Edgar, one of the Poe Museum’s feline mascots, received a gift yesterday from admirer. Trish Foxwell, author of A Visitors’ Guide to the Literary South, sent a coffee mug she designed with Edgar’s picture on it. This photo shows Edgar posing with his gift.
Edgar is one of three black kittens found in November 2012 in the Poe Museum’s Enchanted Garden. While the female kitten Catterina went to live with one of the Museum’s guides, Edgar and his brother Pluto stayed at the Museum and are favorites with the public. Last year they were named “Best Museum Discovery” by Style Weekly. Here are some photos of the kittens over the years from their profile on Richmond.com.
Edgar Allan Poe might have appreciated the Poe Museum cats. He was always very fond of animals. As a boy living with his foster parents, he had a dog, a parrot who could speak French, and a cat named Tib. Later in life, he would keep various birds and cats. One of his friends, Hiram Haines, even offered to give Poe and his wife a pet fawn. Of course, many of his houseguests were disappointed to find Poe did not have a pet raven. Some, however, commented on his large tortoiseshell cat Catterina.
In 1840, Poe wrote an essay about his pet black cat which was capable of opening a latched door. A few years later, he wrote a humorous essay about cats for the Philadelphia Public Ledger. Quite unlike the narrator in his short story “The Black Cat,” Poe was reputedly kind to animals, and Catterina so adored him she would sit on his shoulder while he wrote.
The Poe Museum would like to thank Trish for sending the great coffee mug.
You never know who you will meet at the Poe Museum. Since it opened in 1922, it has welcomed some of the world’s leading authors, artists, and actors. Thirty-nine years ago, in February 1975, the actor Vincent Price visited the Museum, where he was treated to a lunch in his honor. A horror film legend, Price starred in several adaptations of Poe’s works, including “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “Tales of Terror.”
The February 11, 1975 issue of the Richmond News Leader reported that, in addition to visiting the Poe Museum, Price gave a lecture and dramatic reading at the Women’s Club where he drew “loud applause for his readings of such Poe classics as ‘The Raven.’”
The reporter Joy Propert describes Price during his visit as “conservatively dressed in a dark suit, light blue shirt and a red and blue paisley tie.” Of his appearance, Propert adds, “Price has carefully waved gray hair and a small mustache that seem appropriate for a voice that can change instantly from dulcet to sinister tones.” Price is quoted as telling the Women’s Club, “I love playing the villain…It’s boring playing good men.”
When asked about Poe, Price tells the reporter, “He was born with a demon called genius, and his poems show an inner despair in much the same way as some contemporary art.”
The raven that appears in the above photo with Price is still at the Poe Museum.
In honor of Price’s 100th birthday in 2011, the Poe Museum hosted a special exhibit in honor of the man who introduced generations of audiences to Poe’s works through the medium of film.
Vincent Price Life Mask
Above is a life mask of Vincent Price from the Poe Museum’s collection. The Museum also holds several posters for Vincent Price’s Poe movies and related items like this Vincent Price figurine.
From April 24 until June 22, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia will host a special exhibit of Poe-inspired artwork by ten of the world’s leading painters including Richard Thomas Scott, Melinda Borysevicz, Jeff Markowsky, Brian Busch, Chris Semtner, Charles Philip Brooks, Anelecia Hannah, Christine Sajecki, Jude Harzer, Thony Aiuppy, and Adrienne Stein. The artists live in different parts of the country and have studied in different parts of the world, but they are all united by a commitment to the craft of painting. Each artist in this diverse group of painters has taken up the challenge of interpreting Poe’s works through their unique artistic visions. The title of the exhibit, Into that Darkness Peering, is the passage from Poe’s immortal poem, “The Raven,” which reads, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before…”
The exhibit will open on April 24 from 6 to 9 P.M. during the Poe Museum’s monthly Unhappy Hour, which features live music, performances, and refreshments.
About the Artists:
Richard T. Scott is an American figurative painter working in New York and Paris, France.His contributions as a writer and aesthetic theorist have also been noted in realist circles, where he has participated in discussion panels with Donald Kuspit, and Vincent Desiderio. Scott is a proponent of an alternative philosophical superstructure for figurative painting, separate from that of the contemporary art world. Along with Odd Nerdrum, Helene Knoop, and Jan-Ove Tuv, Scott is one of the most vocal members of the Kitsch Movement. A one-time painter for Jeff Koons’s New York studio, Scott also worked and studied with the Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum.
Christine Sajecki is an artist living between Savannah, Georgia and Baltimore, Maryland, and a native of Connecticut. Sajecki’s encaustic paintings are dreamy and sometimes allegorical explorations of her surroundings, and informed by history and storytelling, social engagement, urban foot paths, and the body and behavior of the materials she uses. Her paintings have been included in many juried and solo exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. She has been a guest lecturer, teacher, or resident artist at several institutions and community centers, including the American Visionary Art Museum, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Clayton State University, the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, The Providence Center for Adults with Disabilities, Maryland Institute College of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design, and School 33 Baltimore.
Melinda Borysevicz was born on Long Island in New York to a father who built things, fixed things, fermented things (sauerkraut and choke-cherry wine, for example), and gave slide shows about his time in the Peace Corps; and a mother who grew things, canned things, baked things, let no one go to bed angry, and made play-dough from scratch. Melinda spent the better part of her TV-less childhood in a small town near the ocean, climbing trees, building forts, bossing her two younger brothers around (until they outgrew her), weeding the garden, exploring various woods and marshes, catching salamanders, writing poems, reading, drawing, painting and (intermittently) playing viola.
Thony Aiuppy received a BFA in Painting/Drawing at the University of North Florida in 2010 and an MFA degree in Painting at Savannah College of Art and Design in the Fall of 2013. His current body of work consists of thickly handled paintings produced with rich oil pigment that focus on the human form. The figures that employ these works become the focus within the confines of fictionalized situations with the intention to provoke the human understanding of identity by transposing time, culture, and ideology. Through the creation of such oil paintings, the artist merges socio-economic and -political themes with personal experiences of living with the residue of a racially divided American South to offer a new perspective on the pressing issues that face his contemporary landscape. Mr. Aiuppy is an art educator, a contributing writer for the blog Metro Jacksonville, and has a painting studio at CoRK Arts District. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
Brian Busch studied at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and the Rhode Island School of Design before continuing his studies with Irving Shapiro and Bill Parks at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Working solely from the live model at the Academy, Brian fell in love with the emotion and drama that can be expressed with the human form. Brian finds inspiration in the ordinary things around us, whether it be still life, landscape or farm animal. He makes no attempt to glorify his subjects, but to treat them with honesty and respect. Brian currently resides with his wife, Kathie in West Chicago, IL.
Anelecia Hannah currently lives and paints in a converted cotton mill in Columbus, Georgia and in the grey light of the Pacific Northwest. She attained a Bachelor of Arts in Seattle Pacific University and continued her studies in the Florence Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy in addition to private studies with acclaimed artist Bo Bartlett.
Chris Semtner is an artist, author, and curator living in Bon Air, Virginia. In recent years, he has displayed his work at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and Viktor Wynd Fine Art in London; and his paintings have entered a number of public and private collections. He has curated several exhibits, and the New York Times called the show he curated for the Library of Virginia, Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster, “provocative” and “a playful, robust exhibit.” He has served as author, co-author, or editor of eight books and his currently writing a book about the nineteenth century artist James Carling.
Born in North Carolina, Charles Philip Brooks studied painting in New England in the studio of highly respected Boston School authority Paul Ingbretson and with the renowned American Barbizon painter Dennis Sheehan. He is widely known for his evocative Tonalist landscapes. His recent works include paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures reflecting a highly emotive and personal approach, informed by a deep reverence for the history of art.
Jude Harzer is an award winning nationally renowned artist whose figurative paintings are inspired by childhood, memories and the power of thought to define lives and overcome circumstances. Using oil paint as her preferred medium, she creates psychologically provocative visual narratives featuring adolescents as observers and guardians of inter generational mythologies. Born in 1963, Jude is the third of six children, raised by a single visually impaired mother. Earning a full academic scholarship, the artist received her Bachelors degree in 1987 from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. In 2001, Jude earned a K-12 Visual Arts teaching certification and completed her Masters of Fine Art in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2013. Jude has participated in solo and group exhibitions that include venues such as The Misciagna Family Center Gallery, Penn State, The George Segal Gallery, NJ, Pen and Brush, Salamagundi Art Center, ACA Gallery and Prince Street Gallery, NYC. Jude’s paintings belong to both national and international private collections. She is the recipient of both the Dana and Geraldine R. Dodge fellowships and continues to paint, teach and prepare for upcoming exhibitions and art residencies. Jude lives and works in Ocean County, New Jersey.
To give the public a better idea of the variety of artifacts and memorabilia that makes up the Poe Museum’s world renowned collection, we will be profiling a different object each month. Some of these objects may be long-time favorites like Poe’s bed or Poe’s vest, but others may be lesser known pieces that are rarely, if ever, displayed. When making the list of items to profile, we began by asking which pieces tell stories or reveal unknown aspects of Poe’s life or work. We then considered which objects we wish could receive more attention or more time on display. Finally, we wondered which would be the first item to be profiled.
It made perfect sense to begin with a little known object that nonetheless attracts, repulses, and intrigues many of the guests who see it. Our tour guides regularly point it out on their tours because it is small enough to go unnoticed but too important to miss.
That is why the Poe Museum’s first Object of the Month is a lock of Eliza White’s hair.
Eliza White (ca.1820-1888) was the daughter of Poe’s employer, Thomas White, the owner of the Southern Literary Messenger. What little is known of Eliza White is a mixture of exaggeration, legend, and an occasional fact. Poe’s friend Susan Archer Talley Weiss wrote in her notoriously unreliable 1907 book Home Life of Poe, “When I was a girl I more than once heard of Eliza White and her love affair with Edgar Poe. ‘She was the sweetest girl that I ever knew,’ said a lady who had been her schoolmate; ‘a slender, graceful blonde, with deep blue eyes, who reminded you of the Watteau Shepherdesses upon fans. She was a great student, and very bright and intelligent. She was said to be engaged to Poe, but they never appeared anywhere together. It was soon broken off on account of his dissipation. I don’t think she ever got over it. She had many admirers, but is still unmarried.’”
Susan Archer Talley
According to Weiss, when Poe moved to Richmond in 1835 to work at the Southern Literary Messenger, “Mr. White, as a safeguard from the temptation to evil habits, received him as an inmate of his own home, where he immediately fell in love with the editor’s youngest daughter, ‘little Eliza,’ a lovely girl of eighteen [actually twenty-three]. It was said that the father, who idolized his daughter, and was also very fond of Poe, did not forbid the match, but made his consent conditional upon the young man’s remaining perfectly sober for a certain length of time. All was going well, and the couple were looked upon as engaged, when [Poe’s aunt] Mrs. Clemm, who kept a watchful eye upon her nephew, may have received information of the affair, and we have seen the result…Poe now, at once, plunged into the dissipation which was, according to general report, the occasion of Mr. White’s prohibition of his attentions to his daughter. It was she to whom the lines, ‘To Eliza,’ now included in Poe’s poems, were addressed.”
For her 1906 article “Some Memories of Poe” in Bob Taylor’s Magazine, Tula D. Pendleton interviewed Ms. White’s cousin, Miss Bell Lynes, a niece of Thomas H. White. In the resulting article, Cummings reports that, “Eliza, the handsome young daughter of Mr. White, inspired Poe with great admiration, and it was said that he singed his wings at the candles of her shrine. ‘To Eliza’ is his tribute to this fair girl.”
The poem “To Eliza,” originally published in the Southern Literary Messenger under the title “Lines Written in an Album,” reads:
Eliza! — let thy generous heart
From its present pathway part not!
Being every thing which now thou art,
Be nothing which thou art not.
So with the world thy gentle ways —
Thy unassuming beauty —
And truth shall be a theme of praise
Forever — and love a duty.
Though this poem was likely dedicated to Eliza White at that time, Poe had already written it in the album of his cousin Eliza Herring. He would later dedicate the poem to Frances S. Osgood and publish it under yet another name.
Thomas W. White
Of the supposed love affair between Poe and Ms. White, Pendleton continues, “But Mr. White would hear none of Poe as a suitor for his daughter. Miss White rarely spoke of the poet. ‘But,’ said Miss Lynes, ‘Eliza never married…’ Miss Lynes remembers seeing Poe at a party at her ‘Uncle White’s’ house. He and the fair girl made such a handsome couple that all present remarked upon it. “Mr. Poe was the most enthusiastic dancer I ever saw,” said Miss Lynes, “although he remained cold and calm, showing his delight only in his eyes.”
Poe and White remained friends for the rest of his life. She even visited Poe while he was living in Fordham, New York. In an April 22, 1859 letter to Poe’s friend Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe’s mother-in-law Maria Clemm writes of Eliza White, “She passed many months with us at Fordham, before and after Virginia’s death, but he never felt or professed other than friendship for her.”
If Poe’s relationship with White was not romantic, the two certainly shared an affinity for poetry. White’s poems appeared a number of times in the pages of the Southern Literary Messenger. Here is a poem of hers in the December 1835 issue.
The first mention of this lock of Eliza White’s hair comes from the above mentioned article by Tula D. Pendleton. The author writes of Ms. White, “Her greatest physical charm was her beautiful hair. Miss Lynes showed me a long braid of exquisite texture and of a fairness so extreme that when laid upon her own silver head there was scarcely any perceptible difference of shade. This hair was cut from Eliza White’s head many years before her death, which occurred about ten years ago.”
Pendleton acquired the lock from Miss Lynes and donated it to the Poe Museum in 1922. The piece had not been displayed for several years when the present curator, having read about it in the old accessions book, decided to take it out of storage. As a poet and as a friend of Poe’s, Eliza White deserved to have her story told. In the absence of a surviving portrait of her (since her only known portrait was destroyed in a fire in the nineteenth century) this hair serves as a tangible link to this often overlooked figure in Poe’s life.
Among the little known treasures in the Poe Museum’s archives are four small pencil sketches of one of Edgar Allan Poe’s boyhood homes. The artist was a fourteen-year-old girl who would grow up to be an important poet. Sally Bruce Kinsolving was born in Richmond in 1876 and would have executed the drawings shortly before the house was demolished in 1890. The house in the drawings is the mansion known as Moldavia, an imposing structure that once stood at the corner of 5th and Main Streets in Richmond. Moldavia was named after its first owners, Molly and David Randolph, who built it in 1800. Poe was sixteen when he moved into the house with his foster parents John and Frances Allan. Poe lived there until he went to the University of Virginia in 1826 and would have stayed there during his visits to Richmond in 1827 (after leaving the University) and 1829 (after his foster mother’s funeral). After Poe’s 1831 expulsion from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Poe was no longer welcome in the home, which by then housed John Allan and his second wife, Louisa G. Allan. She lived there until her death in 1881, and the building was demolished in 1890. Although this Richmond landmark has been lost, the Poe Museum preserves several objects the Allans owned while living in Moldavia, including artwork, salt cellars, and furniture.
Sally Bruce Kinsolving (1876-1962) published her first book of poetry, Depths and Shallows in 1921. This was followed by David and Bathsheba and Other Poems (1922), Grey Heather (1930), and Many Waters (1942). She was a member of the Poetry Society of America and a founder of the Poetry Society of Maryland. Kinsolving was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa Associates, the Academy of American Poets, the Catholic Poetry Society of America, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors, and the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. Kinsolving donated her drawings of Moldavia to the Poe Museum in 1922, the year the Museum opened.
These faint pencil sketches reveal close-up views of elements of the mansion that have not necessarily recorded in the few surviving photographs of the structure. This is why they are an important resource for those researching the Richmond that Poe knew during his childhood. For an artist so young, Kinsolving has done a masterful job of capturing the subtle nuances of light and shadow in images that appear to emerge from the tan paper. In order to make the drawings more visible online, we have adjusted the contrast and enlarged the scans before posting them here, but we hope you can still appreciate the beauty of these little known gems of the Poe Museum’s collection. The captions are the artist’s.
“Cornice at the Back of the House”
“Back Basement Door”
Here is a photograph of the same portico for comparison.
If you think 2014 has been cold, you should see this picture of Getrude Stein (1874-1946) taken during her February 7, 1935 visit to the Poe Museum.
The poet spent a few days in Richmond during her six-month tour of the United States in 1934-35. While in the River City, she was entertained at the home of Richmond novelist Ellen Glasgow, gave a lecture about English Literature at the University of Richmond, and was given a reception by the board of the Poe Foundation in the Poe Museum’s Tea House (now its Exhibits Building).
Stein’s friend, the photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964), took these photos of her at the Poe Museum. Each photograph is autographed by both Stein and Van Vechten, and Stein wrote captions. Here are the images with their captions.
“To the Poe Foundation with much pleasure”
“For the Poe Shrine and open”
“For the Poe Shrine [illegible]”
This is the same hitching post, in a different location, today.
Stein and Van Vechten are just two of the important literary and cultural figures who have visited the Poe Museum over the past ninety-two years. Others include H.P. Lovecraft, Henry Miller, and Salvador Dali.
Last weekend, Victoria Campbell of Holman Middle School in Glen Allen, Virginia donated an original work of art she made entitled “El dios de los muertos” to the Poe Museum. The artist had visited the Museum the previous week and was inspired to base her school project on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Her mixed media artwork includes images of Poe and ravens in addition to a sculpted inkwell and quill pen. We would like to thank Victoria for her donation. The Poe Museum is thrilled, not only at receiving such a beautiful work of art, but also at seeing how Poe’s works continue to inspire readers of all ages. We hope teachers will continue to inspire students like Victoria by sharing with them the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
As a service to teachers, the Poe Museum provides an Educator Information Packet accessible here, or you can download the entire packet here. Information about bringing your class to the Poe Museum can be found here. Please contact us at [email protected] or 888-21-EAPOE for more information.
If you love visual art and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, be sure to check out our upcoming exhibit Deep into that Darkness peering, an exploration of Poe’s works through visual art by ten of the world’s leading artists running from April 24 until June 22, or you can sign up for a painting workshop in the Poe Museum’s legendary Enchanted Garden with Charles Philip Brooks on April 27. You can see our upcoming event and exhibit schedule here.