Item #238565 American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses. Winston Churchill, Cyrus A. Bartol, Joseph FAGNANI, text, artist.
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses
American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses

9 Albumen Prints of American Beauties, Leonie and Jennie Jerome's Copy

American Beauty Personified as The Nine Muses.

N.p. [New York?]: n.d. [ca. 1869].

Frontispiece portrait photograph (albumen print) of artist Joseph Fagnani, and 9 albumen prints from portraits of American women by Fagnani, each sitter identified by an ink caption in a previous owner's hand. [56] pp. 1 vols. 6-5/8 x 5-3/4 inches (16.8 x 14.5 cm). 9 Albumen Prints of American Beauties, Leonie and Jennie Jerome's Copy. Contemporary limp burgundy morocco, with a handwritten paper label affixed to the upper cover, reading: “American Beauties as Muses 1860-1870 (with names written by Leonie Jerome)” and gilt-lettered spine. Some wrinkling to mounts, small dampstain to lower part of gutter margins, but overall a good copy. With the bookplate of LEONIE [Jerome] LESLIE on the front pastedown, and that of her sister, JENNIE [Jerome] SPENCER CHURCHILL on the rear flyleaf Item #238565

In 1869, the Italian-American painter Joseph Fagnani’s exhibition of the “Nine Muses” was held at the Somerville Art Gallery. A review of the show by the New York Times (Nov. 22, 1869) reads:
“As just recognition rather than a flattering compliment of America female beauty, these pictures, apart from the strict consideration of their artistic merits, are full of interest, and, wherever they are taken, will be sure to attract much attention. We learn the muses are loudly called for in other quarter; and those who have not worshipped at their shrine, should, like good patriots, make haste to do so.”
Here, in this remarkable little album, Fagnani aims to highlight and emphasize the varying beauty of American women, at a time when the European ideal served as the sole model for American standards. All the more remarkable is this copy’s extraordinary association with two of the most celebrated American beauties of its period, the Jerome sisters, Jennie (1854-1921) and Leonie (1859-1943). Daughters of New York financier Leonard Jerome, Jennie and Leonie would have been teenagers at the time of the Fagnani exhibition after the Civil War. The two were to become among the most famous beauties of their day and the toast of England: Jennie, when she married Lord Randolph Churchill, younger son of the Duke of Marlborough, in 1874; and Leonie, ten years later, when she married the baronet Sir John Leslie. Jennie, of course, soon became the mother of Winston Churchill; and Leonie was the mother of Shane Leslie. This album, with the actual identities of the sitters revealed by Leonie, represents perhaps the teenage aspirations of the two sisters, soon to be realized in high society. The original portraits are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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