JF Ptak Science Books Post 1224
Among my favorite places in Washington, D.C.--a place where I lived for 29 years--are its cemeteries; in particular Rock Creek Cemetery, but more specifically, Congressional Cemetery. Congressional is a big place, tucked away, sort of, away in Southeast D.C.--that is if you can tuck away a 30-acre piece of land. Congressional is an odd place, filled with many interesting people; its filled with their actual remains, and also their memories. There are many folks who have been interred in spirit in the cemetery, in cenotaphs; there are also many who have been laid to rest their temporarily, in the Public Vault, until conditions (in the old days) improved to have their remians received in their final resting place.
Among those in the temporary funeneral housing were JQ Adams, William Henry Harrison, Dolley Madison, and Zachary Taylor. It may be one of the great vaults in the history of our country, a small place holding great people.
President Taylor. General Taylor. That's why I'm here right now. He's the subject of these magnificent efforts by an unnamed child. The boy, or girl, drew these images on the back of a section o fmap that was printed in about 1845-1850, just about at the time that Taylor was at his greatest height--a general, a famous militaryu leader, about to become president of the United States without ever having been elected to any office. He was a gigantic figure at the time, and no doubt occupied some piece of mind of the artist who rendered him, The General.
I came to collecting childrens' art in a roundabout way--not so much "collecting" per se as in "finding" them. They're difficult things to locate.
First of all, materials were scarce. Paper, pencils, ink--these were not common things for kids to own in the 19th century, especially more in the middle and early parts of the century. These items were expensive, especially if you were a kid in a working-class family who didn't have much of anything at all, anyway. In addition to a real crunch, a severity of absence, of the basic materials, the art that was made had to survive the artist's own hands. And then it needed to survive being culled from family clutter for a generation. And another. And another. And another. And four more. 150 years of parents clearing out the clutter is a lot to survive.
And so there doesn't seem to be much left.
I find them in flyleaves of old textbooks and such. Its not as though there is are websites devoted to such things--at least not until now.
And so I'm selling two of the three portraits of The General that I own. I'm keeping one. They just feel superb, to me.
If you're interested in owning one, visit the blog bookstore, here. I'm developing now a site for nothing but pre-1900 kid art.
The artwork of children is a gorgeous thing, even when the children are not your own. Its not that there is a sense of a certain charm, or charms--the words are just too weak. The vocabulary is more in the realms of the work being sublime, far more so than anything else.