Friday, February 9, 2018

Thomas W. C. Moore in 1822

Thomas W. C. Moore in 1822
Detail from Interior of Park Theatre by John Searle
Here's the 1822 portrait of New York merchant and antiquarian T. W. C. Moore (1794-1872), as featured with other "representative New Yorkers" in the well-known watercolor painting by John Searle, Interior of the Park Theatre. Eventually donated to The New-York Historical Society Searle's painting illustrated, as described in the caption of one 20th century reproduction, "New York Notables at the Play." I cropped Searle's portrait of T. W. C. Moore from a digital image in the public domain, available online courtesy of The New York Public Library Digital Collections.
One of our illustrations shows the kind of audience which turned out to witness his triumph at the Park in Moncrieffe's farce of "Monsieur Tonson." This painting of John Searle's represents a scene on the opening night of November 7, when cold weather had permitted New York to return to its business, homes and amusements; Mathews is on the stage as "Monsieur Morbleau," and Miss Johnston as "Madame Bellgarde." Through an inspiration of Thomas W. C. Moore, forty-five years later (who prepared a key to the painting then owned by Mrs. William Bayard), we know the names of some eighty odd of the representative New Yorkers whom the artist portrayed as witnessing this important appearance. They are all here. Bayards, and Coldens and de Peysters and Livingstons, Crugers. Van Wycks, Clintons, Beekmans, Lenoxes, Brevoorts and the rest; not to mention the prodigious Doctor Mitchell, Doctor Hosack, Doctor Francis, James K. Paulding, Mrs. Daniel Webster and many another of the outstanding figures in the financial and social life of the period. --A Century of Banking in New York


We know who's who because in 1868, T. W. C. Moore himself took the trouble to identify the persons depicted in a helpful "key" to Searle's painting. Historian Martha Joanna Lamb gives the fascinating details of Moore's contribution as a "genuine antiquarian":
The history of the water-color painting, now in possession of the New York Historical Society, is scarcely less interesting than the picture itself. The original drawing was made for William Bayard by John Searle, a clever amateur artist, and the picture when completed was hung upon the wall of Mr. Bayard's country residence. Some years since Thomas W. Channing Moore became much interested in it while visiting Mr. Bayard, and with the instinct of a genuine antiquarian resolved that such a treasure should not be entirely lost to New York. He accordingly obtained permission to bring it to the city for the purpose of showing it to Mr. Elias Dexter. Six of the gentlemen whose portraits appear in the painting were then living — Francis Barretto, Robert G. L. De Peyster, Gouverneur S. Bibby, William Bayard, Jr., William Maxwell, and James W. Gerard — and were invited to an interview for its examination. Mr. Barretto and Mr. Bibby remembered and were able to recognize nearly every person represented upon the canvas. All the gentlemen pronounced the portraits striking; and many reminiscences were related in connection with those supposed to be present on that memorable evening when Matthews first appeared in the farce of Monsieur Tonson. A key was made to the painting, and it was photographed by Dexter; it was then returned to its owner. Upon the death of Mr. Bayard it descended to his daughter, Mrs. Harriet Bayard Van Rensselaer, and was subsequently presented by her heirs to the New York Historical Society. The key furnishes the names, in addition to those already mentioned, of Herman Le Roy, William Le Roy, Alexander Hosack, Stephen Price, Edward Price, Captain J. Richardson, Mrs. Eliza Talbot, Robert Dyson, Herman Le Roy, Jr., D. P. Campbell, Mrs. Clinton, Maltby Geltson, and Mr. Charaud, in the first and second tier of boxes; and in the pit, Nicholas C. Rutgers, Dr. John W. Francis, Walter Livingston, Henry W. Cruger, Dr. John Watts, Pierre C. Van Wyck, Edmund Wilkes, Hamilton Wilkes, John Searle, the artist, Thomas F. Livingston, Dr. John Neilson, Thomas Bibby, the ancestor of the Bibby family in New York, whose descendants now represent the Van Cortlandts of Yonkers, Gouverneur S. Bibby, Robert G. L. De Peyster, Hugh Maxwell, William Maxwell, James Seaton, Andrew Drew, William Wilkes, Charles Farquhar, John Berry, Robert Gillespie, Mordecai M. Noah, William Bell, John Lang, editor of the New York Gazette, James McKay, James Alport, James Farquhar, Thomas W. Moore, Francis Barretto, Joseph Fowler, John J. Boyd, William H. Robinson, and Robert Watts. The last named, sitting in the immediate foreground, close by the orchestra, may be recognized by his light coat. He was the one mentioned on page 650 as the handsomest man in New York. Many of the gentlemen wore their hats for protection against the draughts of cold wind sweeping through the house.  --History of the City of New York Volume 2 (New York, 1880) pages 685-6.
Another try at cropping to show the portrait of Thomas William Channing Moore--this version is slightly taller:
Thomas W. C. Moore in 1822
Detail from Interior of Park Theatre by John Searle
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