Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Portrait in Chromolithography

Frontispiece for Anne Hollingsworth Wharton, Salons Colonial and Republican (Lippincott, 1900 -- available in a reprint edition). The painting is by Thomas Sully of Elizabeth Wadsworth, about whom the book says (p. 263-4) "A New York beauty who was frequently to be met at the [Mrs. William Rush of Philadelphia] Rushes' was Elizabeth Wadsworth, a sister of General James S. Wadsworth, of Geneseo. Miss Wadsworth was an intimate friend of the Hopkinsons, by whom she is described as lovely in character as well as beautiful in person. For Mr. Joseph Hopkinson's daughter, Mrs. William Biddle, Miss Wadsworth had her portrait painted by Sully, which is still in possession of the Hopkinson family. When the Honorable Charles Augustus Murray was in America collecting materials for his book of travels among the Indians of North America, and for his Prairie Bird, which appeared later, he met Miss Wadsworth and became warmly attached to her. The American beauty returned the affection of her English lover, but refused to marry him and leave her father. Some years later, after the death of Mr. Wadsworth, his daughter accepted an invitation to go abroad with a party of friends. In London or in Paris she met Mr. Murray, who had remained faithful to his early love; they became engaged, were married, and went to Cairo, where Mr. Murray held an official position."

Wikipedia has plenty more to say about this, but most poingant about the story is that they were married 12 December 1850 in Scotland, and she died in childbirth 8 December 1851 (though their son survived).

Now you know about Mrs. Murray; I still don't know why she was chosen for the frontispiece, since very little of the book is about her. You can download the whole book from Google or the Internet Archive if you want to read more.

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