Episode Four


Ken, Kim, and Angela visited the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. The PEM was created in 1992, when two existing museums merged. It’s current building was built in 2003. It’s collection goes all the way back to a local marine society founded in 1799, where local ship captains and seagoers put together their favorite curiosities.

Right now the big exhibit at the PEM is called Empresses of China’s Forbidden City.

Another exhibit is called Importing Splendor: Luxuries from China

Part of the permanent American Art collection includes 1933’s Portrait of Mrs. Kroll In Yellow, by Leon Kroll.

Leon mostly painted in the 1920s and 30s, and was once called the “dean of the US nude” by Life Magazine.

Some of the other ladies in The World of Women include Portrait of Eunice Brown Fitch by Joseph Blackburn in 1760. There’s also John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Sarah Lawrence Brooks from 1890, John Singleton Copley’s Portrait of Sarah Erving Waldo from 1765, and Chatelaine’s Portrait of Lucy Dodge Allen from 1834. Sarah Waldo is no relation to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and while Sarah Lawrence Brooks is the daughter of Abbott Lawrence (who founded Lawrence, Mass.) she has nothing to do with Sarah Lawrence college.

John Singer Sargent is known for his portraits of rich women, and because few people like them, he was ignored as a painter until the 1980s.

Alexander Hamilton was painted by John Trumbull in 1792. Trumbull is known for his paintings of the founding fathers, and one of them made it onto the back of the two dollar bill.

Cotton Bennett made this Lady’s Secretary in Beverly, Mass. in 1809. Some reviews of ladies’ pens.

The Maritime Art and History exhibit is dominated by The Burning of the Luxborough Galley by John Clevely in 1759.

Clevely painted nothing but ships, and had twin sons among his seven children, both of whom also painted nothing but ships. The Luxborough Galley was a ship that carried slaves to Jamaica, and the previous trip had seen half of those imprisoned aboard die from smallpox. On this trip, two boys saw liquid leaking, held a candle to see where the leak was coming from, and started a fire. They hid in order to escape punishment, and the fire subsequently blew up the ship, as it was also carrying gunpowder. 16 people, including the boys, escaped to a small boat meant to hold 2. They were adrift for 2 weeks, and with the help of the ship doctor, cut up the dead and ate them to survive. 11 of the original crew of 32 survived, and 10 of those survivors got right back on a ship to go to London.

N. C. Wyeth’s They Took Their Wives With Them On Their Cruises, from 1937. Wyeth is best known as the illustrator for the most popular printing of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, the book that invented pirates.

This huge Model of the RMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in 1949 by Cunard cruises to impress people in their waiting room.

Cleopatra’s Barge was an extravagantly large luxury yacht built in Salem in 1816. It was built by George Crowninshield Jr., whose brother Ben was the secretary of the US Navy at the time. George died and the boat went to some Boston middlemen, who flipped it and sold it to the King of Hawaii in 1820. According to missionaries who used it to get back and forth between the Hawaiian islands, the crew and King were usually really drunk. Amid some arguments about payment and whether the wood was rotten, the ship ran aground in Kauai and broke in half while locals were trying to save it.

The Peabody has a life-sized model of the inside of the ship. They have a lot of the original furnishings, most of which were stolen off the ship while it was frozen into the harbor on the winter before it’s first voyage.

The Case of the Missing Artist exhibit features two paintings by Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen, two by James Edward Buttersworth, and then one 1875 painting, The Yacht Dreadnaught, that the museum helped identify. The unattributed painting first appeared on Antiques Roadshow.

Jacobsen was a prolific painter who began his career by decorating safes, and was known for only charging $5 per painting. His paintings are known for the choppy look of the water.

Buttersworth was the son of a painter and was often asked to paint ship races, as photography was not yet a viable way to document them. His paintings are known for the severe angles of the ships in motion.

The Lady With the Gas Cylinder was made by Bikash Bhattacharjee in 1986. It is part of an exhibit called MegaCity: India’s Culture Of the Streets. Bhattacharjee taught painting at universities in the 1970s and 1980s in Kolkata (aka Calcutta, West Bengal), and exclusively painted it’s inhabitants.

Manjit Bawa made Dharma and the God in 1984. He is known for playing the flute, and for using vibrant colors where figures float on a flat field. Last year, Florida suffered a rash of triple-butt graffiti.

This Onna Norimono or palanquin was the uber of the 1800s for rich Japanese ladies. Artist and exact date unknown.

Empress dowager Cixi was drafted by the state as a prepubescent girl in 1851, because of her good looks, and forced to become a concubine in the closed Beijing palaces. Her complex rise through various court tensions and realignments resulted in a coup in 1861, and she remained the head of the imperial family through many internal skirmishes and full wars-of-state until her death in 1908.

This enameled porcelain elephant and pair of tigers from the late 1600s were made in the town of Arita on the southwest tip of Japan, and there are only a few others like them in the world. The individual artist is unknown.

Mishima Kimiyo’s ceramic sculpture Untitled from 2007. Mishima lives in Osaka, and mostly makes ceramics that look like crumpled trash. The brand of beer is Asahi, aka the Budweiser of Japan.

Helmet with Dragonfly is likely from the 1800s in Japan, but it’s exact origin is unknown.

This Ceremonial Sash With Flower Basket Bat, and Daoist Symbols comes from Suzhou on the east coast of China. It was likely made by the internal imperial court tailor sometime in the 1800s.

This Dragon Robe is from the Qing dynasty, which ran Beijing from 1644-1912. Only the highest ranked man and woman in the court were allowed to wear this color yellow. Both the robe and the sash above are part of the huge Empresses of China’s Forbidden City exhibit.

Lion dance folk performances are Japan’s answer to the horse costume where one guy wears the head and the other guy wears the tail. This Shishigashira is from 1645 and comes from the Ishikawa province, which is on the western coast across the island from Tokyo. The hair is made of a horse’s mane.

This Hello Kitty 80s phone opens the Japanomania exhibit. Hello Kitty was designed by Yuko Shimizu in 1974, and is clearly related to the maneki neko or beckoning cat.

The Peabody Essex had a couple of interactive exhibit points.

Russell Biles makes lots of lurid ceramics in Greenville, South Carolina. Seven Deadly Sins is from 2003.

Kerry in Massachusetts was made by Jim Budde in 2004. Budde teaches at Boise State University.

Thanks for joining us!