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Maker(s):Champney, James Wells
Culture:American (1843-1903)
Title:portrait: Francis Lebaron Robbins, Jr., as a child
Date Made:ca. 1892
Materials:pastel, paper, wood, gilding, glass
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Deerfield (probably)
Measurements:Frame: 28 1/2 x 25 1/4 x 1 3/4 in; 72.4 x 64.1 x 4.4 cm; Sheet: 23 x 18 3/4 in; 58.4 x 47.6 cm
Accession Number:  HD 92.040
Credit Line:Gift of Frances Malone
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Framed pastel drawing of Francis L. Robbins, Jr. (1884-1945) as a child by James Wells Champney (1843-1903). Born in Boston, James Wells Champney (1843-1903) served in the 45th Massachusetts Volunteers from 1862-1863 before being invalided out of the army; he then taught drawing at Dr. Dio Lewis's "Young Ladies Seminary" from 1864-1866. After deciding to become a professional artist, Champney moved to Europe where he studied in France with Pierre Edouard Frere (1819-1886), a well-known French realist genre painter; in Antwerp with Joseph Francois Henri Van Lerius (1823-1876); and in Italy. In 1870, Champney returned to Boston where he opened a studio; in 1873, he was commissioned by "Scribner's Monthly Magazine" to illustrate "The Great South; A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, the Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland," a series of articles on the Reconstruction South by Edward King (1848-1896) where the two travelled more than 25,000 miles and Champney contributed at least 500 illustrations. In 1873, Champney married Elizabeth Johnson Williams (1850-1922), whom he had met at the "Young Ladies Seminary;" she was a graduate of the Vassar class of 1869 who became a popular children's author of her period and many of whose whose works Champney illustrated. Born in Springfield, Ohio, Elizabeth Williams was the half-sister of Orson Bennet Williams (1834-1912) and daughter of Samuel Barnard Williams (1803-1884), originally of Deerfield, whose second wife was Caroline Johnson (d.1885) whom he married in 1844; the granddaughter of Elijah Williams (1767-1832) who married Hannah Barnard (1772-1853), daughter of Samuel Barnard (1721-1788) of Deerfield, in 1803; and great-granddaugher of Dr. Thomas Williams (1718-1775) of Deerfield. In 1876 the Champneys moved into Samuel Barnard Williams' house in Deerfield where Champney built a studio; they lived in Deerfield for several years while he was professor of art at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and one of the founders of the Smith Art Gallery. In 1879, Champney opened a studio in New York City, and from that time on the Deerfield became their summer home. James and Elizabeth had two children: Edward Frere Champney (1874-1929) who studied art and became an architect, and Maria Mitchell Champney (1876-1906) who was born in Deerfield, married John Sanford Humphreys in 1899, and was a miniature painter. The donor, Frances Malone (1913-2000), was related to Edward Frere Champney by marriage. Her grandparents were the Rev. Francis Lebaron Robbins, Sr. (1830-1920) and Lucy Morton Hartpence Robbins (1856-1935), whose daughter and the donor's aunt, Mary Alice Robbins (1882-1950), married Edward Frere Champney in Greenfield, Massachusetts, in 1923. Miss Malone was the daughter of Mary Alice's sister, Margaret Bradford Robbins (1881-1970) who married Dana Malone in 1909 and lived in Greenfield; her uncle was Francis Lebaron Robbins, Jr., the oldest son of Francis Lebaron Robbins, Sr. According to the donor, this portrait was cut down from a full-length size rectangle into its present oval shape when the family moved from their large Victorian house to a smaller house, both in Greenfield. The portrait first went to Mary Alice Champney who lived off Munson Street in Greenfield, and then to Frances Osborne Malone on Mary Alice's death in 1950. Francis L. Robbins, Jr., is portrayed looking at the viewer with long golden curls falling down over his shoulders; wearing a white collar, blue tie, dark jacket; and holding an open book in his lap while seated in an upholstered chair. The original full-size portrait also showed the boy wearing knickers, dark stockings and high-buttoned shoes. Francis L. Robbins, Jr., later practiced law in NYC and lived on Long Island; he is buried in the Green River Cemetary, Greenfield, with other family members.

portraits; children

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