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.
Neatly presented as a scrapbook, this bound work from the Ralph E. Carpenter collection of manuscripts (RLC.Ms.040) tells the story of the Newport trial of thirty-six men accused of piracy, twenty-eight of whom were found guilty and twenty-six of whom were executed in 1723. The trial scrapbook undeniably tells the most detailed story of a Newport event in this collection.
Bearing the same name as the now-infamous founding father, though of no relation, Dr. Alexander Hamilton (1712-1756) crossed paths with the earliest version of the Redwood Library, the Literary and Philosophical Society, in 1744 on a journey through the northern colonies.
When Abraham Redwood gave the funds for the Original Collection in 1747, many of the books were on practical subjects like medicine, farming, or, interestingly enough, beekeeping. John Thorley (1671-1759) writes expressively on both the preservation of bees and on their utility as an ideal model for human behavior.
It was in this coming week, in 1780, that General Rochambeau arrived in Newport with around 6,000 French soldiers under his command, signaling to many the beginning of the end of the Revolutionary War. He remained at Newport through 1781, when he joined forces with George Washington’s troops at the Battle of Yorktown.
Fort Wolcott was the primary fort protecting Newport, Rhode Island from 1703-1836. Over the years it had many names and served different military forces, later aided by the United States Army Hospital on site. The collection we are featuring today consists of one incredibly detailed meteorological diary maintained by the US Army Hospital at Fort Wolcott on Goat Island in Newport Harbor.
One of the portraits we have in our collection by the well-known painter Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) is of Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse (1754-1846). According to reports, the young Waterhouse, who was born in Newport, spent some time reading medical books at the Redwood Library. He went on to become part of the first faculty of Harvard Medical School and an early experimenter with the smallpox vaccine.
It’s the weekend before the Fourth of July, which means it is time to prepare your homemade fireworks! Well perhaps we wouldn’t recommend that, but we did find a book in our vault that could help if anyone were so inclined.
The struggle for colonial independence in Rhode Island has one of its anniversaries this weekend, which marks 245 years since the burning of the Gaspee. An armed schooner in the King’s army, the Gaspee first appeared in the waters of Narragansett Bay in March 1772. By June 9, 1772 it had been destroyed by an anonymous group of Rhode Islanders who were never punished.