Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gibby’s talent for music and his friend Ben

Benjamin Waterhouse by Gilbert Stuart 1775

IN the last entry Gibby was described as being better known in his youth as a superbly talented organist. He also composed music. A very close friend of his early days, Benjamin Waterhouse, later physician and professor at Harvard Medical School, described a get-together: “he attempted to enrapture me, by a newly studied classical composition. I exerted all the kind attention I could muster up for the occasion, until his sharp eye detected by my physiognomy, that I did not much relish it. He coloured, sprang up in a rage, and striding back and forth the floor, vociferated, ‘you have no more taste for music than a jack-ass! and it is all owing to your stupid quaker education.’ To which I replied, ‘tis very likely, Gibby, and that education has led me to relish silence more than all the passionate noise uttered from instrumental or vocal organs.’ Stuart’s reply to this, with a laugh, was, ‘a good hit, Ben!—but really I wish you had more taste for music.’ ‘I wish so too, Stuart,’ said his friend,’but I am determined not to admire more in a picture than what I acutally see within its frame; nor affect raptures for music I do not feel.’ "

Waterhouse left for England early 1775 to study medicine. The revolutionary war negatively impacting the business of portraiture, Stuart left himself for London, where he arrived with few funds in November of the same year. Waterhouse had already gone to Edinburgh to further his studies thus was not in a position to help out. Stuart took cheap lodgings, and found a position as church organist.

Dr. Waterhouse observed that “Stuart’s acknowledged advancement in the theory and practice of music was a fresh evidence of his vigorous intellect and various talents, which constitutes genius. He certainly had that peculiar structure of the brain or mind which gives an aptitude to excel in every thing to which he chose to direct his strong faculties.” p 168-170 History of the Rise and Progress of The Arts of Design in the United States (listed on the right.)

Dr. Waterhouse is also well known for being the first doctor to test the smallpox vaccine in the United States.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stuart's earliest known painting (age 14); and lil' ms Daisy joins my household

Stuart's earliest known painting; two spaniels belonging to Dr. William Hunter

The Hunter Dogs ca. 1769

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Newport, R.I.

The following, below, is quoted from Gilbert Stuart by Barratt and Miles (see info on right) p 13

“Stuart learned to sketch faces and caricatures from an African slave, Neptune Thurston, and had in common with his best friend, Benjamin Waterhouse, a talent for drawing. He was better known in his youth as a superbly talented organist, the prize pupil of Trinity Church organist John Knoechel. Indeed, whenever and wherever in need, Stuart would seek employment at a local church before he would solicit commissions for portraits.
Stuart’s earliest known painting dates from about 1769 and portrays two spaniels belonging to Dr. William Hunter, nestling under a Townsend-Goddard side table. That year, Hunter had two painters in his employ; the 13-year-old Stuart and the recently arrived Aberdeen artist Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772)....”

AND...quoted from The Life and Works of Gilbert Stuart by George Mason p4
“No portfolio of Stuart’s early drawings has been preserved, for he had no portfolio. No record has been made of his early efforts—no record could be made,--for the first brush of a sleeve, the first passing shower, effaced what he had sketched with chalk or charcoal, on a fence, a slab, or a tail-board.” & p 5 “The earliest product of his pencil, so far as is known, is a picture owned by Thomas R. Hunter, Esq., of Newport, R.I., a couple of Spanish dogs. The following is the history of the picture, which has been carefully preserved;Dr. William Hunter, who came to America in 1752, had attained to a high position in his profession, and practiced medicine over a wide circuit of the country, having Newport for its centre. During a professional visit at the house of Gilbert Stuart, he asked Mrs. Stuart who made all the drawings in chalk and charcoal on the sides of the barn. She replied by pointing to her son, with whom the Doctor at once entered into conversation. Before leaving, the Doctor made the lad promise (the boy’s mother having given her consent) that he would come to Newport on election day and make him a visit. The boy was true to his engagement, and the Doctor, interested in the young sketcher, gave him brushes and colors, and bade him paint a picture of the two dogs that were lying on the floor under a table. Stuart at once entered upon the work, and while engaged in painting the picture, remained a guest in the house of Dr. Hunter."

Below is lil ms Daisy, she joined my household about 3 weeks ago. Lots of work! But as cute as the spaniels...!

I'm going to enter Daisy into the next Westminster Kennel Club dog show!

(competeing as a "Cheagle" ~a Beagle and a Chihuahua~:)

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