Letter from G. P. A. HEALY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated March 27, 1854.
My dear Marsh,
I have been greatly disappointed in not being able to make my intended visit to the East. Now you must know that I shall return home with my family next August. I have decided to settle in Chicago, instead of Boston or New york, my reason for doing so, is on account of my children! I am fully of opinion that this growing western city is the very place for a poor man with a large family; it is also true, should my services be wanted in our larger cities, if I have the time, I can take rail & be at a given point in a few hours.
After I had abandoned my eastern journey, I till hoped to be able to go as far as
Rome, even this is denied my, my sweet dream of the East & of Spain, I must
relinguish for the present! yet I retain a faint hope that after my family is safely
I have made a fortune by painting those proud sons of the mighty West, I may once more revisit the old world in a position to fully enjoy its stores of Art.
Last Autumn when we returned from Versailles, I intended to reain at least for three years & took these apartments for that time, but the more I reflected upon my growing family (having the 5th daughter since I last wrote you) the more I have felt it my duty to go west! My group of Col. Thorn & three children has turned out well & is now on its way in the Franklin for New york. I have work enough in hand to occupy me until I leave. I am charmed with Mrs. Healy who feels the importance of this movement so much that she will take her departure with pleasure; should her Mother not be sea-sick all will be right!
My kind friend, I wish you to be so good as to sit down and give me some account of you & yours for the last four or five months. Sandford here told me that when he last heard of you, you were at Naples, I suppose you will be at Rome during the Holy week therefore I shall send this to the care of Mr. Cass. Our kindest love to Mrs. Marsh & believe me Most Sincerely yours.
Geo. P. A. Healy
P.S. Dubourjal dines with us every Sunday, & is as charming as ever!
References in this letter:
Lewis Cass (1782-1866), Brigadier General in the U.S. army and for eighteen years (1813-1831) governor of the Michigan Territory, was a U.S. Senator (1845-1857), Democratic candidate for president in 1848 (losing to Whig Zachary Taylor), and Secretary of State under James Buchanan (1857-1860).
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.
Edme Savinien Dubourjal (1795-1853) was a Parisian painter who specialized in portrait miniatures and watercolors.