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 John B. Blair  (1800 - 1896)

About: John B. Blair


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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: portrait, panorama painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John B. Blair (1800-1896)

Born in 1800, on a farm near the boundary line of Ohio and Pennsylvania, he was educated in the local schools and by a private tutor.  Later he went to Yale and was graduated when Andrew Jackson was president.

Blair became the first to paint any great panorama in this country.  It was pictures of birds of all the world, and to accomplish this work, he encircled the globe twice.  His portrait of President Taylor hangs at the White House in Washington, DC.  He was the inventor of the silk-bag gas balloon, invented a bicycle made of the same lines as the safety bicycles of today.  He added a large amount of dollars to the wealth of E.Faber, the pencil manufacturer, by inventing the rubber tip for pencils. He patented landscapes of foreign countries, and pictures of sheep in almost endless numbers, and his auction sales of these were annual events in art circles for a quarter of a century.

Once wealthy and famous, he had very little money left when he was stricken with paralysis five years before his death.  In c. 1895, he was taken to one of the wards of the insane in the Home for Incurables at Fifty-Sixth Street and Ellis Avenue, Chicago.  Poor, blind and helpless, he died there on New Year's morning, 1896.

Sources include:
Winona Daily Republican, January 2, 1896, p.2
New York Times, Friday, January 3,1896
New York Times, Saturday, January 11,1896

Information provided by Gene Meier.

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