THE AUTHOR'S ART
THE following are a few of over a thousand newspaper comments
and letters upon the author's skill in the various departments
of his art. They are given here merely as proofs that our readers
may rely upon the accuracy of the representation of the "De
Witt Clinton " engine, cars, and passengers which accompanies
our work, and appears in simple black outline.
(From the Albany Argus, August, 1831.)
"Decidedly the best thing we have seen for many a day
we met with yesterday in dropping into the rooms of Mr. William
H. Brown the artist on State street. He has taken some of the
best likenesses of a number of our citizens in his peculiar styles,
namely, cut out of back paper with a pair of common scissors.
The one of our old and esteemed neighbors Jay Gould, is decidedly
the most striking picture we have ever looked upon. The facility
and correctness with which Mr. Brown takes these likenesses are
"We recognized also, at a single glance others as natural
as life itself. For instance, the venerable penny postman, Billy
Winne, Jerry Jewell, Mr. Alexander, little Chapman, the dwarf,
Mr. Carter, of the Clinton, John J. Quackenbush, ex-Governor Meigs,
Thurlow Weed, General Root, Mr. Phelps, Mr. Van Zant, and a host
of others and, what is the most astonishing feature about them,
they were all taken from memory. These individuals were pointed
out to Mr. Brown upon the street as well-known characters in our
city, and, after several hours were transferred by his magic scissors
upon paper, if not quite as large as life, at least twice as natural."
(From The Albany Evening Journal)
"Our friend Mr. William H. Brown, the inimitable artist
has fairly taken the Patronage of our citizens by storm. From
morn to night his rooms are besieged by anxious applicants, awaiting
their chance for the operation of his magic scissors. For every
one accommodated three stand ready as successors. We are gratified
at the result of Mr. Brown's visit among us, not more for the
encouragement extended to superlative skill than the satisfaction
of witnessing individual worth so highly appreciated. He has recently
taken in one large picture the entire Burgess's Corps with staff
and band in full Parade, in which the likeness of each individual
member is presented with an accuracy truly surprising, and stamps
Mr. Brown as a perfect master of his profession. Those who have
not seen his portraitures should embrace the earliest opportunity
as he remains, we regret to say, but one week longer, his departure
for that time being deferred for the purpose of taking the likenesses
of Engine Company No. 2. The courteous and cheerful deportment
of Mr. Brown toward his visitors renders a visit to his rooms
most agreeable and instructive."
(From the St. Louis bulletin.)
"Great Doings at Brown's.This wonderful artistyes,
we will out with itthe immortal brown has just completed
the most splendid thing in his line that was ever seen in this
city. It is nothing less than a profile likeness of the St. Louis
engine, the two hose-carriages, and sixty-five members of that
valiant and invincible corps. The members are all in the uniform
of the company, forty attached to the drag-ropes of the engine,
thirteen to the ropes of one hose-carriage and twelve to the other.
We will take the liberty of styling it a panoramic view of the
St. Louis Fire Company, and we are compelled to say that in this
kind of panorama all other artists must bow in humble submission
before the scissors and the skill of the unequaled Brown. This
method of styling it will not be deemed inappropriate when we
tell you that the whole picture occupies a space of twenty-five
feet in length. The representation of the engine is beautiful
indeed, and true to the very letter, and is all the work of a
pair of small scissors and black paper. On the opposite side of
the artist's room may be seen another specimen of his skill in
a second picture of the same kind, representing the Missouri Fire
Company, with her engine, hose-carriage, and tender, with fifty-nine
men in all. The company are represented in their winter costume
as returning from a fire or drill, the whole picture presenting
a fine and novel appearance, and are perfect and characteristic
likenesses. The two pictures are intended as decorations for their
several engine houses."
ARMORY NATCHEZ FENCIBLES.
"At a called meeting of the Natchez Fencibles, held at
their armory on Thursday evening, June 13,1844, the following
resolutions were unanimously adopted:
"1. Resolved, That the thanks of this company be tendered
to Mr. William H. Brown for the admirable picture of this corps,
just completed by him, which, in all its details, fully sustains
the high artistic reputation of Mr. Brown, and has won the undivided
admiration of the members of the Natchez Fencibles.
"2. Resolved, That the foregoing resolution be published
in the "'Daily Courier.'"
" LEVI S. HARRISON,
Secretary Natchez Fencibles."
WASHlNGTON, September 20, 1843.
"WILLIAM H. BROWN, Esq.
"MY DEAR SIR: Yours, postmarked Philadelphia, 1st September,
addressed to me at Appomatax Court-House, Virginia, I found on
my arrival here last evening. I am under very many obligations
to you for not publishing or printing the letter referred to by
you without giving me the opportunity which you have so kindly
done to correct its many imperfections. I do not desire it to
be published while it contains a single hard word or thought of
any human being. I never have deliberately and wantonly wounded
a fellow-being, though I have often done so, sometimes from a
sense of duty and sometimes impetuously. Even if I were inclined
to lash any one for 'lashing's' sake, I do not think your intended
volume would be the proper place for it. I do not prize my fame
for the faculty of saying severe things very highly; and he who
is gifted with the power and constrained by the necessity of saying
harsh things, or even of speaking out his mind and feelings strongly,
however honestly, in this world, is not apt to be blessed with
the mild judgments of men himself. I trust now that, having passed
the profile stage of life, and got into the author's line, you
can look at the world full-face. I have often seen and admired
your productions and the wonderful faculty of fixing the resemblance
of men on paper with the aid of your scissors and black paper
only. I have never failed to recognize a striking likeness to
the original in all I have seen even of the most casual acquaintance.
"With thanks for your kindness, and the flattering notice
you propose to take of my humble self, I am,
"HENRY A. DEVINE."
" Lindenwald, September 20, 1843."
William H. BROWN, ESQ.
"DEAR SIR: It affords me much satisfaction to embrace
the opportunity you have presented me, to express the very favorable
opinion I entertain of your skill in your peculiar style of profile
cutting; and with my best wishes for your success in your forthcoming
Very truly yours,
M. VAN BUREN."
"WASHINGTON: January 18, 1845.
"WILLIAM H. BROWN, ESQ.
DEAR SIR: I take pleasure in bearing testimony to your great
aptitude in taking likenesses in your way, and the fidelity with
which they are executed. I wish you great success in the work
you are about to publish, and do not doubt but that you will make
it worthy of public patronage. With great respect, " I am,
"WASHINGTON CITY January 13, l843.
" WILLIAM H. BROWN, Esq.
"MY DEAR SIR: Your favor of the 3d instant is before me,
and in reply I will say that the likenesses of the members of
Congress and other public men of the times, taken by you in your
peculiar and characteristic style, are remarkably correct, and
easily recognized at a glance." My friends unite in saying
that the one you took of myself is a striking likeness. I cannot,
however, see its resemblance to the original as I do in all the
others. It is an old and very true saying, 'that if we could see
ourselves as others see us,' etc.
"I wish you great success in your contemplated work. It
cannot otherwise than prove acceptable to the public, who feel
an interest in the records of men who have devoted their best
faculties to their country's service, which your 'Portrait Gallery'
will exhibit. With great respect,
"LEXINGTON, KY., October 13, 1843.
"WILLIAM H. BROWN, ESQ.
"DEAR SIR: Your favor of the 2d instant is received. I
well remember your collection of the likenesses of our public
men, members of Congress, the Cabinet, and other officials in
and about Washington City, and I will say that I was particularly
struck with their truthfulness. That of the Hon. John Randolph,
of Roanoke, is the very perfection of your art. I shall not soon
forget the amusement you afforded the visitors at the Blue Lick
Springs last summer, by your delineation's of many of them in
your peculiar and characteristic style of portraiture, unequaled
by any other artist in that way I have ever seen.
"The work you propose to publish will, no doubt, be an
interesting acquisition to the reading public, and I request you
here to put my name down in the list of your subscribers for a
copy as soon as it is ready for distribution. With great respect,
The foregoing letters are in allusion to a "Portrait Gallery
of Distinguished Public Men," published by the author a few
years after. They are referred to in this work merely as further
evidences of the author's skill in his peculiar art of sketching
in black paper outline or profile, that our readers may rely upon
the correctness of the representation of the "De Witt Clinton"
and train, which we insert.
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