Yes, I’m borrowing this title from a song by Bruce Springsteen!  Since we are celebrating Independence Day around this time, I thought it might be fun to find some enjoyable facts about a few American artists, some well-known and others maybe not so much.

So I took to the Internet (yes, thanks Wikipedia.org!) to do some snooping.  Here’s some of what I found out:

Patience Wright, born in New York to a Quaker family in 1725 was the first “recognized” American-born sculptor.  When her children were small, she fashioned faces for them out of bread dough, putty, or whatever else she had around.  When her husband died, she turned this into a career to support herself.  She later moved to London with a letter of introduction from none other than Ben Franklin!

John Trumbull was a painter during the American Revolution and was known for his historical paintings of that time.  His painting entitled “Declaration of Independence” was used on the bicentennial two-dollar bill.  Did you know that he graduated from Harvard at the ripe old age of 15?  Or that he lost the vision in one eye because of an accident when he was young?

Edward Savage was an engraver and a painter.  When I came across his name, I thought it sounded familiar.  Sure enough, he was the artist behind the work “The Washington Family”, a portrait of George and Martha Washington along with 2 of their grandchildren and a servant.  I owned a copy of this wonderful and large beautifully framed work, and in my early twenties, did not appreciate it, so I sold it at a yard sale for an embarrassing low price.  Oh well, our next artist is –

Rembrandt Peale, not the Dutch Rembrandt, but the American one!  He was known for his portraits of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  I remember there being a print of his Washington work hanging in almost every classroom when I was in elementary school.  His father was also an artist and schooled his children in painting.  Could he be named after the Dutch artist?  Could be!

Samuel F.B. Morse.  Now how did the inventor and co-developer of Morse code make it into this artist blog?  Well, in addition to what we learned in elementary school about his inventions, Samuel, as it turns out, was a portrait painter before turning to inventing!  How’s that for a mid-life career switch?

And we will end with Nathaniel Currier.  If this last name rings a bell it is with good reason.  He was a lithographer who started the business in 1835.  In 1850 he hired a bookkeeper by the name of, you guessed it, James Ives.  In 1857 the company became the famous Currier and Ives, known for Christmas scenes and Victoriana.  However, they also published political cartoons and illustrations of current events and history.  Not bad for a boy who once apprenticed in a printing firm in Boston.

It’s amazing to me, the stories behind the artists, whose work we admire today.  Check out some tales about your favorite artists, past or present.  You will be amazed!

Florence Blog Post written by Becky Stragand

Becky Stragand is a writer and retired educator who enjoys books, interior design, and tending to her cats. She lives in West Jefferson with her husband and felines.