Tuesday, September 27, 2016

American artist Benjamin West (1738-1820) paints William Penn's Treaty with Native Americans


From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples who had lived on the land for centuries.


Benjamin West (American artist, 1738-1820) The Treaty of Penn with the Indians. In 1771, Thomas Penn wanted a painting of his father meeting with the Native Americans. He commissioned Pennsylvania-born artist Benjamin West to capture the dramatic encounter on canvas. 
William Penn & the Lenape Indians

William Penn (1644-1718) was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker & founder of the English North American colony called the Province of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy & religious freedom, especially noted for his good relations & successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Reportedly William Penn addressed the Native Americans, uttering the following which will be admired throughout the ages: “We meet on the broad pathway of good faith and good-will; no advantage shall be taken on either side, but all shall be openness and love. We are the same as if one man’s body was to be divided into two parts; we are of one flesh and one blood.”

The reply of Tamanend, is equally noble: “We will live in love with William Penn and his children as long as the creeks and rivers run, and while the sun, moon, and stars endure.”

Since there in no written record of William Penn's Peace Treaty, some believe that it never took place. However, tradition reflects that since no land was being transferred, there was no reason to record a treaty. Most conservators of Penn’s Treaty with the Indians think that the event was more of a diplomatic mission, an “entente” of sorts, where Penn and the Indians met with mutual and complementary efforts on both sides, establishing a sense of compatible objectives, to come to foundation for a trusting relationship. 

In August of 1683, about 10 months after Penn’s Treaty, William Penn wrote a long letter to the Free Society of Traders, in which he describes a council that he had with the Indians. The letter explains how a possible treaty with the Indians might have looked and been carried out:

"Their order is thus: The King sits in the middle of a half moon, and has his council, the old and wise on each hand. Behind them or at a little distance sit the younger fry in the same figure.

"Having consulated and resolved their business the King ordered one of them to speak to me. He stood up, came to me and in the name of his King saluted me, then took me by the hand and told me he was ordered by his King to speak to me, and that now it was not he, but the King who spoke, because what he should say was the King’s mind.

"Which done another made a speech to the Indians in the name of all the Sachamachers or Kings; first to tell what was done: next to charge and command them to love the Christians and particularly to live in peace with me and the people under my government; that they should never do mine or me any wrong. At every sentence of which they shouted, and in their way said, Amen.

"Great promises passed between us of kindness and good neighborhood, and that the English and Indians must live in love as long as the sun gave light.

The "Peace Treaty" between William Penn and the Native Americans was reported to have ended with these words of the Native Americans as quoted by Governor Gordon at the Council at Conestoga, May 26, 1728:

"We will be brethren, my people and your people, as the children of one father. All the paths shall be open to the Christian and the Indian. The doors of the Christian shall be open to the Indian and the wigwam of the Indian shall be open to the Christian.

"The Christian shall believe no false stories, the Indian shall believe no false stories, they shall first come together as brethren and inquire of each other; when they hear such false stories they shall bury them in the bottomless pit.

"The Christian hearing news that may hurt the Indian, or the Indian hearing news that may hurt the Christian, shall make it known the one to the other, as speedily as possible, as true friends and brethren.

"The Indian shall not harm the Christian, nor his friend; the Christian shall not harm the Indian, nor his friend; but they shall live together as brethren. As there are wicked people in all Nations; if the Indian or the Christian shall harm the one or the other, complaint shall be made by the sufferer, that right may be done; and when right is done, the wrong shall be forgotten, and buried in the bottomless pit.

"The Indian shall help the Christian, and the Christian shall help the Indian, against all evil men, who would molest them.

"We will transmit this League between us to our children. It shall be made stronger and stronger, and be kept bright and clean without rust or spot, between our children and our children’s children, while the creeks and rivers run, and while the sun, moon, and stars endure."

This League of peace and friendship has been passed down by the Native Americans to their children as witnessed repeatedly in the history of the Pennsylvania Council meetings between the years 1718 to 1735. In 1718 the Chief of the Conestoga Indians, amongst others, showed up at a Council in Philadelphia “to Renew the old League of friendship that had hitherto been between us and them,” and as late as 1734 John Penn, William Penn's son, stated at a Council meeting in Philadelphia: "I desire you to assure all the Indians, and particularly my good friends of the Six Nations, that it shall be my constant care to strengthen that firm League and Chain of Friendship which my Father first began, and has since been carefully preserved between the Indians and all the People within this Government."

American Artist Benjamin West

Benjamin West (1738-1820) was the 10th child of a rural innkeeper in Springfield, Pennsylvania, in October, 1738, & died exaulted in London, in March, 1820. Before his ascension to historical allegory painter for English royalty, he began learning his craft as a humble portraitist in Philadelphia. West told John Galt, his biographer, that when he was a child, Native Americans showed him how to make paint by mixing some clay from the river bank with bear grease in a pot.

During his years painting in the British American colonies, his portraits exhibit a modest attempt to emulate the baroque & rococo styles, which he probably observed in Philadelphia. His modest American portrait compositions also exhibit some knowledge of English mezzotint portraits reflecting the works of Peter Lely (1618–160) & Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723). West told a friend that a "Mr. Hide (Haidt), a German, gave him instruction. Johann Valentine Haidt (1700-1780), a Moravian evangelist & trained artist, painted not just portraits, but also history & religious paintings. Apparently, Benjamin West became determined to paint inspiring historical & religious compositions as well.

He later wrote, "Most undoubtedly had not (I) been settled in Philadelphia I should not have embraced painting as a profession." However, his early move away from Philadelphia to England was necessary for him to work in a country where artists were commissioned to paint inspiring depictions of history's real & imagined indispensable men & women who made extreme sacrifices & performed noble deeds. In the American colonies, the gentry paid for portraits, not inspiration.

Benjamin West became a painter of historical scenes, sometimes including Native Americans, around & after the time of the American War of Independence & the Seven Years' War. During his 22 years in America, he was a fairly typical provincial artist; but his choice to leave the colonies in 1760, for Europe & England led to his appointment as the official painter at the court of King George III & to his becoming co-founder of the Royal Academy in London, where 3 generations of fellow American students would return home from his tutelage to impact the art of the emerging republic.

Moving West - Living Costs - 1824-7 in Missouri


Gottfried Duden, Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America: Written during a stay of several years along the Missouri, 1824-1827.


MISSOURI. March 1827. Financial requirements for frontier families.

"A quarter of a mile from me there lives a farmer by the name of Jacob Haun. Seven years ago he began to establish a homestead. Because he possessed scarcely a hundred Thaler (about $1), he at first lived on state property and there tried to earn enough for the purchase of 160 Morgen. Then he continued to farm on his own property after the usual fashion and prospered, so that in seven years, without any assistance, he acquired a fortune of three thousand Thaler.

"Meanwhile his wife bore him five children, and now his household annually consumes over twelve hundred pounds of pork, an oxen weighing five to six hundred pounds, and several dozen roosters and hens. Also, at least ten to twelve deer are killed and a large number of turkeys. (No powder is used for partridges; it is left to the children to catch them in traps.) Who would believe that so much meat could be consumed in one household of two adults and five children, of whom the oldest is scarcely six years? Some, of course, is contributed to hospitality. But most of it is due to the extravagant use of an article of food that is almost cheaper here than the most common vegetables in Germany."


Gone Fishing in the Caribbean - Winslow Homer 1836–1910



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Shark Fishing

During the 1880s, Winslow Homer vacationed in Florida, and the Caribbean, where he produced dazzling watercolors of people struggling with the sea & its creatures.  Strong men here challenge the ocean's overwheming power; but in the end, the timeless ocean would survive.  The strong, clever fishermen would die passing the task on to the next generation.


 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Hauling in anchor Key West



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) The Gulf Stream



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Rum Cay



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) The Conch Divers



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  West India Divers



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Done in the Bahamas (Fragment)



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) The Water Fan



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Sponge Fishing (1885)



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  After the Hurricane, Bahamas



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  Fishing Boats, Key West



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Sponge Fishermen, Bahamas 1885



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) The Sponge Diver 1898–99



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Market Scene Nassau 1885



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  Key West, Hauling Anchor 1903


Madonnas attributed to Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano c 1459–c 1517


Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano (c 1459–c 1517) Madonna and Child


Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano (c 1459–c 1517) Virgin and Child


Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano (c 1459–c 1517) Virgin and Child 1496

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.


Monday, September 26, 2016

American Benjamin West (1738-1820), determined to paint history, sometimes included Native Americans


From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples who had lived on the land for centuries.




Engraving after Benjamin West (American artist, 1738-1820) Indians delivering up the English captives to Colonel Bouquet, event in Pontiac's Rebellion. Because many children taken as captives had been adopted into Native families, their forced return often resulted in emotional scenes, as depicted in this engraving based on a painting by Benjamin West.

Pontiac's Rebellion & early Biological Warfare

Pontiac's Rebellion was a war launched in 1763 by North American Indians who were dissatisfied with British policies in the Great Lakes region after the British victory in the French & Indian War/Seven Years' War (1754–1763). The conflict is named after its most famous participant, the Ottawa leader Pontiac. Warriors from numerous tribes joined the uprising in an effort to drive British soldiers & settlers out of the region. 

Contributing to the outbreak of war was a religious awakening sweeping through Indian settlements in the early 1760s. The movement was fed by discontent with the British as well as food shortages & epidemic disease. Neolin, known as the "Delaware Prophet", who called upon Indians to shun the trade goods, alcohol, & weapons of the whites. Merging elements from Christianity into traditional religious beliefs, Neolin told listeners that the Master of Life was displeased with the Indians for taking up the bad habits of the white men, & that the British posed a threat to their very existence. "If you suffer the English among you," said Neolin, "you are dead men. Sickness, smallpox, & their poison [alcohol] will destroy you entirely."

The war began in May 1763 when American Indians, alarmed by policies imposed by British General Jeffrey Amherst, attacked a number of British forts & settlements. Eight forts were destroyed, & hundreds of colonists were killed or captured, with many more fleeing the region. Hostilities came to an end after British Army expeditions in 1764 led to peace negotiations over the next 2 years. The Indians were unable to drive away the British but did prompt the British government to modify the policies tward the Native Americans.

Colonists in western Pennsylvania fled to the safety of Fort Pitt after the outbreak of the war. Nearly 550 people crowded inside, including more than 200 women & children.  Simeon Ecuyer, the Swiss-born British officer in command, wrote that "We are so crowded in the fort that I fear disease…; the smallpox is among us." Fort Pitt was attacked on June 22, 1763, primarily by Delawares. 

For Amherst, who before the war had dismissed the possibility that the Indians would offer any effective resistance to British rule, the military situation over the summer became increasingly grim. He wrote his subordinates, instructing them that captured enemy Indians should "immediately be put to death". To Colonel Henry Bouquet at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who was preparing to lead an expedition to relieve Fort Pitt, Amherst made the following proposal on about June 29, 1763: "Could it not be contrived to send the small pox among the disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them." 

Bouquet agreed, replying to Amherst on July 13: "I will try to inoculate the bastards with some blankets that may fall into their hands, & take care not to get the disease myself." Amherst responded favorably on July 16: "You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race." 

As it turned out, officers at the besieged Fort Pitt had already attempted to do what Amherst & Bouquet were still discussing, apparently without having been ordered to do so by Amherst or Bouquet. During a parley at Fort Pitt on June 24, 1763, Ecuyer gave representatives of the besieging Delawares two blankets & a handkerchief that had been exposed to smallpox, hoping to spread the disease to the Indians in order to end the siege. This was not the first time that a crude form of biological warfare had been attempted in the region: in 1761, American Indians had attempted to poison the well at Fort Ligonier using an animal carcass.

It is uncertain whether the British successfully infected the Indians. Because many American Indians died from smallpox during Pontiac's Rebellion, some historians concluded that the attempt was successful, but many scholars now doubt that conclusion. One reason is that the outbreak of smallpox among the Ohio Indians apparently preceded the blanket incident. Furthermore, the Indians outside Fort Pitt kept up the siege for more than a month after receiving the blankets, apparently unaffected by any outbreak of disease. The two Delaware chiefs who handled the blankets were in good health a month later as well. Finally, because the disease was already in the area, it may have reached Indian villages through a number of vectors. Eyewitnesses reported that native warriors contracted the disease after attacking infected white settlements, & they may have spread the disease upon their return home. 


The ruthlessness of the conflict was a reflection of a growing racial divide between British colonists & American Indians. The British government sought to prevent further racial violence by issuing the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which created a boundary between colonists & Indians.

American Artist Benjamin West

Engraving after Benjamin West (American artist, 1738-1820) Indians delivering up the English captives to Colonel Bouquet, event in Pontiac's Rebellion. Because many children taken as captives had been adopted into Native families, their forced return often resulted in emotional scenes, as depicted in this engraving based on a painting by Benjamin West.

Benjamin West (1738-1820) was the 10th child of a rural innkeeper in Springfield, Pennsylvania, in October, 1738, & died exaulted in London, in March, 1820. Before his ascension to historical allegory painter for English royalty, he began learning his craft as a humble portraitist in Philadelphia. West told John Galt, his biographer, that when he was a child, Native Americans showed him how to make paint by mixing some clay from the river bank with bear grease in a pot.

During his years painting in the British American colonies, his portraits exhibit a modest attempt to emulate the baroque & rococo styles, which he probably observed in Philadelphia. His modest American portrait compositions also exhibit some knowledge of English mezzotint portraits reflecting the works of Peter Lely (1618–160) & Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723). West told a friend that a "Mr. Hide (Haidt), a German, gave him instruction. Johann Valentine Haidt (1700-1780), a Moravian evangelist & trained artist, painted not just portraits, but also history & religious paintings. Apparently, Benjamin West became determined to paint inspiring historical & religious compositions as well.

He later wrote, "Most undoubtedly had not (I) been settled in Philadelphia I should not have embraced painting as a profession." However, his early move away from Philadelphia to England was necessary for him to work in a country where artists were commissioned to paint inspiring depictions of history's real & imagined indispensable men & women who made extreme sacrifices & performed noble deeds. In the American colonies, the gentry paid for portraits, not inspiration.


Benjamin West became a painter of historical scenes, sometimes including Native Americans, around & after the time of the American War of Independence & the Seven Years' War. During his 22 years in America, he was a fairly typical provincial artist; but his choice to leave the colonies in 1760, for Europe & England led to his appointment as the official painter at the court of King George III & to his becoming co-founder of the Royal Academy in London, where 3 generations of fellow American students would return home from his tutelage to impact the art of the emerging republic.


Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872


Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) The Blizzard 1857

Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872 was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, & studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec & moved to the Montreal area, where he painted genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, & the hardships & daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff moved to Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.


Gone Fishing in 19C America - Winslow Homer 1836–1910


 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) The Angler


Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910)  A Good One



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  An Unexpected Catch



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  Bass Fishing Florida  1890



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  Boy Fishing 1892



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  Casting, Number Two 1894



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910)  The Rise 1900



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) A quiet pool on a sunny day



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Casting in the Falls (1889)



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Casting



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Crab Fishing



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Playing a Fish



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Hauling in the Nets



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Spearing Eels



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) The Herring Net 1885



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) The lobster pot



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) The Lone Fisherman



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836–1910) Trout Fishing, Lake St. John, Quebec (1895)



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Three Boys in a Dory with Lobster Pots



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Man in a Punt Fishing



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Playing Him



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Quananiche Lake St John


Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Two Men in a Canoe



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910) Fishing in the Adirondacks



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910)



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910)



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910)



 Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910)



Winslow Homer (American artist, 1836-1910)