Oil on Canvas
48 x 66 inches
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In this painting the artist has imagined a lush garden and turbulent sky as the dramatic and dreamlike setting for Humphry Marshall’s house. The two-story stone structure designed and built by Humphry in 1773, still stands today in Marshallton. Jutting out from the second floor is a recreation of Humphry’s observatory which was demolished in the 1800s. The interior of the observatory is depicted in Portrait of Humphry Marshall.
In the foreground we see Dr. William Baldwin (left), Dr. William Darlington (middle) and Dr. Moses Marshall (right). Humphry Marshall and Moses Marshall were inspired and taught by William and John Bartram (all pictured in Botanists in Bartram’s Garden), and in this painting, some 35 years later, Moses is passing his knowledge on to the next generation. Although Moses Marshall did not have an active medical practice in his later years, he was still known locally as Dr. Marshall. Both Darlington and Baldwin wished to distinguish themselves from their forebears, but they were also particularly interested in paying tribute to them.
William Darlington, a physician in West Chester, published the first comprehensive biography of Humphry Marshall in 1849. He spent years trying to get Humphry Marshall’s letters and papers from the Marshall family and met with success only when Marshall’s second wife, Margaret, passed away and control of the letters was given to the more cooperative Dr. Moses Marshall, Jr. (the son of Moses Marshall). Darlington’s determination to preserve the legacy of the Marshalls was instilled in him by his friend William Baldwin. Baldwin, also from Chester County, met Moses Marshall during a visit to Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Moses shared with Baldwin his love of plants, and gave him many tours around the botanical garden he maintained with an aging Humphry. Baldwin may or may not have met Humphry Marshall, but there is no doubt that he absorbed from these visits a passion for botany and passed that love to his friend Darlington in a continuing chain of inspiration.