Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My latest painting, titled "Two sisters visiting"

"Two sisters visiting" in a collection in Winterthur, Delaware. 

This morning I finished my latest painting and by lunch it was sold to one of my collectors of art that owns over 10 of my paintings. It is titled "Two sisters visiting" It shows two Creole bourgeoisie sisters visiting in a Creole interior of the 1830's period. They are dressed in the latest fashion from Paris of the 1830's. The 1830's was a booming period in New Orleans history. Lots of money was being made. Most of the money made had something to do with slavery. 

In the painting next to the Creole mantel we see a enslaved woman sewing. Although many city slaves were skilled workers, most were domestic servants. They cared for their masters' homes, families, gardens, and animals, shopped and sewed for the household, and ran numerous errands. The number and appearance of one's servants indicated the urban resident's wealth and social standing. Thus, many prominent whites and free blacks in New Orleans and Baton Rouge outfitted their domestics in great finery when making public appearances. 

The bourgeoisie Creole interior includes a mix of Classical fancy goods and furniture available in New Orleans during this period.  After the 1803 Louisiana purchase Creole interiors included more furnishings and decorative arts from the East Coast of America with trade, like the 1830's New York city couch by Duncan Phyfe. One of the sisters sits in a French Restoration gilt wood swan chair. The decorative arts in the room include a American classical carved gilt wood mirror over the couch. On the mantel a pair of bronze English Regency Argand Lamps. A pair of French Old Paris porcelain NeoClassical vases and a American East Coast Lighthouse Clock.

The 1830's French print source for my painting. 

Over the mantel a ancestral portrait painted in the French NeoClassical style. During this period wealthy Creoles had  wall-to-wall floorcovering. The carpet looms of this period produced narrow width strips, usually 27” wide that were then hand-sewn together, laid upon the floor and tacked down. Costly carpets like the classical one in the painting were usually only placed down during the winter months and taken up and stored during the Summer months, replaced with cooler straw mats. During the 1830's a few prominent French Artist traveled from France to New Orleans to paint portraits of the local Creoles. Over the enslaved woman is a Charles X gilt wood baromètre.  A barometer is a scientific instrument used in meteorology to measure atmospheric pressure. Pressure tendency can forecast short term changes in the weather.  

Servant of the Douglas Family c. 1850

Individual portraits of domestic servants, like this one of a Douglas family servant, are extremely rare.
Gift of the Douglas Family

Dwarfing in population the other cities in the antebellum South, New Orleans had the largest slave market in the domestic slave trade, which expanded after the United States' ending of the international trade in 1808. Two-thirds of the more than one million slaves brought to the Deep South arrived via the forced migration of the domestic slave trade. The money generated by the sale of slaves in the Upper South has been estimated at 15 percent of the value of the staple crop economy.

I'm working in a 1830's Creole cottage in the French Quarter helping with antiques. This Creole mantel is the source for the one I used in my painting. 

1830's New York city couch by Duncan Phyfe.

American classical carved gilt wood mirror

The slaves represented half a billion dollars in property. An ancillary economy grew up around the trade in slaves—for transportation, housing and clothing, fees, etc., estimated at 13.5 percent of the price per person. All of this amounted to tens of billions of dollars (2005 dollars, adjusted for inflation) during the antebellum period, with New Orleans as a prime beneficiary. Antebellum New Orleans was the commercial heart of the Deep South, with cotton comprising fully half of the estimated $156,000,000 (in 1857 dollars) exports, followed by tobacco and sugar. 

French Old Paris porcelain NeoClassical vase

 American East Coast Federal style Lighthouse Clock

Over half of all the cotton grown in the U.S. passed through the port of New Orleans (1.4 million bales), fully three times more than at the second-leading port of Mobile, Alabama. During the 1830's A great deal of architecture was built in the French Quarter and other homes were remodeled during this period. Being that New Orleans was owned by many, including the French, Spanish and now America, "Creole society coalesced as Islanders, West Africans, slaves, free people of color and indentured servants poured into the city along with a mix of French and Spanish aristocrats, merchants, farmers, soldiers, freed prisoners and nuns". The society of New Orleans was unlike any other from its mix of inhabitants including Africans, the French, Spanish, Caribbeans, Germans, Irish Sicilians etc. The five decades preceding the Civil War are referred to as “the golden years” of New Orleans or “flush times,” “the glamour period” and “la belle epoch”. 

bronze English Regency Argand Lamp

New Orleans was referred to as a place for prosperity.  At this time, New Orleans had already won the title of being a Primate City where business was booming.  It lacked in manufacturing businesses but had many commercial businesses in the area and “was pulsating with commerce, business, change, and expansion”.  After the first bank opened in 1805, four more decided to open in 1827. 

View of recently installed brown and gold bedroom room at Millford. In the foreground is an original French bedstead by Duncan Phyfe & Son and one of the four original marble-topped basin stands. In the back left corner is one of the original cheval glasses made for Millford. The June 2, 1841 bill of lading for furniture sent to Millford by Duncan Phyfe & Son includes two “swing glasses,” named as such because the large looking glass frame “swings” or pivots between the two columns that flank it. This handsome mahogany cheval glass is the recent gift of Marika and Thomas Smith. 

Inspiration for the period wall to wall carpet in my painting 

The city was one of the richest, most dazzling of all places full of Parisian couture, society, fancy restaurants and shops that imported luxury goods for the new found wealth.  Royal Street became the main commercial artery while Bourbon Street was a place for the Creole elite and their fine residences. In the 18th century Bourbon street was named after the French Royal family. Because of this it was the most fashionable address to live on in New Orleans.

Charles X gilt wood baromètre.

1830's French Neoclassical oil portrait of a gentleman in it's original Louis Philippe gilt wood frame. 

Southern cotton was becoming heavy in trade that a new type of transportation needed to become available to transport the bulky materials.  Steamboats became the main source of transportation of materials by 1823.  There was an astronomical amount of 50 steamboats that aided in the commerce of the city.

Hundreds of gas streetlights were put onto the streets along with the first sycamore trees that were planted in Congo Square.  The population of New Orleans doubled in the 1830’s and by the 1840’s the population was approximately 350,000, almost half of which were Creoles of color or slaves, making it the fourth largest city in the United States at the time.  If they had kept with these increases in population, New Orleans would have easily become the second largest city in America. 

"Two sisters visiting" in a collection in Winterthur, Delaware. 

If you would like to  check out more of my art you can go to my website here.


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