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

The return of the White Sun

After many long years renovating and reconfiguring Firestone Library, Isamu Noguchi’s White Sun has returned to the Firestone front lobby. Created in 1966 and installed in 1970, Noguchi’s beautiful work is part of Princeton’s Putnam Collection of Sculpture, under the campus art collections managed by Lisa Arcomano. https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/campus-art

The Putnam Collection of Sculpture is a memorial to John B. Putnam, Jr. ’45, Lieutenant U.S.A., who was killed in World War II. It consists of the works of twenty major twentieth-century sculptors purchased in 1969 and 1970 through a fund given by an anonymous donor.

These sculptures were selected by a committee of alumni who were directors or former directors of art museums: Alfred H. Barr, Jr. ’21 (Museum of Modern Art), Thomas P. F. Hoving ’53 (Metropolitan Museum of Art), P. Joseph Kelleher Ph.D. ’47 (The Art Museum, Princeton University), William M. Milliken ’11 (Cleveland Museum of Art).

John B. Putnam, Jr. ’45, who came to Princeton from Cleveland, Ohio, left college at the end of his sophomore year to enlist in the Army Air Corps. He made a brilliant record as a squadron flight leader with the Eighth Fighter Command in England, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters. He was killed in a crash in England shortly after D Day in 1944.
http://www.princeton.edu/Mapfiles/sculpture/whitesun.html

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