Text: Michael J. Deas, “Charles Hine,” The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (1989), pp. 82-83 (This material is protected by copyright)


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­[page 82:]

Portrait by Charles Hine

This portrait was painted in Connecticut about 1855, from a daguerreotype lent the artist by Maria Clemm. The canvas (fig. 37) is rather awkwardly rendered, the image itself heavily laden with symbolism: Poe is shown seated at a writing table that overflows with books and pages of manuscript; in his right hand he holds a quill pen; behind him hangs a curtain that has been pulled aside to reveal a bust — the “pallid bust of Pallas” that figures in “The Raven.”

Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe [thumbnail]

(fig. 37)
Portrait by Charles Hine
 
[Illustration on page 83]

The artist, Charles Hine, was a minor American portrait painter who was born in Bethany, Connecticut, in 1826. At the age of fifteen he began to study art under George W. Flagg of New Haven, and later moved to Hartford to continue his training under Jared B. Flagg, the brother of his first teacher. He eventually opened his own studio in New Haven, where he painted until 1857. Between 1857 and 1871 he was living and working in New York City, maintaining a portrait studio at 363 Broadway and a residence at 174 Tenth Avenue. While residing in New York, Hine became a close friend of Walt Whitman, whose portrait he painted for inclusion in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. Illness forced Hine to abandon his craft in early 1871. Shortly thereafter he returned to New Haven, where he died on July 29, 1871, aged forty-four. As J. Delancey Ferguson pointed out in 1932, there is no evidence that Hine ever met Edgar Allan Poe.(34)

The Hine portrait of Poe was first published in Amanda Schulte and James Southall Wilson’s Facts about Poe (1926), where it was mistakenly described as a fully authenticated portrait from life. The portrait’s authenticity was called into question almost immediately by Poe scholar J. H. Whitty, who in a letter to the Literary Digest International Book Review, reported that the late George E. Story (1835-1922), a former curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, had been present in Hine’s Connecticut studio as the portrait was being painted from a daguerreotype — several years after Poe’s death.(35) As proof, Whitty cited a letter Story had written to Poe biographer Mary Phillips in 1917. This letter reads in part: “[Your] inquiry about the Hine portrait of Edgar Allan Poe is easily answered. Hine, Chas. painted the picture from a Daguerotype lent him (I think) by an Aunt of Poe’s. . . . [Hine] was a portrait painter residing in New Haven, Conn. with a studio on Chapel St. I was his pupil in the year 1854-1855 & part of 1856. The Poe portrait was painted in my presence in the winter of 1855.”(36) The “Aunt of Poe’s” mentioned in Story’s letter was Maria Clemm, and the “Daguerotype” that she lent Hine was probably the so-called “Painter” daguerreotype (fig. 70), now owned by the Maryland Historical Society.

The whereabouts of the Hine portrait immediately following its completion are unknown, though sometime before 1880 the picture was acquired by Thomas Corner, father of the Baltimore artist Thomas C. Corner (q.v.). In 1907 the elder Corner sold the painting to Dr. George Reuling of Baltimore, who apparently resold it a short time later to the local firm of Bendann Brothers. In 1913 David Bendann sold the painting for $50 to Orrin C. Painter of Baltimore, a collector of Poe memorabilia.(37) The portrait was eventually acquired by Mr. Liberty Holden of Cleveland, whose daughter, Mrs. Benjamin Bole, presented it to the Cleveland Public Library in 1921.

 



Addendum

Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe [thumbnail]

(fig. 37a)
Portrait by Charles Hine
 
[Additional illustration]

The provenance of Charles Hine’s portrait of Poe after its completion in 1855 remains shadowy. In his article, “Charles Hine and His Portrait of Poe” (American Literature 3, January 1932, 465-470), J. DeLancey Ferguson notes that for “more than a quarter of a century the history of Hine’s portrait of Poe is obscure.” All that can be said with any degree of certainty is that the picture was at one time owned by the elder Thomas Corner of Baltimore, since by 1932 the painting’s verso was pasted with a printed card bearing his name (Ferguson, 466).

Complicating the matter — and further convoluting the provenance of Hine’s painting — a second Hine portrait of Poe has surfaced since the original publication of this volume, this one until recently displayed at the Edgar Allan House and Museum in Baltimore (Fig. 37a.). The picture is an oil on canvas mounted on panel, measuring 17 1/2 x 22 inches. In most respects the picture is identical to the Hine portrait now exhibited at the Cleveland Public Library. The Cleveland version, however, exhibits a degree of finish not present in the Baltimore version, suggesting that the former is the original and the newly-found Baltimore version a copy. The creator of this copy is unknown; it may have been painted by Hine himself, or possibly by another artist working at a later date. The picture itself carries no signature and the verso is obscured, having been mounted on a wooden panel.

The Poe House records only that this picture was formerly owned by Sumner A. Parker (1881-1946) and his wife, nee G. Dudrea Wagner (1883-1972). Mr. Parker was a Baltimore-based manufacturer of ornamental ironwork and a collector of Poeana whose holdings included several items from Poe’s childhood home, Moldavia. How and where the Parkers obtained their version of Hine’s portrait is unknown, though it is tempting to conclude that the painting was produced while the original Hine portrait was circulating in the Baltimore vicinity beginning in the late 19th Century. This painting was evidently bequeathed to the City of Baltimore as part of the Parker estate. — MJD (07/17/2011)

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - PDEAP, 1989] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (M. J. Deas) (Charles Hine)