Friday, November 21, 2014

Martha Wasn't There! And Other Common Misconceptions

With the Old Senate Chamber opening in just over a month, no one can ignore the myths that have taken hold over the past several centuries surrounding the room. While the Old Senate Chamber is filled with many fascinating tales, some true and some less so, it’s time to set the record straight on at least a few of these favorite stories.

The ladies in the gallery during the resignation, including Martha Washington at the center. Crop from General George Washington Resigning His Commission by John Trumbull, 1824. U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Baltimore’s Frame Maker: Samson Cariss and Washington Resigning

This time last year, we watched Edwin White’s Washington Resigning His Commission leave the State House to undergo conservation as part of the restoration, and marked the occasion with a feature on the nineteenth-century artist. So, what better way to welcome Washington Resigning home in the coming weeks, than with a feature on the frame’s craftsman, Samson Cariss!

The frame's latest conservation has revealed superb, detailed craftsmanship and generous gilding. Maryland State Archives, 9 June 2014.

At first glance, Cariss may not seem of interest. Compared to White’s popularity in the American artistic expat inner-circle, Cariss appears only in passing in state correspondence, and it was even questioned for a time whether he could have made the elaborate, carefully crafted frame that has miraculously stayed with the painting over the course of nearly a century and a half. Compared to White’s $3,000 payment, Cariss secured only $300 for the generously gilded work. Because of this, it had been previously suggested that he may have been only the procurer of the frame.[1]