A vividly illustrated history of a Philadelphia family dynasty of artists
Philadelphia's Cultural Landscape
The Sartain Family Legacy
Search the full text of this book
A Barra Foundation Book
edited by Katharine Martinez and Page Talbott
Philadelphia Book Clinic Certificate of Award, 2001
The Ewell L. Newman Book Award from the American Historical Print Collectors Society for the outstanding publication enhancing appreciation of American prints before 1900, 2001
With essays by Elizabeth Johns, Cheryl Leibold, Katharine Martinez, Elizabeth Milroy, Sue Himelick Nutty, Patricia Likos Ricci, Ethan Robey, Kirsten Swinth, Page Talbott, Tara Leigh Tappert, Mark Thistlethwaite, Andrew L. Thomas, Nina di Angeli Walls, Helena E. Wright, Sylvia Yount
In their day, from 1830 to 1930, members of the Sartain family of Philadelphia were widely known as printmakers, painters, art administrators, and educators. Since then, the accomplishments of three generations of SartainsJohn, children Samuel, Henry, Emily, and William, and grand-daughter Harriethave become obscure. This wide-ranging collection of essays aims to rectify that situation.
The patriarch of the familyJohn Sartaincame to Philadelphia from England in 1830 to make a name for himself as a mezzotint engraver. Mezzotint was a sophisticated means of popularizing the work of well-known painters, and as an engraver trained in London, John was in great demand. He became influential, not just as a pictorial engraver, but as a painter, publisher, and administrator. He even designed monuments and furniture. And he passed on his skills and learning to his children.
One of John's daughters and three of his sons went on to become equally celebrated. Emily, with her friend Mary Cassatt, became a well-known painter and principal of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, precursor of Moore College of Art and Design. As an art educator, she became a leader in the women's art movement and traveled widely as a speaker and delegate. John's sons Samuel and Henry worked closely with their father as engravers and printmakers and were early photography enthusiasts. Son William moved to New York, where he became an associate of the National Academy of Design, a founder of the Society of American Artists, and president of the Art Club of New York. Henry's daughter Harriet followed her aunt Emily as head of the School of Design, where she advocated broad popular access to art appreciation and training.
The Sartains were important not just for who they were but for whom they knew and influenced. They were in the vanguard of the movement to democratize art and art education. Among their acquaintances were painter Thomas Eakins, Emily's one-time beau; poet and short-story writer Edgar Allen Poe; industrialist and art collector Joseph Harrison, Jr.; and Harriet Judd Sartain, a successful homeopathic physician who financed her niece Emily's professional training. Lavishly illustrated with 113 duotones and 8 color plates, Philadelphia's Cultural Landscape is a fascinating look at a century in which the production and promulgation of art was seen as everybody's business, and at a family that epitomized that spirit.
"Behind the rise of every great city are great families whose vision, passion, and achievements in the arts expanded the cultural landscape. The Philadelphia Sartains were just such a family. Until the publication of this book, their saga, which is central to the maturity of art in America, was known only to a privileged few. Now shared, it provides scaffolding for a truer understanding of Philadelphia between the time it was called the Athens of America and the time it earned the title of Workshop of the World."
"This volume of wide-ranging essays is thoughtfully conceived, informative, and quite often fun. The authors explore a fast-changing 19th century art world: the market place, graphic reproduction, education, fairs, parks, patronage, gender politics, and shifting tastes. Fascinating lives and new discoveries reward the reader in every chapter."
"This highly unified collection of illustrated essays, organized chronologically and thematically, reclaims the history of a family of artists and tastemakers. The authors put the Sartain family in context as they explore functions of the visual arts in 19th and early 20th century Philadelphia. A model for studies of artistic families in other American cities, this book should be read by art historians, art educators, local historians, Americanists, and many others."
"This is a Philadelphia story, fascinating reading that sheds light on art history, art criticism, and art education in America while bringing to life a family with vision and passion who, like the Peales, expanded the cultural landscape."
"...the Sartains of Philadelphia and their accomplishments are recounted in a fascinating new book, Philadelphia's Cultural Landscape."
"[A] fascinating look at a century in which the production and promulgation of art was seen as everybody's business, and at a family that represented that spirit."
List of Illustrations
Contributors: Elizabeth Johns, Cheryl Leibold, Katharine Martinez, Elizabeth Milroy, Sue Himelick Nutty, Patricia Likos Ricci, Ethan Robey, Kirsten Swinth, Page Talbott.