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 Franklin Epler Bidden  (1906 - 1961)

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Lived/Active: Rhode Island      Known for: watercolor marine, ship portrait

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from Auction House Records.
Deep Keel Cutter
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted January 2005, is from Diana B Carl, daughter of the artist.

Franklin Joseph Epler Bidden was born on July 18, 1906 in Reading, PA. He lived all of his life from then on in Rhode Island. He attended Rhode Island School of Design at Saturday morning classes and night classes during his teenage years. As a boy of 12 years old he started building ship models and continued to do so through WWII and then again in 1960 and 61 just before his death on February 26, 1961.

He built the following ship models from blue prints: 1. the Tug Boat "Adam Smith", at age 12, 2. The "Santa Maria", at age 14, 3. A Croby Cat Boat,-"The Blue Fish F21", 4. The "Constitution" hull, 5. The "Cayuga", 6. The Esso Tanker "Trenton", 7. a "USS Cruiser CR....",built in 1931, 8. The Moran Shipping "Beaver, NY" 9. the "Ubiquay"-a sloop owned by George Gray and destroyed by the 1938 hurricane 10. "Flying Cloud". 11. His last ship model, built 1960-61 was of the "Alice Mandel", a whale craft, and in the case is a replica of a whaling boat outfitted correctly that he had built in the 30's.

He painted many watercolors, and most of these were marine paintings, some with actual scenes from the New England area. Rockport was a favorite place for him. Among them were a series of working boats. These were all done in 1933. 1, "Chinese Junk of Southern China", 2." American Coasting Schooner of 1880," 3. "English Naval Cutter 18th Century", 4. "Flying Cloud 1857 1752 tons", 5."Barkantine Running Free", 6"Glochester Fishing Schooner" 7. Four masted Down Eastern 8. Schooner edna Hoyt of boston 9. SS Clarence 1936 766 tons 240HP 10. SS Asia 1850 200ft 2226 tons 750HP. In 1934 he painted a series of watercolors of the Cup Defenders for the United States: "Endeavour" " Weatamoe" "Yankee" "Rainbow".

He also worked in oils and most of these are "ship portraits" on the high seas. He also did pastels-an Arab, and an Indian girl as well as several ship pictures. He also made various pieces of furniture and metal chandeliers and candle sticks with delicate pastel flowers entwined in the arms of the candelabra. In two houses in Riverside, RI, he painted marine scene on the walls in the kitchen and down the basement stairs.

Franklin Bidden was a member of the art club in Providence and had a large display in the Rhode Island Leisure Show on October 5-7, 1937. He was on the Committee for the show. In his spare time he added on to his house building a game room, workshop, dark room for photography and a garden shed, with a forge, an outdoor fireplace for cookouts, and porches. Then my family moved and he started another game room, dark room for his photography, workshop, garden house, and greenhouse. Several issues of the "Providence Journal" featured these additions to his home in the Sunday paper during the 1940's.

He did several pen and Inks were ship portraits also during the 20's. He also was an avid photographer, developing and printing his own pictures until color slides became popular. Many of these water scenes he adapted to his paintings. He also did a series of churches and landscapes in photography. In his spare time he collected antique clocks that were in pieces and restored them to pristine shape. At one time we had 30 clocks, some with wooden works in our game room all working, From Ogee's, Beehive, Pillar and Scroll, Connecticut Shelf, Terry clock, Banjo to name a few.

He also collected music boxes and restored the cases. Later my Uncle George Arthur Bidden took an interest in this and became the major music box restorer in the United States from around 1949 until 198. He worked from the age of 16 for his father as a salesman for the J.J. Bidden Cordage Co. Inc. then of Providence, RI. His territory was all of Southern New England and part of NY and NJ. He became the owner in 1952 and worked as such until his death in 1961. At that time my mother Vera L. Bidden (Lindgren now from a second marriage) took over the company and ran it until 1979.

He lived most of his life in Providence until 1930 then Riverside until 1949 and then Barrington, RI until 19961. He admired Gordon Grant and George Gayle. During the war he worked at the Shipyard and Walsh Kaiser, designing landing craft and other marine ships.

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