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This week at the Redwood, we became detectives again, searching for information on a book in our collection that recently caught our eyes. Our copy of L’Email des Peintres (1866) by Claudius Popelin (1825-1892) was stored in its own personal box, hiding its magnificent binding from immediate view. Today, we decided to open it up and begin to try and piece together its origins.

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Today’s Redwood Library is open daily to both members and visitors, with different policies and privileges for both, but this has not always been the case. A look through the annals has revealed an evolving visitor services policy first recorded in the early 1800s that identified anyone not previously known to the library as a “stranger.” This blog post observes the changes made throughout the 1800s to today.

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While the original construction of the Redwood Library, as designed by architect Peter Harrison, met the needs of its members in 1750, the library had to grow in the centuries that followed to accommodate an ever-increasing collection of books and to serve its new members.

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One of our fall projects here at the Redwood Library is to begin a new effort to catalog and digitize our Newport Collection of photographs. Our archives hold several boxes of photos that serve our researchers well when they come to visit, but there isn’t currently a way to get a complete idea of our collection without contacting a reference librarian. We hope to change that this season and present here an overview of the collections we will be providing access to.

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On this same weekend at the end of the summer of 1778, Mrs. Mary Almy (1735-1808) set down her own account of the cannonading of the French Fleet led by the Comte De’Estaing (1729-1794) for her husband, Captain Benjamin Almy (1724-1818). Mrs. Almy was loyal to the English crown while her husband supported the revolution, which colors her view of the events she experienced during the war here in Newport.

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This weekend the Redwood Library is holding its Annual Garden Party to celebrate the end of summer. Of course, while it promises to be a beautiful day, no garden party in Newport could ever be quite as elaborate as the Masque of the Blue Garden, held on August 15, 1913 by Harriet James and her husband Arthur Curtiss James at their home on Beacon Hill.

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The Charles Bird King Scrapbooks contain his collection of print images, which served as source material for his artistic talents. In this brief overview, we present a few examples from the collection and its significance.

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In the vast portrait collection of the Redwood Library, there are only a handful of self-portraits. Prolific portrait artists like Charles Bird King (1785-1862) and Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) each have at least one to their name among the many other portraits of theirs lining our walls. In contrast, the only portrait we have by decorative artist Michele Felice Corné (1752-1845) is his own self-portrait. Prolific in other areas, he was not known for his skills as a portrait artist, but his self-portrait is a fine representation of his artistic talent nonetheless.

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Neatly presented as a scrapbook, this bound work from the Ralph E. Carpenter collection of manuscripts (RLC.Ms.040) tells the story of the Newport trial of thirty-six men accused of piracy, twenty-eight of whom were found guilty and twenty-six of whom were executed in 1723. The trial scrapbook undeniably tells the most detailed story of a Newport event in this collection.

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Bearing the same name as the now-infamous founding father, though of no relation, Dr. Alexander Hamilton (1712-1756) crossed paths with the earliest version of the Redwood Library, the Literary and Philosophical Society, in 1744 on a journey through the northern colonies.

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