Botanists in Bartram’s Garden

Botanists in Bartram’s Garden
Oil on Canvas
48 x 66 inches

For inquiries, please contact the artist at info@adrianmartinez.com or call 484-273-8352

Botanists in Bartram’s Garden

This painting portrays four men related by blood and connected, perhaps more closely, by their passion for botany. From left to right they are Moses Marshall, Humphry Marshall, William Bartram, and John Bartram. They all examine the clipped branch of the plant, Franklinia alatamaha. Behind them is a view of the house built by John Bartram, which still stands today next to his botanical garden in Philadelphia. This particular part of the house shows John Bartram’s peculiar and distinct sense of style.

Here, William and John Bartram stand side by side, portrayed at the age they would have been during a 1765 plant collecting trip. Although there is no documented meeting between these four men, they exchanged letters, plants and shared a European clientele for their respective businesses. The Humphry Marshall in this painting looks fixedly at the weathered face of John Bartram, eager to absorb all of the information he can from his older cousin. Moses gazes intently down at the plant, as if to memorize its every feature. William Bartram looks at the Franklinia with a vague sense of satisfaction, perhaps he knows he will save the species. John Bartram’s gaze is inward – he has achieved a great deal in his lifetime, not least of which is passing on his botanical knowledge and legacy to the younger generations.

The Franklinia is connected to both the Marshalls and the Bartrams. It was first observed by John Bartram in 1765 during a collecting trip near the Altamaha River in Georgia. He made note of its form, but was unable to collect a specimen. William Bartram, who had accompanied his father on that trip in 1765, returned to the Altamaha River in 1776 where he again found the plant. This time William collected seeds, which he planted in Philadelphia. The resulting plants finally flowered in 1781, four years after John Bartram’s death. Realizing that it was a unique species and genus, William named the plant after his father’s friend, Benjamin Franklin.

This single, successful collecting trip is responsible for the species surviving today. Franklinia was never found anywhere outside of that small patch along the Altamaha River. Humphry Marshall was the first to officially publish a record of the plant in his Arbustum Americanum, crediting its discovery to the Bartrams. Moses Marshall documented the last confirmed sighting of Franklinia in its’ native soil during an expedition to Georgia in 1790. Moses took quite a few specimens of the plant back to Marshall’s Garden, but sadly they either died or were too weak to produce viable seeds. Although there were unconfirmed sightings of Franklinia in the early 1800s, it was considered extinct in the wild soon after.

Portrait of Indian Hannah

Portrait of Indian Hannah
Oil on Canvas
66 x 48 inches

For inquiries, please contact the artist at info@adrianmartinez.com or call 484-273-8352.

Portrait of Indian Hannah

In this painting Indian Hannah is imagined at the end of her life, under a full moon, preparing what she knows will be one of her last ritual acts of reverence in her family’s graveyard, located on Abraham Marshall’s farm in a stand of ancient trees. Pictured immediately behind her, the last, great hemlock tree marking the graveyard has finally fallen. Around this “mother” tree, Hannah has gathered all of the branches that in the past would have been the mother tree’s children (and future Lenape) living where they always have and doing what they always did.

Hannah sits, completely absorbed in her purpose. Old flint arrowheads and knives are arranged on her dress. The arrowheads, mysterious and magical remnants of her peoples’ past, are to her, talismans, not the utilitarian bits of stone her ancestors crafted long ago. She prepares to make a sacred fire using a steel trade knife and an old flint spear point. As this fire consumes the tree and branches, all her tribe ever were or ever could be will be burned to ashes. Her figure is also seen in the distance, in the moonlight, walking to her makeshift bed in Humphry Marshall’s barn. She has been summoned to appear on the county courthouse steps the next morning. Her lifetime friend, Moses Marshall, Chester County Justice of the Peace, will officially take down her life story in preparation for her induction into the county poorhouse the following year. This is required by law to prove that she is a Chester County pauper and not some wandering indigent.

BRIEF HISTORY OF HANNAH FREEMAN

Hannah Freeman (we do not know her tribal name) was born in a cabin in Chester County sometime between 1720 and 1730. While her neighbors called her “Indian Hannah,” she referred to herself as Hannah Freeman. She was a member of the Lenape (Delaware) tribe, but by the time she was born, most of her people had already left the Brandywine Valley. Except for a seven-year period when she and her family were forced to flee the area due to the violent reprisals on all Indians after the French and Indian War, most of her life seems to have been spent quietly on the margins of the Quaker community in the Marshalltown area.

Growing up in what was already a hybrid culture, Hannah was raised by her mother, Sarah, and several aunts. Their primary source of income was as migrant farm labor for the local Quaker landowners which put them in a class of people that could have been legally described as vagabonds when harvest was over. The Marshalls and other locals also employed Hannah and her family as spinners, weavers, and at various other seasonal tasks, often providing living quarters along with the work. In the midst of these menial occupations, Hannah was occasionally sent for as a healer by the local community, who respected her skills. Native lore concerning medicinal plants, their preparation and uses was traditionally passed down through the female line by generations of tribal medicine women, and in her youth, Hannah was apparently singled out to receive this precious knowledge.

From the perspective of the Quaker/Anglo culture surrounding her, Hannah Freeman lived a conventional, if rather mean, material existence. She had odd jobs, planted small patches of corn, squash, and beans and raised a few pigs and cows. Though she is typical of the numerous people struggling to get by in the backcountry, Hannah Freeman saw herself as a person very much apart. Clinging to her seasonal rounds and other “heathenish” rituals, Hannah was described by a contemporary as grandly traveling along their roads as though she “was the queen of the whole neighborhood.” She seemed to be aware of a profound responsibility to her people – past, present and future – as a “place holder.” This proud sense of self-worth, regardless of how absurd it may have appeared to the whites, revealed a commitment to the belief that, despite everything, one day her people would return to the Brandywine River Valley.

Into the West

Into the West
Oil on Canvas
48 x 66 inches

For inquiries, please contact the artist at info@adrianmartinez.com or call 484-273-8352.

Into the West

In this painting Humphry Marshall stands on the edge of a precipice, looking out at the rugged beauty of the landscape as he devises a plan to explore the vast, untapped potential of the American wilderness. In the mid-1700s, America was dependent on many imported plants. Believing that the natural resources of the American continent could replace and even improve upon these imports, Humphry began to plan the details of an ambitious expedition that could benefit his fledging country.

Practical Quaker businessman that he was, Marshall contacted friends and acquaintances who had the influence and money to make his dream a reality. To populate his botanical garden, Humphry Marshall or his agents had made many collecting trips throughout the colonies. Moses, who had begun to work for his uncle full time, had been on an arduous months-long journey to Pittsburgh, begun in the summer of 1784, and had recently returned. Humphry approached Moses and his cousin William Bartram (who was a botanist and a highly skilled illustrator of plants and animals) with the idea of travelling even further west. Moses felt that ventures to even less inhabited areas would require greater planning and a sponsor. Humphry tried to drum up interest by contacting the American Philosophical Society through the help of his friend, Thomas Parke.

Humphry saw another opportunity in 1785 when his friend Benjamin Franklin was elected the President of Pennsylvania (equivalent to the Royal Governor). Franklin apparently was not receptive. Humphry then wrote to his friend Dr. John Coakley Lettsom, an English physician and philanthropist, who was interested in the potential of this trip. He also wrote to Joseph Banks, the president of the Royal Society of London, saying the trip would succeed if “met with proper encouragement.” In spite of these determined efforts, nothing materialized.

In May of 1792, Humphry Marshall received a letter from Dr. Caspar Wistar, a Quaker physician from Philadelphia, who asked if his nephew was interested in travelling west of the Mississippi since Thomas Jefferson and others were sponsoring a trip. Moses did not take advantage of the opportunity. Why he chose not to go is unknown, although the short lead time and his uncle’s failing eyesight may have influenced his decision.

We do know that Thomas Jefferson remained interested in funding a large expedition to the west. Twelve years later, as President of the United States, he commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the newly acquired territory of the Louisiana Purchase and to map a route across the western half of the continent. Lewis was the naturalist and he was tasked with studying, collecting and documenting the flora and fauna along the way. Sadly, Humphry Marshall did not live long enough to see his dream realized.

Susanna Wright and Deborah Logan

Susanna Wright and Deborah Logan
Oil on Canvas
66 x 48 inches

For inquiries, please contact us at info@adrianmartinez.com or by calling 484-273-8352.

Susanna Wright and Deborah Logan

This painting is an imaginative representation of two remarkable women, Susanna Wright (1697-1784) and Deborah Norris Logan (1761-1839). Deborah Norris Logan knew and admired Susanna Wright, but they were not close in age. However, they had much in common. Both were born into influential Quaker families, an “elite” who had wealth, political power, education and culture. Humphry Marshall as businessman, botanist and scientist was also an outstanding member of that elite. Susanna, by sheer force of her genius and leadership skills, became the unquestioned head of a brilliant family enterprise creating, on the very edge of the frontier, a prosperous business and community. Deborah Norris married the grandson of James Logan, a union of two of the leading Quaker families in Pennsylvania. She was known for her journal writing, poetry and for single-handedly preserving, organizing, copying, and eventually publishing four volumes of correspondence between James Logan and William Penn. She was the first woman accepted for membership into the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

On the left, Susanna is weighing a skein of blue silk of her own manufacture while holding a magnifying lens. Deborah, for the moment Susanna’s amanuensis (scribe), is taking down technical information or perhaps writing in her well-known journal. This type of grand manner painting is known as a “conversation piece.” Susanna Wright and Debora Logan are surrounded by objects of art, literature and science. The elaborate stage set functions as both portraiture and symbolism – implying that these women are also idealized personifications of the muses.  Since the Renaissance, artists have been challenged to depict their subjects in such a way that the objects around them reinforce their family prestige while making it clear that their superior intellectual and cultural accomplishments justify their privileged station in society.

The elite standing of these women is reinforced by the composition. Despite the implied movement of their gestures, they are actually static figures. Susanna Wright firmly anchors the left side of the painting with a severe verticality that makes clear her forceful and commanding personality. Deborah Norris Logan sits with pen poised, frozen in a moment of intense concentration while listening to her charismatic companion. The blue dress that lavishly cascades over her feet creates a stable pyramid which supports the visual tension and accents the reserve of the elegant writer. At the exact center of the painting, an early 1700s table top serves as a visual hub for objects radiating out in all directions, thus the explosion of iconic signs and symbols is kept in balance between these two remarkable people.

Drawing the Line

Drawing the Line
Oil on Canvas
48 x 66 inches

For inquiries, please contact the artist at info@adrianmartinez.com or call 484-273-8352.

Drawing the Line

After four years and 231 miles of relentlessly making their way west through the wilderness, the intrepid surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon had almost completed their task of mapping the boundary line between Pennsylvania and Maryland. On October 9, 1767, Mason and Dixon met with the chief of the Mohawks who let them know that no Indian escort would proceed with their party one step farther west.  Mason and Dixon pled their case to at least push on through the remaining distance to Pennsylvania’s western border, but to no avail. Although there were many months of hard work ahead of them, Mason, Dixon and their team had reached the end of the line which also ended, to all parties’ eventual satisfaction, the longest legal dispute in British history.

Mason and Dixon spent Christmas day in Philadelphia, meeting with the commissioners in charge of their project. They were given some additional tasks, one of which was to draw a map of the line. They chose to do so at the Harlan family farm in Chester County, the place where they spent every winter. Over the years, Mason, Dixon and the Harlan family had all become friends and this painting depicts the surveyors seated at a country table, surrounded by members of the Harlan family, drawing the line. In this congenial atmosphere, Charles Mason sits with quill pen in one hand, poised over the map and holding a bottle of ink in the other. With everyone listening intently, he describes a subtle point of surveying or perhaps he is relating a hair-raising adventure they survived in the wilderness. Jeremiah Dixon, a skilled draftsman and the primary map maker, seems to be bringing his friend’s attention back to the job at hand. The audience pictured in this drama is perhaps beginning to suspect the great historical significance of what Mason and Dixon have accomplished and that they have witnessed.

Meeting at Martin’s Tavern

Meeting at Martin’s Tavern 
Oil on Canvas
48 x 66 inches

For inquiries, please contact the artist at info@adrianmartinez.com or call 484-273-8352.

Meeting at Martin’s Tavern

In 1764, 42-year-old Humphry Marshall helped build the beautifully laid Martin’s Tavern in West Bradford Township. That same year, two men happened to pass through town. With their entourage of Indian guides, woodsmen, mule drivers, camp followers and wagons loaded with the latest, most sophisticated surveying tools of the time, Englishmen Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were on their way to make history. Mason and Dixon had been hired by the feuding Penn and Calvert families to settle a border dispute between Maryland and Pennsylvania/Delaware.

In this painting, the artist imagines Humphry Marshall taking a break from the hard labor of stonemasonry to speak with the two exotic travelers. At the center, Dixon (left), Marshall (facing the viewer) and Mason (right) confer on the top-of-the-line surveying instruments brought from England with all the intensity of typical 18th-century “curious gentlemen.”

On the far left of the painting, a single individual watches and understands that the surveyors bring an end to his way of life. This man, filled with foreboding, is one of the dozen Iroquois “guides” (actually bodyguards) hired to protect this valuable team.

On the far right of the painting, are free blacks Phoebe Spence and her daughter Mary. While the Spences were part of a small community of free blacks, other African Americans were still held in slavery across Pennsylvania, including Chester County. It was a tragedy of 18th-century Pennsylvania that “free” for a person of color was not the same as “free” for a white person. Blacks accused of crimes were tried in a separate court until 1778, and were denied jury trials.

In the middle left of the painting, two female indentured servants are preparing water for distribution during the pause in work. Both women, working for the Marshall family, have several years left on their indentures.  Abigale Bennett (left) is pregnant so she faces having additional time added to her term of service. She will have to work longer for the Marshalls to make up for time lost and money spent during her “laying in.” Her child, if there is no one able to care for it, faces the prospect of being bound out as a servant or apprentice.

This accidental meeting of Marshall and his household with Mason and Dixon depicts a range of freedom and possibility. For some, such as Marshall, Mason, and Dixon, it is a time of discovery. For others, such as the women, it is a time of limited opportunities, as their lives were restricted by race, low economic status, and marriage.

Portrait of Humphry Marshall

Starting today, I will be posting the paintings and labels from the exhibit at CCHS. And I will start with the star of the show…Humphry Marshall. Oh, and this spectacular panorama photograph of the exhibit (well, half of the exhibit) by Jim Lawson:

Portrait of Humphry Marshall
Oil on Canvas
66 x 48 inches

For inquiries, please contact us at info@adrianmartinez.com or by calling 484-273-8352.

Humphry Marshall

Humphry Marshall was born on October 10, 1722, to Abraham and Mary Marshall in their homestead between the forks of the Brandywine River in West Bradford Township, Pennsylvania. He spent most of his life as a British subject, living close to the frontier in this rapidly growing colony of the British Empire. Despite having little formal education, he became the archetypal American, inventing or in some cases improvising what it meant to participate in the creation of a new kind of nation.

He was a man of prodigious energy and genius and was successful in business, characteristically evaluating all of his financial negotiations with the Latin phrase cui bono (who benefits). A prominent farmer, mason and miller, Humphry was dismissive of those without a drive for knowledge or the capacity for vigorous physical labor. Some of Marshall’s civically minded interests included building bridges, campaigning for better roads, participating in the founding of Westtown School and helping to create the first poorhouse in Chester County. He was known for his probity and at different times he held the positions of County Treasurer and Overseer of Bradford Meeting. He was also appointed to the Committee of Indian Affairs by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. A truly “weighty friend”, Marshall spent his life in what is now Marshallton and in due time was buried there, according to Quaker custom, in a simple, unmarked grave.

However, Marshall had another other life, that of a scientist and internationally recognized, self-proclaimed, “curious gentleman”. As such, he made contributions to the rapidly evolving 18th century study of botany and astronomy and had serious interests in mineralogy, zoology, pharmacology and geology. He was an early advocate for the scientific exploration of the American West, although this dream was not realized until the expedition of Lewis and Clark a few years after his death. His friends and personal acquaintances were scientific, political and cultural leaders like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Fothergill and Susanna Wright. They also included Revolutionary War heroes like “Mad” Anthony Wayne and prominent Quakers like Anthony Benezet, an ardent abolitionist who also promoted the Peace Testimony.

William Darlington (1782-1863), a historian and a major botanist in his own right, described Marshall as being “fifty years ahead of his time.” But Friend Marshall was also a man of his time and place, living with all the complexities and uncertainties of an evolving society. Peacefully, but effectively, he participated in disenfranchising the local Native American population. He owned at least one slave and he doubtless had many indentured servants as well. His mind was brilliant and audaciously original, but not particularly artistic. Unlike his more famous cousin and botanical contemporary, William Bartram, Marshall was not a skilled artist nor did he write with the radiance and passion of William Bartram, whose style foretold the coming romantic age in literature. Perhaps these are some of the reasons for his relative obscurity today, but the primary reason is the great loss of much of his correspondence and associated writing. An outstanding exception is his primary botanical achievement, the Arbustum Americanum: The American Grove, a comprehensive study of American trees and shrubs published in 1785.

Longwood and Humphry Marshall – March 2, 2017

Art, history and horticulture had a great night together at the CCHS.  Matthew Ross, Continuing Education Coordinator at Longwood Gardens put together a program that included my speaking about Humphry Marshall and his history of plant exploration, and lectures from two amazing adventurer’s in the world of modern plant explorations – Peter Zale, Curator at Longwood Gardens and David Culp, famed horticulturist and author of The Layered Garden. David and Peter’s passion for plants was such an inspiration for everyone lucky enough to hear them and Matthew Ross has my gratitude for immediately seeing how the legacy of our past (in this case art, horticulture and science) can inform our present and our future.


Peter, David, Adrian and Matthew

Opening Night – November 2016

On November 4, 2016 the Humphry Marshall show had an amazing opening night with incredible crowds and a few celebrity appearances:

Benjamin Franklin showed up with a few friends:

 

And a few more amazing people:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The night closed with a few speeches, great food, and of course, spending time with the exhibit:


 


Showtime – The Visionary World of Humphry Marshall is open!

Well, the blogging had to stop as the deadline for the show grew near, and now, exactly one month after opening night, we are back!  I will be posting some great images of the show and opening night, but for now I thought I would start with a few images of the week before the opening.

So, does this look like a man under pressure?

Two Adrians

Two Adrians

 

 

How about this guy?

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The staff and volunteers at the CCHS were an absolute pleasure to work with.

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And just to remind everyone, the show is now open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30am to 4:30pm at the Chester County Historical Society, located at 225 N. High Street in West Chester, PA.