By James F. O'Gorman
Expert in quite a lot of media, 19th-century artist Hammatt Billings (1818-1874) designed furnishings, statuary, monuments, structure, and private and non-private gardens. He was once a painter and portraitist and an illustrator whose drawings seemed in UNCLE TOM'S CABIN and LITTLE girls. This publication reconstructs Billings's existence and paintings. one hundred and one illustrations.
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Additional resources for Accomplished in all departments of art--Hammatt Billings of Boston, 1818-1874
68 Old and New described him as "kindly, but high-toned, and free from all petty jealousies," modest, self-possessed, ready to help younger artists with advice and assistance. Whether for modesty or other reasons, Billings rarely signed his many illustrations. Other commentators support and augment such praise. Another obituary remembered him as "noble and large-hearted ... " Harper's Weekly called him frank and unselfish. Ednah Cheney reported that he was a "delightful talker", while John H. "69 We can penetrate the scrim of contemporary expectations, however, by Page 15 quoting the young Billings on this subject.
57 Hammatt was still polishing his drafting skills as late as the 1860s, for in the winter of 1864 he was attending the Lowell Institute lectures given by William Rimmer. 58 Billings's work as book and periodical illustrator preceded his work as an architect. His earliest catalogued book illustration is the 1841 frontispiece to Jacob Abbott's Rollo Code of Morals; in 1842 he published two city views in the Boston Miscellany of Literature and Fashion, as well as views of Walter Scott's Page 12 Abbotsford and the obelisk of Luxor in Pans in Lydia Sigourney's Pleasant Memories of Pleasant Lands (see appendix B).
Travel, gift books, history, readers, deportment, almanacs, religion, adventure: these and many other topics engaged his pencil. Children's books occupied the bulk of his time, however, and when he has been remembered in the modern literature, it has usually been for his work in this area. His views for the Boston Miscellany and Mrs. Sigourney's Pleasant Memories combined his double-barreled talent as artist-architect, for here and in other work he acted as vedutist, or creator of urban architectural views, in the mode of his presentation drawing for A.