Elihu Vedder.

The digressions of V. online

. (page 27 of 29)
Online LibraryElihu VedderThe digressions of V. → online text (page 27 of 29)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

N. B. The reader who has followed me thus far will begin
to think that I painted a sorceress occasionally. The fact is
I did paint a good many sorceresses, but I varied them, and
what would you have? "young ravens must have food."

To Pierpont Morgan:
Greek girls, bathing.

To Mrs. W. A. Tappan:
Two small sketches.

To Lady Ashburton:
A Spring Dawn.
Roman Girl (head).

To Joseph N. Fiske:
The Golden Net.

N. B. On account of the flies in Perugia, we set all the
girls in the house to making fly-nets, and I made and carved
a sort of easel to hold the nets in the making, a pretty
object which I introduced in this picture.

To :

Drawing of the Cumaean Sibyl.

This was a monochrome in brown oil-colour. I wish it
had been better, but she wanted it. Of course I greatly im-
proved things in the picture I painted afterwards.

1877 To Miss C. J. Wilby:

Girl and Sea-Gull (sketch).


1877 To Mrs. T. Shillaber, San Francisco:
Hide and Seek.

Two small panels.
Water Nymphs.

To Thomas Shillaber:
The Phorcydes.

To P. V. Rogers, Utica, N. Y.:
Girl with Poppies.

1878 To E. B. Haskell, Auburndale:
Small Venetian Picnic.

To Mrs. L. G. Woodhouse:
Fisherman and Mermaid.

To Mrs. E. L. Andrew:
Small Picnic Party.

N. B. The fact is, there was a good deal of picnicking in
the Rome of those days and I fell into the habit of painting

To W. H. Herriman:
Young Marsyas (small).

To Samuel L. Clemens:
Head of Medusa.

1879 To Mrs. F. W. Tracy, Buffalo:
Small Picnic (at it yet).

To Mrs. Davis Johnson, Staten Island:
Venetian Model (small).

To F. W. Tracy:
Young Marsyas large.


1879 To Miss Jennie McGraw:
The Dying Sea-Gull and its Mate.

To J, C. Hooker, Rome:
Blossoms and Moth.


To Scribner's Magazine:
Drawing of Marsyas.

N. B. I long ago determined that I would not give my work
for publication on the "going to do you so much good"
principle, so always have charged something. Where it
is not given for some charity, "the labourer is worthy of his

1880 To Mrs. P. F. Rogers, Utica:
An Old Saint (head small).

To Mr. Moore:
Sea Princess (sold by Williams and Everett).

To Mrs. L. W. Johnson:
Medusa in Hades (drawing).

To Mrs. Sylvanus Reed:
Young Medusa (head).

To Mrs. A. B. Stone:
Venice small.



1880 Exhibition in Boston, at Williams and Everett's.

I have told all about this sale elsewhere. It must be men-
tioned that fifteen per cent was deducted, and admission

To J. G. Blake:
In Memoriam.

To Rev. H. P. Allen:
Star of Bethlehem.

To T. G. Appleton:
Head of Eugenia.

To E. Rollins Morse:
Going to the Well.
Monte Cologniola.

To William G. Russell:
Old Man and Donkey.


1880 To H. L. Higginson:

Pride of the Corso (a solitary goose in a deserted street).

To W. S. Houghton:

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"; a dead mouse

among old books.
Street Scene Donkey.

To George P. King:
Gateway, Monte Cologniola.

To A. Hemenivay:
Spinning under the Olives.

To H. L. Higginson:
A Sunny Wall.

To C. J. Merrill:
Rainy Day.

To George P. King:
Ivy Tower.

To A. Hemenzuay:
Young Saint (head).

To Mrs. M. H. Sanford:
Rainy Day, Orte.

To E. Rollins Morse:
Gateway, Monte Cologniola.

To John H. Sturgis:
Twilight, Magione.

To Miss Howes:
Sunset, Lake Trasimeno.


1880 To Richard Sullivan:


To N. T. Hamblen:
Fleurs de Lis.

To Miss Alice Williams:
Old Church, Velletri.

To Joseph Burnett:
Street Scene, Olevano.

To Dr. Haven:

To Miss Bangs:
The Incantation.

To George P. King:
Waves at Palo.

To George B. Blake:
Lonely Coast at Palo.

To Mrs. George H. Shaw:
Fishing-boat at Palo.

To Mrs. W. C. Cabot:

To Charles Fairchild:
The Questioner of the Sphinx.

To Jesse Abbott:
Old Castle at Palo.

(N. B. Palo, a small bathing-place near Rome.)

To I. C. Bates:
Figure with Jug.


1880 To F. J. Dutcher:
Poetess (sketch).

To David Merriman:
Moonlight under the Olives.

To Mr. Durand, Wellesley College:
Cumsean Sibyl.

List of pictures in sale ends here thirty-six pictures in all.


1881 To Junius G. Morgan:
Roman Model, posing.

To Miss C. A. Brewer, Boston:
Tivoli (small sketch).

To L. Prang, Boston:
Fortune (Christmas card prize $1000)
New Year's Card(?).

To Century Co., New York:
Five magazine covers.

(N. B. One was never used.)

To Mrs. Agnes E. Tracy:
Iris Flowers (Japanese vase).

(This year sold a block of land in Brooklyn, L. I.)


1882 Modelled fire-back, Sun-God (cast-iron).
Modelled fire-back, Japanese Dragon.


1882 To M. H. Mallory:

Modelled Tile, Esmeralda (Annie Russell).

To Williams and Everett:
Pansies and Spirea (Japanese vase).

To Louis Tiffany:
Drawing (interior apartment?).

To Century Co.:
Drawing head- and tail-pieces trifles.

To A. H. Barney:
Mermaid ordered from Tiffany, stained-glass window.

To Harper and Brothers:
Cover for Christmas number for Harper's Magazine (Tile

Club Supplement).
Head of Samson (drawings).

To Louis Prang:
Aladdin's Lamp.
Christmas card.

To Mrs. Agnes E. Tracy:
Ideal Head.

To E. B. Haskell, Boston:
Seated figure.

I find royalties small sums were coming in from fire-
backs. At this time I got out patents for various things,
costing me a pretty penny, but I would tamper with
them. At present patents are not mentioned in the family

To R. M. Pulsifer, Boston:
Ideal Head.


1882 To Louis Tiffany:
Drawing (stained glass).


1883 To H. A. Priest, Auburndale:
Children (Bordighera).

To T. W. Hathaway:
Japanese still life.

To Tiffany:
Cartoons for windows.

To Robinson F. Horton, Boston:
Ideal Head (charcoal).

To Harper and Brothers:
Title-page to Poe's "Raven."

"A rolling stone gathers no moss" at least it did not
on this trip.


1884 To John G. Moore:

Drawings from Omar, illustrating verses 24-26.

H. M. and Co.'s first payment on account of Omar Khay-
yam received. This was a bad year, great variations in the
financial barometer. Omar Khayyam to the rescue. After
this, up to the present moment, 1909, O. K. has extended the
helping hand at stated intervals. I am only keeping account
of things sold; as for things done, they would fill a volume.

1885 This year the receipts were from H. M. and Co. on account
of O. K. Something in royalties on patents, never amounting
all told to enough to make up for the money spent in getting
them out.


1885 To General C. A. Whittier:
The Pleiades.

To Queen Margherita d* Italia:
One edition de luxe of O. K.

Afterwards I had, together with wife and daughter, a most
delightful private audience with the Queen, in which she told
me never to have an exhibition of my works previous to send-
ing them to America, without letting her know. She was
kind and gracious, but as usual with me I have never taken
advantage of such opportunities. I might have become a
Cavalliere think of that!

To C asset and Co.:
Drawing for the "Ballade of Dead Actors."

Might have painted three pictures in the time spent fussing
over this drawing (for which I received $105). This year,
with the sale of but one picture and one drawing, marked
low-water in a financial way. Of course I was painting on
things all the while, which afterwards turned to account.
But as I have said, this is only an account of things sold; as
for money, it was dribbling in from various sources; it never
"gooshed in," as the Scotch engineer said of a leak.

1886 This year the usual sales of books and photographs went
on, and moneys from H. M. and Co. on account of the 0. K.
came in; so such things need not be mentioned again.

To Mrs. L. G. Collins, New York:
Sorceress (small).

To Miss Mixter, Boston:
Ideal Head Dawn.

To Mrs. S. V. R. Watson:
Ideal Portrait.

This was of her daughter and was to be a portrait to those
who knew her, and a pretty picture for those who did not,


1886 and so it turned out. One person coming in, thinking it to
be only a picture, said shrewdly, "Ah; you must have been
seeing Gertrude Watson lately." I answered, "Yes; she
was sitting to me this morning. "

To Dr. T. W. Parsons:
Ideal Head (red background).

To Mrs. M. H. Simpson:
The Pleiades (pastel).
Ideal Head (?)

To Count Ludolf, Austrian ambassador:
One Rubaiyat.

To J. B. Lippincott, publishers:
Use of "Delilah" (drawing).

1887 To H. M. and Co.:

Publishers' Colophon.

To Mrs. Agnes E. Tracy:
Cup of Love.
Tito (drawing).
Delilah (small).

To Colonel J. G. Moore, New York:
Samson and Delilah (heads).

To H. M. Whitney, Brookline, Mass.:
The Fates.
Gathering in the Stars.

To Mrs. W. G. Webb, Salem, Mass.:
The Soul between Doubt and Faith.


1887 To Mrs. J. S. Cabot, Boston:

Pier-head, Viareggio.

To General C. A. Whittier, Boston:
Young Victor.

To Miss Lily Bangs, Boston:
Under the Olives.

To Miss E. Howes, Boston:
Breaking Waves.

To Har court Amory, Boston:
Salt Marshes (small).

To Samuel Longfellow, Cambridge, Mass.:
Dreaming Clouds.

What could have happened this year? Boston certainly
did itself credit, far be it from me ever to complain of
Boston. The financial barometer fairly soared.


1888 Three eights in a line. "Miching Mallecho, this means
mischief." In this case it meant money, and 1888 seems to
have caught the beneficent microbe from 1887.

To J. Randolph Coolidge:
Fisherman and Mermaid.

To Blanche B. Hag gin:
The Cup of Death (drawing).

To Harper's Magazine:
Use of Faith, Doubt, Sorrow.


1888 The number thirteen is not an unlucky number in my case,
and I have a great respect for eight. On this day my ever
good friend, Mrs. Agnes E. Tracy, bought the drawings of the
Rubaiyat, thus insuring their being kept together. Otherwise
I should have sold them at auction. I counted them in at the
end of this list as separate work drawings

1889 Now follow two lean years, but they fattened up won-
derfully afterwards, and indeed became quite frisky at times.

To Mrs. Marshall Field, Chicago:
Ideal Head.

To J. R. Coolidge, Boston:
Ideal Head(?).

(You see what ideality brings you to. Now had I but
painted cabbages, splendidly, understood, the tintype,
as they used to say, would have been different.)


This year was very infirm owing to the presence of
Ideality, but old "truepenny" thirteen, "bobs up serenely"
and so does Boston again.

To Mrs. S. D. Warren, Boston:
Head of Tito.

To I. B. Wheeler:
Ideal Head Morning.

1891 The year recovers its financial health; but please remember
that whatever I may be in other respects, financially I and
my aspirations are extremely modest. Note that 31 is the
reverse of 13.

To Mrs. A. E. Rondebush (formerly Mrs. Tracy} :
The Soul in Bondage

(This was what I call an important picture.)


1891 Santa Cecilia.

The first one only is counted in things that are mechanically
repeated. That is, only mentioned once in list.

To Mrs. G. L. Bagnellj Paris, France:
The Last Man.

Another " important " picture, being a carrying-out in paint-
ing of that subject in the 0. K. The sale of these two pictures
made of the year a fat one, but, dear me! compared with
the years some people have, you might call it an anatomical
preparation. You mean your earnings this year might be
considered modest? I do very. But to continue:

To Mrs. F. Scorer, England:
Poppies and Cypresses.

Copy of sketch made in the Villa Strohl Fern, where I
made the drawings for the O. K.

To Thomas K. Lothrop:
Sketch on the Nile (small).

To Miss Elizabeth F. Gregory:
Sorrow, Doubt, Faith (a small replica of that subject).

1892 This year was kept fairly distended by sales, and the
receipts of payments on pictures previously sold.

To Daniel Merriman, Mass.:
Heart of the Rose.
Cypresses and Poppies.

To Miss M. E. Garrett, Baltimore:
Bronze bas-relief.

This thing was a fire-back. I imagined, as it was filled with
a mass of heads looking out of it, that, lighted by the flames
or the flickering light of the dying fire or the glow of the em-
bers, they would seem alive and recall lost or absent friends.


I have never sold but two of them; one was left in a fireplace
in the old home of the Century Club down-town.

1892 To Mrs. A. E. Rondebush:


My friend was formerly Agnes Ethel a great favourite
with the public and still remembered by some. She was a
great loss to the stage when she quitted it to marry Frank
Tracy of Buffalo. Charlotte Cushman once said to her:
"You say you are sorry you are not a great actress; but you
can make people cry. Let me tell you, that is a thing I could
never do." I think she was a great actress; but be that as
it may, I leave this testimony, she was really a great

To William H. Herriman:
The Enemy sowing Tares.

And here come two more friends such as are seldom found,
Mr. and Mrs. Herriman. They do not need my testimony,
for they are respected and beloved by all who know them.
The picture of "The Enemy" is a small one. I painted it
much larger, but did not improve on the small one.

To Wunderlich (dealer) :
Chrysanthemum (head).
Morning Glory (figure).

Wunderlich sold these pictures to Frank J. Hecker
(Detroit), who presented the "Morning Glory" to my friend,
T. S. Jerome, now in Capri.


1893 This year was positively obese.

Order for the Medal to be given to the Architects and Artists
who decorated the buildings at the Chicago Exposition.


1893 From C. P. Huntington:

Order for a ceiling and decorations and a picture to go over
a mantel-piece in dining-room. Ceiling-subject, "Abund-
ance all the Days of the Week."

Picture: "Goddess Fortune, stay with us."

Received order through Mr. Post, the architect.

Here a few words as to why I did nothing at Chicago. I
found all the other artists had their work cut out for them,
and that those in command did not care for such things as I
had taken with me. I presume there was nothing appropriate
in subjects. So while the others were hard at work, I sat on
the fence and waited. Then suddenly it was proposed that
I should make four large decorations circles twelve feet
in diameter in a high dome on a curved surface, in the
permanent Art Building, in four months. Now I had never
had experience in getting others to work for me; these things
could not be painted below and hoisted up; they would have
to be painted on the spot, probably on a suspended platform
or in a basket God only knows how. But I do know that
I was sickened by the sight of ambulances constantly dash-
ing by with the dead or dying and it gave me to think.
Permanent Art Gallery not things to be burnt up. Now
I cannot "discharge" myself at the word of command. I
must have time to think, and these things had to be done
right off, and I was very sorry, particularly so to disap-
point McKim, who had kindly taken me on to Chicago.
Just then came this offer to do the Huntington ceiling,
through the kindness of George Post, the best commission
I have ever received, which I could paint in Italy, for
enough time was given me. In fact, the work was ready be-
fore the room was to receive it. I accepted it gladly and re-
nounced the other offer, for which, to tell the truth, I had no
stomach. A sort of council of war was held, before which I
appeared, and from the looks of its members I expected to
hear an ambulance-call. I escaped with my life, but with
the general disapproval. It is now long ago, but it may com-


fort these men to know that my conscience has not troubled
me the least little bit. And so to Rome mighty merry,
glad to escape from that stupendous but troubled dream
the Exhibition in its making. I saw the White City after-
wards and then it was a dream indeed, never to be forgotten.

To Scott A. Smithy Providence:
Florentine Head.

1894 This year keeps up the tradition, financially fat and playful.

To the Misses Walker, Massachusetts:
The Art Idea.

Large decorative panel in McKim's beautiful building, the
Art-Gallery Bowdoin College, Maine.

To Melville E. Stone:
Lazarus (head).

To Scribner's Magazine:
Use of designs.

I only put in these notices of the use of designs as showing
about what time notices of my work may be found in various

N. B. The order for the Bowdoin College panel and the
sale of the "Lazarus" are the only transactions noted for
1894, but the order made up in importance for the lack of
sales. Perhaps a word about this decoration may not be
amiss, for I remember now that a friend once said, "Such
things are just what people want to know"; so perhaps I may
be supplying a "want" long felt; at any rate, the alleged
curiosity of the public must be my excuse. I was told that
the ladies (charming persons) who gave the order, finding
that they could only afford to have one decoration, wanted
that I should be selected to do it which was a compliment


1894 I fully appreciated. I painted it in Rome, took it over, and
saw it rightly placed in position in the time specified. In the
meanwhile, however, by some subtile financial method, three
more panels had been ordered, and the subjects were Flor-
ence, Venice, and Athens, so that mine, already composed,
had perforce to be Rome. Fortunately the "Art Idea," for
want of a better name, suited this scheme admirably. Na-
ture on which all Art is based stands in the centre;
Sculpture, Architecture, and Poetry are on one side, and
Harmony, Love, and Painting on the other, and so may
respectively stand for the genius of Michelangelo and
Raffaello, who in their turn fairly represent the art of Rome.
But I had to lead off blindly, while the others knew just
what they had to do, and besides had the advantage of time
(no inauguration for them), time, which one artist availed
himself of fully, to the manifest advantage of his work,
a fine thing. The putting-up of the canvas was a ticklish
affair, but was accomplished successfully by Mr. Hesselbach.
The method used is called "marunflage," much practised
in France. The canvas, about twenty-two feet wide, was
first cut to fill the semi-circular space, then rolled up from
each side toward the centre, where the two rolls meet. The
night before; the space for the picture had been coated as
thickly as possible with white lead, and early next morning
the canvas was taken up on the scaffolding. You see, the
back of the canvas had also to be painted thickly, which was
done as they went along. First painting thickly the space be-
tween the rolls, the canvas was placed against the wall, and
that space well fastened by a board holding it in place; and
you can imagine that the least difference in matching the
marks previously made would have resulted in a disastrous
misfit. And to my horror this happened. A cold chill ran
down my back, and I instinctively felt in my pocket for a flask,
but alas! I was in Maine; Prohibition was against it.
However, Hesselbach rose to the occasion. He had the courage
to pull off the canvas, had it held up on all sides by help
hastily summoned (covered as it was with paint) and replaced


1894 it correctly. Now when I tell you that the picture was
painted with a dull surface like fresco, and that any touch
of this oily paint would have made a shiny spot, and that
being lighted from above, any such spot would have been
most disagreeably evident, you can imagine the care and
skill required in this operation.

I found Brunswick a beautiful place; it was late in the
year, pure bracing air, a somewhat stern Nature, but with a
sense of elevation; in fact I never felt so like being up on the
surface of the earth as I did here. I do not think this arose
from its being at the top of the map. My friend Garnsey took
me a drive down to the coast; it was not the season, and the
summer houses were all closed, but the landscape, although
somewhat stern, was pure and beautiful. The professors were
most cordial, but I did a thing which was most ill-advised; it
is so long ago that I don't mind making the confession. I had
passed, in putting up the picture, through so many superior
emotions that when I was invited to attend a soire'e, I went to
see " Robin Hood " instead. I hope I am forgiven by this time.

In Maine I suffered much from thirst. I found the girls
who waited on me at the hotel were superior persons far
superior to their position; this they made clear to me by a
certain indifference with which the services were rendered
and serious to a degree. This tone I lowered somewhat by
asking one of them to bring me apple-pie, that is, if she
had any real serious apple-pie; and I saw through a window
at the end of the dining-room a lot of giggling faces, and when
the pie was brought, she so far unbent as to admit that she
too was going to see "Robin Hood" with her young man.
I must say, regarding the thirst, that it arose entirely from
my ignorance in regard to the handling of ropes.

1895 This year the financial barometer descended to a degree
marked " paltry," a financial filament, an impalpability.

1896 A most estimable year. Of course it is understood that I
was constantly getting sums from the sale of the Rubaiyat,
from Houghton, MifBin & Co., and from Curtis & Cameron


for reproductions; also sale of reproductions in studio; an
honest but undignified proceeding, but very helpful.

1896 To Harpers:
Use of designs.

Five decorative panels for the Library of Congress, Washing-
ton, D. C.
I may say in favour of the panels that I made them to go

with the architecture to look as if made for the place they


To F. H. Thomson, Philadelphia:

1897 The receipts of this year were as they say books should be,
"few but good."

To Mrs. H. M. Wilmarth, Chicago:
Santa Cecilia (marble).

To Congressional Library, Washington, D. C.:
Minerva (mosaic).

(Not the greatest thing in the world not the worst; it
might have been a "Fluffy Ruffles" posing as Minerva.
About half the price went in expenses.)

To Harper and Brothers:
Use of Bowdoin College panel.

A lean year.

To Mrs. R. C. Lincoln, Boston:
Diana passes (drawing).

Sold by Doll and Richards, Boston.

To Mrs. W. S. Bliss (Miss Barney}:
Heart of the Rose (drawing).

To John le Covert, Lyons, France:
Five heads (sketches, very small).



1898 To S. E. Barrett, Chicago:

A Glimpse into Hell, or Fear. (Five heads represented as
looking into Hell.)

If there is an impression, and I know there is, that I sit
here in Rome under a plum tree with my mouth open, into
which the plums are constantly dropping, I hope it will be
dispelled, for delightful as that would be, unfortunately it is
not the case.

1899 Ninety-nine the Italians consider to be the number of
the disgrazie or misfortunes of Pulcinello; I have said this
before. They never amount to one hundred, for that would
mean death; but there is no fear of that, for he is immortal,
as are his vices and vivacity. I am somewhat superstitious
about numbers, and I take it 99 is a lucky one, for this year
swelled up visibly.


To Blackall Simonds, Esq., London:
Street Scene Capri.

His brother, my old friend George Simonds, is the author
of the statue of the Falconer in Central Park, New York.

To Sir Bruce Seton, London:
Tragedy (a sketch).
Bronze bust Cumaean Sibyl.

To Mrs. Jesse Hayworth:
Head of Tito.

To Mrs. Agnes E. Tracy:
'Lair of the Sea-Serpent the original sketch.

N. B. A second appearance of this rare beast. I first saw
him during the War, captured and sold him to Tom Appleton
of Boston; he seems to have escaped and been caught again;
further on you will see the last of him.


1899 To John R. Maxwell:

Fisherman and Mermaid (drawing).

To Elizabeth H. Houghton:
A Glimpse of the Tiber.

To Daniel and Helen Bigelow Merriman:
Silver Wedding Memorial Cup.


1900 High-water year quite an inundation. February: Exhibi-
tion and Sale at Williams and Everett's, Boston.

To Miss Susan Minns:
The Cup of Death.

To Edwin B. Haskell:
Hillside with Sheep, Perugia.

To Mr. Thayer:
The Sphinx, Egypt.

To Dr. Bigelow:
The Morning Glory.

To Mrs. Lincoln:
Soul in Bondage (drawing).
Muse of Tragedy (drawing)
Tail of the Sea-Serpent (drawing).

(This represented only the tail of the great snake as he is
putting out to sea through the surf at night his last prac-
tical appearance so far as I am concerned. The rest sold were

Online LibraryElihu VedderThe digressions of V. → online text (page 27 of 29)