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WILLIAM THOMAS BLENNERHASSETT (b.1896 d.1954)
 of Rossburgh, Durban, Natal, South Africa

Landscape Painter

Born 1896 Belfast, Ireland, died 1954 at Durban. Joined the British Army in 1913, serving during WWI in Mesopotamia and India. After WWI he joined the Indian Army. Emigrated to Durban, Natal, South Africa, c1921. Served in the Durban Borough Police, later working in advertising for the Durban Municipal Transport Service. Visited India, Iran & Russia.

A well known and admired landscape painter, as his maternal (McShane) grandfather had been, working in oil. Painter of landscapes of Natal and the Cape in South Africa, also Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). President of the Natal Society of Artists 1952-4. Advisor to the Durban Art Gallery. Exhibited throughout South Africa from 1944. Solo exhibition in Durban c1947. Works now exhibited at Durban Art Gallery.

“Sampson & Delilah” 1926
Warning more examples needed...
 
See:
“Dictionary of South African Painters & Sculptors” by G.Ogilvie, 1988
“Art and Artists of South Africa” 1983 
 
 

 
 
 
JOHN BLENNERHASSETT MARTIN, 1797-1857
 of Richmond, Virginia, USA
 
Painter of Portraits, Figures, Miniatures - Engraver & Lithographer

Born 5-Sep-1797 Bandon, Co.Cork, Ireland. Emigrated to USA 1815, died 27-Oct-1857 Richmond.

Trained as an engraver but self-taught painter in oils, he had “...manifested in boyhood a taste for sketching and would trace figures in the sand...”. Studied engraving at New York 1815-16, Said to have moved to Richmond in 1817 & there begun to practise his trade, this may have been 1816, as in that year was published an engraved portrait of John Durborrow Blair of Richmond, Virginia, a Presbyterian Clergyman, “Engraved by J.B.Martin Richm'd” & “Printed by Thompson 1816”.

An 1822 advertisement in the “Richmond Commercial Compiler” describes him as “Seal Cutter and Engraver”, His training was evident in his works and in his portraits, including a self-portrait, “...he frequently utilized the engraver's stipple technique, in which forms are depicted by dots made by hand or by a chemical process”, During the1820s his engravings appeared in several books.

c1830 he drew a portrait of John Randolph of Roanoke, this being printed by Cephas G. Childs of Philadelphia & signed “Drawn on stone & published by J.B.Martin, Richm'd “, prints being advertised for sale in the “Richmond Whig” where he styled himself “Engraver & Lithographer”,

Although “...esteemed in his adopted city both for his art and his genial nature...”, “...he never made enough money to support his family comfortably, and he was often forced to travel to other cities looking for portrait commissions...”, During the 1830s his engravings & lithographs became popular with Virginians and in 1839 the “Richmond Enquirer” reported that “...our fellow townsman [is] an artist of considerable merit...”, however, the Richmond sculptor Edward V. Valentine observed “...that his ability to grasp and express the essentials of a portrait was greater than his skill in handling the medium of his expression...”.

He continued to make engravings & lithographs up to 1852, but during the 1840s was chiefly painting portraits in oil and is listed as “Portrait Painter” in Richmond directories of 1850, 1852 & 1856, Portraits by him hang in Charleston, Norfolk, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia & New York.

He painted several portraits of Chief Justice John Marshall, one of his most notable portraits being an oil painting of Marshall which hung in a New York gallery and c1975 was in the U.S.Supreme Court Building at Washington DC.

One of his most interesting portraits is of James Armistead Lafayette, the black courier who served with the Marquis de Lafayette during the American Revolution.

He also painted portraits of Benjamin Watkins Leigh of Richmond (lawyer, member of the House of Delegates and the Convention of 1829-30, U.S.Senator 1834-36), Dr. John Brockenborough, a distinguished Richmond Physician, Dr. Moses Drury Hoge, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church at Richmond, James Gibbon, Virginia Businessman and Collector of the Port of Richmond.

References:
“History of West Virginia and the People” (“The Martin Line” - in vol.2) <date?>
“John Blennerhassett Martin, William Garl Brown & Flavius James Fisher: Three 19th C. Virginia Portraitists”
                                    by L. Moody Simms Jr. (“Virginia Cavalcade” vol.25, Iss. 2, Autumn 1975, pp.72-79)
“American Painting: History and Interpretation” by Virgil Barker, 1950
“Who Was Who in America: Historical Volume, 1607-1896” Rev.1967
“Artists in Virginia before 1900: An Annotated Checklist” by R.Lewis Wright, 1983
“Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors et al” edited by Glen B.Opitz, 1986
“The Portrait in Britain & America with Biographical Dictionary of Portraitists 1680-1914” by Robin Simon, 1987
“Art Across America (Central/South)” vol.2, by William H.Gerdts, 1990
“The Artist's Bluebook: 24,000 North American Artists”, AskART.com, 2000-2001 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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