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 Charles Wesley Sanderson  (1835 - 1905)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Ohio/Vermont      Known for: town-landscape, marine

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Charles Wesley Sanderson
An example of work by Charles Wesley Sanderson
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is from William J. Powers, Jr., a historical researcher who lives in the Lake Dunmore/Silver Lake region of Vermont. His camp on Lake Dunmore is on the same road as Sanderson's Camp Lana, which is no longer in existence.

Charles Wesley Sanderson, son of David Sanderson and Lucy Elwell, was born at Brandon, Vermont on 6 July 1838. As a boy, Sanderson had a natural talent for drawing and sketching but was raised to be a music teacher. However, he injured his hand and gave up the study. He then took up art, and his life as artist was devoted to water color paintings.

When Scotch artist James Hope settled near Brandon, Sanderson was the first to study with him and learn the rudiments of oil painting. Hope recognized the young man's talent and helped send him to Boston to study with Samuel Gerry, who in 1858 was president of the Boston Art Club. Sanderson's music training stood him in good stead and he had many pupils from the Boston gentry. Eventually Gerry encouraged him to go to Paris.

Charles set out for Paris and arrived there in 1864. There, he practiced drawing from life in the atelier of Julian. He was awarded two prizes for his nude sketches and was admitted to the l'Ecole des Beaux Arts for excellence in drawing. When he felt his Paris studies were ample, he went to England and turned his attention to water color painting. He employed this media throughout his long career.

Returning to the continent, he made the Grand Tour and painted landscapes in Venice, Italy; Bavaria; St. Petersburg; and Switzerland. One of his better known pictures, a product of this trip, was created in the Alps and titled "The Afterglow on the Matterhorn."

Many of his paintings adorned the homes of the foreign nobility. Afterwards, he pursued water color painting in England, returned to the United States, and continued water color painting of landscapes.

Sanderson returned to Boston with two loves---his European paintings, and sheaves of piano music. While in Italy, he had heard Franz Liszt perform in Rome. The master not only played his fiery music but also a gentle and dreamy pianoforte of Frederick Chopin. Sanderson opened a studio on Franklin Street and installed a piano as well as his paints, brushes, and easels. People coming into the building could hear the soft Chopin music echo through the halls and staircases. He had both art and music pupils, one of whom was one of S.D. Warren's children. It was not long before Mrs. S.D. Warren purchased his "Afterglow on the Matterhorn." The Beacon Hill dowagers had a new artist to lionize, and one who could perform the latest music from Europe.

The entire world had been impressed when in 1872 Boston staged a great Peace jubilee. The idea was to commemorate a whole world practically at peace. Wars were a thing of the past and it was celebrated with masses and melodic hosannas. Sanderson sang with a representation from the Ruggles Street Church in a chorus of over 17,000 voices and an orchestra of 1600 selected musicians from all parts of the country.

Sanderson spent his summers in Vermont painting the familiar landscapes of his youth. The pictures attracted much attention and received good prices. He entered several of these works in the 1874 Williams and Everett annual Boston Artists' Exhibition. One of his watercolors was entitled: "Lana Cascade near Lake Dunmore, Vermont." Mr. Turner, a collector from Brooklyn, New York, purchased it. Another watercolor, "Otter Creek Meadows, Vermont," was purchased by a Mr. Wright of Boston. Downes, the art critic of the Boston Daily Advertiser, wrote of the exhibit:

"In the same gallery there is a watercolor by Mr. C.W. Sanderson, whose paintings should be more frequently exhibited. The painting is a study of the 'Lana Cascade near Lake Dunmore, Vermont,' and is in most respects an excellent picture. There is nothing at all conventional about it, and one can easily see that the artist has attempted to make an accurate, careful, and truthful interpretation of the scene before him. The handling of the colors is a clear indication that the artist has skill in manipulating the brush, and it is this disclosure of reserved strength that arouses the desire to know the artist better through his paintings. The scene itself is a charming one, very familiar to be sure, but of that sort which one is never tired of seeing.

As Sanderson's fame grew, the Brandon Union kept the local folks appraised of his activities, such as is March 1874:

"Mr. C.W. Sanderson gave a charming reception on Friday afternoon, at No. 9 Ashburton place [Boston, MA], to M. Victor Maurel, when Mr. Perabo played Rubinstein's transcription of Burger's 'Lenore,' by request, and a fantasie by Schubert. There were present, among others, Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Whittier, Gov. Washburn, Miss Preston, ex-Gov. Claflin, and Mr. and Mrs. Hiram (son of Rev. H. W.) Beecher, who are here on a visit. The occasion was delightful in all respects.

Mr. Sanderson need not be introduced to Brandon people, as he is one of their boys, who, by his own exertion and energy, has become one of the finest musical instructors in Boston. And of Mr. Perabo, it may also be said, that he is no stranger to our village. As the guest of Mr. Sanderson he has spent several summers with us; and those who have listened to his beautiful interpretation of the great masters, on a Chickering Grand, cannot but appreciate his talent as one of the finest musical artists of the country."

Sanderson balanced the love of his Vermont homeland and metropolitan Boston. He owned a home in Brandon, and had a camp at Lake Dunmore, which he regularly visited. The camp was called Llana, named for the Falls of Llana nearby. Mrs. Almira B. Fenno-Gendrot, the wife of a painter, and a painter herself, of Boston, remembered Sanderson in 1923 when she wrote:

"Sanderson, the man with the most remarkable genius for friendships, and the making of then I have ever met. He could entertain us by his masterly piano playing, give readings of his personal trips in foreign lands and encounters with persons of high degree or join in a sketching trip with a happy zeal. Many and jolly were our sketching-parties, for I was then using water colors, which was his medium. His rapt and devout love of nature in all her moods, was type and symbol of his character.

A day spent in his summer camp, near his birthplace, Brandon, Vt., was full of interest, as we sketched both morning and afternoon. This was a spot combining charms of great appeal, to his lofty soul. A remarkable, near-by amphitheater; a large rock in center, serving as a pulpit, the fantastically shaped boulders, ranged about in semi-circle as chairs. Over all were groups of beautiful trees, lending shade and mystery to this unique, sylvan retreat - fit for the Druids of old.

Here, every Sunday, Mr. Sanderson held religious service; to which came visitors from the neighboring hotels and camps. If no clergyman could be found, Mr. Sanderson read the Scriptures, prayers and sermon - all standing and singing, to close a service, which for simple, devout fervor, was most unique."

During the 1880s in Boston, Sanderson was one of many artists that frequented the art shop at 8 Bromfield Street in Boston. A picture framer and gilder, named Paskell, worked there. He had emigrated from England some years before. He had a son, Bill, who displayed an artistic talent. Sanderson took Bill in hand when he was seventeen, and gave him watercolor lessons at his Franklin Street studio. William Paskell went on to become a noted painter.

Sanderson frequented the music stores almost as much as the art supply houses. Two of his favorite musical emporiums were Oliver Ditsons on Washington Street and Russels on Tremont Street. The environment was quiet and dignified. The gentlemen customers usually wore frock coats, high hats, and all carried canes. Tremont Street was the strolling place for all types of exponents of the finer arts. They gathered at the three clubs that had become Boston institutions for painters, literary persons, and musicians. They were the St. Botolph, the Boston Art Club, and the Harvard Musical Association which was then on Beacon Hill. Artists were prompt in attendance when the bar opened at four o'clock daily to discuss the events of the day and prepare for the salon's command appearances of the Beacon Hill and Back Bay dowagers.

In 1884, Sanderson opened a large studio in the Claflin building, at 20 Beacon St., in Boston that he maintained until his death. His new studio won loud acclaim.

From at least 1892, Sanderson spent his summers at his private estate on Lake Michigan, where he had summer classes for pupils. On 21 April 1896, Sanderson once again sailed for Europe from New York City. This time he embarked on the Havel of the North German Lloyd Company. The destination of this trip was Moscow, where he was a guest of Baron and Baroness Ivanowitch Wellitschkos. While there, he attended the coronation of the Czar and Czarina and ten days of following festivities.

In the summer of 1904, Sanderson was taken ill at Casa del Mare and went from there to the home of his brother, William H. Sanderson, in Dayton, Ohio. He died in his brother's home on 8 or 9 Mar 1905. William Sanderson died on 4 Dec 1911 in Dayton. He and his brother, William, are buried at Brandon in Pine Hill Cemetery. Charles W. Sanderson never married.

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