Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Amesbury Artist Ralph Elmer Clarkson son of a Carriage Maker Inspired by John Greenleaf Whittier

Ralph Elmer Clarkson born in Amesbury, Massachusetts on August 3 1861. He was the son of carriage maker Joseph True Clarkson and Susan Melinda Watson. Ralph Clarkson made the first perspective drawings of carriages in Amesbury in 1878. When Ralph ventured to Illinois and "once transplanted to Chicago’s art scene, his background of culture, refinement, and talent lent themselves to the promotion of a cultural life in Chicago, which has rarely been equaled."  

J. T. Clarkson & Co. commenced the manufacture of novelties in carriages in 1888. They were among the first to bring out the interchangeable seat traps which were so popular in the 90's. They have taken out many patents for improvements in carriages, and are still making specialties in pony work and carts." Amesbury Carriage Makers Amesbury City Site and Ad 1896 Ad Antique Franconia Trap Buggy Carriage J. T. Clarkson Amesbury MA YAHB1

Joseph True Clarkson was born to Jacob Clarkson and Polly Hodgkins on June 14, 1837 in Amesbury, Massachusetts (at the time called Salisbury) and died November 9, 1907. The family roots were firmly established in New England soil. His paternal grandparents were Scotch and came to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1718. Two brothers Andrew Clarkson and James Clarkson, both "described as men of distinction in the two-volume history of their town." James Clarkson boarded with the Cottons when they first arrived from Scotland. He was a teacher in the public schools and town representative.  He married 1st Elizabeth Clark Cotton, daughter of George Clark and widow of William Cotton. He married 2nd Mrs Sarah Holland.
In Brewster’s Rambles about Portsmouth New Hampshire Volume 1, the two brothers occupied a spacious old framed house noted to be haunted. It was demolished in 1835.

In the State Historical Society of Wisconsin is a portion of a silk flag brought by the Clarkson  forebears upon their migration from Scotland to New England. It bears the Latin motto, “Nem-Me-Impune-Lacesse 1719” (No One Provokes Me with Impunity) It was used in the memorable Scottish rebellion of 1745, and was in the fatal defeat of Brince Charlie at Culloden. It was given by Captain Clarkson, of Ceresco, Wisconsin, a lineal descendant. Wisconsin Historical Collections Volume 4

Joseph Clarkson was a man of "culture and versatile gifts." He was an inventor, manufacturer, and editor on several occasions for the Amesbury Daily News. Joseph also published articles on special subjects, as he was "an intimate in the political councils of the district." In his later years he served as postmaster of Amesbury. His wife, Susan Melinda Watson. Check back for more genealogy

Death Certificate Joseph True Clarkson 

William True Clarkson son of Joseph Clarkson and Susan Watson, Brother of Ralph Elmer Clarkson 

Birth of Joseph True Clarkson in 1837 and Francis Kimball Clarkson 1833 who married Mary Kane Jewett

According to a biography published by the Illinois Art Institute, Whittier encouraged Ralph to pursue his art talent and inspired him to create "nature" themes in his work. According to C J Bulliet, when Ralph came back from three years’ study in Paris, Whittier, then venerable, insisted on his bringing to him his sketches and spreading them out before him. Mr. Clarkson remembers with pleasure the intelligent criticisms the poet offered of his various paintings. Whittier, he relates, was color-blind, but that didn’t destroy his power of linking pictures with appearances of nature. 
Before his career in painting Ralph Clarkson worked for James R Osgood Publishing Company in Boston, Massachusetts. Even as a young man attending Amesbury Public Schools Ralph was "called upon to decorate the blackboards when any special celebration" in town. 

From Illinois Art Project 
Clarkson studied at the Boston Museum School under Frederick Crowninshield (1845-1918) and later at the Academie Julian in Paris, under noted artists Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. When working with Emil Otto Grundmann he was introduced to the works of the Spanish court painter, Diego Velázquez, who strongly influenced many of Clarkson’s contemporaries, and who Clarkson, would idolize throughout his career. 
In 1884, Clarkson left for Paris with fellow Boston artist Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938). Their ship landed at Liverpool in October and by mid-month they were staying together at Madame Gogly’s boardinghouse, 83 Avenue a familiar spot for Victor Hugo
They began studies at the Académie Julian with William-Adolphe Bouguerea. The two also studied with American expatriate William Turner Dannat (1853-1929). Clarkson dutifully followed their academic teachings, but was likely aware of the attention accorded the French Impressionists.
After fleeing cholera in Paris and heading to London, Clarkson eventually found his way back to Paris while Tarbell left for Munich. In pursuit of study of the Impressionists’ plein air methods, Clarkson left Paris for Switzerland. There, he succeeded in capturing Impressionist procedures, painting a seven by eleven foot picture of two old men in a sunlit square titled The Arrival of News in the Village. His pigments were keyed so high that when the canvas was hung in the Salon Société des Artistes Français of 1887, it was as bright as the works of the Impressionists, and earned a place in a center panel.

Ralph married on January 15 1890 Fanny Rose Calhoun born May 24 1862 in Manchester Connecticut daughter of Judge David Samuel Calhoun and Harriet A Gilbert. Her mother died when she was 5 years old and her father married 2nd Eliza Scott in 1870. Harriet Gilbert (1830-1868) was the daughter of Jasper Gilbert and Elizabeth Hale Rose who was the daughter of Captain Joseph Rose and Millie Sweatland. Captain John Rose was son of Samuel Rose and Elizabeth Hale, daughter of Richard Hale (Son of Samuel Hale and Apphia Moody) and Elizabeth Strong.  Elizabeth Strong daughter of Captain Joseph Strong (Son of Joseph Justice Strong and Sarah Allen) and Elizabeth Strong daughter of Preserved Strong and Tabitha Lee.
Samuel Rose turned out from Coventry at the Lexington Alarm. He served as surgeon in the army until 1780, when he returned home ill and died in a few days. Lineage Book Daughters of the American Revolution Volume 6.
David Calhoun was son of Rev George Albion Calhoun and Betsey Scoville, daughter of Jonathan Scoville and Sarah "Sally" Church. 

First Photo--Full-length group portrait of artist Ralph Elmer Clarkson, president of the Municipal Art Commission and governing member of the Art Institute of Chicago, sitting in his studio in the Fine Arts Building located at 410 South Michigan Avenue in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. Clarkson is holding a print and photographer Paul Weirum and Jens Eriksen of the Chicago Daily News are standing, looking at the print that Clarkson is holding.Second Photo: Ralph Elmer Clarkson, Jens Eriksen, and Paul Weirum sitting and standing at a table covered with papers. Both taken by Chicago Daily News, Inc., photographer from Chicago History Museum Digital Collection 

Ralph served as president of the Art Commission of Chicago and State Art Commission of Illinois. He was an acting member of the jury for the art section at the Paris Exposition of 1900 and at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of St. Louis in 1904. He was also a member of the International Jury of Awards at St. Louis in the same year and has recently been made a member of the painting jury of the American Federation of Arts at Washington, D. C.

Ralph Elmer Clarkson Art

Nouvart Dzeron, a Daughter of Armenia 1912 considered Clarkson's most popular work hangs at the Art Institute of Chicago The model was Miss Nouvart Dzeron, who was a student at the time (1912) in the school at the Art Institute, still vividly remembered by artists who were her fellow students. She posed in the costume her grandfather sent over from Armenia. She was a singer and actress as well as a painter, very active and emotionally high strung. Wedding a wealthy Armenian in the cast, after leaving school, she has continued her art career, going not so long ago to China to study the designing of rugs. Nouvart Dzeron was the daughter of the freedom fighter Manoog B. Dzeron, who authored the book - Village of Parachanj, General History, 1600-1937. Nevart, the daughter of Yeghsa and Manoog, graduated with honors from the Chicago Art Institute. She did her post-graduate studies in France and Italy. During the Near East Relief drive, Nevart travelled throughout the U.S. giving lectures on Armenian folk music and singing traditional Armenian songs. She was the first to organize a touring Armenian chorus, which sang in traditional Armenian costumes, and acquainted the American public with Armenian music. The chorus included, West Point Military Academy graduate, Haig Shekerjian, who played the violin and would later become a decorated army general.

Café au lait au frais, circa 1892-94 Oil on canvas last known locale was M. Christine Schwartz Collection

''Venice, Italy'', framed watercolor last known locale was Bunte Auction Services

Portrait of Woman last known locale was Leslie Hindman Auctioneers 

Signed top right to my friend T.E. Balding last known locale was California Auctioneers

Al fondo el retrato del pintor Ralph Elmer Clarkson, 1911. The Oregon Public Library, Oregon, Illinois. Collection Eagle´s Nest Art Colony

From Oxford Register Kansas September 6 1923

From The Inter Ocean Chicago January 24 1897 

From Interview "Why I Prefer to Live in Chicago" by Mary Isabel Brush published May 8 1910 please contact me for full PDF 

From Chicago Daily Tribune Illinois January 10 1906

From Article "Among the Art Galleries" published in the Inter Ocean Chicago December 8 1912 by George B Zug please contact me if you would like PDF copy

From The Newburyport News Newburyport, MA February 8 1897

From Newburyport News Newburyport, MA March 29 1887  

 Passport Application for Ralph E Clark 1892 and signature of father J T Clarkson

  • History of Amesbury, Massachusetts: Beginning with the Arrival of the Winthrop Fleet 1630 at Salem and Boston Through 1967 Sara Locke Redford Whittier Press 1968
  • Patent filed by Joseph Clarkson January 14 1891 Carriage Improvements Amesbury, MA
  • Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design: 1826-1925 David Bernard Dearinger Hudson Hills 200
  • Ralph E. Clarkson Papers, c.1900-1941 Correspondence, photographs, and printed matter documenting the career of artist, Ralph E. Clarkson.
  • Chicago: Its History and Its Builders Josiah Seymour Currey S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1918
  • IllinoisArt.ORG
  • "Booming carriage industry brought Amesbury prominence" Newburyport Daily News Melissa D Berry Forgotten History May 25, 2018 
  • "Artist of Chicago Past and Present: Ralph Elmer Clarkson" C J Bulliet  
  • Circulation, Exchange, and Race in Ralph Elmer Clarkson's Nouvart Dzeron, a Daughter of Armenia Amy Lynn Weber 2011 University of Illinois  
  • Historical Burial Grounds of the New Hampshire Seacoast Glenn A. Knoblock
  • “Ralph Clarkson 1861-1942,” Tri-Color Magazine (May 1942) Richard Teutsch
  • Cotton Family of Portsmouth, New Hampshire Frank Ethridge Cotton 1905 
  • Illustrated Popular Biography of Connecticut 
  • "Mr Clark Opens His Studio" The Inter Ocean Chicago, Illinois March 5 1896
  • The history of the descendants of Elder John Strong, of Northampton, Mass
    B.W. Dwight

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