Skip to main content

tv   Second Bank Portrait Gallery  CSPAN  April 16, 2017 10:00pm-10:51pm EDT

10:00 pm
bloomberg. >> you're saying google should be regulated by providers. >> i am saying when congress starts thinking about what a future fcc would look like and we are thinking about discrimination by vertically platforms, the conversation should not be limited to isps. the threat google poses to the content space is just as significant as comcast or verizon. 8:00tch monday night at eastern on c-span2. >> located between the new museum of the american revolution and independence hall in philadelphia, the portrait gallery of the second bank of the united states houses more than 150 paintings of notable 18th and 19th century leaders, military officers, explorers, and scientists. next, on american history tv's
10:01 pm
"american artifacts," we visit the gallery to learn about a selection of works by charles willson peale. karie: i'm karie diethorn. i am the chief curator. i oversee a large collection of artifacts here. we are here at the second bank of the united states, a historic building, part of the independence national historical park. this was finished in 1824, literally the fort knox of its day. the building has been restored on the exterior. when you come to see it, you will see how it looked brand-new in 1824. inside we have the fine arts exhibit to tell the story of what it was like to live in 18th century america, the world that those people knew and the
10:02 pm
world that the revolutionists built. the portrait collection at independence national historical park is a very old one. the bulk of our collection, 94 pictures, was painted by charles willson peale of philadelphia. philadelphia artist who had his own museum in the city. the museum was so popular that in the middle of the 19th century, many of the pictures were purchased by the city of philadelphia to hang them in independence hall, the subjects they told were the signers of the declaration and constitution because those documents have been written in independence hall. throughout the 19th century, the pictures hung there, and in the middle of the 20th century, the national park service restored independence hall to how it looked at the time of the revolution when the paintings were not there. the national park service decided to move the paintings to the second bank of the united states and create a modern art exhibit. in a way, you can say the paintings have never been apart.
10:03 pm
they were created by charles willson peale for his museum and purchased by philadelphia for their museum and independence hall, and then they became responsibility of the park service at the second bank of the united states. individually, they are wonderful, but collectively, they are so awe-inspiring. here at the second bank of the united states, we have so many paintings by the artist, charles willson peale, that we wanted to re-create for visitors an understanding and a sense of what he painted the portrait's for. that was his museum here in philadelphia. here we have a graphic depiction of the museum. this is from a painting charles willson peale did himself in another museum collection. the background is so interesting, because here is charles willson peale's museum when it was on the second floor of the independence hall. you can see the exhibit cases with the prepared animals and birds, and above, you can see the portraits. charles willson peale could put in stuffed birds and animals,
10:04 pm
but he couldn't put in stuffed people. although, he did think about it. instead, he painted the portraits as standings. the best part of the depictions are the visitors at charles willson peale's museum. here is a man talking to a little boy reading a book. i especially love this woman whose hands were raised in amazement at what she has seen. and actually what she is seeing is behind her a fully preserved skeleton of a mammoth. and charles willson peale's museum was like museums today, constantly trying to bring in something new. these were gas fixtures powered by gas, the first gas fixtures in a public building in philadelphia at charles willson peale's museum. here is charles willson peale himself.
10:05 pm
the best part about charles willson peale's museum is charles willson peale wanted to present the portraits in the museum as those people really looked. it is kind of a warts and all approach. the greatest is over here, not by charles willson peale, but by his son. he was trained by his father. is person for whom fort sumter in south carolina is named. and when charles willson peale taught his son to paint, the idea was to make the portrait as precise as possible to include all the details of a person's face. at the time, charles willson peale and his contemporaries believed a person's character was reflected on the base. we don't leave that now. your character is in your mind and heart. in the 18th century, it had to do with your features. that meant all of the features, no picking and choosing. in the case of charles sumter, when we look at the painting and
10:06 pm
say what is wrong with his eyes, they look odd. the answer is charles sumter really did have a lazy eye. and charles willson peale's sun included that in the portrait to be as accurate as possible about how thomas sumter really looked so that when visitors saw the painting, they would know that was thomas sumter. i think that really says something about their commitment to the style of painting as the day, neoclassicism, which is all about detail. our exhibit in this gallery representative of his museum does not contain portraits he painted for his museum. se have arranged those portrait like charles willson peale did. they are double and triple stacked.
10:07 pm
at the end of his life, there were almost 300 portraits in his museum. we only have about a third of them here today. the others are in other collections. but we wanted people to get this wow factor that the visitors to the original museum got when they saw all of these paintings of all of these familiar people. when you look at these portraits, you notice that they all look similar until you start to study them one by one, but that similarity isn't necessarily a bad thing. it is reflective of what charles willson peale was trying to do with his portraits. he wanted the people to appear as much like their real selves as possible, but also wanted the portraits to be emblematic of something that was very important to the 18th century, and that was history. in the case of charles willson peale, he painted the portrait head and shoulders only, nothing in the background, and oftentimes framed in an oval because he wanted them to
10:08 pm
look like coins of the ancient roman emperors. he wanted to reflect the idea that these were powerful people, and yet still of the people. they are not emperors, but they have that kind of elegance, that kind of power, that kind of real commitment to ruling the nation. and so, the museum portraits charles willson painted a very distinctive because he wanted us to look at them like the heroes of the ancient world. there is also a practical reason. it's very easy and quick to paint head and shoulders only. you don't have all the details. charles willson peale in his autobiography claimed he could paint one in three hours. we have to take that with a boulder of salt, but he was very productive. because he had his brother and sons working with him, they almost had an assembly line of production. that's how they ended up with 300 paintings in the museum.
10:09 pm
today, all of the paintings have been conserved and presented. most of them do not have their original frames. we have replicas. the frames were delicate and were the first thing to go. these paintings have been through a lot before they came into the modern museum. we wanted to present them as accurately as possible. and even though we don't have the historical frames, we have gotten close with our reproductions. this is a prussian military advisor to george washington during the american revolution, and he teaches the american army at valley forge how to conduct their military maneuvers and how to be a real army as opposed to a bunch of farmers and merchants who have guns. it is a great painting, because
10:10 pm
he is wearing all of his medals and he really looks like somebody that was going to boss you around. he didn't speak english, so when he was drilling the troops at valley forge, he would speak in his native language, prussian, and one of his aides would translate. i cannot imagine how long it would have taken with all the translation and how frustrating that must have been for him. did thewillson peale painting because he was a famous. this is one of the draws that charles willson peale had at his first museum, which was at his own home, to see the portrait of the famous prussian general who made an army out of farmers. behind me, you might talk about this painting. this is timothy matlack, the person who wrote out the declaration of independence during the month of july 1776 so that everybody else could sign it on august 2, 1776.
10:11 pm
timothy matlack in this painting is in his late 80's. charles willson peale is not much younger. the two had been friends for more than 60 years. you're looking at this wonderful old man with a beautiful white beard, and it is a real character study. it is the last painting charles willson peale did for his museum before charles willson peale died two years later. peale was born in maryland, but he moved to philadelphia on the 1775f the revolution in because he wanted to find clientele for his painterly services. in other words, he was a businessman looking for customers. he moved to philadelphia and immediately started painting portraits. he was very active during the american revolution painting portraits of soldiers going off to war. but right now, i would like to talk about this painting that he did of himself in the middle of
10:12 pm
the 1790's. he was incredibly productive as an artist. it has been estimated by scholars that he painted more than 600 pictures in his lifetime. he actually did seven self-portraits. this is one of them.scholars the than 600 pictures in his what is amazing to me is how he portrays himself. in other words, he's not trying to pretty himself up. his hair is messy, and his close thes are rumpled. what he wants to show is not an elegant person, but a craftsman, an artisan, someone who takes their work seriously. that is why in the portrait, the subject's eyes are really the most prominent aspect of the painting. peale really looks right out at you, the audience. it is really sort of hypnotizing, i think. his gaze is so intense. the other purpose of doing a
10:13 pm
self portrait, you can't blame it on the client who is moving around too much or talking, because you, the artist, are the subject. used the opportunity for this self-portrait to depict himself technically as an artist. you might notice the unusual angle of his torso, and you can attribute that to him turning back and forth to the painting, to a mirror, to the painting. he captures the essence of them -- he captures that sense of motion in the picture. he is also experimenting with light. you'll notice how one half of his face is in shadow, and the other is brightly lit. that is hard to do, technically. the light source is outside the picture frame. he is experimenting with this not because he's going to show , this portrait to a lot of people, but because he himself is practicing his technique as an artist.
10:14 pm
it makes a wonderful character study. there is nothing in the background. what we are focusing on about the subject is his eyes. we will see a lot of other pictures by charles willson peale painted of his contemporaries as we move along, and there is one right here. now, this is a very different picture. this is mary white morris, a woman who lived in philadelphia from the colonial period into the early 19th century. this was a private commission. she paid charles willson peale to paint this picture of her. mary white morris is shown in and incredibly extravagant and opulent costume. she's wearing a turban with jewels. somebody whoe could buy the world. that was the whole point of this picture.
10:15 pm
charles willson peale was hired by mary white morris and her husband to paint this painting and a companion portrait of her husband. mary white morris' husband was robert morris, the financier of the american revolution. he was so wealthy during the colonial period in the 1780's that he could finance the american revolution with his own private money. and if he hadn't done that, it is highly unlikely the american revolution could have gotten off on a good start. and mary white morris is ostensibly in this portrait, is portrayed in way that is meant to impress you and make you see how wealthy she is, how important her standing is. you might think that means that is all that is important about her, is that she had a lot of money and could dress fancy, but in effect what charles willson done has done with this portrait is he included much more information about her than you might think.
10:16 pm
but additional information helps -- to know more about her as a real person. i would point out those aspects. these are called attributes in the painting. you will see in the upper left corner, the ghost of an outline. it is a sculpture. muse ofure is of the music. he's holding a trumpet. the reason why it is in her painting is because charles willson peale wants to inform us that sh'not only pretty to look at, she is talented. she appreciates music. he also wants to us to know that she is not dumb. if you look on this side of the painting, you will see what looks like a landscape with portrait busts on pedestals. this is not a real place, this is not where they lived or any place in philadelphia. this is imaginary, but it is symbolic. it is what charles willson peale -- it is whatesh
10:17 pm
charles willson peale wants you to think about her. the reason why these are these busts, they are recognizable -- this is george washington, and other political writers. what is that kind of thing doing in 18th century woman's portrait? what it is doing there is telling us that she has read all of these authors, understands the political theory of her era and espouses it. we've got music and we've got intellect. that is really what he is trying to say, behind this beautiful facade is a woman of substance. when we learn about her biography, it is incredible what she achieved. aristocratic but , a woman nonetheless, living in an era controlled by men. and yet, she becomes her husband's inherited business
10:18 pm
partner after her husband winds up in prison because he cannot pay his debt. in the 18th century when you were in debt, you could not declare chapter 11 or bankruptcy. you had to pay up or go to jail. her husband could not up so they put him in jail. how are you going to pay your debts if you are in jail, kind of a strange dichotomy. what happened is she took over the business, made the money and got her husband out of prison. at the same time, she is caring for their nine children. this is not somebody who sits on a soft cushion all day. this is somebody who gets down to it, works, and really understands business, the arts, and philosophy. she is really a woman for the new republic. she is the kind of woman that will then teach her children to understand the same things and be the best citizens for the new america. but we are always brought back to the idea that she lives in a world in which women do not
10:19 pm
independently have rights. and there is an aspect of the painting that says that well. if you look at her wrists, you can see that she is wearing bracelets. the bracelets hold little tiny portraits. this one is her husband and this is her father. one very pretty, nice if you can get it. but you know what it reminds me of, and that his handcuffs. sure that is not what charles willson peale intended, but it is something we can interpret today when we think about the role of women in the 18th century. let's look next at another painting by charles willson peale. this is one from his museum. i had mentioned earlier he had a museum with portraits of his contemporaries who he regarded as the heroes of the american revolution. here is one. this is john paul jones, the naval commander. he is the one who supposedly
10:20 pm
says in battle, "i have not yet begun to fight." this is a great painting, because i think it reflects his personality. jones, who was scottish by birth, came to america at age 12 and and he was always ambitious, always looking to get a leg up, to improve his station. he gets a military command and then throughout the american revolution, he is really in the popular imagination almost as a pirate because he captures ships for the glory of america, and yet he is reckless and daring. i think the portrait that charles willson peale does of him in the early 1780's really shows off that "i'm not to be messed with, a little bit outside the law." and john paul jones' most famous
10:21 pm
success was in 1779 when he has this protracted naval battle commanding a ship against british forces. and it is almost a debacle, because the ships are burned in -- and sinking. the americans are losing. john paul jones runs on the deck two and they go on to win the battle and capture the british ship. it is that kind of fame that john paul jones craved, he was really an ambitious person. of course, not everybody else is an ever with somebody who was incredibly ambitious. and so, he was constantly getting fired by the continental congress, and didn't get the commands of the ships he wanted. he ends up taking his baseball bat and glove and leaving after the revolution and he signs up to fight with catherine the great's navy in russia. he is hoping he will make a lot of money, and that doesn't work out. finally, at the end of his life to paris and dies in
10:22 pm
obscurity. but his name lives on beyond his lifetime, and eventually, his body which was buried in paris is brought back to the united states, and he is now buried at the naval academy in annapolis, maryland. this picture of john paul jones, done about 10 years before he died, i think is just great. he is looking off to the distance and i always think he is thinking to himself, what can i conquer next. i think charles willson peale really captured the spirit of this particular subject. only portrait in charles willson peale's museum where the subject is wearing a hat. and i think that the whole aspect of his uniform, for example, right here he is wearing a medal, the society of cincinnati, that was formed after the revolution by george washington and his officers, and the whole presentation is very important both to the artist and
10:23 pm
to the subject. let's talk more about some of john paul jones' contemporaries who don't get portrayed in quite such a dramatic way. here is a good one right here, this is charles thompson. charles thompson is best known as the secretary of the continental congress. and the very first time the declaration of independence was printed, it didn't include all of the names of the people who signed the declaration. italy contained -- it only contained the names of the president of the congress at that time in the secretary, charles thompson. charles thompson, who was irish, was a dedicated public servant. he worked for the continental congress throughout its history. when the revolution was over and the new government was placed in america under the articles of confederation, thompson, who was a little bit of a radical during the american revolution and made
10:24 pm
some enemies, doesn't yet a position in the new government after the american revolution. he is sort of forced out. and he really resented that. he lived here in the philadelphia area, so he was kind of a hanger on without a n official position. instead, he devoted all his energies to writing a translation of the bible. i think it must've been so hard to be at the center of so many important events during the american revolution and then to be sort of cast aside, i think he probably never forgot that. and here in the portrait that charles willson peale does of thompson -- and they were friends for a very long time, and thompson kind of looks benign, but also looks a little wistful i think. and even though this picture is done while thompson is still in the political inner circle, perhaps there is a little bit of a foreshadowing to his ultimate kind of outsiderness.
10:25 pm
i think peale enjoyed people who were outsiders because peale himself was one. thompson was definitely someone who charles willson peale who was multitalented with many interests and many pursuits, i think they related to one another really closely. this is a great painting of the artist'sfrey s really good friends but also someone who is on the center stage during the american revolution. someone else on center stage is this portrait right here that charles willson peale did. i always think he looks like a teenager dressed up in his father's uniform. lafayette was so young when he came to america in 1777 offering his services to george washington. lafayette is french and had gone to military school there. when he heard about the american
10:26 pm
revolution, he said, i must serve. he paid his own way to come to america and offered his services to george washington, didn't speak any english. he winds up at valley forge. learns really where he english, from the other officers. washington and lafayette had a very mutually affectionate friendship. lafayette was young enough to be washington's son. throughout the revolution, lafayette is very close to washington at his side, on his , command staff. he is not just day hanger on, he was a very successful military strategist. his skills were very important at the battle of yorktown, the culminating battle of the revolution. lafayette led a large number of forces and was very able as a military commander. after the american revolution, lafayette goes back to paris. he survives the french revolution. even though he is an aristocrat, he is not someone that the
10:27 pm
french revolutionary services thinks has to go to the guillotine and be killed. he survives and lives a long life. in his very late years in 1824, he decides to go back to the united states and visit all of his old buddies from the american revolutionary era. it is the eve of eve of the 50th anniversary of the american revolution. lafayette comes to america, a very old man, but nevertheless, someone that americans remember as the youth who served george washington and helped to win the american revolution. portrait done at the time of the revolution really captures lafayette as an aspiring and dedicated person who is dreaming of a world in which the ideals of the american revolution, the ideals of liberty, fraternity, and equality that would become the slogan of the french revolution, are getting their start 10 years earlier in the united states.
10:28 pm
speaking of george washington, i thought we might take it look at a portrait of his wife, martha washington. here she is. martha is painted when she was first lady of the united states in the mid- 1790's. i think she looks very formidable here, maybe it is that hat, which is not to be messed with. i love the detail in this picture that charles willson peale did of her. you can see her tiny gold earrings. she is so stately and proud. and martha washington as a first lady had an even tougher job than her husband, because remember at this time nobody , knew what a first lady was, nobody knew what a president was. so martha had to make it up on her own, and what was important to her throughout his career she
10:29 pm
, had been at his side on the battlefield, taking care of him, at their home taking care of the estate. so, she was intimately involved in her husband's career. kind of like mary morris we were talking about earlier. nevertheless, she is not the commander, not the president, however, her contributions to her husband's job were very significant. in the case of her duties as first lady, what martha washington was really good at was creating this sense of stately elegance that was the esteem for the president and the awe that people held the president in. she created salons where twice a week, people would go to the president's house for a party. payyone would come and their respects to the president, but also do business on the
10:30 pm
side. in a way, she's using her social skills to promote his political career. martha washington and george washington married -- it was her second marriage. all of the money was hers. when he married her, he made a really good catch. her first husband had died, and she was accustomed to considerable comfort and wealth in virginia where she lived with her first husband. and so, she transfers that tell skill that she has already amassed as the wife of a wealthy plantation owner when she marries george washington who is still finding his way when he becomes a commander in the revolution. when we look at somebody like martha washington and save the iness of her outfit, i think that balances really well with the focus of the piercing gaze she gives us. again, this is somebody not to be messed with. she was a short in stature, but
10:31 pm
i think she was mighty in personality. and charles willson peale's portrait of her is a wonderful study in determination. i mean, just look at that chin. she is not somebody that is going to acquiesce to anyone, even her husband, president george washington. we talked about marquis lafayette as a young man, his portrait done during the american revolution. here he is again in 1825 when he comes to visit america on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the american revolution. this painting was done by a philadelphia artist, and lafayette is sort of posing for us in a grand outfit. his top hat and cape. even though he was quite elderly, in his late 70's at this time, people remarked that he had this beautiful head of hair for such an old man. well, it was a wig, and some people were a little put off by
10:32 pm
what they see as his vanity trying to look young again. but he was a handsome man. i don't think we can take that away from him. ofis posing in front independence hall, the building in the background. what is represented is all of the people who have come to honor him in 1824-1825 when he is visiting the united states, and you can see people are full the blash -- and you can see the windows are full of people and even people on the roof. i think we might shift gears a little bit past the american revolution to when philadelphia was the capital of the united states. and this portrait is a great place to stop and think about philadelphia as a center for the arts and science during the 18th century. william bartram, a philadelphian by birth, was a naturalist. you can see peale has depicted a
10:33 pm
flower specimen here. this is a type of jasmine. william bartram was a second generation nationalist, his father had been the royal duringist for george ii the colonial period. his father takes him as the young boy on expeditions, and then as an adult, william bartram takes over and becomes a naturalist himself. william bartram was most famous for his travels in the southern part of america, georgia, florida, etc., where he discovered new species of plants and would record all of these in beautiful watercolor drawings. and charles willson peale, the artist who painted this portrait, had a real affinity for bartram. i think they spent a lot of time talking about plant specimens and teaching the rest of america about the bounty and wonders of america's natural world.
10:34 pm
his painting when william bartram was rather old is a nice character study and he is sort of calmly sitting there. but he has this wonderful bald spot on the top of his head, charles willson peale has really looked at the subject to depict him in detail with a lot of care. william bartram was charles willson peale's friend, but i think he was also his colleague as a fellow naturalist. and the portrait reflects that professional association. next to william bartram is william clark. and i always have enjoyed this picture, because william clark was a vivid redhead. and charles willson peale did a good job with his red hair. william clark is one of the famous half of the team of lewis and clark, the explorers, who traveled early in the 19th
10:35 pm
century to surveil the territory we now know as almost a third of the united states, the territory america gained through the louisiana purchase. when clark was a soldier by training and brought to the expedition as the military backbone of the lewis and clark expedition. when he and meriwether lewis get back after the expedition is over in 1806, charles willson peale exhibits many of these specimens they brought back. plants, animals, but also native american artifacts, a very important opportunity for people who went to the philadelphia museum to see indian artifacts for the first time. portrait of william clark, he looks very much much the gentleman, with a high collar and lacy portion of his shirt, but you can see how weathered his face is.
10:36 pm
his four head is almost white, because he is always wearing a hat to protect it in the sun. and charles willson peale, who didn't travel extensively, still enjoyed the idea of exploration and talking to people like lewis and clark and other explorers about their adventures. i think that must have been the subject matter and his portrait was being painted. we cannot look at william clark's portrait without looking at meriwether lewis' portrait as well. when we were looking at william clark's portrait, it was very warm, his red hair and ruddy face. meriwether lewis's portrait is quite cool. they are not painted at exactly the same time by charles willson peale, but very close. the study of meriwether lewis
10:37 pm
doesn't seem to have the same kind of life to it as the one of william clark. meriwether lewis was also a military commander and had been on thomas jefferson's staff when jefferson was staff. meriwether lewis was sort of a loner, guy. he was hard to know. he met his end in rather an untimely way. there has been a lot of discussion among scholars about whether he might have committed suicide. it is not known for sure, but his life was cut short by violence. it seems throughout that short was ameriwether lewis rather moody person. and i almost think that charles willson peale felt obligated to pay his portrait because he had done william clark. but maybe charles willson peale didn't feel the same affinity or meriwether lewis that he did his partner. even though meriwether lewis was the one who made all of the maps. i think that is important to
10:38 pm
keep in mind, that that expedition was not just to cover territory, but also to document the west. meriwether lewis and william spent years gathering this information and bringing it back to the east coast to share with the rest of america. and how important not just the land acquisition of the quiz and purchase was, but the wealth of information it provided about the continent. and their expedition inspired many other expeditions which led to crossing the rocky mountains and reaching the pacific ocean. too bad meriwether lewis did not live to see that. this is an interesting painting, too, because charles willson peale was experimenting with techniques. unlike most of his other pictures which are painted oil on canvas, this portrait of meriwether lewis is painted on paper that has been mounted on a
10:39 pm
board. the paper is very thin and you can all see the cracks in the board. well, we can't talk about the american revolution and not talk about the powerful intellect of john adams. here is the portrait of john adams that charles willson peale painted in the mid-1790's. i think from this the portrait it is easy to see how he got his nickname when he was vice president of the united states. his nickname was "his rotundity." you see his chubby cheeks and double chin. exterior, adams was rather short and dumpy, hid behind it the most powerful mind. his eloquence with words is unparalleled. he didn't write the declaration of independence, didn't write the constitution, he wasn't even at the constitutional convention because he was a foreign ambassador at the time. but nevertheless his power with
10:40 pm
, words and commitment to the revolution was unparalleled. when this portrait was done, he was vice president. and i think that charles willson wanted us to see the man behind the intellect. this picture makes adams look i think kind of like your neighbor. he is not wearing a wig. he has ruddy cheeks and a 5:00 shadow. i think charles willson peale was really striving to make the portraits accessible to his visitors of the museum. he wanted the visitors to recognize the subjects, not to see them as people up on pedestals, not to see them as extraordinary in the sense of never having any failings but , rather real people who overcame what might have been accomplishngs to incredible feats. in adam's case, there is nothing truer than that. beforeirst comes to fame
10:41 pm
the american revolution starts because he defends the british soldiers accused of murdering american citizens at the boston massacre. a very unpopular position. relishednk adams things that were unpopular because he felt he could make his mark. and ambition was john adams' middle name. but he was always trying to temper it. i think john adams was a very ethical person, moral person, and despite his need for power and recognition, he kept it in check, because he knew that is what the republic needed. i think adams is one of those founders who really sacrificed his own advancement. yes, he becomes president, of course. but he could have been, i think in his own mind, much more than that. and yet, he feels he needs to enthusiasmown
10:42 pm
because after all, it is the common good and not a personal good that is important. when we look at this portrait i , think that is what we see. we see someone who is purposely downplaying how smart he is, how ambitious he is, in favor of what is needed by the new nation. let's take a look at somebody who didn't mind appearing to be grand, not at all. this is the first french ambassador to the united states. this is conrad alexander gerard, who was appointed as part of the 1778 alliance between america and france. without that alliance which came with money and soldiers, america could never have finished out the american revolution. the french were responsible for winping the united states the war against great britain.
10:43 pm
gerard was welcomed with open arms by americans. this portrait was painted by charles willson peale as a commission to the supreme executive council, the governing body for the state of pennsylvania. they wanted to hang this painting in independence hall, then the pennsylvania state house, which is where the pennsylvania government was located. this painting is in the grand manner style, this person was clearly aristocratic from the clothing and the setting in which he stands. he is sort of pose there with his one leg turned and hand on his hip. you can see he is wearing an ornamental sword on his left hip and is leaning his hand on some books. what we have got going on is somebody in a fancy suit who is clearly really smart and clearly really powerful, but it isn't just about that. the painting really was meant to celebrate the alliance between france and america. if you look at the upper right
10:44 pm
corner you will see a ghostly , depiction. it is meant to be a sculpture. and the sculpture is an allegory for france, the figure on the right, having her arm around america. it is this partnership that the portrait is really about. it is not about alexander gerard's wealth, his fine wig, rooster credit bearing, or his beautiful clothing. it is about the relationship between france and america represented by the allegorical sculpture. if you look behind his right elbow, you get an even stronger reminder that this isn't about wealth and privilege. it is about the new nation, because the building behind his right elbow is independence hall. and so, we are reminded that yes, you need money and expertise, you need for and support to win something like a
10:45 pm
revolution, but it all comes back to independence hall where the declaration was written. i thought we would finish up by taking a look at a painting that is neither grand or political, famous, or infamous. that is this portrait here. of this little boy. yes it is a little boy, even though he is wearing what looks like a dress. in the 18th century, children , boys or girls, wore what looks like dresses until the boys were about seven. the reason for that is women wear dresses and young children wear dresses, because neither women nor young children have any status in society. this portrait of samuel buckley morris, a philadelphian, makes him look like a little girl, but it actually is a little boy, and part of the reason you can tell that is because he is holding a puppy, which is a masculine prop. if he were a little girl, he
10:46 pm
would probably be holding a bird. behind him is the farm, you can see it in the background, and that refers to his family's estate. samuel buckley morris did not do anything famous. his grandfather fought in the revolution was a staff member of washington. he was a full enough emergent. a member of the society of quakers, and lived a comfortable life in the early 19th century living in a country estate. but pictures of children i think still remind us of what the whole dynamic of society is about. when we think about the american revolution and people who fought it, the people who then built the nation using the constitution, what were they doing it for? they were doing it for children like samuel buckley morris. this is not only a portrait of a young boy, but it was also painted by a young boy.
10:47 pm
this picture was done by charles willson peale's son, rembrandt , whenp -- rembrandt peale he was a young teenager. when you have a name like rembrandt you better become an , artist. charles willson peale named all of his sons after artists. rembrandt peale was the best known, the most prolific. he did this wonderful painting of samuel buckley morris in 1795, the same year rembrandt peale painted a portrait of george washington. when you think about moving from the president to a little boy and back again, it is a really great way to understand the world of an artist, you paint where the clients take you. i think this portrayal of this wonderful little boy with all the hope and promise of youth is a great way for an artist to exercise their talents. the care he took with the
10:48 pm
market, it survives. it was actually a present that contains the locks of his parents' hair. it is really a portrait about generations. it's not just about a little boy, but also his parents. and the family before them represented by the estate. the artist is taking an abstract concept and making it real, making it visual for us. by adding elements to the painting that allow us to read more into it than the surface information we see. and samuel buckley morris is one of the characters we don't read about in history books. he didn't sign the declaration of independence, but he is one of the people that made the new nation just as much as george washington or john adams. i think that is really the best part about coming to see the portraits here at independence park, you will see a lot of different kinds of people, not all famous, but all important.
10:49 pm
>> monday night, a look at the role of economic analysis and regulation at the federal communications commission. he is interviewed by the telecommunications reporter for bloomberg. >> you're saying that google should be regulated by the fcc? >> i am saying when congress starts thinking about what a future fcc would look like, the conversation should not be limited to isp's. the threat that google posed in particular to innovation is just as significant as say what comcast or verizon do. >> watch monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. >> next on american history tv,
10:50 pm
pulitzer prize-winning historian david mccullough talks about how the founders, particularly john adams, valued education and viewed slavery, and how they persevered in the face of hardship. mr. mccullough explains how these ideals then shaped american society. the society of the four arts hosted beach, florida, this event, part of a series on founders. it is about 50 minutes. >> well, it is great to see it filled like this. thank you all. good morning. i am really happy that there are students here today. ultimately, the people i want to reach most are they children and grandchildren of all of the people in this room. today, i am introducing a dear friends, america's great historian, david mccullough. but i am also very happy to introduce his wife rosalie,

40 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on