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( 1846-1901 )

Julian Scott

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The artist Julian Scott built his distinguished career upon recreating the Civil War scenes to which he was an eyewitness as a youth. He was born in Johnson, Vermont, February 15, 1846, and educated at the Lamille Academy where his classmates included George Dewey and William Howard Taft. Plans for a university career suddenly were dashed when the War Between the States began. The fifteen-year old Scott enlisted as a drummer boy in Company E of the Third Vermont Infantry on July 4, 1861. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery displayed on the field of battle at Lee's Mills near Yorktown, Virginia, on April 16, 1862. There, according to his citation, Scott "crossed the creek under a terrific fire of musketry several times to assist in bringing off the wounded."1 Scott was the first drummer boy in United states history to be so honored. Having been badly wounded himself that day, he was mustered out of the Army and sent home, but he joined the war effort again as an aid to General William Farrer (Baldy) Smith. Scott was finally brevetted out in 1865. Throughout his army days Scott filled notebooks with sketches of fierce battles and quiet scenes of camp life. His fondness and talent for drawing led him to pursue an art career after the war.

Scott enrolled at the National Academy of Design in New York. It is said that a wealthy merchant of that city, a Mr. Clark, having become acquainted with Scott's work, offered to take the young artist to Europe for further study. Thus, Scott was able to visit the art capitals of Paris and Stuttgart.2

Returning to the United States, Scott opened a studio in New York City and soon was engaged in filling a number of commissions for portraits and battle scenes of the recent fratricide. Two of them, General O. B. Wilcox in Libby Prison (the property of William F. Blodgett) and The Rear Guard at White Oak Swamp (from the collection of the Union League Club) were displayed in the National Academy's annual exhibition of 1870. Scott had his work on view at the academy nearly every year thereafter until 1898, and his election to associate membership in the organization, a mark of distinction, occurred in 1873. He was active in other New York art groups as well, including the Artists' Fund Society, with which he exhibited as a member throughout the 1870s.

In October 1870 Scott married Miss Burns, daughter of the editor and publisher of the New York Dispatch.3 The couple lived in New York until 1875 when they settled in Plainfield, New Jersey.  Scott worked in a studio at 212 West Front Street for the next twenty-six years. He painted the portrait of Joe Male, Plainfield's first mayor, and was instrumental in founding the Joe Male Art Gallery at the Plainfield Public Library where his Death of General Sedgwick hung for many years. In 1884 he joined Plainfield's Reform Club and began work on an allegorical painting for the back wall of the stage in Reform Hall. Although the hall was razed years later and Scott's mural lost with it, a surviving sketch shows it to have been a powerful image of a woman driving a chariot pulled by four thundering steeds and waving aloft a banner that carries the injunction "Dare to be Right."

Scott's biggest commission, monetarily speaking, came from the Vermont legislature, which paid his $10,000 to paint The Battle of Cedar Creek for the State House. Commissions also came from the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City for The Battle of Antietam, which brought Scott $4,000, and a Portrait of Eliot F. Sheperd, ordered shortly before the subject's death.

In 1890 Scott was appointed a special agent of the United States government to report on conditions among the Kiowa, Comanche, Wichita, Navajo and Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona. He spent three years with the tribes, gathering statistics and making over forty illustrations for the eleventh U.S. census.  Additionally, eleven watercolor drawings made by Scott in the southwest, showing Indian ritual, domestic life, and the rugged landscape these people inhabited, appeared as aquatint illustrations to "The Song of the Ancient People," a poem by Edna Dean Proctor published in 1893.

Scott was stricken with partial paralysis while in his early fifties, which resulted in a severe diminution of his ability to paint. This condition, compounded by rheumatism, led to his premature death on July 4, 1901. His burial took place in Plainfield with full Masonic rites, owing to the fact that he had been a member of Jerusalem Lodge, F. and A.M. Scott was survived by his wife and daughter Bessie.4 Cynthia Seibels

1Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863-1973, prepared for the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, October 22, 1973, p. 219.

2Obituary, Plainfield Courier, July 5, 1901.

3Ibid.

4Ibid.

For more information on this artist and work, please contact us.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from the Robert M. Hicklin, Jr. Inc.

 


For more information on this artist and work, please contact us.

This essay is copyrighted by Robert M. Hicklin Jr., Inc. and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission.

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