Cover image for Rufus Porter’s Curious World: Art and Invention in America, 1815-1860 Edited by Laura Fecych Sprague and Justin Wolff

Rufus Porter’s Curious World

Art and Invention in America, 1815-1860

Edited by Laura Fecych Sprague and Justin Wolff

BUY

$39.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-08495-4

152 pages
11" × 10"
87 color/19 b&w illustrations
2019
Co-published with Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Rufus Porter’s Curious World

Art and Invention in America, 1815-1860

Edited by Laura Fecych Sprague and Justin Wolff

Once called the “Yankee Da Vinci,” Rufus Porter was an itinerant portrait painter and muralist, a publisher and author, an inventor of mechanical improvements, and an impresario who engineered an airship that promised to fly gold rush prospectors from New York to California in three days.

 

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Once called the “Yankee Da Vinci,” Rufus Porter was an itinerant portrait painter and muralist, a publisher and author, an inventor of mechanical improvements, and an impresario who engineered an airship that promised to fly gold rush prospectors from New York to California in three days.

Through his diverse interests in painting, mechanics, aeronautics, and publishing, Rufus Porter helped transform art and science in early America—not unlike his more famous peers, Samuel F. B. Morse and Robert Fulton. This nuanced picture of Porter restores him to the pantheon of great American artist-inventors and corrects common misconceptions about his life and work.

Meticulous and contemplative, this study presents a moving portrait of an American legend—a remarkable, but unlucky, man who worked across multiple disciplines to envision an interconnected nation.

Laura Fecych Sprague is Senior Consulting Curator at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the editor of Agreeable Situations: Society, Commerce, and Art in Southern Maine, 1780–1830.

Justin Wolff is Professor of Art History at the University of Maine. He is the author of Richard Caton Woodville: American Painter, Artful Dodger and Thomas Hart Benton: A Life.