Our portraits may be our most visible art collection, greeting visitors in every room, but the Redwood Library is also home to several collections of artistic works on paper. This week, the spotlight falls on our holdings of the works of Alfred Bendiner (1899-1964), which were given to the Redwood Library by the Alfred and Elizabeth Bendiner Foundation in 1996. Bendiner was an architect, a muralist, a caricaturist, an author, and a world traveler whose work shows his many talents and interests with humor.
Many of the men and women whose portraits line the walls of the Redwood Library are the descendants of families who have been in New England since its earliest days. Joseph Hurlbut Patten (1801-1881), the son of Reverend William Patten (1766-1839) and Hannah Hurlbut (1769-1855), is proof of this regional lineage on both his father’s and his mother’s sides, each with long histories in the area.
This week at the Redwood, we became detectives again, searching for information on a book in our collection that recently caught our eyes. Our copy of L’Email des Peintres (1866) by Claudius Popelin (1825-1892) was stored in its own personal box, hiding its magnificent binding from immediate view. Today, we decided to open it up and begin to try and piece together its origins.
Today’s Redwood Library is open daily to both members and visitors, with different policies and privileges for both, but this has not always been the case. A look through the annals has revealed an evolving visitor services policy first recorded in the early 1800s that identified anyone not previously known to the library as a “stranger.” This blog post observes the changes made throughout the 1800s to today.
While the original construction of the Redwood Library, as designed by architect Peter Harrison, met the needs of its members in 1750, the library had to grow in the centuries that followed to accommodate an ever-increasing collection of books and to serve its new members.
One of our fall projects here at the Redwood Library is to begin a new effort to catalog and digitize our Newport Collection of photographs. Our archives hold several boxes of photos that serve our researchers well when they come to visit, but there isn’t currently a way to get a complete idea of our collection without contacting a reference librarian. We hope to change that this season and present here an overview of the collections we will be providing access to.
On this same weekend at the end of the summer of 1778, Mrs. Mary Almy (1735-1808) set down her own account of the cannonading of the French Fleet led by the Comte De’Estaing (1729-1794) for her husband, Captain Benjamin Almy (1724-1818). Mrs. Almy was loyal to the English crown while her husband supported the revolution, which colors her view of the events she experienced during the war here in Newport.
This weekend the Redwood Library is holding its Annual Garden Party to celebrate the end of summer. Of course, while it promises to be a beautiful day, no garden party in Newport could ever be quite as elaborate as the Masque of the Blue Garden, held on August 15, 1913 by Harriet James and her husband Arthur Curtiss James at their home on Beacon Hill.
The Charles Bird King Scrapbooks contain his collection of print images, which served as source material for his artistic talents. In this brief overview, we present a few examples from the collection and its significance.
In the vast portrait collection of the Redwood Library, there are only a handful of self-portraits. Prolific portrait artists like Charles Bird King (1785-1862) and Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) each have at least one to their name among the many other portraits of theirs lining our walls. In contrast, the only portrait we have by decorative artist Michele Felice Corné (1752-1845) is his own self-portrait. Prolific in other areas, he was not known for his skills as a portrait artist, but his self-portrait is a fine representation of his artistic talent nonetheless.