Accomplished in all departments of art--Hammatt Billings of by James F. O'Gorman

By James F. O'Gorman

Expert in a variety of media, 19th-century artist Hammatt Billings (1818-1874) designed furnishings, statuary, monuments, structure, and private and non-private gardens. He was once a painter and portraitist and an illustrator whose drawings seemed in UNCLE TOM'S CABIN and LITTLE ladies. This publication reconstructs Billings's lifestyles and paintings. a hundred and one illustrations.

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In a democracy, even in Brahmin Boston, the architect and his patrons may buy their shirts at the same haberdashery. Although Billings had not, as had many of his patrons, attended Harvard College, it was these and other contacts through the network of Boston Brahmins who were to supply him with much of his patronage. Billings descended from an old New England ancestry, but he was also a member of an economic class that could not afford to send him to Harvard. It must have been his intelligence, his talent, and probably, his personality that attracted many of the Boston patricians to him.

Haydon, Friedrich Overbeck, "Grandville" (Jean Ignace Isidore Gerard), Edward H. Wehnert, Fred M. Coffin, Gustave Doré, J. M. W Turner, John Ruskin, Birket Foster, F. O. C. Darley, John Gilbert, and others (see appendix A). Somewhere he came across the work of William Blake. For his depiction of Noche Triste, the frontispiece to S. G. Goodrich's Pictorial History of America of 1849, he turned to the sublime style of John Martin. For the illustrations to P. J. Bailey's Festus (1853) and other works, he studied Thomas Cole (see fig.

Page 21 2 "Unrivalled Skill in This Branch of Art" Book Illustration The tendency has been to think of worthy American book illustration as restricted to a "golden age" at the end of the nineteenth century, including the work of N. C. Wyeth, Edwin Austin Abbey, and Howard Pyle, or among those students and collectors who have penetrated that barrier, to the art of the previous generation, represented by artists such as Thomas Nast, Winslow Homer, and Harry Fenn. There was, however, still an earlier generation of native draftsmen who, however they have been ignored or condescendingly treated in the literature, laid the foundation of this popular art in the United States.

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