The Capitol Dome

2018 Dome 55.1

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 14 of 59

13 NOTES 1. Regina Armstrong, "Howard Chandler Christy," The Book Buyer, Oct. 1899, p. 167. 2."Nation Mourns Passing of Rainey, Picturesque Speaker of the House," Thomasville [Georgia] Times- Enterprise, 20 Aug. 1934, p. 1. 3. "Nation Honors Henry T. Rainey," Beckley [West Virginia] Post-Herald, 23 Aug. 1934, p. 1. 4. "Born in Morgan Co. Log Cabin, Christy Becomes World Famous Artist," The Zanesville [Ohio] Signal, 4 March 1952, p.14. 5. "Mrs. Rainey Plans to Desert Secretarial Files for Farm," The Baltimore Sun, 27 Oct. 1934, p. 3. 6. Ibid.; "Mrs. Rainey Sets Plans," Los Angeles Times, 4 Nov. 1934, p. 22. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid. 9. Howard Chandler Christy (hereafter, HCC) to Ella Rainey, 2 Feb. 1935, collection of author. 10. "Four Rainey Pictures Giving Minor Head- ache to Congress When Artists Demand Action," Arizona Daily Star, 11 Feb. 1935, p.1; "Artistic Battle Rages Over Rainey Portraits," Wilkes Barre [Penn- sylvania] Times Leader, 13 Feb. 1935, p. 3; "Battle of Portraits Vexes Legislator," East Liverpool [Ohio] everything before it and even at that moment was bear- ing down on the Allied beachhead at Dunkirk. Roos- evelt's message, read on the occasion by Bankhead, left no doubt that Roosevelt was, like Barkley, using the unveiling as a gauntlet thrown down before isolation- ists: "It [the Signing] was truly a momentous scene," wrote the president: It marked the culmination of a prodigious, unparalleled and amazingly successful effort to express in a charter of government the eternal spirit of a just and humane society. God grant that the day is not far distant when the spirit will be free to assert itself in the councils of all mankind. That day, Christy claimed to have signed over 2,500 autograph books and had finally fulfilled his boyhood dream of painting big pictures of big things. 39 For over 15 months, Christy's "big painting" was the main attraction in the Capitol's Rotunda until it was moved in September 1941 to the marble staircase of the Capitol's House of Representatives, where it hangs today (fig. 15). 40 Although Christy's painting is considered the most accurate depiction of the signing of the Constitution in existence, he nonetheless employed some of his trade- mark artistic illusion to create the scene. For example, no one is precisely certain where every signer was situ- ated or what they wore on that fateful day. Indeed, three delegates who refused to sign are simply not depicted. Two who did sign (Thomas FitzSimons and Jacob Broom) are obscured because no likenesses of them were known to exist. One pictured delegate, John Dickinson, was not there, but signed by proxy. There is a bit more illusion, too. Christy never wished to be forgotten, so at times he would employ a simple trick from his illustration days. Ever resourceful, he might draw or paint himself into a work. 41 Some have said that, if one looks closely at The Scene at the Signing of the U.S. Constitution, the aged face of the "Barefoot Boy of the Blue Muskingum" can be clearly seen in the Assembly Room, sitting among the Constitutional delegates much as was envisioned in 1936, when the artist conceived of his masterpiece on Ben Franklin's birthday. One does not need to look too far, only front and center to the face of Franklin himself. 42 James Philip Head is a law partner at Williams Mul- len, P.C., in Tysons Corner, Virginia, where he concen- trates on estate planning and trust and estate litigation in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for trusts and estates law and tax law. The Magic of Youth, Head's first book in a planned biographical trilogy on the art- ist, An Affair with Beauty—The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy, was published in 2016 (Northloop Books). Romantic Illusions, his second book in the trilogy, will be published in spring 2019. THE CAPITOL DOME

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Capitol Dome - 2018 Dome 55.1