Item #8351 [Autograph letter, signed, by a panorama painter, sent to his father in New Hampshire, noting his departure for a painting trip on the Mississippi River.]. Charles Rogers.
[Autograph letter, signed, by a panorama painter, sent to his father in New Hampshire, noting his departure for a painting trip on the Mississippi River.]

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[Autograph letter, signed, by a panorama painter, sent to his father in New Hampshire, noting his departure for a painting trip on the Mississippi River.]

Cincinnati, 18 March 1848. Bifolium, 9.875” x 8”, 1 p. in ink, addressed and postmarked on verso of integral leaf. CONDITION: Very good, old folds, minor spots and dampstains.

A letter written by a professional artist who gradually worked his away across North America during the golden age of American panoramic painting.

The letter reads in full:

Dear Father

I start today for the Misippi [sic] for the purpose of taking drawings for a panorama and to improve my health in a more southern latitude. I shall probably be engaged three or four months. I shall endeavor to write to you from different places on my rout[e]. The panorama that I have just completed draws well. It goes from here to N.Y.

My Love to all at home,
Your Affectionate son
Charles Rogers

The drawing trip took place over several months in the spring of 1848 under the direction of English-born American panorama artist Henry Lewis (1819–1891), who led his team in “the rapid, continuous, complete sketching of the Mississippi” in order, as he wrote in his journal, to produce “a truthful view of the river and all the principal objects on its shores the whole distance” (Arrington, p. 242). While Lewis sketched the northern portion of the river, Rogers covered the south, sending his work periodically to Henry Stagg, the group’s business manager. The panorama was completed in June of 1849 by a team of professional artists in Cincinnati, where it was hailed as “the most perfect panorama in the world” (p. 248).

Two years after this experience, Rogers completed the work for which he is best known: another panorama of the Mississippi River, produced for an 1854 production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin at the National Theatre in New York City. Groce and Wallace suggest he is the same Charles H. Rogers who was active in San Francisco between about 1856 and 1872, working with John W. Fairchild on a “panorama of scenes of the Vigilance Committe[e] for the American Theatre” and later exhibiting landscapes with the California Art Union (Hughes, p. 395). His father, John Rogers, was a prominent lawyer in Orford, New Hampshire. The family home is on the National Register of Historic Places.

REFERENCES: Arrington, Joseph Earl. “Henry Lewis’ Moving Panorama of the Mississippi River,” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 6, No. 3 (1965); Groce and Wallace. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America, pp. 545–546; Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786–1940 (San Francisco, 1986).

Item #8351

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