Lot 195 of 461:
Political letter by son-in-law of great American art collector  

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Lot closed - unsold
Estimate:
$600 - $900

Title:
Political letter by Luman Reed’s son-in-law and overseer of his farsighted New York Picture Gallery

Author:
Allen, Theodore

Place:
[Hyde Park, New York]

Publisher:

Date:
[November 1838]

Description:

3 pp.+ stampless address leaf. Autograph Letter Signed “Theo”. To his wife, Kate (Catherine Reed Allen), 13 Greenwich Street, New York City. 2x8". 

Allen writes of his horrible week, separated from his wife, who had stayed behind in New York City at the mansion of Luman Reed, her late father, which still housed his magnificent art collection. Allen was preparing their new house in Hyde Park. His feeling of isolation was momentarily forgotten in the local political hoopla following the victory of the Whig Party in the New York state elections. Active in the Party since his return from an art buying trip to Europe for his late father-in-law,  Allen describes somewhat sarcastically, the brilliant snow-bound political celebration. 

Six years before, Allen had married the eldest daughter of wealthy New York merchant Luman Reed, called by his biographer, “one of a handful of enlightened collectors who nurtured the creation of a national artistic culture” in early America, assembling a collection of American art, which he displayed in a specially designed Picture Gallery in his Manhattan townhouse.  In assembling and housing his collection, Reed had the enthusiastic assistance of Allen, himself an art lover and collector who had devised a plan for guarding the collection which he helped put on public display after Reed’s death as precursor to a public Fine Art Gallery. Dying at his Hyde Park home a decade later, Allen, like Reed himself, did not live to see the family “Picture Gallery” become the foundation for a great art collection for the city of New York. Collection.While Reed’s biographer notes that Allen encouraged and guided Luman Reed’s artistic vision, he says nothing of the young man’s modest political involvement – as a Whig activist who never ran for public office. This letter, written with a large measure of sarcasm about the Hyde Park celebration, is scanty evidence of Allen’s own political interest:  “Bands of Music and artillery from Poughkeepsie poured forth volleys of roarings and volumes of airs patriotic; Houses blared with heaps of tallow and the streets with streams of burning pitch. The heroes of the three days, many of whom fought on the other side, formed a grand procession, marched round the square and with loud cheers, cannons bellowing and valor inspiring music, saluted the illuminated residences of the patriotic.” A “great meeting was held at a hotel. “Resolutions brimming with victory and triumph were passed amid the peals of artillery, loud huseas…” and a “Joe Blunt” orator who speech flowed like a “pent-up Volcano” -  and “didn’t the natives stare” while the cannon “again roared” and the “patriotic” music again entertained all of their neighbor in attendance. “But all human devices must have an end, so the bon-fires burned out and the candles went out and the cannon roared out and the brass band tired out – I too, Katy…Thine affectionate and political, Theo.”


Lot Amendments

Condition:
Upper 1½" of first leaf excised, though with no apparent loss of text, good.


 
Item number:
318178
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