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biografía de James WARRELL (XVIII-XIX)

Direcciones: Philadelphia, 1793-c.99; Richmond, VA, 1804-c.39; visits to New Orleans, 1825, 1826-27; NYC, 1829-31

Profesión: Portrait & historical painter, scenic artist

Obra: Valentine Mus. Richmond

Comentarios: Emigrated to Philadelphia in 1793 with his parents, who were actors. Several years later, Warrell opened a dancing school there, but then moved to Petersburg, VA (where he painted scenery), and after that to Richmond, VA, where he opened another dancing school in 1804. A leg injury ended his dancing career in 1810 and he turned to painting, a practice he was familiar with through his experience in set design. Warrell painted portraits and historical works, in the latter category designing some original compositions but also copying paintings such as David's Napolean Crossing the Alps" (Warrell's version is at Valentine Mus.). His most ambitious project however was his founding of the Virginia Museum which opened in 1817. Warrell showed reputed old master works, plaster casts of classical statues, and work by contemporary Americans such as Thomas Sully, Rembrandt Peale, Charles Bird King, and himself. He also showed natural history specimens. The museum became the Richmond stop for the big traveling pictures, including Vanderlyn's "Ariadne Sleeping on the Island of Naxos." The museum did well at first but the public soon lost interest despite Warrell's attempts to stimulate it by featuring circus performances, chemistry exhibits, and concerts. In 1826 he turned over its management to someone else and began traveling throughout the country for artistic work, designing theatrical curtains and stage sets. He spent time in New Orleans in 1825 and 1826-27, and was in NYC 1829-31. Between 1831-39 he seems to have divided his time between Richmond and NYC (he sold the museum to his brother-in-law, Richard Lorton in 1836). Nothing is known of him after 1839 but he died sometime before 1854, as in that year his widow disposed of some Richmond property.

Fuentes: G&W; Richmond Portraits, 235-39; Rutledge, Artists in the Life of Charleston; Rutledge, PA; Cowdrey, NAD; Delgado-WPA cites La. Gazette, Feb. 21, 1825, Courier, March 10, 1826, and New Orleans CD 1827; NYCD 1829-31, 1833-34, 1839. More recently, see Gerdts, Art Across America, vol. 2: 16, 26, 343 (note 14)."

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