Collections on Display
View of Niagara Falls
John Vanderlyn was the first American artist known to have painted Niagara Falls. This painting is an early precursor to the painting style that was to become known as the Hudson River School. It is painted in a picturesque style which celebrated the grandeur of the American landscape. He completed two paintings of the falls in 1801, which were later reproduced as engravings. This painting hung in the parlor of James Bowdoin Bradlee’s Beacon Street house in Boston, Massachusetts, until 1877. It descended through the Bradlee family to Sarah Bradlee Codman.
Tall Case Clock
Brothers Simon and Aaron Willard were renowned Massachusetts clock makers. Willard clocks were known for their sumptuous fine detail, elaborately carved finials, and smooth pendulum movements. The glass dials and animated figures were often painted by celebrated Boston artists. For the Codman family, owning a Willard clock was a status symbol because of its high quality. This tall-case clock’s previous owner was Perrin May, a China trade merchant and Sarah Bradlee Codman’s maternal grandfather. The clock stands more than nine feet tall.
Richard Codman portrait
Richard Codman, the brother of John Codman, was known for his wit, charm, and terrible business sense. He was described by later generations as “fond of society, careless in money matters, but with a nice taste in pictures and statuary.” In 1793, Richard traveled to France, stopping in London on the way, where he sat for this portrait by Copley. The Codmans were connected to Copley through the Russells, John Codman’s in-laws. Copley visited the Codmans at their Lincoln home on at least one occasion.
In early nineteenth-century New England, few could afford the time, money, or space needed to collect works of art. Charles Russell Codman (1784-1852) got a head start when, at age nineteen, he inherited thirty-six paintings from his father. Soon after, he traveled to England and Europe for four years, where he visited art galleries and artists’ studios, developing his eye for paintings. After his return to Boston, he added to his father’s collection, purchasing paintings both through dealers and at auction. One of his most important acquisitions was this painting, a classic seventeenth-century Dutch still life by a master of the genre, Willem Claesz Heda.
Vermont-born American sculptor Hiram Powers (1805-1873) studied in Italy to master his craft. He is the most successful American sculptor of the nineteenth century. This sculpture of the mythological figure Psyche was commissioned by Bostonian Ignatius Sargent in 1848 and purchased by a relative of the Codman family at a sale of Sargent’s art works in 1868. Powers’s image of Psyche is a classical evocation of female beauty, a subject that had great appeal to nineteenth-century collectors.