AND THE BOOK V INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
THE AMERICANS IN FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY V
SATURDAY, 11 OCTOBER 2008
FLORENCE'S LYCEUM CLUB AND THE 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY
V. American Collectors and Visitors
'Albert Jenkins Jones: The New York Times' Sculpture Critic in Italy, 1860-1876'. Nancy Austin, Independent Scholar
'James Lorimer Graham, American Consul, 1832-1876, U.S. Consul in Florence.' Jeffrey Begeal, Independent Scholar
'Tracking Enigma - A Grave with a Nickname in the 'English' Cemetery'. Margot Fortunato Galt, University of Minnesota and Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota
'Jennie's Gift: The Early Purchases of French Imprints for the Daniel Willard Fiske Petrarch Collection'. Patrick J. Stevens, Curator of the Fiske Collections and Selector for Jewish Studies, Cornell University
'Anne Mac Cracken'. Richard Mac Cracken, Independent Scholar
'Louisa Catherine Adams Kuhn, Florentine Adventures, 1859-1860'. Robert J. Robertson, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas
Nancy Austin, an independent scholar,
speaking on Albert
Jenkins Jones, the sculpture critic for the New York Times, 1860-1876.
Albert Jenkins Jones (1821 RI,
of a deceased mariner, Albert J. Jones was raised in
working class end of
important legacy was the gift of a large bequest that
first art museum in RI. However,
Jones Bequest triggered a 4-year lawsuit between the Rhode
Design (RISD) and the Providence Art Club (surrogate) to see
was best suited to take the bequest. Did RISD, as a design
mission, the support of art? What
the function of an Art Museum for designers? For artists? For
his complete body of New
York Times criticism gives us another primary source, in
for gossipy details and larger themes. Jones can be a complement
his better-remembered contemporary critics, like James Jackson
historical actor, Albert J. Jones is an important case study
the relationship between political activism and art criticism;
dimension of neoclassical sculpture and the soldier; the
American art patrons and
Lorimer Graham, c. 1832-1876, US Consul in Florence
Jeffrey Begeal, Independent Scholar. Paper.
Born the son of Nathaniel Burr Graham and Marie Antoinette McCrosky in New York City in the early 1830’s, James Lorimer Graham led a privileged childhood and youth. Both his maternal uncle, Robert McCrosky, one of the founders of The Chemical Bank of New York, and his paternal uncle, James Graham, for whom he was named, played pivotal roles in his education and early career in publishing. His uncle James and aunt Julia Graham tutored him and his siblings in their Washington Square mansion. They were surrounded with original works of European art, a large library, the study of French and Italian at the home, and were included in the vibrant social life among the business, literary and political figures of the times. James’ rise as a savant was becoming apparent, and the family had him conclude his studies in France. His family connections opened many avenues for him, and he relished making the acquaintances of leading men in various fields.
When James returned to America after receiving his diploma, he worked for the shipping line of Howland and Aspinwall. The choice was inspired by two things: his older brother Robert’s serving in the US Navy and his love of travel. Indeed it was the news of the Gold Rush in California, promoted by the writings of Bayard Taylor, and the misadventures of two of the Graham cousins heading west that captivated the young James. Thus in December of 1853, Graham boarded the ill fated USS San Francisco, in order to sail to California. The American poet, Walt Whitman, was a fellow passenger, and composed a poem about the shipwreck and fate of the passengers. Graham survived the incident and the sobering effect was that he returned to New York, lived at his father’s house, married, and settled into a post working for Putnam’s Magazine.
During his early career, Graham took an active role in fostering the work of American artists and literary men. He became a member of The Century Club, an elite intellectual group, and one of its first librarians. As was a common practice of the era, Graham and his wife, Josephine A. Garner, planned a Grand Tour of Europe. The advent of the American Civil War gave them pause, but in 1862 they decided to set sail across the Atlantic. Traveling through England, Scotland, France, and Germany, the couple made their way to Italy and arranged a stay in Florence. For their thirteenth wedding anniversary, the Grahams purposely rented the apartment in the Casa Guidi that the Brownings had occupied, which they considered as a shrine for poetic inspiration. It was in London that the Grahams had met the aging Robert Browning, and they corresponded with him on several occasions. The Grahams made pilgrimages to every surrounding place associated with the Brownings, i.e. the Baths of Lucca, Bellosgardo, and Vallombrosa. In their library back in New York, the Grahams owned first editions of both Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Brownings’ works. When they visited the Porta à Pinti Cemetery to see her tomb, they entered a beautiful memorial garden that pleased them both.
The Grahams experienced an unexpected decline in their purchasing power due to the reduced exchange rate of the American dollar resulting from their country’s civil war. They returned to New York somewhat downcast, but they vowed to return to Europe and especially to Florence. Thus in 1866, when their financial condition had improved through Graham’s work with his father and uncles at The Metropolitan Insurance Company, he was honored at a valedictory banquet at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York by his closest friends. He and Josephine had announced that they would return to Europe and live as Americans abroad. Drawn once again to Florence by their friend Bayard Taylor, who had been taken seriously ill at the Casa Guidi apartment of the Brownings which he rented for his family that spring, the Grahams rented the Villa of Marquese Manelli which was beyond the Porta Pinti on the road to Fiesole near the Villa Palmieri. They were just a thirty minute carriage ride to see their friend, the American sculptor Hiram Powers and his family. The lease at the Villa Manelli was for six months, the Grahams intending to buy a property and arrange the transport of their library and art collection from Manhattan. Circumstances aided them in their plans.
In 1869, the US Consulship was unexpectedly left vacant by the departure then sudden death of Timothy Bigelow Lawrence in Washington, D.C. Many friends lobbied on Graham’s behalf with the Grant administration to make Graham the next US Consul. This appointment was a serious political position, for Florence would become briefly the capital of a united, secular Italy. Graham’s connections, education and experience served him well, however, and he served as a consul until his death in 1876. With this appointment secured, the Grahams settled into the city and became leading members of the American colony.
Graham operated an efficient office, and he wisely retained the services of the consulate’s secretary, the Florentine banker, Joseph Matteini. With his own moderate wealth and standing in the community, Graham’s tenure was marked by fairness and honesty. He courted the advice and favor of the retired doyen of the US diplomatic corps, George Perkins Marsh, then residing in Italy. Graham did not mix his personal interests with his public post and thus avoided the scandals that Franklin Torrey, the US Consul at Carrara, often found himself entangled in. Josephine became the consummate hostess, and as etiquette dictated, the couple received all public visitors weekly on Tuesday afternoons at an open house. The Grahams purchased the Villa Orsini on the Via Valfonda, a four acre estate next to the train station. Here Josephine organized charity events and started the tradition of selling Christmas trees and evergreen boughs to aid the needy members of the Anglo-American community. From 1869 to 1876, the Grahams were in residence and had established themselves well. It was the final year for the couple that tested Josephine’s strength of will.
Not only did she lose her husband that April, but in the summer, her brother and sister-in-law were drowned in a yachting accident off the waters of New York City. Her financial situation had to be clarified, as the estates she had received from her husband and father had to provide for minor nieces and nephews. The bankruptcy also that year of her beloved uncle by marriage, James Graham, added to her personal sorrows. She persevered, however, through the financial and legal settlements, and after the required mourning period of a year, Josephine accepted a proposal of marriage from her confidant and friend, Joseph Matteini, the US Consulate secretary. His faithful service and friendship to both the Grahams was something the couple always treasured. Thus, Josephine secured her legal and social position in Florence and would quietly pass away in 1892 at her small summer residence, the Villa Celli in Pistoia. Both she and Matteini were buried in the Allori Cemetery, that at Porta à Pinti having been closed in 1877.
Josephine decided to purchase a plot on the main aisle of the Porta à Pinti Cemetery near the tomb of Elizabeth Barrett Browning for her husband’s grand tomb. The couple had witnessed the interment of many American expatriates in this Protestant burial ground known familiarly as ‘The English Cemetery.’ Even though the Grahams had the financial means and political connections to arrange for their burials in the fashionable Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York where their families were buried, they both would choose Florence for their final resting place. As US Consul, Graham had arranged several burials in the city and he was in attendance when his good friend Hiram Powers was laid to rest in 1873. Josephine hired their good friend, the American sculptor Launt Thompson, to sculpt James’ sarcophagus. It was to feature a profile medallion portrait in bas-relief and the Graham family coat of arms. Thompson was working on the tomb even when the cemetery was officially closed. The poet, Algernon C. Swinburne, devastated by his close friend’s death, wrote a five stanza poem, entitled Epicede, which appeared in the Boston Athenaeum. The last memorial tribute came years later at the dedication of the Graham’s library to The Century Club in New York when the American writer, Edmund C. Stedman, composed a poem entitled Ad Grahamum Abeuntem. Graham was laid to rest in his beloved Florence and his friends extolled his virtues. He and Josephine had decided to raise a tomb monument in their adopted country.
Graham’s legacy might have faded into the background as his unabashed Romanticism was not one of the popular trends of the late 19th Century. Even though he had become a modern Maecenas and had fostered the career of many artists and literary figures, contemporaries who often became life long friends, his efforts were usually done quietly. Graham’s own large collection of books, letters, paintings and sculptures, housed in its final years at the Villa Orsini, were a testament to his interests and tastes. Josephine kept the collections intact and passed them and her properties on to her cousins. By 1945, however, the Villa Orsini was put up for sale by the family who needed the money more than the property. The new Swiss owner, having bought the Villa and its contents, discovered several boxes in the furnace room. They were filled with valuable historical letters and memorabilia collected by James and Josephine. Many of the Graham’s personal papers and letters were there. An American scholar, Clara Louise Dentler, a writer and retired history teacher who had come to Florence that year to live and to continue her research and writing, was hired to catalogue the contents prior to their auction. The Graham’s library had previously been bequeathed upon Josephine’s death to The Century Club in New York where it had been catalogued by the historian, Dr. Paul Leicester Ford, and dedicated in the late 1890’s. The couple’s art collection had been sold piecemeal over the years, mostly by their elderly female cousins, who had inherited the Villa Orsini but not the means to support themselves in the style that the Grahams had maintained. Thus Graham’s letters, coins, medals, etchings and historical memorabilia were auctioned in the late 1950’s in London and New York. Only Dentler’s catalogue speaks to the scope of this copious collector.
There were two important pieces in the Graham collection that revealed something about the couple. One item was a book of pressed flowers and leaves from places visited by the Grahams on their European Grand Tour of 1862-63. The couple had made a point to visit the grave or home of the poet or artist of virtually every literary and poetical association that the Grahams had represented in their library. Their itinerary reads like an intellectual treasure hunt. True to the Victorian times, they clipped a leaf or a flower from the graves or homes of these illustrious figures in order to commemorate their visit and to preserve the memento in this special album.
The other item was Ye Booke of Ye Goode Fellowes which Graham had begun before his marriage to Josephine and which she would finish after his death. It contained the signatures and personal wishes to James or Josephine of many leading figures of the mid 19th Century. Perhaps a type of forerunner of today’s autograph book, the Grahams had the foresight to ask men of importance to collectively register their names and remarks for posterity. The book was secured in the archival vault of The Century Club. The Grahams understood that the contributions of talented men would endure, because they believed in the saying, Ars longa, vita brevis est, and it was their hope that their little book would serve as a witness to their small contribution in meeting and often supporting such active minds and creative men.
Begeal, Jeffrey. James Lorimer Graham, Jr. c. 1832-1876. Biography of an American Savant. Villa de Bella Silva Press: Smithfield, NC. 2004.
Carpenter, Helen Graham. Reverend John Graham of Woodbury, Connecticut. Chicago, Monastery Hill, 1942.
Dentler, Clara Louise. Famous Foreigners in Florence, 1400-1900. Bemporad Marzocco: Florence, Italy, 1964.
_____. A Privately Owned Collection of Letters, Autographs and Manuscripts with Many Association Items. The Getty Research Institute: Los Angeles, CA.
Furst, Dr. Clyde. The James Lorimer Graham Library. Address delivered before The Century Association, 1 May 1926.
Kavalecs, Andrew. James Lorimer Graham, Jr. Fosterer of American-German Literary Relations. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University, March 1972.
Taylor, Bayard. Bayard Taylor Papers, 1825-1878 at The Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Varnum, James M. James Lorimer Graham, Jr. Address delivered before The Century Association, 17 January 1894.
Wunder, Richard Paul. Select correspondence between Richard Paul Wunder and Clara Louise Dentler, 1965-1977. Richard P. Wunder Papers: Wheaton College, Illinois.
Galt of the
University of Minnesota
and Hamline University, and a member of Aureo Anello, constantly
returns to her ancestral Italy and to the so-called 'English'
researching Libby Jarvis. She is a writer.
Jennie’s Gift: The Genesis of Daniel Willard
Willard Fiske nor Jennie
McGraw is to be found
among the Americans who repose in the "English" Cemetery of
Florence and thus contribute to the remarkable history of the
the city. Abolitionist in spirit, Fiske would have been well
with many of these American names. However, Fiske's association
Florence is that of a consummate book collector who, recently
Jennie McGraw after their brief marriage, settled in the city in
acquiring Walter Savage Landor's Villa Gherardesca in San
bringing to near perfection his collections on Iceland, chess,
Petrarch and Rhaeto-Romance.
This narrative traces the genesis of the Petrarch Collection, particularly the acquisition of early French translations, during the last weeks of Jennie's life.
Richard Mac Cracken has been a most generous donor of books on Aristotle, on Brunetto Latino, on French literature, on Art History, to the Mediatheca 'Fioretta Mazzei', and thus a member of Aureo Anello. I asked him to write on a similarly-named possible collateral relative in the 'English' Cemetery.
Anne Mac Cracken (1785 - 1828) Américaine morte à Florence: A Sketch
Richard Mac Cracken, Independent Scholar. Paper.
Who was ANNE MAC CRACKEN? What follows is a 'charcoal sketch' on old paper, so to speak, where the lines have been obliterated by the passage of time and what information we have is minimal, as seen in the text noting her burial in Florence's English Cemetery:
_______Professor Robert J. Robertson of Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas, a member of Aureo Anello, is the prime mover and only begetter of this conference, indefatigably urging that it be given, while assiduously carrying out research on our Louisa Catherine Adams Kuhn.
a member of the Adams family of
Between November 1859 and May 1860, Louisa sent twenty-six letters to her parents describing her adventures in the ancient Tuscan capital. She reported about their perilous travel to Florence, their grand apartment with servants and carriages, social lives, attendance at operas; revels during Carnival, and celebrations of the Risorgimento, the political unification of Italy. These letters reveal much about Louisa’s personal life: her love of family, her infatuations with society and fashion, her concern for her father’s political career, and her position as a quintessential Victorian wife, where she enjoyed status and privilege, yet suffered profound subordination. She was 28, but Charles was ten years older, and held authority over her by virtue of the laws and customs of coverture.
Louisa and Charles came
Louisa and Charles rented
“a large & elegant apartment” in Casa Giacomelli, an old
the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore. They
twelve rooms, including Louisa’s dressing room and bedroom
passage with water conveniences,” and “two beautiful great
which Mr. Kuhn has all to himself.” Rental of the apartment
servants, including Giovanni, the footman and indoor man.
She praised Giovanni, saying, “He knows every
shop, every address & every name in all
saying, “I am very fond of
society, Louisa and Charles made their way in part with the
sponsorship of prominent Italian residents, such as Baron de
Count Carlo Alessandri. The close relationships that Louisa
with these and other Italians were noteworthy.
Many of the British and Americans in
They attended parties in various houses—American, British, Italian, Russian, and others. “I enjoy it extremely and go everywhere,” she reported, adding strong opinions about the styles and fashions of the women of the national groups. She praised American women, noting, “We are easier, gayer, better bred, & more hospitable than any others,” and poked fun at British women, who wore “great toques on their heads, their hair all tumbling down in those great rolls which are passé by three years elsewhere—very old ladies with very low dresses, a most unpleasant sight, and more glass beads, dangling wax pearls & rubbish than would stock a warehouse.”
Louisa loved the parties, especially the dancing. “I…dance all night at all the parties, enjoy this divine climate and charming city, am having my beaux jours…I prance about hanging on to Italian epaulettes whose names I don’t know.” Her schedule was hectic. On a Tuesday night, she and Charles went to the Marquis Sabra’s house for a private presentation of plays, where the guests became the actors. Wednesday she dined at “the Countess Bobrinskoy’s & afterwards went to hear a new opera.” Thursday she watched a parade while standing in the broiling sun, an experience that produced a terrible headache. For this an English physician found a “curious” but effective remedy—“a wineglass of iced champagne.”
the capital of Tuscany, the Kuhns witnessed major
the Risorgimento (1821-1870), the political unification of
process in which Italian nationalists expelled Austrian and
orchestrated the joining together of the various Italian
states into a
same time that Louisa sent reports about unification in
In terms of Italian
politics, Louisa and
Charles cheered openly for the Italian nationalists.
They attended a grand ball for officers of
the National Guard at the Poggio Imperiale, a palace that
“extremely splendid.” “There were masses of flowers, and …the
music I ever heard.” There was a
crowd, maybe three thousand persons, including their friend
Earlier Alessandri had fought in the ranks against the
explained, and now he was among the leaders of “the liberal
that favored the unification of
“We are liberal,” Louisa declared proudly, explaining that Tuscan society was divided into two camps: Liberals who favored Italian nationalism and opposed restoration of Austrian authority, and the Codini--persons who wanted to bring back the Austrian Grand Duke Leopold II.
“We are annexed to
reported happily on March 15, 1860, announcing the results of
whereby Tuscan voters gave overwhelming approval for
annexation to the
She attended a reception for Carignano at the opera. It “was something to see,” she declared. “The house was illuminated with wax candles, and every box was filled with ladies all in full dress. Every great Florentine name was represented,” she said, listing off Alessandri, Strozzi, and others. At the end of the first act, Prince Carignano, Baron Ricasoli, and others entered the hall, at which time the whole house rose with much cheering, clapping, and waving of handkerchiefs. “The actors came forward all with the white crosses on their shoulders…and they sang the beautiful and solemn national hymn to the accompaniment of an orchestra of ninety pieces.” Louisa was enthralled, finding the occasion “lovely and simple and just like these charming affectionate people.” She confessed feelings of sympathy, even patriotism for the country. “Who could help adoring it?” she asked rhetorically—“Lovely Italy”—“the land of poetry & art & beauty.”
and his entourage traveled to
Louisa painted more word pictures of the crowded street where members of the National Guard formed two lines for the passage of the royal procession. “The music was splendid—one band being stationed in the balcony under us. Our windows faced up the street, and the shouts & cries of Viva il Re told us…how far he was.” It was forbidden to throw bouquets, Louisa explained, for fear of scaring the horses in the royal parade. “But flowers literally rained down from the windows” as the king came into view. “People screamed & clapped their hands & waved thousands of handkerchiefs and finally cried, as I did just because there was nothing else left to do.” She saw King Victor Emanuel clearly. “He was in full uniform with all his orders on—not bowing but saluting in military fashion & jamming his hat over his eyes…so overcome at the nature of his welcome that he cried too & did not like to show his face. He is very ugly,” she reported, “but military & manly, and really kingly in his carriage.” Prince Carignano, Baron Ricasoli, and Count Cavour were with him, as were “all the Florentine noblemen in their grand turn outs.” It was “a splendid pageant,” she concluded, “so brilliant in color & movement & sunshine, and music that it seemed like a dream.”
Charles returned to the
wrote a brilliant account of Louisa’s suffering
and death, an exposition on the phenomenon of death, and an
tragic death of his own wife, Clover.
Louisa “faced death, as women mostly do,” he recalled,
gaily, racked slowly to unconsciousness, but yielding only to
soldier sabred in battle.” She
to the awful disease 13 July 1870, and in accordance with her
instructions, was buried in the “English” cemetery in her
Primary sources include
home letters, The Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical
the New York Times; and Karl Baedeker, Italy:
sources include Paul C. Nagel, Descent from Glory: Four
John Adams Family (1983); Henry Adams, The Education
Adams (1931); George Holmes (ed.), The Oxford
Italy (1997); Giuliana Artom Treves, The Golden
Anglo-Florentines, 1847-1862 (1956); Paul R. Baker, The
in Italy, 1800-1860 (1964); Marcello Fantoni
Anglo-Americans in Florence (1997); and Bruno P. F.
Anglo-American Women in 19th and 20th Century
The author is greatly
indebted to Dr. Paul
R. Baker, professor retired from NYU-NY and author of The
Pilgrims, Americans in
With the Sponsorship of the Comune
di Firenze, the United
in Florence, Syracuse
University in Florence, Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography, the Lyceum Club of
the Chiesa Evangelica Riformata Svizzera of Florence, and
Associazione Mediatheca 'Fioretta Mazzei' e Amici del
Cimitero 'degli Inglesi'