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Appleton, Thomas Gold (31 March 1812–17 April 1884), writer and artist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Appleton, a merchant, and Maria Theresa Gold. Nathan Appleton, whose family had settled in New England in 1635, helped develop Lowell, Massachusetts, into an industrial center and amassed a fortune that made it possible for Thomas to pursue his interests freely. After a year at the Boston Latin School and three at the Round Hill School conducted by Joseph Green Cogswell and ...

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Benson, Eugene (01 November 1839–28 February 1908), art critic, painter, and essayist, was born in Hyde Park, New York, the son of Benjamin Benson. His mother’s name is not known. He went to New York City in 1856 to study painting at the National Academy of Design; he also learned portraiture in the studio of J. H. Wright. Taking up residence at the New York University Building, he formed close friendships with several other artists who lived there, most notably ...

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Marsden Hartley Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1939. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 490 P&P).

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Hartley, Marsden (04 January 1877–02 September 1943), artist, essayist, and poet, was born Edmund Hartley in Lewiston, Maine, the son of Thomas Hartley, a spinner in a cotton mill, and Eliza Jane Horbury. His childhood was marred by the death of his mother in 1885, at which time her eight children were separated. Hartley remained with his father and an older married sister, Elizabeth, in Auburn, Maine, until 1889, when his father remarried Martha Marsden, an Englishwoman, and moved with her to Cleveland, Ohio. (In 1908 Hartley dropped his first name and decided to call himself Marsden, his stepmother’s maiden name, which he had adopted in 1906.) Left behind with Elizabeth, Hartley dropped out of school at fifteen and worked in a shoe factory. In 1893 he moved to Cleveland, where he joined his family and took a job as an office boy in a marble quarry....

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Charles M. Russell. Photographic print, late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114799).

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Russell, Charles Marion (19 March 1864–24 October 1926), artist and author, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Charles Silas Russell, a wealthy businessman, and Mary Elizabeth Mead. As a child, Russell always preferred modeling in clay, drawing, and playing hooky. In 1879 his parents sent him to a military academy in New Jersey, but after a year they relented and allowed him to realize his dream of becoming a cowboy. He moved to the Judith Basin in Montana, where he tended sheep (1880), did chores for a hunter and trapper (1881–1882), and sketched western activities and scenery in his spare time. After a visit back in St. Louis for a month in 1882, he returned to the Great Northwest as a horse wrangler and cow puncher for several Montana cattlemen (1882–1893), but he continued to sketch and paint as much as he could....

Article

Thornton, William (20 May 1759–28 March 1828), architect, civil servant, and essayist, was born on the island of Tortola in the West Indies, the son of William Thornton, a planter, and Dorcas Zeagers. The senior Thornton died when his son was five years old, and the boy went to live with relatives in Lancashire, England. He served a medical apprenticeship in Lancashire, studied at the University of Edinburgh, and received a medical degree from the University of Aberdeen in 1784. After his graduation he traveled in France and the British Isles before returning to Tortola in 1786. Enamored of the republican ideals of the American Revolution, he emigrated to Philadelphia in 1786 and became a citizen of the United States in 1788. He established a medical practice in Philadelphia but soon abandoned it, finding the practice boring and the fees unsatisfactory. Thornton enjoyed a creditable income from his West Indies plantation, which allowed him to pursue his intellectual and artistic interests. His education and European background won him admittance to intellectual circles in Philadelphia, including election to the American Philosophical Society. Thornton married Anna Marie Brodeau, a well-educated and cultured girl of fifteen, in 1790. They spent two years on Thornton’s plantation on Tortola, returned to Philadelphia, and in 1794 made their home in the new city of Washington, where they resided for the remainder of their lives. They had no children....