Much is known about the Hudson River Portfolio because John Hill’s financial records are extant. He earned ninety dollars, for example, for engraving each plate. Family members applied the watercolor washes.
The donor of many of the prints in this exhibition, Isabel J. Turner, was the sister of James Turner, Class of 1880, who died in 1940. Their mother convinced Isabel and James that marriage was sinful, and neither married, although a third sibling did. After James Turner’s death, his art collection passed to his sister, and to the Department of Fine Arts at Amherst after hers. Many works of decorative art as well as British paintings and prints thus were integrated into the Mead’s collection. The Turners undoubtedly collected the Hudson River views and other prints of the United States in the Mead’s collection as works by British artists and engravers, fortunately (for us) overlooking the fact that most of these artists lived and worked in the United States.
Georgia Barnhill, 2014