Sunday, November 14, 2010

So, some years ago, it must have been in Washington, D.C. at an exhibit of the glorious work of Jean-Antoine Houdon (20 March 1741 ~ 15 July 1828) I saw his bust of Robert Fulton. If you click on this link, you can see it, too.,r:6,s:0
Being a fan of early 19th century costume & aving been a sometime sculptor myself, I was knocked out by the intricacies of collar & cravat & lapels, the strength and delicacy of Fulton's features. Having written and illustrated The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal, I knew of Fulton's successful experiment with steam navigation on the Hudson River, in the summer of 1807. But I hadn't known that Robt. Fulton was, in addition to being an inventor, a civil and mechanical engineer, he had been an apprentice in the studio of the painter Benjamin West (10 October 1738 ~ 11 March 1820) (10 October 1738 ~ 11 March 1820). He supported himself in his studies by painting many a portrait, many a landscape. Oh yes, and it was on this day that this remarkable American was born, in 1765, in Pennsylvania.
According to the wikibots, "Quicksilver Bob" Fulton (not the niftyest nickname I've ever heard, but pretty fine) shares a birthday with another artist, the great, glad-eyed, light-loving, nimble-fingered Claude Monet (1840), Felix's sister & fellow composer Fanny Mendelssohn (1805), Charles, Prince of Wales, King-in-Waiting (1948), and Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower (1896). If you happen to go to Ike's Presidential Museum in Abilene, Kansas, you might well see exhibited a tiny, lacy dress that she once wore...

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