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 Theodore Russell Davis  (1840 - 1894)

About: Theodore Russell Davis


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Lived/Active: New Jersey/Kansas/Massachusetts      Known for: illustrator, Civil War reportorial

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Gene Meier

I am writing the first book from the American point of view about rotunda panoramas. These were the biggest paintings in the world, 50 x 400=20,000 square feet, housed in their own rotundas which were 16-sided polygons. Chicago in 1893 had 6 panorama companies and 6 panorama rotundas. On September 18,2003 I found in the display cases of the Milwaukee County Historical Society the diaries of F.W.Heine 1879-1921. These highly illustrated diaries are the only narrative of a panorama company, that of William Wehner, who produced 2 units each of THE BATTLE OF ATLANTA,BATTLE OF MISSIONARY RIDGE & LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, and 4 units of JERUSALEM ON THE DAY OF THE CRUCIFIXION. T.R.Davis is mentioned throughout these diaries--he led Wehner's panorama artists to the battlefields of Chattanooga and Atlanta,and invited them to his beach cottage at Asbury Park to map out the 1/10th scale panorama painting that would be taken back to Wehner's panorama studio in Milwaukee for enlargement. The F.W.Heine diaries are as important to the history of rotunda panorama as the letters of Theo and Vincent van Gogh are important to the history of French Impressionism. The Heine diaries needed to be transcribed in German, translated to English and scanned to computer. Michael Kutzer,born in Leipzig in 1941, background in Hebrew,Latin and Greek,19th century German literature and German dialects, and an artist from a long line of artists, is transcriber of the Heine diary project.This project is under auspices of Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, Museum of Wisconsin Art and Milwaukee County Historical Society.The Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee provided an initial grant for transcription of the Heine diaries.I have much more information.

Gene Meier

Theodore Russell Davis
How A Great Battle Panorama is Made,by T.R.Davis,ST.NICHOLAS MAGAZINE,December 1886:THE OUT-DOOR STUDIO. Although the greater part of the work is done in the panorama studio, much of the preliminary sketching is often done out-of-doors.The artists who painted one well-known American panorama[[]Missionary Ridge & Lookout Mountain]occupied for a time the terraced garden attached to the residence of the principal artist[[]T.R.Davis, Asbury Park, N.J.,1885]where they set up a real garden-studio.The garden was a corner lot separated from the street by a picket-fence, above and through which the passer-by had a full view of what was going on within.Scattered about the garden were guns and uniforms, harness, haversacks, and military equipments--relics of the war-days--so scorched and camp-stained that a tramp would have condemned them.But they were highly prized by the artists, as the best clothes for the models who, in various attitudes, representing either Union or Confederate soldiers, were disposed about the garden-studio.Some would be reclining on the ground as wounded men; one would be leaning on an Enfield rifle, while another would be aiming his directly at the big easel of one of the chief figure-painters.Still another model, posturing for the time as a dead soldier, would be lying prone on the grass,where he would have to keep quite still--perfectly still--no matter how constantly the busy flies might annoy him.[[]...]The collection of uniforms and equipments--such as that in the garden-studio--is one of the curiosities of a panorama-studio.Every branch of the military service is represented in the clothing of the "blue and the gray",here brought together.The various styles of saddle and bridle, of guns,sabers,pistols,carbines,blankets,rough army shoes,heavy woolen socks, haversacks, canteens,shelter-tents,and harness for artillery horses and mules,may here be seen.[[]...]

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