The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, DE  19735

302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883





Creator:          Cogdell, John S. (John Stevens) 1778-1847                                        

Title:               Diaries and letters books

Dates:             1808-1841

Call No.:         Col. 252          

Acc. No.:         64x8.1-.6

Quantity:        6 volumes

Location:        15 K 4






Known during his lifetime as a painter and sculptor, John S. Cogdell was a lawyer by profession.  Born near Charleston, South Carolina, on Sept. 19, 1778, he studied law with William Johnson and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1799.  A trip to Italy in 1800 stimulated his interest in drawing and painting.  While he dreamed of becoming an artist, he was unable to support himself and returned to the practice of law. Cogdell married Maria Gilchrest in 1806.  In 1810, he began the first of four terms as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.  In 1818, he was appointed comptroller general of South Carolina and from 1832 until his death in 1847, he served as president of the Bank of South Carolina.


Throughout his career, Cogdell managed to find time to be active in painting and modeling with clay.  He made frequent trips to Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, where he came in contact with other artists and art patrons.  His talent in art elicited encouragement from prominent artists of the day, including Washington Allston and Gilbert Stuart.  Cogdell's works were exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum, the National Academy of Design, the Charleston Library Society, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  He was instrumental in the formation of the Academy of Art in Charleston.





 The collection consists of six volumes that document Cogdell's travels and artistic endeavors in 1808, 1816, 1825, and from 1829 to 1841.  The first volume opens with Cogdell's expenses for a trip from Philadelphia to New York.  The narrative portion of the notebook offers vignettes of life in the early 19th century.  He relays his impressions of the Peale Museum, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  He visited the Bettering House Hospital, later called the Pennsylvania Hospital, and toured a prison.  He dined and otherwise socialized with many prominent Philadelphians during his stay. On Sept. 8, he traveled through New Jersey to New York City.  He visited the panorama of Edward Savage.  He was most impressed by St. John's Church in New York City.  This manuscript also features wash drawings of people in ancient costumes and various poses, pencil sketches of buildings and landscapes, and formulae for various artists' preparations.  (A typescript of this 1808 diary is available at this repository.)


The second volume is a letterbook containing a series of letters addressed to "Dear Friend" that describe a trip to Philadelphia and New York in 1816.  Cogdell begins each letter with notes about the place from which he is writing.  He offers comments on the Quaker community and area museums.  He wrote a great deal about the work and methods of Thomas Sully.  Cogdell provides depictions of the use of stoves and sketches of local scenery and some of Sully's works.


The third volume is also from 1816 and was also kept in the form of letters to a friend.  In it, Cogdell describes a trip up the Hudson, on to Lake George, to Boston, New Haven, Trenton, Baltimore, and ending in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He discusses John Trumbull's work at great length, as well as the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy, especially Washington Allston’s “Dead Man Revived.”  The manuscript also features pencil and pen and ink sketches that correspond to places and scenes represented in the text.  Scenes from Fishkill and West Point are identified.


The next volume begins in 1825 with another trip north from Charleston.  In Boston, Cogdell met with artists Gilbert Stuart, Washington Allston, Jonathan Mason, and Francis Alexander.  He commented on the work and private collections of each of these men.  He also met former President John Adams and President John Quincy Adams.  In Philadelphia, he again visited the Pennsylvania Academy and remarked on the work of Benjamin West, Charles B. Lawrence, Rembrandt Peale, and John Neagle.  (Partial transcriptions of volumes 2-4 are attached to this finding aid.)


The final two volumes (1829-1841) are labeled "Modelling and Sculpture" and contain long descriptions of Cogdell's methods of modeling, sculpting, and painting.  The first opens with correspondence relating to the creation of a bust to memorialize the recently deceased bishop Right Reverend Theodore Dehon and its success with the public.  Other correspondence pertains to sculptures and paintings commissioned and advice from Washington Allston.  Drawings of sculpting instruments are also featured.





The volumes are in chronological order.






The materials are in English.





Collection is open to the public.  Copyright restrictions may apply.





Purchased from Robert L. Simms.






            Adams, John, 1735-1826.

Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848.

Allston, Washington, 1779-1843.

Birch, William Russell, 1755-1834.

Mason, Jonathan, Jr., 1795-1884.

Peale, Charles Willson, 1741-1827.

Stuart, Gilbert, 1755-1828.

Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872.

            Trumbull, John, 1756-1843.

            West, Benjamin, 1772-1848.



            Peale Museum.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

            Art criticism.

            Artists - Diaries.

            Artists' tools.

            Artists' materials - Formulae.

            Artists, American.

            Artists – United States.


            Sculpture, American - South Carolina - Charleston.


            Models (Clay, plaster, etc.)

            Painting, American - South Carolina - Charleston.

            New Jersey - Description and travel.

            Philadelphia (Pa.) - Description and travel.

            Charleston (S.C.) - Description and travel.

            Boston (Mass.) - Description and travel.

            New York (State) - Description and travel.












Location: 15 K 4



64x8.1             Diary of trip to Philadelphia and New York, 1808; with formulae for various artists' preparations (rice glue, plaster of Paris, painting transparencies, etc.); sketches of people in classical dress (some of the sketches depict miracles of Christ); sketches of buildings; and an ink drawing of the falls near Columbia, dated 1816.  Portions written in pencil.  Some pages are blank.

                        (typescript of diary available at this repository)


64x8.2             Volume of letters to a friend about a trip to Philadelphia and New York in 1816; includes sketches of scenery, machines, “Mr. Sully’s stand” (easel), and of paintings which he saw.  Portions written in pencil.  Some pages are torn, some are brittle – handle volume with care.

                        (partial typescript of volume is appended to this finding aid)


64x8.3             Volume of letters to a friend about a trip taken in 1816: up the Hudson River, on to Lake George, to Boston, New Haven, Trenton, Baltimore, and ending in Raleigh, North Carolina; includes many sketches of scenery along the Hudson.  Part of diary written in pencil.  Name John S. Cogdell is stamped in gilt on front cover.

                        (partial transcription of diary, including passages dealing with Gilbert Stuart, is appended to this finding aid)


64x8.4             Diary of a trip to Boston and Philadelphia, 1825, with a few sketches, chiefly of paintings.  Also visited Baltimore and New York City.  The diary includes a description of New York City’s celebration of the opening of the Erie Canal, held on November 4, 1825.  Name John S. Cogdell and date 1825 are stamped in gilt on front cover.

                        (partial transcription of diary, including passages dealing with Gilbert Stuart, is appended to this finding aid)


64x8.5             Volume labeled “Modelling & Sculpture” (spine label), includes notes on those subjects, plus copies of letters written by Cogdell, 1829-1833.  Some pages are loose.

                        Front cover of volume stamped with Cogdell’s name and the date 1829; inside the front cover is found a small label for John C. Walker, Jr., stationer and book binder in Charleston, S.C.


64x8.6             Volume labeled “Modelling & Sculpture” (spine label), mostly copies of letters written by Cogdell, 1833-1841, but also with some notes.  Many pages are loose. Front cover stamped with Cogdell’s name and the date 1834.

acc. 64x8.2-4: partial transcription of these three volumes (two volumes of letters to a friend and one volume of a diary) describing trips to Philadelphia, New York, and other places from Washington to Boston, in 1816 and 1825.   The transcriptions were done by two different researchers.  One researcher focused her research on passages about Cogdell’s visits to art exhibits.  The other was interested in Cogdell’s comments about his visits with Gilbert Stuart (which he always spelled as Stewart).


Note: page numbers have been added to the original volumes, written in pencil at bottom of odd numbered pages.  For the most part, punctuation in transcription follows the original, but some has been added to facilitate reading.



Acc. 64x8.2

[mid-July? Difficult to read]

[p.8. begins on eleventh line down]   

We were attended by Mr. D [later in the passage, Mr. Dallas or Dulles is mentioned] to visit the Room of Mr. Sully—however in going thro’ the State House yard—we discovered it was near 2 o’clock - & Mr. D & Mrs. C. walked on while I delivered a letter from Mr. Middleton Smith to his brother Mr. Sully. He did not at first remember me but as soon as I spoke he gave me – such evidences of a positive[?] nobleness of heart as gratified me extremely. He pressed me to go in & stay to dinner, but I then excused myself and I left him.


[p. 11: Talks a lot about the Peale museum, difficult to read.]


[p. 17]

Mr. Sully’s Room

Mr. Sully at this time occupies a house opposite the library belonging to the public & situated near the State House—for which he at present pays an easy rent. This however is threatened to be increased. Sully is our artist of great promise[,] in fact at the head of the Arts here & I think next to Stewart [i.e. Gilbert Stuart]. He is a man of great application devoted to his art—and to his family—very numerous. His style of colouring is of the first order bold and transparent—faithfully painted in all his pictures of consequence & the manner—discovers much [illegible] & Labor—and his last picture is an improvement [p.18] on that which had gone before his Room in which are exhibited his pictures free of charge has an eastern light interposed[?] in a frame & linen or thin canvas which makes the light tolerable. The shape of the Room is octagon. In this room are seen Sully’s fine portrait of Col. Williams late commander & Director at West Point—the posture[?] sitting right and resting, On a Table with papers[?], Hat & Sword—this is as great a resemblance as I have ever seen on canvas--& the best painting I have as yet met with of Sully—the Portrait full-length of Capt. Stewart is also admirably executed—resting his hand on a map the left holding his sword by his side—the attitude…

[p.19: more description of several portraits, then discussion of Sully’s painting methods—preparation of canvas, ground, coloring, sketching preferences prior to painting, washing of brushes, etc.]


[p.22, about half way down the page] 

I have borne in mind your penchant for the Arts & therefore apology at writing you so much & so minutely may be dispensed with. — This Gentleman has seven children of his own & there are three or four of his Brothers—so that his family calls for that constant & unceasing attention to his art—which fortunately is the result of a growing [p.23] appetite—for what his mind feeds on—his ambition never leads to wealth, but to fame & the comfort for his family—this is truly laudable. Yr. friend.---


Dear friend,

The Academy of Arts.

Considering the great Wealth of the City of Phila. I am sorry to say their Institution is below mediocrity since its first establishment,--amid Taste and the very ample means which are found here it was reasonable to suppose a great improvement, not solely in the addition to the Academy in Pictures of Value but in the impression[?] still more important which it should have made in the Taste of Philadelphia. I need take but one[?] Lamentable proof of what I am Labouring to explain to you, tis this[?]; and I add no more: Alston’s great [p.24] and justly celebrated Painting of the reviving man is to be taken for the Institution by Subscription $3500. An individual offered $3200 & the Academy bartering for the best Terms—obtained it by subscription ‘tis to be purchased.—when you Enter the door Alston’s picture bursts upon you, with all the awe and grandeur his subject is calculated to inspire. The struggle of returning life—the apprehension[? operation?] of fear & [illegible] terror, amazement, and horror—are at once view displayed to the astonished [illegible] the scull[?] of the Prophet is seen behind or near the reviving man, a light is emitted from it - a most happy conception of the artist .

[Lots more description of Allston’s Dead Man Revived—several pages, then brief mention of West’s King Lear & Ophelia [p.28], and discussion of Sully’s Portrait of Cooke as Richard III, which [p.29] “claims as much of admiration as any painting in the Room. The head –expression of face, attitude—character & the style of coloring—all give this artist great claim to the public approbation & support; our country should be proud he is Located in Philadelphia he deserves the rich rewards of his Talents. This Industry--if from the feeble Taste of the People he had not received them. –one objection to this picture is—that the Artist has by an unnecessary Representation of a witch figure just at the back of the Wonder of the Stage—broke & divided the attention so[?] irrestistable [sic] in the Effect—that your[? page torn] Eye can’t be Kept [page torn] subject without [p. 30] being torn away by this graceful figure behind— This sketch will give you some faint idea of the design/end of this Book/ [A sketch of Sully’s portrait of Cooke is found on almost at the end of this volume.]  There are a number of good portraits --& by young artists—I must mention to you a likeness of Dr. Caldwell one of the most expressive heads in the Room painted by Mr.[?] Bass Otis—of whom I shall here after speak—one of his happy efforts…. “  (Mentions portraits by C.H. Leslie, Portrait by Sully of a Mrs. Wiggins, “so soft and beautiful,” a portrait of Rev. M. [or W.] Abercrombie by Bass Otis, several copies by Sully, who he admires.) 

[p.31 – not quite halfway down page]  “As you leave this room to return to that in which is seen the statuary, you have a fine view of Mr. Morse’s –Dying Hercules from the poisoned Mantle. This is the production of a Very young Gentleman of Boston—a son of the Rev. Dr. Morse—his model in plaster gained in England the prize— & indeed it was justly entitled to it, & had his painting been equal to the model—this would have gained as certainly the prize also the Body is thrown on its back….”

[more detailed description of Hercules, then mention of other statuary. Next letter talks about visiting a ship, lots of detail, industry, development of the steam engine as an example of American industry and national spirit.)

[p.40]  “The Steam Engine is the best proof of this position--& the wonderful improvements daily making in all Labor saving Machinery give the most infallible proofs—how truly great are the resources of genious [sic, i.e. genius] —Industry & National spirit in our Country.  I know your soul glows at these reflections—with a warmth truly patriotic. I would to Heaven all who lay claim to the American Character so loved his Country—the Governments of Europe would treat with more sincere respect & more hesitatingly wound us—then instead [or indeed] a proper spirit would prevail & our Country from Maine to Mississippi be united as but one family. Adieu, Your friend.”

(Next letter describes a steam boat, ride, route, details, etc. from Phila to Bristol, then stage trip to Trenton & Princeton.)


(Many pages later, back to Phila again, discussion of visit to Pennsylvania Hospital:)

[p. 79, about a third of the way down the page]  

There is at this moment preparing a building on one side of the large Establishment on the main street and nearly in the Street—after a plan of Mr. West for the reception of his celebrated picture of Christ healing the Sick, a liberal gift by this great Man the Father of the Arts –in our Day—a Native of Pennsylvania—an American. The Exhibition of this painting will aid the Establishment and do more for the arts. It may animate and give life to a languid and scarcely existing fondness for painting in our [p.80] country[? page now torn] in the public’s breast rather which[? page now torn] requires to be awakened in order that the abundant Talent in the U. States in the Western Wilds as well as the polished Cities of the Atlantic—may meet its just rewards and encouragement. There is an Academy of Arts in this City only respectable, only tolerably well supported--this however can not come under the class of public Works or it would soon ripen into an Institution which might excite the secret envy of the most flourishing Academy in Europe.


There are public Institutions—for the reception of orphans & for the poor. It cannot be however necessary for public schools tho’ I heard there are free schools & I presume under the protection of the Legislature.  Each sect [p.81] [page torn – word of may be missing] Worship in Phila vies with the others in the improvement of the mind & morals of their children or those of their poor[.]  how honorable is this how glorious a theme for the Historian how bright a Laurel in the imperishable wreath which adorns the Constitution of our beloved Country. The bridges of this place are works of Public Interest--and certainly should[?] realize every hope - they are works of considerable Art—beautiful and adorn the City & are indispensable utility—the fare is very moderate. ….




[p. 3]

New York, Wednesday, 7 Aug. 1816,

Dear Friend,     

Col. Trumbull

This worthy man & most excellent artist I have not yet seen—tho I once called with Genl. Swift—one of his particular friends. [description of how Turnbull had been away, renting out farm land to tenants,] … a more profitable plan in this Country of spending time.  The Arts altho’ better encouraged compared with any other City in the Union do not still obtain that generous and signified attention they deserve or could receive here were the citizens well disposed.


If taste grew with wealth than might the Arts flourish in any City—but alas! The reverse is within the observation of those even who feel no solicitude or concern for the fate of the Arts or Sciences. Go seek the House[?] of the Painter who knows not the Luxury of the loaded [p.4]  table of the Rich, who scarce enjoy the common comforts of life - & these you see in his selection[?] the true flame of genious [sic, i.e. genius] and of real taste…. [More about poor appreciating things more than the idle rich. Talks about how Trumbull’s portraits in City Hall are bad.]  [p. 5 – about halfway down page:]  His works I have [seen – this word for some reason has been crossed out] can bear no comparison with these for they are very superior, & shall prove what I took occasion to remark to you formerly—that every historical painter is not a Portrait painter.


I entered and placed myself in the Room below—where the originals of the Battle at Bunker’s Hill & the Death of General Montgomery—first struck me, engravings from them I had often seen. But they indeed fall short in [p.6] Spirit and Grace of these originals; they are about the same size of the prints—above were hung three Portraits one a well drawn Elderly fashionable rosy Lady…. [There follows descriptions of other two portraits.  Transcription picks up near bottom of page 6.]   In the back room are suspended two views of the falls of Niagara [p. 7] in a deep tone—very different from those of Mr. Vanderline [sic, i.e. Vanderlyn] —but still very beautiful. We were there conducted up stairs –Mr. Waldo to whom Mrs. Trumbull yielded up the Rooms as she was on a visit for a short time, conducted us—two very large and fine Paintings presented to my view Our Savior & the Woman taken in Adultery—and that scene where he says “suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not” ……. [more description]


[p. 8 – about a quarter of the way down the page:]

The much spoken of Painting representing the Congress Hall & the Committee reporting the Declaration of Independence was the next object of my attention & certainly nothing could be more finely grouped[.]   The object of the Artist is to give strong likenesses of each character—in that assembly this he has done in a wonderfully fine manner—I recognized even at this day the likeness of Mr. Jefferson very strong, Gov. Edw. Rutledge & some others. These heads are painted in miniature size- and Col. Trumbull’s peculiarly happy manner [p.9] of doing these small heads--with heads on this scale he has indeed been very fortunate—I believe I hope the Col. contemplates interesting Congress on this subject[.]  What subject should more promptly animate them to the Encouragement of Native Genious [i.e. Genius] thro’ national subjects—what more interesting to the nation than the Declaration of Independence. What crisis in our History so pregnant with importance—admiration—wonder—doubt—exultation and zeal.  I would feel more proud in giving my voice for the Execution of this design upon a proper scale for Washington than had I voted for the declaration of War in 1812, and there was no act of any Congress hitherto I more approved than I did the Declaration of War.  [p.10]  Its result has taught the world to know us—has given confidence to the People & the Government. Has palsied a certain British faction in our Land—has made the British, Mistress of the Ocean, strike her Proud Ensign –and furnished for our Artists & Poets—subjects in abundance—thro which to hand down—the American Character—and yet from all these the mind runs involuntarily to that first great act the declaration of Independence, without which perhaps at this day we might have still been paying tribute money or submitting to taxation at the mercy of a British Monarch. Twas this noble and glorious act—which made every American feel he was not to be Enslaved—his fathers in this Instrument had declared him free—and ne’er shall [p. 11] the Sons of Columbia be slaves while the Earth bears a plant or the Sea rolls its waves.” From this admirable design, I turned to head[?] about the room said to have been recently done, but as to their resemblance I was unable to judge—I only perceived clearly Col. Trumbull does not expect fame—[description of several portraits]



[The passages from pages 87-119 deal with Gilbert Stuart and were transcribed by a different researcher from those passages above.  Note that Cogdell persistently spelled Stuart as Stewart.]


[p. 87-94]

[Sunday, September 8, 1816: wrote that he arrived late last night in Boston—mentions portraits of Stewart and Jarvis towards the end of this entry which is in letter form, but I cannot make out the context even with a magnifying glass because the pencil is so faint; the next entry is in ink.]



Boston 13th Sept 1816 

Stewart the great artist

Dr Friend 

The truly great and justly celebrated Mr Gilbert Stewart I have at length been introduced to by letters from his Daughter Mrs Stebbins now of N. York. —Mr Stewart is now an old man, more so from want of that attention to his living which has characterised [sic] the life of his master Mr West -this makes him appear more advanced & perhaps may give the tremor to the hand which—begins to shew itself—Mr Stewart is a man of middle stature—thick set—& has had one of the best Constitutions—his Eye is one of the most intelligent & searching – nose aquiline, mouth always pleasant—ready for a smile or for the pleasant conversation with which he constantly entertains his friend or his sitter -he takes snuff—rather too frequently & in large quantities -when painting -he answers & laughs with the company as tho he were over a bottle of wine[.]  Tis by this mode he succeeds so happily in striking the true character of his sitters—he made some

[p. 96]

remarks to me respecting his Art, all with a View to give me as many hints as he could in the very limited time we had to be together—he recommended me to exercise with chalk on canvas drawing the bones placed in every direction & view—the muscles & as they are drawn write their names on them respectively—disregarding shadow[.]  As to shadow or the true appearance of objects—his remarks were made on the billiard ball— chosen for the simplicity of its form & colour—the three principles are light, shadow & reflection & these cause the round appearance & these principles are to be constantly in mind when drawing and painting the human head. & the human form, fingers & so forth— required more of study than any other created thing because they presented- more variety in arms, fingers, legs & toes—all by different movements giving so many evidences of mind and intelligence.  I fortunately procured his consent to see him paint but did not arrive time enough to see him commence from the chalk I saw him a little more advanced—still however nothing 


defined—mere blocking out the head & feeling for the general character of the features— with coarse touches forming angles[.]  With rather a blunt small brush he forms his head by this brush—not depending at any time in any picture on outline— his lines are made out by his effort to come at the masses of light & shadow—he does not confine himself to painting his heads from the forehead down—but just as it happens & occurs to him—a favorable touch can be made[.]  His manner of laying on his colour can not I think be described & I fear cannot be imitated or the Gentlemen of the Art—Sully—Otis—Jarvis—Waldo & others— who have had the best opportunity might have obtained the Art[.]  Tis peculiar to Stewart—& he calls it playing with one tint over the other—his every touch with the brush tells & seems as placed where only it should have been laid—he does not paint very fast but then this certainty of touch executes faster— than any other I know. I saw him at work in a very low stool & upright easel the light directly (almost) behind him about 5 feet from the floor he sat about 3 feet from the window

[p.98 – in pencil]

the sitter in a chair raised on a box—about twelve inches high; and near to him on his right or left as the case required say about 5 feet distant— that is the head of the sitter—Mr

Stewart however told me if he could have a Room to his own desire[? design?] his light should be [illegible] & be given 8 feet from the floor—that he would sit 8 feet from the windows & his sitter 8 feet from him. I saw him prepare his palette for the face of a young Lady — white & yellow ochre: made the brightest light— a scarf on her fore head rose & white & vermillion the tint[?] where the scarf was not thick yellow ochre white & vermillion the tint[?] where the scarf was thick vermillion & white— for the higher tones of flesh on the cheeks & lips vermillion & lake—for deeper tones under nostrils & lips & [illegible] - black & vermillion his deepest shade & warmth— for eyebrows and eyelids nostrils & dark tones in the face this[?] gradualed[?] with the other tints made all his pearl[?] tints.   The Antwerp blue was used also for the light tints & pearl & yellow ochre[?] & black for his [illegible] which I did not see him use – tho’

[p. 99]

tis evident in every head the oil to grind with or mix up very pure linseed [illegible] with a mixture of  boiled oil & mastic varnish which looks like magilp[?] & is a jelly.  His dark colours he grinds up with sugar of lead.  He glazes the dark tints with asphaltum. 

What the motive or the cause producing it I cannot say but I saw no finished pictures

in Mr Stewarts Room —heads beautiful & well finished— drapery not put on and yet he is

said to be more industrious now than he had been some time since.  The day I called on him —by 11 Oclock he had dead coloured two heads (Ladies).  He was once very capricious— bending[?] to no one nor to the wants of his family[?] - tis singular he is poor & yet possesses a [illegible] a Talent, such great powers. His ordinary movement is slow & [illegible] as tho’ very little bodily exercise fatigued him— his face particularly sometimes with his nose shows of the snuff he uses in such plenty his dress is not the most neat but why do I mention these little things— shall they be taken by the man of Liberal Taste [illegible]

[p. 100]

as feathers in the opposite scale to his great excellence & Talents.  No.  Tell me the man of true greatness who is totally free from peculiarity[.]  No one exists—it seems new[?] that

peculiarities are the inescapable attendants on real and distinguished talents Newton -Franklin— Shakespeare – Otway – Voltaire & [illegible] – Raphael – West – Barry – Fox Pitt – Washington and Jefferson.  [rest of page not transcribed]

[p. 101 – starts on third line down] 

Mr Stewart told me the following anecdote of Mr. West in order to convince me how much I should depend on nature & practice: he had painted an excellent head of Mr West which gained him great honour. When the students were assembled to attend the usual exercises Mr West made his appearance & said to Mr Stewart you have done yourself great credit in the painting of that head—it proves so much talent that I think you may now be entrusted with the great secret, I think you are discreet enough not to abuse it[.]  The young men got around, anxious to hear the great secret which in a few words could be imparted - when Mr West with great gravity told him to get another canvas & see if he could not paint a better head.  In this was contained the great secret—practice makes perfect— & nature shd [should] always be the great mistress—follow her alone & never be found in the haven[?] of any one else.  Tis then is the great secret in almost all pursuits particularly in all pursuits when the genious [i.e. genius] is to be relied on. -  I found Mr.

[p. 102]

Stewart very friendly and communicative he imparted all he could in the time I spent with him, & with all the good will imaginable—there was no fear of embarrassment in looking over him, as to describing to me however the manner in which he laid on his colours & effected so much—this he said was impossible the Eloquence of Cicero would not enable him to do it—nor would I gain or retain anything from seeing him—for nature was so very capricious—he was obliged to catch her as he cd [could] & therefore any fixed established mode was not in his power—the first sitting did little more than block out the head & show something of the face—that is the eye brows nose mouth & ear, the broad lights & shadows and as he finishes he fixes the attention by conversation as to find the true natural expression—then as quick as possible the striking points of the face circle of the nostril- curve or angle of the lines of the Eyes—the curve of the lips the corner of the mouth, the dimple in the chin the speaking [illegible] of the Eye & the


bewitching curl of the locks, the person & Dress with the great man are minor points really for he seldom puts a Body to his head[.] 

I saw with great delight his painting of Washington—having his left arm on the mane of a White Horse— head of the animal behind him the rump in the foreground in the attitude something not agreeable to the Eye.  The legs are a little too much bowed—and the feet[?] are placed too far apart.  The cloudy[?] air very fine, the Dorchester Heights are seen-and salutes[?] are [illegible] on the British evacuating Boston[.]  This picture is placed in Faneuil Hall - we were shewn upstairs to a large room where the Volunteer Corps exercises & where are also seen the arms & accoutrements of these corps hung up in great order…. [digresses to talk about Faneuil Hall] 

[p.104 – picks up on seventh line down]

This great master Stewart [illegible] as he is still retains his keenness for punctuality and

orders respect to himself & his time—if a sitter does not attend at the hour—he will not receive him when they do attend.

Who now shall presume to turn from the instructions of this master? none - & yet he is so humble in his manner so perfectly the Gentleman, in his conversation so fine I had every opportunity of judging and would suppose he knew nothing of the art—I was really sorry my friend my money & my time are so scant I am not able to spend some weeks here in Mr Stewarts society - I am sorry I had not a better opportunity of making myself known

[p. 105]

to him. - I think we wd [would] have been near friends—he would have tried my sincerity—my candour & would have found out my humility - these wd [would] have been rewarded I know by his communicative genius he certainly is a great man.


Monday 15th 1816

[At Harvard with Mr. Coolidge looking at portraits, including Savage's Washington]

[p. 106 – about halfway down page]

...The finest head I have seen of Stewarts for some time is that of Mr. Ames in this Room: Washington & Adams – copies - painted by Savage....


[p. 110 - sketch of Stuart's portrait of Dr. Kirkland along with a description]

...all in Stewart's finest style—this reminds me that I went this morng [morning] with Mr Coolidge to Mr Newtons Room in Boston—his copy of John Adams from a head of his[?] uncle[?] Gilbert Stewart was the only good thing in the room it was a rough exhibition of that style which has bewildered all artists & been the wonder of all who have been fortunate


enough to see any paintings of this great master. - Tis said the young gentleman possesses considerable talent [continues with his opinion of G.S. Newton]


[p.102 – towards bottom]

Roxbury Dorchester & Jamaica

18 Sept 1816

[describes visit to Masonic Lodge in Boston; then today’s visit to Mr Fisher in Roxbury...]


[p.115 – bottom of page]

I stopped at Mr Stewarts by his request - when I perceived


the old gentleman had conceived a friendship for me—he was kind in his remarks and gave me some new hints in the art which if I return will certainly be useful—Mr Stewart told me that he when younger used to play pretty much on the piano or harpsichord that he had formed in his mind a plan of associating sound & painting he took C as the centre of the Instrument as sound.  There are 8 sounds & no more so there are but 8 colours for these he took the prism hues. C Sound: Red colour & use the order they were associated


            C         D         E          F          G         A         B                      C

            Red      orange  yellow  green    blue      purple   crimson            red


So that C above was but a lighter shade of red as the sound was familiar and C octave below would be a deeper red, a red more in shade as the tone would be lower —that as the notes would be arranged so the several tints wd [would] also harmonize—with his skill in the [illegible words] of the theory perhaps much might be made of the Idea-as he gave it you have it & with your


ready genius I doubt not you will like Mr Stewart make a valuable result from this apparently simple theory.

His lecture upon the hand shewed me what I had received since or studied before— the human hand is really simple when well understood -and when duly imitated always graceful he strongly recommended all study from nature.  -So sensible is this great artist and so perfectly agreeable to those whom he so that you are won insensibly to him in the moment when he expresses the pleasures of his [illegible] & in his most pleasant & kindest manner - he seated in the sitters chair - while I at one moment on his painting stool below him examining a nearly done head at another laying on the floor examining [illegible] the play of the brush [illegible] I asked if he concurred with those who thought[?] [illegible] to interest him [illegible lines]


[illegible words]

I told him it was such a generous reward for his friendship but surely a mark of respect for his superior talent & facility of expressing himself well—he said he had acquired a habit of saying much in a few words and this perhaps had attracted the notice of those to whom he had written[?] but this exposure had disgusted him!  -but he added a letter from me would be well rec'd I give him great pleasure & to see me again if I did not leave Boston the next morning was his desire.  I was called for and took my leave of him & bid adieu to the Seat of the Arts perhaps for ever.  I have before spoken to you of Gilbert Stewart or I would do so here— for while I speak to you of such talent in the Arts—nothing how indifferently [illegible] can be tiresome to you. from your friend.




[p. 2: sketch of religious history painting, appears to be Benjamin West’s “Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple.”]




Friday 16 Sept. 1825   

After a delightful ride in a most delightful day we arrived here from Providence about ½ after 1 oclock….  


[Description of events of next few days includes comments on bad weather, social visits, church going, visit to prison, discussion of poor & indigent, and visit to new hospital.]


[p. 12]

Monday 19 Sept 1825    

[p.14, fifth line down]    

In going out with Mr Parker I called to see Stewart [i.e. Stuart] —& I put a letter in his hand to prepare him for meetings with him.  He came forth better looking than I had any idea of considering ye [the] reports about his life—why sir I would not have known you again but for your Eyes—I then took off my hat ah! sir now you stand before me, but / placing his fingers to his cheeks "Sir John, thats all-you have grown so fat & look younger, I asked when I could see him alone—"every afternoon & be happy to see you always.  [p.15]  I saw Alston with W. [or Mr.] P. Parker just at the moment when he was having his stable in which he is painting his pictures—he rec'd my hand with great warmth. 


Tuesday 20th Sept. 1825

[p. 16]

[mentions Francis Alexander charges $40 a portrait; picks up at bottom of page]

On returning home with Dr. Jarvis I met Mr Stewart at his door

[p. 17]

took him by the art & walked as far as Change & promised to be with him in the afternoon….



Wednesday 21st Sept. 1825 

[p. 21, about ¾ way down page] 

Mr Alston conducted us to the House of Mr Sears where we saw his Merriam [i.e. Miriam, sister of Moses] -in the act of singing a song of triumph....  

[p. 25, about ¾ way down page]

We spent the evening very delightfully at Mrs. Parkers only a friend or two present Mr. Alexander the Artist.

I saw Stewart this afternoon but for a moment - am to see him tomorrow afternoon.


[p.19]  21st. meeting with Washington Allston, description of his collection (& sketches of some paintings), & visits to some private collections (with Mrs. Parker).


[p. 26]  Thursday 22d Sept. 1825

[describes day in the countryside with Mr. & Mrs. Parker, then visit to Stuart’s again. Includes a sketch of painting of a man and a scribe (probably “Jeremiah Dictating his Prophecy… to Baruch the Scribe”) by Allston.]

[p. 27, sixth line down]

This afternoon was spent on a visit to the Female Asylum & Mr. Stewarts….

[picks up towards bottom of the page 27]

I saw Stewarts room for the first time this afternoon

[p. 28]

& I am as much nay more delighted with his work now than before-& his touch is so fine delicate & natural that I am more enraptured with his work than I ever was before.  [several illegible words] calls in the afternoon just to see his pictures in their unfinished state.  The old Gentleman does not paint as fast as his wants[?] requires—he is very fond of conversation has a peculiar facility & felicity of  expression his selection of expression & his aptitude in applying similes, that he will open a Volume to your understanding when he wd would] explain much-he speaks mostly[?] of the Anecdotes[?] of England when he was [p.29] there—his society is much courted by a few who thank Heaven for the sake of the arts—are kind to him—his daughter called one of his Visitors—her Father's Factotum that he was very Liberal there was a splendid head of Mr Quincy the Mayor, 3 Sittings—intended for this Mr Davis comparing the heads now fresh with the original head of Washington they are very superior[.]  At parting we spoke about his painting for me his own head & the head of Mr Alston [i.e. Allston] & about his visiting Charleston— we agreed to meet on these subjects tomorrow Evening at 5 O Clock. 

We spent this Evening by invitation at Mr & Mrs Sears a pretty large party...



Friday morning 23d


We returned to the City & drank tea with Mr & Mrs Dwight & while there Alston [i.e. Allston] & Mason [Jonathan Mason, Jr.] called to see me; by appointment Mr Alston was in a very pleasant humor for Mason is very deaf but apparently a very pleasant young man  he has been two years in London pursuing his studies as an artist, they prevailed on me to remain on Monday to see Dowse's Collection & Many of the paintings in this city & I was gratified. 

Saturday 24 Sept. 1825

[describes visit to Athenaeum] “…where we saw some splendid works & Ceres[?] giving the heads of many of Bonapartes family [p.34] & those of the present King of France—there is a painting by Murillo. - Rebecca at the Well—also a copy by Leslie[?] of Mr. Lawrence’s pictures of Mr. West, a number of books and very superb engravings. 

I went with Mr Mason to his room but he wants a vast deal of practice & more of the study of flesh and drawing ere he will do[?] to cope with artists already well established....

[p. 35, under sketch, which is faint and difficult to see]

I went this day to Stewarts at his offering to be[?] to him [illegible words] to visit Carolina - & ask of him to paint for me his own portrait & that of Alston [Allston] either in sepia[?] on[?] canvas or in one as he sd [should] think best - & him[?] I left at the door & then I went to the Glass House with Mr. Parker, they do not blow until Monday.  [This passage was in pencil and very difficult to read.]


[p. 37]

Monday 26 Sept. 1825

[p. 38]

I then accompanied young Mr Mason to see the paintings in his Fathers House —& then we rode out to Dedham to visit the collection & library of Mr Dowse this Gentleman is a dresser of skins & preparer of leather....

[picks up a bit more than halfway down page]

We then returned to the City & visited the House of Mr Crufts to see Stewarts heads of the new President Adams & that of his venerable Father more recently painted; the last head is very beautifully done - and represents Mr A as very much shrunk away—in his person, while

[p. 39]

the head retains its size and its clearness and floridness.  Mr Mason who took me out today to see the aforesaid paintings is a son of Mr Jn. Mason of this City, he has been 2 years in London to study his art—his determinations are to practice in the taking of Portraits-so as to be enabled to get along without depending on his Father who as a large family & is now 70 years of age—he leaves this for Baltimore in a dew days & will visit Washington during the Winter. 


[p. 39-40: Tuesday 27th - visits with Allston]



[p. 41]

Wednesday 28 Sept. 1825

This day was pretty much spent in viewing paintings in company with Mr. Alexander.” [Sees Frothingham's portrait of  Gov. Brooks in Medford.  Visited the post office.  Handwriting is difficult to decipher.]



[p. 42] Thursday 29 Sept. “This has indeed been a day of Interest—first Mr. Alexander called to show me some paintings about the City—a painting—Portraits by Angelica Kauffman—an Infant Christ. Painter not known but very beautifully done. Mr. Darby’s(? or Derby) Collection where I left my card.  In Mr. Darby’s receiving and dining rooms there are two very fine engravings of the most indecent subject for a ladies dining[?] [p. 43] room or to be shown to my company they support[?] an engraving of a Religious subject.  Upstairs there is a splendid painting by Mr. Neagle of Philad., a young girl [two lines difficult to read] lights, but all are managed finely.  There are some things showing taste in their purchase at a Mr. Gore’s, two of Stewart’s finest heads one of Bishop Chevereaux[? Cheverceux?] & the other of Dr. Gardner.

The Mall was at this time filled with the Troops of the Brigade—it being a great day in Boston—there was a good Camera Obscura on[?] the[?] ground[?] and I prevailed on Mr. Alexander to go in with me & the beauty[?] & Novelty of the Exhibition charmed him by new Ideas & facilities[?] [illegible] [p.44] [hard to read, skipped most of this page, wrote about more visiting, picked up at last paragraph] Mr. Alexander & Dr. Dixwell called—Dr. Dixwell wished me on tomorrow to go and see the Grand Lodge Room & obtained also permission for us to see the original [p. 45] Capuchin Chapel by Granet belonging to Mr. Wiggins----

Mr. Alston came as he had promised—as usual his conversation was very interesting—we conversed a little on colour –he says he paints now boldly(?) not as before—glazing in all his Pictures—but boldly I think & glazes afterward as he wishes it. For want of a Private Room I have lost a vast deal of this gentleman’s delightful society and instruction….


[p. 47] Friday 30 Sept. 1825

This morng [morning] after breakfast we all visited Fanuel [i.e. Faneuil] Hall.  Saw Stewarts full painting of Washington near his Horse at the time the British were retreating from Dorchester heights — also another painting by Stewart a copy - of some mayor holding a drawing of some public building in his hands, one arm rests on a great chair.— 

We then visited Mr. Browns Academy for Young Ladies [p.48] and Gentlemen in Water Street.  His specimens many of them very beautiful--  we were indulged by a sight of the Dinner and Tea Party—with a green Curtain drawn before the frame arranged in a proper light, so as that the same frame holds them alternately.

The Ladies went to ride… [more visiting, some areas hard to read, another visit with Stuart]

[p.49; transcription starts on sixth line down]

In the eveng. [evening] I visited Mr Stewart in company with Mr Alexander & there we found him in the very best of humors—& sat with us for one hour at least full of spirits & anecdotes—he requested me to see him on Sunday at 12 o’clock after service at my church to join him he said at his [illegible] own house[?], -

He sd [said] he could not promise me to paint his own likeness & Alstons but he wd [would] if he could. 


[p. 50]

Saturday 1st Oct. 1825

This morng [morning] Mr. John Parker Senr. called in his Chair to take me out to Quincy – to see the President and his Father[.] All this was accomplished & I was agreeably[?] disappointed  in finding Mr. Adams a pleasant rather than a cold reserved man - as had been represented to me—even in this day: —I obtained private audience; & regretted the want of a letter of introduction not expecting to see him out of Washington—where being I should have been presented to him by one of the secretary's — he replied no introduction wanting....

[p.51] He introduced me to his father –after asking me if I should like to see his father.—

The old Gentleman was seated in his Easy Chair in his Chamber--with his cane near him- dressed in black except his Coat & that was a Dove colored silk morning gown lined with a lighter colored stuff.—His hands have a tremulous motion constantly. He is cheerful[.]  Professor Everett, Mr. Webster & Mr. Perkins were in the Room. They jested[?] with the old Gentleman –about [p. 52] some writer who wrote on the Am. Corres.[?] in England & sent two copies to the old [illegible] and one to the Pres.

We returned to the City for dinner—

This morning had been appointed to see Mr. Wiggins’ Capuchin Chapel—but Mr. W ultimately declined saying the Room was just painted & the Picture was still in the Case.


[p. 56]

Wednesday morning 5 October 1825

Arrived in NY from N Haven & spent all day in answering about 13 letters and in [passage is not finished]


Thursday 6 Oct.

Engaged pretty much in same way—spent the Evening at Mr. Warrens in a party given to Three Brides.  They danced on the Carpets- more gentlemen than Ladies.


Friday 7 Oct.1825.

All day indisposed.


Sat. 8 Oct.

….visited Penitentiary about 2 miles from New York [p. 57-58] [detailed description follows of prisoners & their work.  The transcription picks up on the bottom of p. 58.]   The feelings produced in [p.59] witnessing this humiliating confinement & tormenting ceaseless labour, were very painful –among others I felt as tho’ I cant without reluctance take out[?] and chastise with the Lash (I felt so mortified that they should be so degraded as to become worthy of such punishment & then let to go again in search of honesty – and support—upon the world. – I was shocked to learn that instances had occurred of a Culprit – returning after their term of confinement had ceased. Oh! Human nature. Alas! [p. 60] Frailty is thy name in Man & Woman.


Sunday, 19th

Twice at Grace Church: heard Rev. Wainwright in the morning & Rev. Lauer(?) in the afternoon—no improvement in the latter.


Monday 11 [socializing—long list of names at dinner party]


[p. 61]

Wednesday 13

Spent this morning at the Asylum for Deaf & Dumb—I am not able in mere memoranda like these –to give any idea of what I there saw or what I there enjoyed.

The time spent in the school was too short to enable me to understand sufficiently –the mode by which the very intelligent & [illegible] teacher interprets his intelligences but to the higher class—he communicated by signs and spelling with his fingers—quicker than we could by spelling the words –to the Eye & Ear of any one. [extended description of various students, methods—several pages. This is fascinating!]


[p. 66]    

            Friday 15

Phila received us once more today at about 10 o’clock a.m. [sees Sully, Nancy Fox]


            Saturday 16

It had been my design to leave Phila. for Washington today as soon as I placed Mrs. Cogdell at Mr. Fitzwilliams[?] [p.67] but we both agreed it was best we should both appear at the Table among Strangers—This enables me to see several friends & many more today before taking the Boat. Paid a very short visit to the Academy—it seemed very much improved. The two centre [sic] rooms are devoted to paintings. The Gallery for the Statuary has been added since I paid my last visit. --& the collecteions are very splendid.

The keeper complains of the want of support.—

There has been presented to the Academy a splendid Painting by Raeburn of ”Dugal[?] Stewart”—presented to this Academy by Dr. Tidyman. I then got information from [p. 68] Mr. Vaughn that Sully had made a copy for Dr. Tidyman as a present to the Academy at Charleston & that it was boxed up [a sign meaning with?] some instructions to me. But in a few moments after, say about ½ 11 o’clock I took the boat to New Castle[.]  At 12 we left the City & I was introduced to Dr. Wilson  a very able Divine & I had the pleasure of his conversation ‘till we arrived. [Then took a stagecoach from New Castle to Frenchtown before boarding boat for Baltimore.]


[p.70 -  in Washington now]

            Monday 18 October 1825. An important day.

[Visiting in morning.  Transcription picks up at bottom of page.]  I then with Mr. Tucker visited the Capitol –‘tis the most [p.71] magnificent building since St. Peter this I have seen.  Within small rooms – are contained the few paintings by Col. Trumbull. The Declaration of Independence and the Surrender at York by the British occupy the Rotunda. The Surrender at Burgoyne & the return of Genrl Washington’s Comd.. occupy another. Alas!—Alas! $32,000.

We returned to visit Mr. Audo[illegible] the Comp. of the Treasury & found him very agreeable & cheerful –he took down my name to have it presented for reappointment at the next session –when I returned down to Mr. Tucker’s office, he was engaged & I therefore did not wait –for him to visit Mr. Clay.




This morning at 5 o’clock while snow was falling we left Washington for Baltimore and arrived at one o’clock: Went at once to the Academy or Museum owned by Mr. Peale. Saw B. Otis by chance[?] - found him the same.  Learned that Mr. Ridgely(?) was a widower—wrote a letter to the uncle[?] old Ed. Henderson[?]  [difficult to read….regrets his short stay in Baltimore, travels back to Phila)


[p. 73]


… After breakfast visited the Academy & Mr. West’s great Painting—the Academy has a pretty entrance. The print[? The word might be first] room is circular, lighted from above—the paintings are very well exhibited and the [p. 74] collection very neat.  The large room is still distinguished by Mr. Alston’s splendid picture which I found more to be admired than 9 years ago.

[more description, similar to that of previous trip.  The transcription picks up at the top of p.75.] 

Mr. West’s painting Christ Healing the Sick is placed in a building erected for it—in the lab[?] of the Hospital –you enter—& a staircase ascends on either side and when on the floor leads into the Room containing the great picture—you see two Paintings by Sully—Mr. Coates on one side & Dr. Rush on the other—done with great taste. The painting of Mr. West’s is lighted from above—but the Spectator does not see the light.

The Subject is one of vast and imposing grandeur –the Savior is the Chief object in the painting & yet you are immediately drawn to the various miracles he is working upon the Sick—the lame—the blind and the Maniac. [p. 76]  The head of Christ is deficient in what I expected & perhaps as it ought to be deficient in what each beholder might expect. –‘tis a face no mortal has ever, or ever can portray. John’s head expresses a perfect confidence in the power of the Savior to perform all asked of him—James also looks at the female, who seems to ask- whether Jesus can heal the maniac Boy –a satisfactory reply.—‘tis in the whole a great Picture-- in its details it has many faults but where is the subject great as is this Executed by the hand of 80 years-  [p. 77] where the faults of his tremulous age may not be discovered. Mr. West was assisted by the most learned among his friends in all the historic pictures painted by him. He was most blessed with the best Education of his Art—so engrossed his whole time & all his thoughts; that application to those studies –which would have altered(?) his mind—with poetic—historic or general learning –was not to be given to or spared upon them—he studied human nature very much thro’ his Art –this study of Anatomy surely made him fear God and reverence more devoutly all his works & hence the greater fondness for Religious Subjects than any others. [p.78]  All shd. [should] behold this painting first because ‘tis the design & Execution at best in all more important parts of the Painting of a great Master [this added in pencil] & next because ‘twas intended as a Charity from him to the Hospital.


            Thursday –

Twas this day introduced to Mr. C.B. Lawrence –Mr. Neagle, Mr. Thomas Doughty—Mr. Childs, Col. Fairman(?) the late Engraver. [description of Neagle & Doughty’s work, personality etc.]




[did errands]… Also a letter & 30 Dollars to pay for 2 landscapes to be painted by Mr. Thomas Doughty – frames to be made by Earle. [p. 82] To send money from N. York to pay Earle for 4 frames he is to make besides those for Doughty’s pictures. Spent the Evening at Mr. Clement Biddle’s where the Wister party assembled. There I saw….



[detailed description of Episcopalian church & service, led by Dr. Wilson]



            Monday 24th Oct. 1825

This morning at 6 o’clock we left Phila. to return to N.Y. in the day ….



Friday 4 Nov. 1825

A day of Splendid Events for this City – [The completion of the Erie Canal was celebrated in New York City on this day.]

We left the dock at near 7 o’c having waited for a Band of Music, a dense fog being over the river.  We had scarcely passed from 4 ships before the fleet were observed—[2 pages of description of boats, decorations, people etc.]

[p.95 – about two-thirds of the way down the page]  By this time the land procession had commenced to form on the Battery….

[more description, ceremonies, pomp etc.]

[p.97 – about halfway down page]  The Evening was [illegible] by a display of Brilliant fireworks from the top of the City Hall—as well as from Chatham Garden & Castle Garden….



            Tuesday 8th Nov. 1825

Last night attended our friends ….Theatre….circus, [description of a dance].