Letter from G. P. A. HEALY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated November 11, 1850.
My dear Friend,
I feel sure that both you & dear Mrs. Marsh will feel sorry to learn of our deep affliction in the death of our eldest child & only son, our darling Arthur. He died on the 4th inst of brain fever at the age of 10 years & 8 months, after an illness of something less than three weeks; my distress is great, but his poor Mother is far more to be pitied: having remained by the side of our dying boy so long, both day & night, she is extremely exhausted. Time & the knowledge that he has joined his brother in a happier land, together with the sympathy of friends with hearts like yours, can alone awaken us from the horrible dream which seems to paralyze us now.
I shall always feel grateful to you My dear Marsh, for your valuable & charming
letter, how sincerely do I wish that I could go & see yourself & family; but
I find it impossible at present. -- I am advancing very well with the large canvass & hope to finish & show it in America next summer; fortunately I have a group which was taken some time back at the "White House" the two most conspicuous figures are those of Mrs. Marsh & her sister, which have already served me for my gallery, I thought at first I should want separate heads but I find that every thing must be and so indistinct, that I have in them all I want.
My present plan is to finish my great work as soon as possible & deliver in person, & leave my wife & children here. On my return I think we may go to Rome for a year or two & then I hope I may be able to run over to see you at Constantinople. I am sorry not to have it in my power to see you sooner, but you can feel for us. Pray give our affectionate regards to Mrs. Marsh not forgetting dear Miss Paine, & believe
me gratefully & sincerelyYours,Geo P.A. Healey
To His Excellency
Geo. P. Marsh
c. c. c.
P.S. Pray when you write give our congratulations to Lucy!
References in this letter:
The American portrait painter, George Peter Alexander Healy (1813-1894), was one of the most popular artists of his time. He is known for his paintings of presidents, statesman, and members of Society on both sides of the Atlantic. A native of Boston, he studied in France under Antoine-Jean Gros and established a studio in Paris. In 1840, the U.S. Minister to France, General Lewis Cass, introduced Healy to King Louis Phillippe, and his reputation was established in Europe. In all, Healy made thirty trans-Atlantic trips but settled in Chicago at the behest of a wealthy Illinois businessman, William Butler Ogden.