AND THE BOOK V INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
THE AMERICANS IN FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY II
SATURDAY, 11 OCTOBER 2008
FLORENCE'S LYCEUM CLUB AND THE 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY
II. Hiram Powers and Amasa Hewins_______
'The 'English' Cemetery and Historical Reconstruction: Liberating Hiram Powers' 'Greek Slave' to Return to Florence'. Roger J. Crum, University of Dayton
'Hiram Powers, Kate Field and the Italian Risorgimento'. Melissa Dabakis, Kenyon College
'Kate Field'. Francesca Limberti
'Fortunate Associations: The American Painter Amasa Hewins (1795-1855) and Florence'. John F. McGuigan, Independent Scholar
Whiting, Lilian. The World Beautiful. First Series. London: Little Brown and Co., 1894.
_____. “A Story of Psychical Communication.” Arena. 13, 1895: 263-270.
_____. “Kate Field.” Arena. 16, 1896: 919-27.
_____. The World Beautiful. Second series. London: Gay and Bird, 1896.
_____. After Her Death. The Story of a Summer. London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company, 1897.
_____. The World Beautiful. Third Series. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1898.
_____. Kate Field. A Record. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1899.
_____. A Study of Mrs. Browning. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1902.
_____. “Florentine Days.” Arena. 30, 1903: 623-25.
_____. The Florence of Landor. London: Gay and Bird, 1905.
_____. Italy the Magic Land. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1907.
"Fortunate Associations: The American Painter Amasa Hewins (1795-1855) and Florence."
John F. McGuigan Jr, Independent Scholar. Paper.
While Amasa Hewins (1795-1855) is largely forgotten today as a painter, he is perhaps best remembered as a man of fortunate associations: having formed part of an estimable colony of American artists in Florence on three different occasions; having traveled throughout Italy with two of America’s most prominent artists; having been appointed United States Commercial Agent to Florence, essentially performing the duties of consul; and, ultimately, having been buried in the famous “English Cemetery” at Florence. Had these interesting events not transpired, history would likely never have given Hewins—whose known painting oeuvre is quite small—a second thought. We are, therefore, fortunate that they did occur because an examination of the life of Amasa Hewins pleasantly reveals a rich history and the extent to which he was inextricably linked to Florence, a city he dearly loved.
In 1795, in the middle of George Washington’s presidency, Amasa Hewins was born in Sharon, Massachusetts, a typical New England town where his family had resided for four generations. Like many Americans of the Federal period, he received limited formal schooling, but he supplemented it with a passion for reading and foreign languages. This auto-didactic classical education proved invaluable to him later in life, and he wisely advised his eldest son Charles (1822-98) to do likewise. He wrote to the ten-year-old boy from Italy in 1832: “I wish that you should acquire a taste for reading and study, that if ever you should travel, you may be able to understand and enjoy what you see.”[i]
We know little of Hewins’ early life until his marriage in 1820 to Elizabeth Alden (dates unknown) of Dedham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, where they raised a family. In 1821 he was listed as a merchant of West India goods on Brattle Street in Boston, trading in rum, sugar, molasses, and cotton. Hewins probably harbored artistic aspirations from an early age, but no anecdote survives to corroborate this theory. Perhaps he studied under one of the numerous portrait painters resident in Boston, but this, too, is unrecorded. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, portraiture was unquestionably the best avenue to financial success in the fine arts, and, by 1827, Hewins had abandoned his mercantile interests and moved his household to Washington, DC to pursue that line of work. Then as now, the nation’s capital was rife with politicians eager to commemorate their exalted status by commissioning their likenesses, and Hewins remained profitably employed there for two years, at which time he moved his family back to Boston and secured a painting studio at 73 Cornhill.
Hewins’ decision to study in Florence rather than Rome may have been guided by the presence of a contingent of fellow Bostonians resident in the former place: the sculptor Horatio Greenough (1805-52); his brother, the painter Henry Greenough (1807-83); and the portraitist John Gore (1806-68). The four men had likely been acquainted in Boston and fell into a very comfortable routine in Florence centered around the ever-popular artists’ retreat, the Caffè Doney. Together they frequented the Accademia delle Belle Arti, shared models, and visited each other’s lodgings and studios. Over the next five months Hewins profited greatly from these strong friendships, which allowed him to freely exchange ideas, copy in art galleries, and take sketching trips to nearby villages with the support of his fellow countrymen.
Another fixture within the American colony at Florence was James Ombrosi (ca. 1777-1852), who held the post that Hewins would ultimately succeed him in almost a quarter century later, namely, that of U.S. consular representative.[iv] James Edward Freeman (1808-84), the American figure painter and consul to Ancona, brilliantly described Ombrosi in his memoirs, observing that “he was a Tuscan, with a competent income, a bachelor, and proud, above all things, of being our representative as consul.” Freeman continued, “Ombrosi was of a portly mien—his cheeks very broad and fat, his forehead extremely small, his ears large, and his nose little short of immense, which he saddled conspicuously with a pair of gold spectacles. . . . His dress, somewhat of an exploded fashion, was studiously respectable, and his gold-headed cane a conspicuous accessory to his general appearance.”[v]
An esteemed connoisseur and collector of old master paintings and drawings, Ombrosi was especially fond of artists and maintained strong convictions about how they should study. He was partial to sending Americans to two teachers, Giuseppe Bezzuoli (1784-1855) and Pietro Benvenuti (1769-1844), the future director of the Accademia. But if these pupils faltered in or rebelled against their discipline, Ombrosi could turn quite nasty. As the American painter Robert Weir (1803-89) recalled: “Another of my acquaintance, who appeared to take a great interest in my welfare, was a Mr. O[mbrosi], a most rare specimen of Italian character: he was fawning, subtle, and vindictive, and took umbrage at my leaving Signor Benvenuti. Several little circumstances took place which sometimes irritated and sometimes soothed him, but at length he let me know that unless I left Florence, my life was in danger.”[vi] We do not know if Hewins studied drawing under a Florentine master—for his sparse journal entries from this period mention little of his training—nor how well he got on with Ombrosi. We can assume, however, that his experience may have paralleled that of Horatio Greenough, who recently lamented that Ombrosi had been “coming out with occasional demonstrations of ill will which have induced me to drop from intimacy to civility, from civility to wary caution, which last feeling actuates my every action where he is concerned.”[vii]
On 9 March 1831 the American colony in Florence was greatly enriched by the arrival of Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872), the illustrious president of the National Academy of Design in New York, traveling with his colleague, the portraitist John Cranch (1807-91). Morse had already conceived the germ of his idea for the electric telegraph, an invention that would indelibly change civilization, but it was supplanted for the time being by his passion to become a great painter. The following two months must have been a whirlwind of excitement and learning because the three most avid diarists of the intimate group—Cranch, Hewins, and Morse—found little or no time to record their daily activities. We can discern, however, that Hewins and Morse shared a deep love for the Venetian School because the two men departed together for Venice on 16 May.
Although they first stopped in Bologna to leisurely explore its rich collections of art, this was disappointingly not to be the case, as Hewins reported in his journal that “the streets as we entered appeared quite deserted and desolate; scarcely a person was seen. The revolution which but a few days before had broken out was quelled and everything appeared quiet.”[viii] Hewins and Morse remained only three days in Bologna, barely long enough to visit the galleries and confirm their profound admiration for the Bolognese School, because as Hewins wrote, “Strangers as well as their own citizens are watched like thieves, and the slightest pretext is said to be sufficient motive for arrest.”[ix] Therefore, they wisely resolved to proceed directly to Venice, although Hewins pledged to return to Bologna.
They arrived in Venice on 22 May 1831, and Hewins was instantly enamored by “singing girls with their guitars, at every few steps chanting the airs of Rossini, and accompanying themselves upon their favorite instruments.”[x] In spite of the rainy spring weather, they immersed themselves in the celebrated artworks housed in the Accademia, and Hewins painted an ambitious copy after Paolo Veronese’s Rape of Europa (1575-80) in the Palazzo Ducale. With introductions from friends in Florence and Bologna, Hewins and Morse developed many diverse and stimulating acquaintances that included Ludovico Lipparini (1800-56), a professor at the Accademia; Count Leopoldo Cicognara (1767-1834), friend and biographer of Antonio Canova (1757-1822) and former director of the Accademia; Count Bernardino Corneani (1780-after 1855), amateur painter and general superintendent of pictures in Venice; Father Paschal Aucher (dates unknown), Lord Byron’s Armenian language teacher; and the British consul, W. T. Money (dates unknown). That 4 July, Hewins noted in his journal that “the only Americans in Venice were Mr. Morse and myself, and although we could not make a very large dinner party we could not forget the day of our independence,” and they abstemiously toasted the occasion over a cup of coffee.[xi] Their fruitful and quite social two-month sojourn ended on 16 July, when Hewins departed for Bologna, and Morse for Paris.
The next three months found Hewins back in Bologna, as promised, where life had almost returned to normal after the revolution. He reflected that “I have found the Bolognese, generally, exceedingly obliging and attentive to strangers, more so perhaps than any other city in Italy. . . . This, to be sure, may be in consequence of their not seeing so many travelers and strangers as are at Florence and Rome.”[xii] He appears to have spent most of his time at the Accademia executing a copy of Guido Reni’s Massacre of the Innocents (1611, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna). Back in the Tuscan capital on 10 November, Hewins briefly reentered his exhilarating social circle. One distinguished new addition was Thomas Cole (1801-48), widely regarded as the father of America’s Hudson River School, who had been living with the Greenough brothers since July. Hewins invited his peers to his rooms to see the progress he had made in his copies and sketches over the last six months, as well as the print collection that he had assembled. Staying in Florence only nine days, Hewins dispatched his paintings, drawings, and prints to Boston, bade his goodbyes, and on 19 November departed Florence for Rome, where he arrived five days later.
Disappointingly, Hewins penned only four entries over the ensuing five months in Rome, and we know little of his activities. Not until 12 April 1832 do we learn from Thomas Cole that the two set off together in a vettura for a three-day sketching excursion to Tivoli.[xiii] Hewins evidently proved to be such an agreeable traveling companion that, one month later, Cole invited him, along with another Boston portrait painter, Francis Alexander (1800-80)—who, like Hewins, would expatriate to Florence in the 1850s—on a three-week sketching expedition to Naples, Paestum, Pompeii, and Salerno.
Back in the Eternal City on 1 June, Hewins lingered a further two weeks before the malarial season drove him back to Florence on 19 June. Unfortunately for us, Hewins only recorded two entries in his journal that summer, but we can imagine that he passed his days copying in galleries or working from the live model, while in the evenings he attended the theater or sought the camaraderie of Cole, Cranch, Gore, Alexander, and the Greenoughs. On 2 September 1832 Hewins chronicled his departure from Florence and expressed regret that he may never return. He spent the next ten months in Paris, followed by a one-month tour of the Continent, before eventually reaching Boston in June 1833.
We are privileged to know quite a bit about Hewins’ first sojourn abroad from the diaries of his colleagues, Morse and Cranch, as well as his own travel journal. Whereas Morse transcribes fascinating details about Italian life and his daily painting habits, and Cranch provides a gossipy account of the comings and goings of the art colony, Hewins’ journal is a rather matter-of-fact itinerary with a few interesting asides, rather than an insightful reflection on personal growth and self-discovery. Thus, while we have a good idea of his travels, he shares very little with us about his craft, his views on art, or even his output beyond a few copies after the old masters. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to reconstruct Hewins’ oeuvre and patronage from his subsequent exhibition record in America.
In 1834 Hewins displayed eight pictures from his European trip at the Annual Exhibition of the prestigious Boston Athenæum. A large copy after Raphael’s celebrated Madonna di Foligno (1512, Pinacoteca Vaticana) was owned by Charles Lyman (dates unknown) of Waltham, Massachusetts, who also commissioned Thomas Cole’s famous monumental work, Remains of the Great Roman Aqueduct (1832, Washington University Gallery of Art, St. Louis). Hewins balanced three other copies, one after Murillo and two after Titian, with original compositions, such as Father Giuseppe, A Capuchin Monk, Painted at Rome; A Roman Peasant Woman; and The Blind Mandolin Player, Taken in Italy from Life. Only one work was listed for sale that year, Genardo, the Blind Minstrel of Capua, near Naples (Drawn from Life). The following summer, Hewins debuted four more Italian subjects at Boston’s American Gallery of Fine Arts, namely, a copy after Il Volteranno’s Sleeping Cupid (Palazzo Pitti) and three original compositions: Mount Vesuvius, A Florentine, and Capuchin Monk, the last listed for sale. At this point, Hewins’ Italian oeuvre—all of which today remains unlocated—had been dispersed, and he returned to exhibiting bespoke portraits for the next five years.
Then in August 1839 an international incident captivated the entire nation, and Hewins seized the opportunity to capitalize on the excitement. The occasion was the U.S. Navy’s seizure of the renegade Spanish slave ship La Amistad in Long Island Sound. The subjugated Africans on board—accused of murdering the Amistad’s captain and cook in order to gain control of the ship—were taken to New Haven, Connecticut to await what would become one of the most sensational trials in American history. Anticipating the public’s lust for information, Hewins traveled to the neighboring state to take the portraits of the key individuals involved. The result was a monumentally sized painting, now unlocated, entitled The Death of Capt. Ferrer, the Captain of the Amistad, July, 1839, which he exhibited to paying audiences in 1840. It was advertised that “this thrilling event with 26 of the principal characters is correctly delineated on 135 feet of canvas, and strikes the beholder as real life. Its faithfulness to the original has been attested by those who participated in the awful tragedy. The hundreds of visitors both in New Haven and Hartford where the Africans have been seen, have bestowed the most unqualified praise upon the merits of the painting.”[xiv] Surviving woodblock prints of the work reveal that while Hewins portrayed the exact moment of the captain’s death during the insurrection, he did not take sides but let the audience decide if the slaves were murderous mutineers or victims of an evil institution who acted in self-defense—the very two arguments at the center of their ongoing trial, which became a beacon for the abolitionist movement. Thus, Hewins’ dramatic depiction of this still unfolding current event did not conform to the idiom of history painting but more closely approximated reportage, firmly situating it within a great American artistic tradition that extends from John Singleton Copley’s (1738-1815) iconic Watson and the Shark of 1778 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC) to the immediacy of Winslow Homer’s (1836-1910) Civil War pictures.
Family lore tells of Hewins’ longing to return to Florence, a city that, it was said, he loved so much that he named one of his daughters after it. This affinity was borne out in November 1841, eight years after his first trip ended, when, using the proceeds from his Amistad picture, he once again sailed across the Atlantic. Back in Florence, his old friend Horatio Greenough remained firmly ensconced as the lion among other eminent American sculptors that now included Shobal Vail Clevenger (1812-43) and Hiram Powers (1805-73), in whose studio Hewins made a sketch (Private Collection) of the plaster model for Eve Tempted (1842, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC) in May 1842. Ombrosi continued to perform his consular duties with the same vigor—and spite—as before, making as many enemies as he did friends. Even though the Government of Tuscany had refused to recognize Ombrosi’s status as U.S. consular agent ever since 1834, and President Andrew Jackson revoked his consulship that same year, it did little to prevent him from obstinately keeping his title and performing his regular duties for American travelers.
The timing of Hewins’ second trip, whether by plan or coincidence, dovetailed neatly with a veritable invasion of American artists into Florence, including Thomas Cole, James DeVeaux (1812-44), Asher B. Durand (1796-1886), Francis William Edmonds (1806-63), James E. Freeman, Daniel Huntington (1816-1906), Thomas P. Rossiter (1818-71), Luther Terry (1813-1900), and Samuel Bell Waugh (1814-85). Hewins’ journal—if he kept one—is unlocated, so that his exact itinerary is uncertain, but we do know the purpose of his journey: he intended to capitalize on the format and success of his Amistad picture by painting a panorama of the Mediterranean coastline. While panoramas had been a commercially popular form of art and entertainment in America since at least 1800, Hewins’ project was unique in that, as the promoter William E. Hutchings (dates unknown) later claimed, it was the only one of “‘Coasts, Cities, and Sea, beyond the Ocean,’ ever painted by a native of the United States.”[xv] Though neither the panorama nor any of Hewins’ preparatory drawings has yet surfaced, a descriptive brochure explained that it was “executed from drawings made by A. Hewins, during his voyages in the Mediterranean, and his travels in Spain, France, and Italy; embracing views of Gibraltar, Barcelona, Toulon, Genoa, Naples, Vesuvius, &c.”[xvi] Certainly the idea of depicting Italy and the Mediterranean in a panorama was not novel. John Vanderlyn (1775-1852), who painted a panorama of Versailles in 1819 (Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), toyed with a similar notion while he was in Italy from 1805 to 1807; Thomas Cole contemplated one of the Bay of Naples during his trip there with Hewins in 1832; and Samuel Bell Waugh was currently gathering material for two different Italian-themed panoramas that he would exhibit in America throughout the 1850s.
Returning to America in August 1842 with his preparatory sketches, Hewins scandalized stuffy Boston Brahmins by sporting an outward manifestation of the bohemian lifestyle: “a little mustache that excited some comment in a society where smooth-shaven faces were the rule.”[xvii] Over the next six years work progressed on what Hutchings boasted was “the largest painting in the world” until its debut at the Masonic Temple on Boston’s Tremont Street in 1848. [xviii] At a cost of twenty-five cents per viewing, crowds flocked to see the Grand Classical Panorama of the Sea and Shores of the Mediterranean. Hutchings, who conducted tours worthy of P. T. Barnum, touted every evening that “indeed, no pains nor expense has been spared to render it not only worthy of the vastness and grandeur of the subject, but superior in every respect to anything of the kind heretofore known or attempted.”[xix] Giving us the only truly effective description of Hewins’ work, he tantalized that “the spectator will behold in this painting, the steamers, men-of-war, merchantmen, ships, boats, and craft of every class and all nations, in their natural and all-various positions, in the famous gulf, bays, and ports.”[xx] After its run in Boston, the panorama traveled to great acclaim throughout the United States, as far away as Ohio and Alabama.
Ultimately, Hewins’ successful portrait practice, combined with the revenue earned from his panorama, afforded him the financial wherewithal to expatriate to his beloved Florence. He received his passport from the State Department on 15 March 1852 and commenced his third and final voyage.[xxi] A surviving sketchbook (Boston Athenæum), the only record of his trip, begins with a view of the Cape of St. Vincent on the coast of Portugual and faithfully records the artist’s movements until he reached Florence in the first week of June. In addition to Greenough and Powers, the American presence in Florence was newly fortified by the painters Thomas Buchanan Read (1822-72) and Walter Gould (1829-93), and the sculptors Joseph Mozier (1812-70) and Joel Tanner Hart (1810-77). From what we can infer, Hewins was particularly close to Powers and shared with him a fascination for spiritualism. One Halloween he wrote to son Charles that he was grateful for the papers and pamphlets that he had sent, but that he “should be glad of anything relating to spiritualism,” especially for “Powers who asks me every time I see [him for] more.”[xxii]
Over the next two years, Hewins filled his sketchbook with delightfully fresh drawings of scenes in and around Florence that show a vast improvement from the rather stiff and amateur productions of his first trip. While he was a fully mature draftsman, however, he seems now to have only pursued art for his personal pleasure. Instead, we see from his business ledger (Boston Athenæum), which begins in September 1852, that he returned to his roots in commerce and became an exporter of purported old master paintings, as well as of “carved wooden boxes, pieces of old damask, Florentine frames, and mosaics—things of a sort not often seen in the New England of the fifties.” [xxiii] All of this material he collected and sent to son Charles in Boston, who then consigned everything to various public auctions. Nine massive shipments were logged, listing over two hundred objects in each—mostly paintings. In reality, Hewins would have barely had any time to pursue his art considering that the remainder of his life was spent on one giant buying spree, followed by the bureaucratic tedium of applying for export permits and negotiating fees and duties.
Judging from several auction catalogues annotated with prices realized (Boston Athenæum), it is difficult to imagine that Hewins made much money or, for that matter, broke even on his exported goods. But whatever the pecuniary considerations, they did little to deter him, with the result that by August 1853 he was desperately in need of additional funds to keep his scheme afloat. Hiram Powers obligingly lent him sixty francesconi—roughly equivalent to sixty-six dollars—with the promise that it be repaid within a month.[xxiv] At this low ebb in his plans, Hewins’ correspondence with his son nevertheless belies tremendous confidence that the items he was supplying for markets in Boston and New York would eventually find a demand and make a profit.
It was no easy matter shipping thousands of paintings and objets d’art out of the Duchy of Tuscany. It typically required the services of a banker as well as the American consul, who collected the various moneys owed to the local government. James Ombrosi had acted in this last capacity for Americans for nearly thirty years. Even though he had reconciled with the State Department and was reinstated as Acting U.S. Consul to Florence in 1849, the Government of Tuscany never accredited his office and only bestowed upon him the meager title of “Commercial Agent.” Ombrosi soon after went senile, and for the last two years of his life his office was run by assistants—none of whom spoke a word of English. The burdens of the consulate gradually shifted to the Irishman John Leland Maquay Jr. (1791-1868) of the Florentine banking firm Maquay, Pakenham and Smyth, as well as to Hiram Powers, who found the constant applications from travelers a major hindrance to his sculpture practice. When Ombrosi died in March 1852, three months before Hewins’ arrival, the State Department rather audaciously appointed Powers to the post without consulting him, to which the sculptor quickly shot back: “Commercial agent! Obliged to keep my office open from 9 till 3 and attend to everybody’s business but my own and no pay! . . . I can’t afford to serve my country in that way.”[xxv]
Everyone offered the consulship over the next two years essentially turned it down until Powers, alerted to Hewins’ financial instability, offered him the job.[xxvi] Hewins, who had already learned the labyrinthine bureaucratic system through his own wheeling and dealing and had familiarized himself with all the basic responsibilities of the office, readily accepted, and on 16 August 1854 he was officially commissioned by his government, much to the great relief of both Powers and Maquay.[xxvii] Not everyone, however, was optimistic about the decree, as a correspondent for the Newark Advertiser reported that October: “Mr. A. Hewins, a venerable artist from Boston, long resident in this city, has received from Washington the appointment of United States Commercial Agent. . . . As there is but little trade with the United States, the office is of no great value, and will scarcely pay for the trouble it may occasion.”[xxviii]
Furthermore, it appears that American travelers had become spoiled by the social standing and connections that Ombrosi had maintained within the Florentine community—a facet of the job that Hewins was either unable or unwilling to fulfill. As Freeman recorded, Ombrosi’s greatest appeal was that “he devoted himself to the service of every American citizen who arrived in the beautiful capital of Tuscany, got them all indiscriminately presentations to the grand duke [Leopold II], advised them where to live, how to live, what to pay for it, and stood between them and all impositions.”[xxix] In contrast, the Florence correspondent for the New York Times complained that Hewins was entirely unsuited to the task. A dispatch dated 3 January 1855 stated that “Americans desirous of being presented to this potentate and of attending a series of court balls, would, under ordinary circumstances, apply to their representative. But there is none of any grade whatever in Florence, except Mr. Hewins, whom nobody knows, and who rejoices in the title of United States Commercial Agent. He has no exequatur, and is recognized in no degree whatever by the Government. However, American travelers usually have a banker, and this banker is nine times out of ten Mr. Maquay . . . [who] makes out a list of applicants, and forwards it to the Chamberlain, who draws up the invitations in accordance with it.”[xxx]
Hewins seems to have led a rather focused and insular life in his last year. During the summer of 1855, while he prepared a shipment of paintings—which dubiously claimed works by Poussin, Rubens, Caravaggio, Guercino, and Titian—destined for the Boston auction house of Broadhead & Co., tragedy stuck when a cholera epidemic that had raged throughout Italy finally reached Florence. As a precautionary measure, Powers sent his family away, but he stayed, as did Hewins and Thomas Buchanan Read. Sadly, on 24 June, Read’s wife and young daughter succumbed to the epidemic, and he belatedly fled the city with his surviving child. Even after this, in what many would consider an ill-advised decision, both Powers and Hewins remained in Florence. The devastating repercussions were felt just under two months later when Hewins contracted the bacterial disease and died on 18 August 1855.Once again, the lugubrious responsibilities of settling the affairs of other people fell to Powers, and he was obliged to arrange multiple funerals in addition to Hewins’ burial in Florence’s “English Cemetery.” Though Hewins died at the relatively young age of sixty, he left behind a large family consisting of nine children, whose descendants are today scattered throughout America. In 1928 his daughter Louisa (1840-1933) bequeathed all of her father’s papers in her possession to the Boston Athenæum, which published his journal three years later, thus ensuring that Hewins’ legacy would never be completely forgotten to history.[xxxi]
[i]. Francis H. Allen, ed., A Boston Portrait-Painter Visits Italy: The Journal of Amasa Hewins 1830-1833 (Boston: Boston Athenæum, 1931), xiii.
[ii]. Allen, Journal, 29.
[iii]. Ibid., 45-46.
[iv]. President James Monroe appointed Ombrosi America’s first consul to Florence in 1819.
[v]. James Edward Freeman, Gatherings from an Artist’s Portfolio (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1877), 233-34.
[vi]. William Dunlap, History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States, 2 vols. (New York: George P. Scott and Co., 1834), 2:390.
[vii]. Horatio Greenough to James Fenimore Cooper, 20 December 1830. Nathalia Wright, Letters of Horatio Greenough, American Sculptor (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1972), 67.
[viii]. Allen, Journal, 57.
[ix]. Ibid., 63.
[x]. Ibid., 66.
[xi]. Ibid., 74.
[xii]. Ibid., 77.
[xiii]. Thomas Cole Journal, 12 April 1832. Thomas Cole Papers, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan.
[xiv]. Ellen Strong Bartlett, “The Amistad Captives. An Old Conflict between Spain and America,” New England Magazine, n.s. 22, no. 1 (March 1900): 82.
[xv]. William E. Hutchings, Description of Hutchings’ Grand Classical Panorama of the Sea and Shores of the Mediterranean (Boston: George C. Rand and Co. Printers, 1848), 49.
[xvii]. Allen, Journal, xv.
[xviii]. Hutchings, Panorama, 49.
[xix]. Ibid., 4.
[xx]. Ibid., 48.
[xxi]. Randal L. Holton and Charles A. Gilday, “Moses B. Russell: Yankee Miniaturist,” Magazine Antiques (November 2002): 165.
[xxii]. Amasa Hewins to Charles A. Hewins, 31 October 1853. Amasa Hewins Papers, Boston Athenæum.
[xxiii]. Allen, Journal, xviii.
[xxiv]. Amasa Hewins to Hiram Powers, 22 August 1853. Hiram Powers Papers, Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art, Washington, DC.
[xxv]. Richard P. Wunder, Hiram Powers: Vermont Sculptor, 1805-1873, 2 vols. (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1991), 1:280.
[xxvi]. For a good description of everyone who was offered the consulship in the two years after Ombrosi’s death, see Wunder, Hiram Powers, 280.
[xxvii]. Howard R. Marraro, Diplomatic Relations between the United States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies: Instructions and Despatches, 1816-1861, 2 vols. (New York: S. F. Vanni, 1952), 42-43.
[xxviii]. Newark Advertiser, as quoted in New York Times, 26 October 1854.
[xxix]. Freeman, Gatherings, 234.
[xxx]. Dick Tinto, “Dick Tinto on His Travels: A Ball at the Palace—The Grand Duke—The Heir Who Was Not Sent to Bed Before the Party Was Over—The Wit of the Occasion—Italian Opera at Home, &c., &c.,” New York Times, 8 February 1855.
[xxxi]. I am grateful to Julia Bolton Holloway for putting me in touch with several of Hewins’ descendants, one of whom, Martha Coolidge Rudd, I am most obliged to for sharing genealogical information.
With the Sponsorship of the Comune di Firenze, the United States
Consulate General in Florence, Syracuse University in Florence,
Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography, the Lyceum Club of
Florence, the Chiesa Evangelica Riformata Svizzera of
Florence, and the Aureo Anello
Associazione Mediatheca 'Fioretta Mazzei' e Amici del Cimitero