: Dante vivo || White Silence






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, is speaking on Albert Jenkins Jones, the sculpture critic for the New York Times, 1860-1876.

Albert Jenkins Jones: The New York Times’ Sculpture Critic in Italy, 1860-1876
Nancy Austin, Independent Scholar, http://www.AustinAlchemy.com. Abstract.

Despite his large gestures, Albert Jenkins Jones (1821 RI, USA -1887 Florence) has been left unknown, unacknowledged, and unremembered. This paper seeks to introduce his life and work into scholarly conversations about Florence and the Americans.  Where does his story fit into the picture, as we know it?

The self-educated son of a deceased mariner, Albert J. Jones was raised in the working class end of Benefit Street, in Providence, Rhode Island. By the age of twenty, Jones and his brother had opened a shoe store in the new downtown “Arcade”, America’s first enclosed shopping mall.  Aspiring to culture and self-education, Jones began borrowing books on art at the Providence Athenaeum. He befriended the young RI architect, Thomas Alexander Tefft, with whom he worked on an early important art exhibition in RI. (Jones was at Tefft’s side when Tefft unexpectedly died in Florence in 1859 at age 33.)  In 1854, Jones left RI permanently for Florence “with a valuable library” and went on to become the Italian art critic and war correspondent for The New York Times. In 1883, Albert J. Jones was successful enough to be able to offer a 50-room villa he owned near the Vatican to the US State Department as the future home of a new American Academy in Rome, which Jones was working to help establish. When Jones died, in 1887, his will endowed the American libraries of the Providence Athenaeum, Brown University, and the Providence Public Library with funds for books on industrial or fine art, (funds that continue to purchase books to this day.) Jones’ personal library of over 600 classic books in Italian was left to the Providence Public Library, although the present whereabouts of this collection is unknown. 

Albert J. Jones’ most important legacy was the gift of a large bequest that founded the first art museum in RI.  However, the Jones Bequest triggered a 4-year lawsuit between the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Providence Art Club (surrogate) to see which institution was best suited to take the bequest. Did RISD, as a design school, have as its mission, the support of art?  What was the function of an Art Museum for designers? For artists? For the people of Providence? After years of preserved expert testimony, RISD finally won the lawsuit and laid claim to the Jones bequest. (There is, to date, no public awareness or acknowledgement in RI of the pivotal role of the Jones Bequest in the development of that state’s cultural geography.)

My paper for the conference, “Florence and Americans” will serve first as an introduction to a previously unacknowledged player among the expatriates. One would have expected that someone who knew Marsh, and Ruskin, and all of the major and/or up-and-coming sculptors would have left much more of a mark. How to explain this?

Secondly, my identification of his complete body of New York Times criticism gives us another primary source, in context, to mine for gossipy details and larger themes. Jones can be a complement and foil to his better-remembered contemporary critics, like James Jackson Jarves. As a historical actor, Albert J. Jones is an important case study with which to consider the relationship between political activism and art criticism; the homoerotic dimension of neoclassical sculpture and the soldier; the dialogue between American art patrons and Florence as the focus of the art world began shifting to Paris.


Jeffrey Begeal, a member of Aureo Anello as a devoted friend of the library and the cemetery and who has given us many books, Clare Louise Dentler's book manuscript, White Marble, on Hiram Powers, Amasa Hewins' Diary, Lilian Whiting's books, and Henry James' William Wetmore Story and his Friends.

James 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.


Professor Margot Fortunato 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' Cemetery, researching Libby Jarvis. She is a writer.

Tracking Enigma--A Grave with a Nickname in the 'English' Cemetery, Florence
Margot Fortunato Galt, University of Minnesota, and Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota. Abstract.

What is it that draws us to attention and starts us on the long trail of research and discovery? In 2000 I stepped through the creaking
gates of Florence’s English Cemetery (always and continuously owned and financed by the Swiss). As I trudged up the steep path, I saw to my left a name on a simple, elegant tombstone: "Libby." I’d been reading full names--Walter Savage Landor, Arthur Hugh Clough, Mary Spencer Stanhope. This nickname from a death in 1861 struck me as odd, intentionally flouting public formalities. What kind of woman could have provoked such intimacy? Was she a courtesan such as the dancers and singers I’d recently seen in Degas’ paintings? Or was this woman so deeply loved by her grief-stricken family that they could only part with her up-close--her full name too formal and distant? The tombstone also included standard information: "Elizabeth Russell Jarves, wife of James Jackson Jarves of Boston, Massachusetts, died in Florence 1861." This data proved crucial in uncovering Libby’s bare bones, but it did not propel me forward as much as her nickname on her grave. What had occasioned it? Among the non-Catholic stranieri of Florence, that nickname set her even more apart. If I were to write about her, as I sensed I might, I wanted my discoveries to live up to this first sudden enigma.

Fairly early, I learned two major characteristics about her: unlike Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Fanny Trollope, her exact
contemporaries and acquaintances in Florence, she had no fame in letters (the only art form proper for middle-class, genteel women of the time). "Libby" was neither attached to a well-known male nor widely regarded, like Isa Blagden, confidante to both Brownings and the recipient of many letters and frequent mentions in diaries and memoirs. Libby’s husband James Jackson Jarves did acquire a middling reputation among the vital and eccentric English-speaking community. He wrote travel books--one on Italy was published five years after they arrived. And he also produced dull treatises on art, sparked by his artistic conversion early in their European decade. He also followed spiritualism with Elizabeth Barrett Browning and incurred Robert’s disdain. Most importantly he collected early Renaissance Italian art, a practice which set him apart from the ex-patriot community. "Tell Jarves," became a mild joke when someone noticed a dealer or a painting waiting to be snatched up. Had Jarves’ collection remained in Italy and been dispersed after his death, it would likely have had little effect on the history of art. But through extraordinary dedication and years traveling between Florence and the U.S., Jarves managed to rouse interest in his Italian primitives and, a few years before Libby died, he sold the collection to Yale University.

It was the first collection of early Renaissance Italian art in the United States, and when tastes shifted in the 20th-century, the Jarves collection came into its own. Yale commissioned a biography written by Francis Steegmuller to celebrate the collection’s centenary. In this biography I found the bare bones of Libby’s life. Steegmuller hinted at the cracks in her marriage--her husband spend money for art, not shoes, and he left home for months at a time, not unlike the whaling captains of her New Bedford hometown. Steegmuller acknowledged that Libby might have had cause to gripe at Jim’s expenditures, and the footnotes hinted at a clandestine affair in Florence. Finally I felt the warmth of her life rise to the surface.

But history singes all kinds of people. Would anyone care about a minor figure who left a tantalizing nickname on a tombstone? Though Libby died agonizingly at 40, probably from tuberculosis; though her three children had, like her, "bestemmiato" [curse] the art which made them poor, her plucky independent voice rose with warmth and power from the folded letters in the Yale archives. Slowly my questions about her changed. Not who was Libby, but what was she? What did it take for a young women, married at eighteen, to set sail immediately for Hawaii where James made poor investments and started his career in journalism? He eventually wrote the first history of Hawaii in English, an invaluable portrait of native life, much less cramped by Christian strictures than the notes of his compatriots. Though befriended by the American missionary community, Libby was not much involved in doing good, but she was known for keeping a sparkling house and riding on horseback into the hills. How did she view the native people, dying in large numbers from imported diseases?

Did her experience among them shape her later attitudes toward the Italians, frequently disdained by the English-speaking community?
After a decade of marriage in Hawaii, what summoned her to continue the marriage to James when she clearly wanted to break away?
Once in Florence, often alone with two, then three children, she lived in a kind of limbo, poorer than her maids yet educated to consider her life differently. As she wrote in Italian to eldest Horatio or in English to her sister and parents, her voice was direct, a bit mocking, intimate with complexities, nothing like the self-important, rationalizing voice of her husband. I wanted to give the essence of her personality and life to world, along with her cranky, art-obsessed, gullible mate. The major question that remained was how best to do this? Should I write a standard biography or a modern version of the historical novel? What would give Libby the vivid expansive shape she deserved?

Baker, Paul R. The Fortunate Pilgrims: Americans in Italy,1800-1860. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964.
Baxandall, Michael: Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972, 1988,
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Aurora Leigh and other poems, edited by J. R. G. Bolton and Julia Bolton Holloway. London: Penguin Books, 1995.
________________________, The Letters, Vol I and Vol II, edited by Frederic Kenyon. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1897.
Dearest Isa: Robert Browning’s Letters to Isabella Blagden, edited by Edward C. McAleer. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1951.
Jarves, James Jackson. History of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands. Boston: Tappan & Dennet, 1843.
 ___________________. Italian Sights and Papal Principles.... New York: Harper & Brothers, 1856.
Nathaniel Hawthorne. The French and Italian Notebooks, edited by Thomas Woodson. Ohio State University Press, 1980.
Lewis, R. W. B. The City of Florence. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1995.
LiPira, Benedict. Giuseppe Garibaldo: A Biography of The Father of Modern Italy. Baltimore: Noble House, 1983.
Missionary Album: Portraits and Biographical Sketches of the American Protestant Missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands. Honolulu:
Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society, 1969.
Smith, Denis Mack. The Making of Modern Italy, 1796-1879. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
Steegmuller, Francis. The Two Lives of James Jackson Jarves. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951.
Trollope, Thomas Adolphus. What I Remember, edited by Herbert van Thal. London: William Kimber, originally published 1887. Condensed edition, 1973.
Vasari, Giorgio. Lives of the Artists, Vol I and Vol II. Selection translated by George Bull. London: Penguin Books, 1965.


Daniel Willard Fiske acquired Walter Savage Landor's Villa Gherardesca in Fiesole. another essay on him can be found at http://www.florin.ms/gimel.html, authored by Kristin Bragadottir.

Jennie’s Gift: The Genesis of Daniel Willard Fiske’s Petrarch Collection

Patrick J. Stevens, Curator of the Fiske Collections and Selector for Jewish Studies, Cornell University. Abstract.

Abstract: Neither Daniel 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 place and the city. Abolitionist in spirit, Fiske would have been well acquainted with many of these American names. However, Fiske's association with Florence is that of a consummate book collector who, recently bereft of Jennie McGraw after their brief marriage, settled in the city in 1883, acquiring Walter Savage Landor's Villa Gherardesca in San Domenico, and bringing to near perfection his collections on Iceland, chess, Dante, 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.

Paper, with Illustrations: JenniesGift.pdf

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:

N° 11              Le 2 Novem[red sealing wax]bre mil huit cent vingt huit Anne Mac-

Mac Cracken  Cracken, Américaine, âgée de quarante trois ans, morte

                      à  Florence le trente & un Octobre, mil huit cent vingt huit

                      a reçu les honneurs de la sépulture dans le Cimetierre de

                      l'Eglise Evangélique, en presence du Reverend Docteur

                      Jarvis e d'Antonio Socé. En foi de quoi j'ai signé

                                                                            Auguste Colomb Pasteur~
Sharing the same surname, MAC CRACKEN, I am making this attempt to sketch what we do know from the above and from sources provided by Julia Bolton Holloway and ask questions in the hope to find some answers.  First I shall look into the historical era in which she lived  (1785-1828) for suggestion as to why she was in Florence and why she died there.   Secondly, I shall review what information I know and have about my family name and search to know  if there is any family connection.  Information I have of my family earlier than  that of my father  is anecdotal and from childhood remembrances I still have.   At a point in the past this too becomes 'sketchy' and may lead nowhere, except that the time frame  does suggest possibilities, and these become part of the sketch I am making on this person buried in Florence.

According to records reviewed by Julia Bolton Holloway, the 'English Cemetery' opened in the year 1827,  under Swiss administration who kept records such as we see above  Anne Mac Cracken was buried there the following year 1828, the eighth person buried  in the Cemetery.

A this point we need to ask some questions, not that we will have answers , but to satisfy at least our own curiosity and the chance that  they may at some time be answered: Was Anne Mac Cracken a single woman or married ?  If married who was her husband and  what was her maiden name ?Was he an American also ?  What was the cause of her death at the age of43 years ?   an accident ? a serious illness that claimed her life ?   Most important is the question, If married, did she have any issue ? Also did she or  her spouse have  any collateral relatives, i.e brothers and sisters ? An obituary however, would answer all these  questions and there is none so far as we know. We have no answers to the questions yet they may add some perspective to our search.

How do we explain her presence in Florence ?

One perspective is an historical approach . One could be that she and her family were American Loyalists who apposed the American Revolution and the Republic and were form of government still loyal to the English Crown and sought protection during and after the War of Independence (1776-17782 by emigration to Canada, Nova Scotia, England and parts of Europe where they had commercial relations. These were mainly wealthy families from commercial cities and states of Colonial America. (See Morrison, Samuel Eliot p 207. etc.
passim). In this context we may see an explanation for her presence there.  As such it is a supposition only, but one that offers an opening to anyone able to supply information as descendents during the International Conference on the Cimitero degli Inglesi to be held in Florence this October 2008.

Another historical approach is to examine the possibility of her being a 'tourist' once Florence opened  her gates to artists, scholars and literature fanciers.  But this was an era that followed her presence there, except possibly the effect  of Byron's 
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage that swept all of Europe with fame and acclaim and brought 'pilgrims' to Florence after Byron's death in 1824. It is doubtful that this was the cause of Anne Mac Cracken's presence there as a tourist and 'pilgrim'.

Real tourism in numbers, however, followed the death in Florence of Elisabeth Barrett Browning in 1861, another English poet whose fame and acclaim attracted and drew the English and others from Europe to Florence.

This era however, was one that followed the death of Anne Mac Cracken in 1828.

So much for our historical approach to explore an understanding of her presence and burial in Florence in
the Cimitero degli Inglesi.  Our sketch still remains incomplete for answers to our questions unfortunately.  But they needed to be asked.


Sharing the same surname of Anne Mac Cracken and with the same orthography:(Mac not Mc, an important distinction denoting Scottish rather than Scot-Irish origin),  I sense some affinity as such and wonder if by any coincidence there may be any family connection.   As a young boy I was taught to spell my surname by my father,who likewise was taught the same by his father, thus passing it on to the next  generation.  Presumably this was done likewise before  him  to denote the same, as a Scott usually married a Scott in rural America as in native Scotland. My family came from up - state NewYork.  An earlier generation fought in the American Civil War and some were prisoners in Southern prison camps.   I know this from anecdotal information coming from visits with my grandparents.  Beyond this, the past becomes  as 'sketchy' as the portrait of Anne MacCracken and whether there is any direct or collateral relationship is unknown at this point.

F i n a l  N o t e

There were Mac Crackens living in England during the 18 th. Century as we see in this page of Warrants:

Eliza[beth] Mac Cracken; Kath[arine] Harlockkenden; Ann Richbell, each     20

(British History Online)

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.

Louisa Catherine Adams Kuhn, Florentine Adventures, 1859-1860
Robert J. Robertson, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas. Paper

Louisa Adams was a member of the Adams family of Boston; she was the great granddaughter of John Adams, granddaughter of John Quincy Adams, and daughter of Charles Francis Adams and Abigail Brooks Adams.  In 1854 Louisa married Charles F. Kuhn, a wealthy businessman from Philadelphia.  They lived for a while in New York City where she gave birth to a baby girl who died within a short time.  In May 1858, Louisa and Charles embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe, traveling leisurely in England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and Italy.  After touring sixteen months, they settled in Florence where they lived six months as members of the “Anglo-Florentine” community, a group of British, Americans and others whose experiences in the city have been described and discussed by various historians.

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’s letters show that she was an intelligent and articulate person, full to overflowing with energy and high spirits.  She loved European travel, which for many women including herself was a form of emancipation, a measure of freedom away from Victorian mores at home.  She loved to party and dance.  Louisa was not a poet or an artist, but she was an ardent Anglo-Florentine.  She loved Italian culture—the language, the opera, the people, and the politics.

Louisa and Charles came to Florence from Paris, traveling overland to Marseilles, by sea to Leghorn, and again overland to their final destination.  The sea voyage proved perilous and exhausting.  “After leaving Marseilles,” Louisa reported, “we came into a frightful storm…the wind blew a perfect hurricane, the sea broke over the deck furiously, there was not even a star.”  The captain “was very much frightened and lost his head completely, refusing to try to reach Leghorn, and anchoring near an island.”  While anchored there, they were “tossed about by…a terrific wind and sea… Every wave swept over us and rushed down the cabin stairs.”  The next day they resumed the voyage.  “Always in that awful wind and sea,” they “pitched and rolled and tilted on towards Leghorn.”  Finally, she said, “We ran into port, perfectly used up as you may imagine.”  It was after dark when they made it to Florence and checked into a hotel, where Louisa found great relief.  “I assure you my warm bath, clean nightgown, and hot supper were the most delicious things I ever experienced.”

In Florence Louisa and Charles rented “a large & elegant apartment” in Casa Giacomelli, an old palace situated in the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore.  They had twelve rooms, including Louisa’s dressing room and bedroom with “a little passage with water conveniences,” and “two beautiful great rooms & bath, which Mr. Kuhn has all to himself.” Rental of the apartment included three servants, including Giovanni, the footman and indoor man.  She praised Giovanni, saying, “He knows every shop, every address & every name in all Florence, and moreover is acquainted with the best boxes at every theatre, so we rely blindly on him for everything.”  Like many Anglo-Florentines, Louisa bragged about the cheap prices in the city, saying, “Our whole housekeeping…won’t cost us as much as living in Paris…and will be about ten times more elegant & comfortable.”

Louisa loved the city, saying, “I am very fond of Florence—the galleries, churches, theatres & Opera are extremely admirable.  The people too are charming.”  The society was multilingual, so she and Charles studied languages.  She practiced Italian, declaring, “It is such a lovely language,” and bragging that her teacher thought she was “wonderfully brilliant.”  She also practiced French, having a French girl “who comes in twice a week just to talk to me.”  

While Louisa and Charles enjoyed their lives in Florence, they sometimes drew veiled criticism from her parents who thought they were staying too long away from home and spending too much money.  Louisa defended her husband, speaking woman-to-woman to her mother, and alluding to the then subservience of wives to husbands.  “No one knows better than you that one’s husband is the person and if he is satisfied, no one has a right not to be.”  

Louisa defended herself again, this time after her father sent a long letter criticizing the whole idea of living in Europe.  “He ought to be ashamed to beg us not to become Europeanized Americans.  No one ought to know better than he how many things there are in Europe which we who live in a New World can enjoy & prize only here.  I am and always shall be as thoroughly American as I ever was in my life. I thought Papa had a better opinion of me, than to fancy that a few years passed away from home would destroy my character.”

Louisa sent letters and gifts to her five siblings—John, Charles, Henry, Mary, and Brooks.  Henry came to Florence during April 1860 and stayed a week with Louisa and Charles.  She was seven years older than Henry and sometimes served him as a mentor, especially with regard to the pleasures and benefits of European travel.  Henry, later a famed historian, recalled traveling with Louisa and Charles and in their company seeing Italy for the first time. “Luckily,” Henry said about himself, “he had a sister much brighter than he ever was…quick, sensitive, willful, or full of will, energetic, sympathetic and intelligent enough to supply a score of men with ideas—and he was delighted to give her the reins—to let her drive him where she would.   It was his first experiment in giving the reins to a woman, and he was so pleased with the results that he never wanted to take them back.” Louisa adored Italy, Henry remembered; she was “hotly Italian.”             

Apparently Louisa and her husband Charles got along well together in Florence, but sometimes she suffered outbursts of his foul temper.  On one occasion, when they arrived at a ball, he blasted her because she kept him waiting five minutes and misunderstood his instructions about where to leave her cloak.  “He gave me such a furious scolding before a dozen people that the tears dropped off my cheeks on my dress.”  Louisa tried to be philosophical, confessing, “ I am not a saint” but at the same time wondering, “how can a man be so hard & cross when a little kindness would make everything so easy and pleasant.”           

In Florentine society, Louisa and Charles made their way in part with the sponsorship of prominent Italian residents, such as Baron de Lonenberg and Count Carlo Alessandri. The close relationships that Louisa and Charles shared with these and other Italians were noteworthy.  Many of the British and Americans in Florence loved Italy, its art and culture, but they had a low opinion of its inhabitants and cared little about having close contacts with Italian citizens. But such was certainly not the case for Louisa and Charles.  They socialized frequently with Italians, visited in Italian homes, and were active members of the Jockey Club, an Italian gentlemen’s club. 

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.”

Like many Anglo-Florentines, Louisa and Charles loved the opera.   They rented a box at La Pergola opera house, attending performances there and at other local theatres.  Opera was an important part of Italian culture, providing a “democratic” venue where upper class Italians shared the evening with general audiences.  Louisa explained that Italian opera fans “are very naifs and get furiously excited about the tyrants etc, hissing the character, not the actor, at every bad sentiment.”  She recalled seeing a performance of Robert le Diable (Giacomo Meyerbeer), when the villainous character Bertrand “was hardly allowed to open his mouth” because of the crowd’s boisterous condemnations of his evil deeds.  Louisa confessed to being “more amused by the audience than with the actors,” and concluded that the Italians “are the most interesting people in the world.”  

During Carnival, the time leading up to Lent, Louisa and Charles plunged into a seemingly endless round of parades, parties, promenades, and masquerade balls.  Louisa reported the delights of an afternoon parade at the Cascine Park alongside the Arno River.  “The ladies all sit in their carriages…& gentlemen wander about from carriage to carriage.”  Here she enjoyed the flirtatious attentions of Count Alessandri, a Captain Rodriquez, and the Duke of Villarosa, a Sicilian, whom she described with great enthusiasm. “He is about 40, but I never saw such a perfect face & expression in my life—he is gentlemanly & charming beside.  These men are nice—what we call genial & easy, or perhaps a little more.  I mean they seem to be thinking of no one but the person they are with, which as you know is the secret of all fascination.”

 “We are just in the midst of Carnaval, and night after night we are out,” Louisa reported.  One evening she and Charles attended a masquerade ball at the Borghese, a grand palace with fabulous rooms lined by mirrors and frescos, and lighted by thousands & thousands of candles.  “It was like enchantment,” she said.   When Louisa and Charles arrived at the ball, they split up, as was their custom. “Of course Mr. Kuhn left me at the door,” she explained, “and I went off with a young lady who went with us.”  “She & I spoke French together and trolled round alone, amusing ourselves immensely.”  About three o’clock in the morning, they began to dance, and at five o’clock they went home. 

Louisa and Charles attended another great party, this one hosted by the Jockey Club. “It was a most magnificent ball,” Louisa reported. There were many dancing couples, and “only two people were drunk—one was an American & and one a Frenchmen.”   In this regard, she noted, “An Italian never…dreams of taking more than one glass of wine.”   Louisa and Charles partied all night long and got home at 8:30 the next morning.  Looking back, she had only one regret: the lace on her dress was “badly torn by the spurs of the officers.”                 

While living in Florence, the capital of Tuscany, the Kuhns witnessed major events in the Risorgimento (1821-1870), the political unification of Italy, a fifty-year process in which Italian nationalists expelled Austrian and French rulers and orchestrated the joining together of the various Italian states into a modern Italian nation. Tuscany itself had been for many years an independent state, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, ruled by members of the Austrian imperial family.  In April 1859, Italian nationalists ousted the Grand Duke Leopold II, thus ending Austrian control and establishing an independent Italian state.  During late 1859 and early 1860, Louisa and Charles saw the unification of Tuscany with the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, then ruled by the Italian King Victor Emanuel and his minister Count Camillo Cavour.  The Kuhns, who socialized with Tuscan noblemen, favored the cause of Italian nationalism and opposed restoration of the former Austrian rulers.

At the same time that Louisa sent reports about unification in Italy, she followed her father’s freshman career in the House of Representatives, where controversies over slavery threatened secession and civil war in the United States.  About the growing tensions between North and South, Louisa expressed strong opinions, denouncing “those hateful Southerners” and praising her father and the Republicans.  She believed her father was destined for high political office, and urged her mother to give him plenty of encouragement, in one instance saying, “Papa wants lots of pushing,” and in another, “Remember, this is his chance.”  She counseled directly with her father about the growing radicalism of the Southern extremists, urging him and his fellow Republicans to take the high road. “The North is doing better now in quiet, persistent opposition than it ever could in violent or abusive speeches,” she said. “We who are civilized in the North should leave barbarism to them.”  Alarmed by the growing tensions between North and South, she even speculated about civil war.  “If things go on much longer as they are, or rather go on getting worse…. it must end I should think in the complete destruction of all society.”  Here Louisa’s words were prophetic, as within less than two years, the American Civil War was underway and her father was in London serving as United States minister to Great Britain.               

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 Louisa described as “extremely splendid.” “There were masses of flowers, and …the most magnificent music I ever heard.”  There was a huge crowd, maybe three thousand persons, including their friend Count Alessandri. Earlier Alessandri had fought in the ranks against the Austrians, she explained, and now he was among the leaders of “the liberal party,” the party that favored the unification of Tuscany with Piedmont-Sardinia.  The climax of the evening came when the Tuscan leader Baron Bettino Ricasoli made his appearance and an orchestra of three hundred pieces struck up the new national hymn, “The Cross of Savoy.”

 “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 Piedmont,” Louisa reported happily on March 15, 1860, announcing the results of a plebiscite whereby Tuscan voters gave overwhelming approval for annexation to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.  Soon she witnessed thrilling events: state visits by members of the Piedmont royal family, first by Prince Carignano, uncle of the king, and later by Victor Emanuel himself. 

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.”

For the citizens of Florence, the symbolic climax of the Risorgimento came Monday, April 16, when their new king, Victor Emanuel, paid his first official visit.  That morning Louisa and Charles climbed into their carriage and headed for the Hotel Victoria, where friends had rooms whose windows looked out upon the street where the king would arrive.  Their carriage made slow progress through the crowded streets.  Along the way, they feasted their eyes on elaborate decorations. “Every window, no matter how poor, had a rug or shawl or colored table cloth hanging out.  And all the great palaces were splendid, with their magnificent velvet hangings embroidered in gold…. Add to this,” she wrote breathlessly, “thousands & thousands of flags, all the colored lanterns of the evening’s illumination, and innumerable busts & pictures of the king.”  It was a “splendid, brilliant scene…the streets were one moving mass, all the peasants in grand gala dress…, there was never such an amiable crowd.”  Louisa embraced the nationalistic aspirations of the Italian people, declaring, “I am fiercely patriotic.”

The king and his entourage traveled to Florence in stages, first by ship to Leghorn, then by train to the outskirts of the city, and finally by horseback and carriage into the city center.  Louisa and her party waited expectantly at the hotel windows; below they saw milling crowds, above, cloudy skies.  First, they heard cannon fire announcing the departure of the king’s train from the station at Leghorn; later, more cannon shots when he arrived at the Florence railroad station. “Such a shout went up from the streets & houses,” Louisa reported.  “Every window was lined, four or five deep with faces.  The street was one mass of color & motion and just as the guns fired, the sun came out and a little breeze fluttered all the banners showing the white cross.”

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.”


Later, Louisa and Charles returned to the United States and lived there during the American Civil War.   But after the war, they returned to Italy, residing again in Florence during 1869-1870.  In 1870, while they summered at nearby Bagni di Lucca, Louisa had a carriage accident that caused injuries to her foot resulting in a deadly tetanus infection.  As she sickened with the disease, she took to her bed in the Hotel d’Amerique where she was attended by friends and treated by a doctor who came from Florence.  Her brother Henry, in London when he received the telegraphic news, rushed to her bedside in Bagni di Lucca.  There he joined Charles and a dozen of their friends— American, English, and Italian— in a deathwatch, taking turns, standing by her day and night, waiting on her, and providing moral support. For almost two weeks, they watched her suffer the ever-worsening symptoms: headaches, fever, sweating, spasms, contractions, and the horrific locking of the jaw. 

Years later, Henry wrote a brilliant account of Louisa’s suffering and death, an exposition on the phenomenon of death, and an allusion to the tragic death of his own wife, Clover.   Louisa “faced death, as women mostly do,” he recalled, “bravely and even gaily, racked slowly to unconsciousness, but yielding only to violence, as a soldier sabred in battle.”   She succumbed to the awful disease 13 July 1870, and in accordance with her instructions, was buried in the “English” cemetery in her beloved Florence.  Six months later Louisa’s remains were placed in a special tomb constructed under the supervision of her husband Charles.  Unfortunately the tomb has been lost, but a search is now underway for its precise location and a description of its details.  




Primary sources include Louisa’s twenty-six home letters, The Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA; the New York Times; and Karl Baedeker, Italy: Handbook for Travellers (1869).  Secondary sources include Paul C. Nagel, Descent from Glory: Four Generations of the John Adams Family (1983); Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1931); George Holmes (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Italy (1997); Giuliana Artom Treves, The Golden Ring, The Anglo-Florentines, 1847-1862 (1956); Paul R. Baker, The Fortunate Pilgrims, Americans in Italy, 1800-1860 (1964); Marcello Fantoni (ed.), The Anglo-Americans in Florence (1997); and Bruno P. F. Wanrooij (ed.), Otherness: Anglo-American Women in 19th and 20th Century Florence (2001).

The author is greatly indebted to Dr. Paul R. Baker, professor retired from NYU-NY and author of The Fortunate Pilgrims, Americans in Italy, 1800-1860, for his assistance and encouragement in the preparation of this paper.


Go to Introduction
         I. Abolitionists in the 'English' Cemetery
         II. Hiram Powers, Kate Field, Amasa Hewins
         III. Joel Tanner Hart
         IV. William Wetmore Story
         V. Collectors and Visitors

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 'degli Inglesi'

Il giglio di Firenze   [Immagine] - Quadro
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