Letter from G. P. A. HEALY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated May 29, 1853.
My dear Marsh,
Here we are in the old world once more, in this quiet old city of the past, its very
dullness is refreshing after the glare, dust, and noise of New York, which we left
on the 7 & reached Havre on the 19 of this month, in the good steamer
Humboldt after the smoothest passage I ever made, notwithstanding which Mrs Healy
was sea-sick day and night, & I was on the point of being so several times from
sympathy. We had the happiness of finding our dear children, their Grandma &
Dubourjal quite well, on the morning of the 20 the very day we wrote
telling them to expect us. It is our intention to remain here until the Autumn &
then Mrs. Healy will go to Paris, while I visit the East to make those studies of
which we have talked so much. I saw Rossiter in New York, he was to sail yesterday
for Liverpool, he intends leaving Naples with his party of which, I am to be one
about the 1 of December we hope to
see yourself & family at Constantinople say during February.
Between now & October I shall occupy myself upon a group of Col. Thorn & his two youngest daughters who are pretty girls, this will pay the expenses of the little ones during the winter.
Since my return I have been to the Exhibition in Paris, with which I am delighted, the best picture there, is one of horses the size of life by Rosa Bonheur; there is also a splendid landscape by Troyon possessing all the greatest qualities of the English school & more too! It has a force & truth I have never before seen on canvass; there are many fine figure pieces which make me feel more than ever the desire to accomplish those famous studies.
Mrs Healy & the children are ready to walk in the Park. I will therefore for the moment make my bow, & finish this before I go to town in the morning, or perhaps this evening, although my eyes are so sensitive that I never do any thing of this kind at night.
We have returned from the Park, where we witnessed the playing of "Les Grandes Eaux" which I have not seen for nearly 14 years -- We were a little unfortunate at first, owing to the rain I was obliged to leave my party under the shelter of the trees while I ascended to the Palace for the two parasols which my daughters left there yesterday, not having the number of sous requisite to redeem them; the children joyously ran to meet me when they saw me returning in triumph with the objects of my search.
I wish I could in the least convey to you an idea of the delight your letters have given us. You will naturally look upon your visit to Europe with infinite satisfaction for the rest of your life, which will be greatly enhanced by the pleasure it is in your power to confer on others, for I expect a book from you.
Since my last letter I paid a visit to Washington, but the persons I expected to paint there had gone, in consequence I remained but two days, & while there the President was so inundated with his Cabinet business that I could not see him. We returned to New York where passed a month pleasantly at Col. Thorn's.
I think I mentioned that the city of Boston agreed to pay me two thousand five hundred dollars & the citizens as much more, at the time of my leaving there the former had not paid, & while in New York I received a letter from Thayer saying they refused to do so, unless I gave them the frame, I had no alternative, so was done out of the frame which cost me 600 dollars!
We feel extremely grieved about Mrs. Marsh's health, we sincerely trust your next
will give us some encouragement to hope we may yet see her entirely restored, pray
best love to her. I am glad you have seen Mr. & Mrs. White we consider them among the best people in the world, we can never cease to be grateful to her for her devotion to us at the time of our great trouble
My wife & children join me in love to all your family, & believe me as ever most sincerely
YoursGeo. P. A. Healy
Geo. P. Marsh Esqu.
c, c, c.
References in this letter:
The French painter and sculptor, Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899), specialized in the realistic portrayal of animals.
The French painter Constant Troyon (1810-1865) was noted for his paintings of animals, especially cows, in landscapes.
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.