Editor's note: The following essay was rekeyed and reprinted on July 12, 2003 in Resource Library Magazine with permission of the Portland Museum of Art. The essay was previously included in an illustrated catalogue titled Charles Codman: The Landscape of Art and Culture in 19th-Century Maine. The catalogue was first published in 2002 by the Portland Museum of Art and the ISBN number is 1-916857-32-8. Images accompanying the text in the book were not reproduced with this reprinting. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay, or wish to obtain a copy of the catalogue, please contact the Portland Museum of Art at:
"The Real Pioneer of Art in this City": Charles Codman and the Rise of Landscape Painting in Portland, Maine
by Jessica Nicoll
An 1838 critique of an exhibition that included landscape paintings by K. W. Davis, "a common house-painter," praised the works as "full of promise," yet cautioned the aspiring artist "not to give up the certainty of his trade, even for the glorious uncertainty of a name. It is a thankless calling, and at best a precarious one, that of a landscape-painter in our day." These remarks appeared in the descriptive catalogue of a display of fine arts included in the Exhibition and Fair of the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association held at the Portland City Hall from September 24 to October 6. The curator of the display and the author of the catalogue was John Neal (1793-1876), a resident of Portland and a connoisseur who held the distinction of having written the first true American art criticism. The Fine Arts component of the Charitable Mechanic exhibition was the latest stratagem in Neal's then decade-long campaign to promote appreciation and patronage for the arts in his home community. The centerpiece of his selections was a group of thirty-six oils, the majority of them landscapes, by Charles Codman (circa 1800-42), an artist who had been working in Portland for sixteen years. During that time, Codman had embraced the new mode of landscape painting, striving to develop both his skills in that genre and a market for it. Because Neal was Codman's staunchest champion, it is hard not to read his "thankless calling" characterization of landscape painting as a commentary on the difficulties Codman had encountered endeavoring to till the soil in that uncultivated field. Indeed, the story of Charles Codman's artistic career and his transformation into a landscape painter illuminates the experiences of American artists in the early years of the new Republic and the precarious emergence of a genre that would come to dominate nineteenth-century American art.
Charles Codman's origins are obscure. Even his obituary in the Portland Tribune stated "Codman was born - we know not where - in Boston, perhaps." Based on the age of forty-one given on his gravestone in Portland's Eastern Cemetery, he was born in 1800 or 1801, but no birth record has been located for him in Boston or surrounding towns. However, accounts of his artistic training place him in Boston by his mid-teens when he entered into a painting apprenticeship. The most detailed lifetime discussion of the artist's background states, "Mr. Codman was formerly an apprentice to Mr. Penniman, the celebrated Boston painter of signs, fire buckets, militia standards, and the ten thousand other etceteras of 'Ornamental Painting,' in all its branches." A posthumous account noted that Codman "had been apprenticed to Willard, the clock-maker of Roxbury, where he did nothing but paint clock-faces; and that after this, he worked for Penniman, the sign-painter of Boston," indicating that Codman had first been apprenticed to renowned clockmakers Simon (1753-1848) and Aaron Willard (1757-1844). 
Codman's master, John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841), operated an acclaimed and successful decorative painting business first in Roxbury and then Boston from 1803 to 1827. Penniman, trained himself through the apprenticeship system, routinely employed apprentices who helped meet the heavy demand for his painting services while they learned the techniques of his trade. Among the artists who began their careers in Penniman's shop were portraitist Thomas Badger (1792-1868) and Alvan Fisher (1792-1863) who, like Codman, went on to become an important early practitioner of landscape painting. Of his apprenticeship Fisher wrote, "I was placed with a Mr. Pennyman, who was an excellent ornamental painter, with him I remained upwards of two years. From him I acquired a style which required years to shake off - I mean a mechanical ornamental touch, and manner of colouring." Critics of Codman's early work similarly observed, "all he did smacked of looking-glass tablets, apothecary furniture and tea-trays - perfectly smooth - perfectly flat - exceedingly positive, and as unnatural as heart could desire."
These commentaries implicitly distinguish between the kind of education Fisher and Codman received and more formal academic training. The latter was not widely available to aspiring American artists in the early nineteenth century. The first art academies were only just being established-such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, founded in 1805 - and were accessible to a fortunate few. Rarer still was the opportunity to study at European academies, an experience chiefly enjoyed by the affluent and by artists who had already established their careers and enjoyed some success in the United States. An apprenticeship in a commercial branch of the arts allowed a young man to cultivate his talents in his teens, reduce the burden of his support on his family, and develop his creative abilities into a marketable skill. Through the nineteenth century this remained a common way for an artist to receive his early training. Codman's contemporary, Thomas Cole (1801-48), for example, began his career as an engraver's assistant and designer of patterns for printing blocks, first for textiles and then for wallpaper. With the advent of commercial reproductive media that arena provided an education for subsequent generations of artists. For example, Fitz Hugh Lane (1804-65) started his career at Pendleton's Lithography in Boston, Benjamin Champney (1817-1907) trained with Pendleton's successor, Thomas Moore, and Winslow Homer (1836-1910) first worked in commercial lithography with John H. Bufford, also in Boston.
While not a fine art academy, John Ritto Penniman's shop was a place of opportunity for young artists of ambition. There they learned useful painting skills and their commercial applications that would equip them to earn a living as an artist. And the ornamental painting skills they honed were of the highest order. Penniman was renowned for his versatility, offering a full scope of decorative painting services including business signs, military standards (a type of banner), clock faces, reverse paintings on glass, and a specialization in Masonic painting, such as patterned flooring and silk and leather aprons arrayed with symbols. His shop provided ornamental painting for Boston's premier artisans including clockmakers Simon and Aaron Willard, looking-glass and frame maker John Doggett (1780-1857), and cabinetmaker Thomas Seymour (1771-1848). The memorandum book of Nathan Negus, an apprentice with Penniman from 1814 to 1820, notes a wide range of work for a distinguished clientele, including ornamenting "an organ board for Mr. Gilbert Stuart."
Negus's memorandum book also sheds light on the experience of being an apprentice in Penniman's shop and of being an aspiring artist in Boston around 1820. The book spans from September 1819 to April 1822 and thus covers the last eight months of his six-year apprenticeship, and the first two years of his career as an itinerant portraitist and ornamental painter. Significantly, Negus's diary entries place a "C. Codman" within his social circle, which was made up almost entirely of young artists. In fact, the second entry in the book notes that he "visited C. Codman" shortly after Negus's arrival in Boston (from his family's home in Petersham, Massachusetts) on September 22, 1819. Among the other artist-friends who appear frequently in the diary are William P. Codman (active 1819-31), who was beginning a career as an itinerant portraitist; John Samuel Blunt (1798-1835), who would become a competitor of Penniman's in New Hampshire; and Moses Swett (active 1823-37), who ultimately left Boston for New York and worked in the new medium of lithography. Of these, only Swett is placed explicitly in Penniman's shop when Negus notes on January 13, 1820, "MOSES SWETT leaves Mr. Penniman being the fifth boy that has been here since I have;" however, their associations and activities strongly imply a shared history with the ornamental painter.
In October 1819, Negus and his companions conceived of a "Society for the instruction of young artists," which they archly named the "Pennimanic Society. " The nine members of the group initially met monthly and then quarterly for the delivery of discourses on art. Negus and his friends also sought out opportunities to see and discuss art. His diary records visits to the "N. E. Museum, Gallery of Fine Arts, and Artists Associations hall," invitations to view paintings in private homes, and the opportunity "to see a painting executed in ROME," which he noted he was "highly pleased with."
While Boston offered these young painters opportunities for aesthetic enrichment, their association with Penniman's shop afforded them the chance to contribute directly to the city's culture. At the end of October 1819, Negus spent a week painting a fifteen-foot transparent view of the burning of the Exchange Coffee House, probably after a cartoon drawn by Penniman. The painting commemorated the spectacular destruction of Asher Benjamin's grand mercantile center in November 1818 and was exhibited on the anniversary of that event in the Gallery of Fine Arts. Negus's terse observation that the painting received "great applause"  is amplified by a description published in the Columbian Centinel:
Such dramatic transparent paintings had one foot in the world of fine art and another in the world of theatre. They were cousin to monumental paintings like Thomas Sully's The Passage of the Delaware (1819; p. 50), which traveled on national exhibition tours, and to the epic panoramas that were becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment. Rendered with the bold gestures of the scene painter on transparent scrim, their display was enhanced with candles flickering behind the painting, which in the instance of The Burning of the Exchange Coffee House lent chilling realism to the scene.  The public display of monumental transparencies and paintings in American cities in the early nineteenth century not only offered their viewers thrilling accounts of topical and historical subjects but were also theprimary way that a mass audience encountered painted images.
The phrase "from the pencil of PENNIMAN" in the Columbian Centinel notice concisely illustrates the subordinate nature of apprenticeship. Although Negus's memorandum book clearly documents his role in the painting of the transparency, when displayed it was credited to the hand of his master. While such situations were inherent in the contractual arrangement that bound a young man to service until the age of twenty-one, the tone of many of the entries in Negus's diary reveals that he chafed within this hierarchical arrangement. The admonishment from Negus's family to be "dutifull and obedient, to all [Mr. Penniman'sI commands (if reasonable)" further hints at friction. Halfway through his indenture Negus learned that Penniman had mistaken his birth date. As he explained to his sister, "Mr. Penniman thinks I am eighteen ... this is a comfortable thing for me to be free at the age of twenty." His careful record of the fact that Moses Swett (who was still in his teens) left Penniman's service during the course of his apprenticeship suggests that he was not alone in his dissatisfactions.
Evidence of tensions within the shop may indicate that Penniman's taste for alcohol was placing an undue burden on his apprentices by the late 1810s. William Dunlap documented this problem when he wrote, "Pennyman [sic]... is the name of an ornamental painter, who flourished in Boston .... He had more talent and skill than many who aspire to higher branches of art. If he had had an education, or those feelings, which would have led him to aspire to the character and conduct of a gentleman, he would have been a good artist and a respectable citizen; but he became a drunkard, and died despised or lamented, according to the feelings of those who were acquainted with his talents and conduct." Penniman's drinking had become a serious liability by 1821 when he was dismissed from membership in the Masons.  The decline of his business was rapid from that point. In 1827 it closed and his paintings, supplies, and shop furniture were sold at auction. Two years later he was committed to the House of Industry in South Boston because of his inability to pay his debts.
Whatever stresses this situation placed on Penniman's apprentices, the gradual erosion of his business also created an opportunity. Both John S. Blunt and Charles Codman established ornamental painting businesses in regions - New Hampshire and Maine, respectively - that were within the territory served by Penniman's shop. On October 29, 1822, Codman placed an advertisement in the Eastern Argus (below) informing "the inhabitants of Portland, that he carries on the following branches of painting" and listing a scope of services competitive with Penniman's. The twenty-one-year-old artist would have been only newly free to embark on an independent career, and he appears to have been intent on pursuing it as a "Military, Standard, Fancy, Ornamental and Sign PAINTER." Penniman, whose work had earlier been acclaimed in Portland as "superior to anything of the kind ever exhibited in this state," did not willingly relinquish the Maine market. He advertised a comparable range of services in the Eastern Argus in 1822, noting, "the subscriber trusts that from the long experience he has had in the above branches of painting, some of which were originally introduced into this Metropolis [Portland] by himself .... he shall be enabled to obtain a liberal share of public patronage."
Codman's initial foray into the Maine market seems to have been exploratory. Advertisements for his services appear in Portland newspapers through the end of 1822, and the 1823 Portland Directory contains an elaborate listing of his offerings; however, advertisements or other mentions of his work do not become frequent again in the local press until the fall of 1823. Charles Codman's listing in the Boston City directories for 1822 and 1823 in partnership with William P. Codman, with both artists identified as portrait painters, suggests that he was maintaining a base in Boston while testing the potential for business in Maine. He must have found the situation encouraging, for after 1823 he was no longer listed in the Boston City Directory and he was advertising consistently in Portland. Even as that city became his new home he sustained his ties with Boston and promoted his association with the metropolis. He served as an intermediary between the residents of Portland and one of Boston's "first artists," taking orders for "any branch of engraving." And, on returning from time spent in Boston, he published the fact, announcing that he would furnish "the Boston touch at Portland prices."
In 1824 William P. Codman arrived in Portland, advertising that he was "intending to remain in town a few weeks" and that patrons wishing for a portrait should "enquire at Charles Codman's, No. 6, Haymarket Row." These joint appearances of the two Codmans are interesting on several levels. Their affiliation lends credence to the theory that the two were related; the fact that William was clearly a contemporary of Nathan Negus and the other members of the Pennimanic Society makes it more likely that he and Charles were brothers rather than father and son, as has previously been suggested. But beyond this inconclusive evidence of a family relationship, their alliance illuminates the network of associations that artists drew upon to seek out and secure patronage. Just as Charles Codman's relocation to Portland in 1823-24 indicates that he had found a profitable market, so William's arrival soon after suggests that Charles's initial success in the community had encouraged him to pursue business there. While William P. Codman is listed in the Boston City Directory for most of the years from 1820 to 1831, much of his work as a portraitist was conducted as an itinerant. In seeking out fruitful territory, he and his associates from Boston often relied on each other. For example, in the fall of 1819 he traveled for a period with John S. Blunt in New Hampshire, the latter's home state.  Similarly, Nathan Negus's memorandum book records his work as an itinerant traveling with friends and with his brother. In June 1820, he noted that he "received a letter from my friend William P. Codman, [who] proposes to join with me and travel there'er to any part of the United States." Three and half years later, when Negus had established himself as an itinerant portraitist and ornamental painter in the South, William joined him for a period of work in Mobile, Alabama. Such arrangements allowed itinerant artists to share essential business expenses such as advertising, rent, and even artists' materials, thus increasing their profit if they were successful in securing patronage and reducing their vulnerability if they were not.
In the early nineteenth century, work as an itinerant artist was a common way for an entrepreneurial young painter to launch a career, offering occupational and social mobility and the chance to establish a widespread reputation. These painters traveled through rural New England's landscape of commercial centers and manufacturing villages, satisfying a growing demand for painted portraits among a population of professionals, merchants, and artisans with disposable income and an interest in emulating the ways of the elite. The investment for a traveling portraitist could be minimal-the costs of transportation, room and board, and rudimentary supplies-and they had the flexibility to move from town to town as the demand for their services was exhausted.  Success establishing a business in a fixed location was far more difficult to attain. It is not known whether Charles Codman had any experience as a traveling painter, although his initial 1822 visit to Maine could be construed as a period of itinerancy; however, he clearly did succeed in making Portland his base of operation from soon after that time until his death in 1842. A commitment to one place and to the range of services that comprised ornamental painting required a substantial investment. Lodging was needed, as well as a place of business equipped with a varied array of materials. Again, Nathan Negus's experience is illustrative. In 1820, as he was preparing to join his brother Joseph in business in Georgia, he received from his future partner $140 with detailed instructions to "save enough to pay your expenses and lay the rest out in paints &c. We shall want a quintity of Ivory to paint miniatures and a good asortment of tools of every disscription, both for Portrait, ornimental & room painting, with a paint stone &c. 2 or 3 Doz Books gold leaf & paints  Although Negus aspired to having the resources and stability to maintain a studio in one location, he never succeeded. His business venture with his brother left him with nearly ruinous debts, and he was unable to ascend out of the ranks of itinerants during the remainder of his brief career.
Charles Codman found the conditions for sustained business in Portland, a burgeoning seaport and commercial center where there was a ready demand for his services. When he arrived in 1822, there was no other resident artist. Painted goods-from shop signs to portraits-were furnished by businesses like Penniman's in Boston and by itinerant artists. Surviving examples of Codman's decorative work, including a Masonic apron (p. 12) and a mirror with a reverse painting on glass attributed to him (p. 14), confirm the scope and quality of work described in his advertisements. From the start, he particularly promoted his skills as a painter of military standards-decoratively painted banners that were emblems of voluntary militia companies - and quickly achieved recognition for his abilities in that arena. In 1823 the Eastern Argus observed that the standard he had painted for the Buckfield Light Infantry "reflects honor on the ingenious artist." The notice went on to exclaim that "the people of this State have heretofore been in the habit of sending to Boston for Military Standards, but with all due deference to the artists of the parent State, we think we hazard nothing in saying that they may be procured in this place, equal in point of elegance to those painted in Boston or elsewhere." Three years later his standard for the Portland Rifle Corps was praised by the Eastern Argus as being equal to the best examples by John Ritto Penniman. Readers were advised, "it is to be hoped, therefore, that we shall hear no more of the citizens of Maine sending to Boston for military standards, on the plea that we have no artists competent to their execution in the most elegant style."
Military standards were at the elite end of the spectrum of ornamental painting. Great skill was required to execute these double-sided flags which, in their most elaborate incarnations, involved rendering intricate designs and mottoes on silk in paints and gold leaf. The skills needed and the nature of the materials involved made them costly. Nathan Negus recorded paying fourteen dollars for the silk and trimmings for a standard he was commissioned to paint and receiving thirty-one dollars for a finished banner. Codman advertised that "my prices vary from 30 to $200, according to the richness and cost of the materials, and the splendor of the ornaments." (The Eastern Argus noted that Codman's price for a military standard was two-thirds that charged by Penniman. Codman himself claimed that he offered standards "inferior to none in New England. At reduced prices. ) These prices stand in stark contrast to the average fee of five to ten dollars charged by an itinerant artist for a portrait painted in oils. The visibility of these objects, which were large in scale and were displayed publicly by militia on parade and in their armories, also gave visibility to their creators. Codman earned acclaim in the Portland and Boston press and in public addresses for his "ingenuity as a Painter, and military taste." He received commissions for "numerous standards for companies in various sections of the State," and in time was able to provide references that included Albion Parris, a former Governor of Maine; Amos Nichols, Secretary of State; and Major General Samuel Fessenden, as well as other military leaders.  Of his "numerous" productions only thirteen can be identified from published accounts and surviving examples. 
While Codman was well patronized as an ornamental artist, from the beginning his business extended beyond the traditional parameters of the decorative painting trade. His earliest advertisements in the Boston Annual Advertiser and Eastern Argus included among his offerings "Landscapes in oil and watercolors, Views of Gentlemen's Seats." In this, too, he followed the model of John Ritto Penniman, who included virtually the same language in his advertisements and who produced a small body of easel paintings, including landscapes and religious and literary scenes, largely based on print sources. Penniman may have imparted to his apprentices some knowledge of academic principles of painting, for he owned at least one manual on the subject, and he and a group of his peers briefly explored establishing an academy of fine arts in Boston in 1810. Codman's earliest known works are landscapes, West Cambridge (Arlington Historical Society) painted in 1817 or 1818, and View of Twin Mountain, which is dated July 6, 1821 (p. 15). Both reflect his training as an ornamentalist in the use of relatively unmixed colors and simplified forms, similar in character to the reverse-painted looking glass tablet attributed to Codman (p. i4). Although stylized, these early paintings accurately represent real places and show the artist looking at his world and recording it with the skills available to him. View of Twin Mountain is a topographically correct depiction of an area in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, painted six years before Thomas Cole first visited that region and popularized it as a destination and subject for artists.
For his ambition to paint landscapes to be nurtured, Codman needed to create a market for them. The Portland he came to in 1822 had a pre-existing need for military standards, Masonic aprons, and shop signs, but little appreciation for the new genre of landscape painting. However, the city had a nascent cultural scene, and Codman must have been encouraged by the first stirrings of interest in the visual arts. Moses Pierce, an itinerant artist, had opened a gallery of paintings in 1818, and Portland was a stopping place for monumental paintings and panoramas traveling on national exhibition tours. William Dunlap's Christ Rejected was shown in 1822, and two of Thomas Sully's large exhibition paintings, The Passage of the Delaware (p. 50) and Capuchin Chapel, were exhibited in Union Hall in the summer and fall of 1823. Early in his tenure in Portland, Codman opened a painting and drawing school in his studio, where he instructed "a few Scholars in the art of PAINTING LANDSCAPES in OIL COLORS " This activity would have generated an additional source of income and stimulated awareness of and interest in his abilities as a landscape painter.
Based on dated examples of his work, Codman does not seem to have been truly successful in expanding his business to include easel paintings until the late 1820s. The evidence also suggests that he used his skills and connections as an ornamental painter to cultivate patronage for his landscapes. The stature he had earned within the militia community surely generated the opportunity to paint The Entertainment of the Boston Rifle Rangers by the Portland Rifle Club in Portland Harbor, August 12, 1829 (p. 23). As described by the title, the painting depicts a two-day encampment by resident and visiting militia on Mount Joy (now Munjoy Hill), on Portland's Eastern Promenade. The scene is precise in its details, from the tents housing the militia to the Portland Observatory looming above them, and it is rendered in a crisp, flat style. But the real subject of the painting seems to be the natural setting for these events-the pasture sloping down to the harbor, the islands and ocean beyond, and the expanse of sky that makes up more than one-half of the composition. The Boston Rifle Rangers acquired the painting and may, in fact, have commissioned it. When exhibited in Boston it attracted positive critical attention from the Boston Commentator, which enthused, "The coloring is rich and harmonious, and the whole picture, even apart from the association of pleasant memories, is a highly valuable specimen of art .... we congratulate the company upon the acquisition of an ornament for their armory; which would be prized in any gallery or parlor." Both the Eastern Argus and the Portland Advertiser reported on this recognition, with the latter observing, "Our friend Codman is getting to be quite celebrated as a first rate painter."
At around this same time, Codman executed two of his most ambitious Maine landscapes within the context of ornamental painting. He used the commission to paint fireboards for the home of James Deering (1766-1850), one of Portland's wealthiest landowners, to create View of Diamond Cove from Great Diamond Island and East Cove (pages 57 and 24). The decoration of such panels, which filled unused fireplaces in the summer months, rarely foundsuch elaborate expression . By merging a functional form with scenic views, at least one of which (View of Diamond Cove from Great Diamond Island) depicted property owned by the Deering family, Codman demonstrated the utility of a landscape to enliven a room, inspire reverie, and speak to the achievements of its owner in much the way that portraiture had historically done. The illusionistic gold leaf frames that surround the landscapes, created with the ornamental technique of stenciling, perfect the fusion of these modes of painting and complete the transformation of these common household objects into uncommon works of art.
An undated letter from Codman to James Deering shows the artist working to nurture his patron's appreciation for his pure paintings. The letter informed Deering that the artist had two landscape paintings for him, a view of Westbrook and "an original design [that] will require a strong light to have proper effect." The latter may be Fancy Piece (p. 25), which is
inscribed on the reverse in the artist's hand: "Fancy Piece, original Painted by C. Codman/ Portland / Property of James Deering Esqr / Sold." The contrast between these two works is telling. One was a local view (possibly the painting Landscape, Said to be Deering Oaks) that presumably depicted a portion of the Deering estate, which was partially located in Westbrook. As such, it may have fallen into the category described by Codman as "Views of Gentlemen's Seats," a type of landscape that had a clear purpose to aggrandize the property, and thereby the wealth and status, of its owner. The other was "an original design," that is, a product of the artist's imagination. The function of such a work-to promote contemplation, to transport the viewer, to elevate the senses - was much less concrete and assumed a level of sophistication. In presenting Deering with these two works, Codman seems to have been providing him with a bridge from the arena of functional painting to the loftier realm of fine art.
Another stratagem for securing patronage is hinted at by a group of paintings on architectural panels salvaged by Codman from Portland's First Parish Church when it was demolished in 1825. Descriptions of the artist in his painting room "up to his ears in the trumpery he had been collecting for many a year, bows and arrows and stuffed birds, and warciubs, and tattered pictures, and curiosities of all kinds," include these panels which he hoped "to use ... in some way that may add to their value." He enhanced more than a dozen of them with paintings ranging from a still life to genre scenes to landscapes, and he seems to have had success in translating nostalgia for the beloved edifice that spawned the panels into ownership of his paintings. An inscription on the reverse of Romantic Landscape (p. 29) written by a descendant of the original owner notes, "many church members had pictures painted on these panels. This particular panel was from the pew of Mr. E. N. Norton."
Charles Codman came from and operated in a world of useful painting. As his ambitions as an artist evolved, he worked within his network of patrons and their expectations to find opportunities to create and sell easel paintings. But in early nineteenth-century America another world of art was taking root. The increased opportunities for art education and appreciation fostered by the first American academies of the fine arts and the annual exhibitions they instituted nurtured a new generation of American painters and sophisticated collectors. Whereas in the eighteenth century John Singleton Copley had lamented the lack of interest in art in the colonies, observing that Americans were a "people entirely destitute of all just Ideas of the Arts," in 1837 a foreign visitor commented, "while in America I was struck by the manner in which the imaginative talent of the people had thrown itself forth into painting; the country seemed to swarm with painters." The art critic John Neal noted that a market for art was emerging in relation to this phenomenon when he commented in 1829:
Charles Codman established himself as a painter of landscapes on his own, but it was his association with John Neal that provided him with entry into this new arena of painting. The first meeting of the artist and his champion was told, retold, and mythologized in numerous articles by Neal, beginning in 1835 when he recounted having seen eight years earlier landscape murals by Codman covering the walls of Portland's Elm Tavern. "Struck by the boldness and beauty of some passages-with the spirit of the trees-all greenly fresh and wildly free," Neal, who had "some knowledge of good painting," decided to pay "Mr. Codman a visit and begged to look at some of his more finished pictures." What he was shown was "a little bit of an oil landscape, which ... was a wretched affair - it had been literally worked to death - tame, spiritless and feather-bed-ish." Realizing that Codman "had no idea of his own worth - and still less of the extraordinary latent power within himself," Neal enlisted two friends to join him in commissioning three paintings with the request that they"should be unfinished, rough-cast." From those beginnings, Neal claimed that:
While Neal's claims to having created Charles Codman the fine artist are grossly overstated, an undeniable shift did begin to occur in the nature and quality of Codman's paintings in the late 1820s, the aftermath of the fabled first meeting. Neal's ambitions to fosteran appreciation for art in Portland dovetailed with Codman's ambitions to find success as a landscape painter. A worldly connoisseur and commentator on art, Neal was well positioned to advise the artist about what was happening in the world of art and how to gain critical exposure for his work.
A businessman, editor, novelist, poet, attorney, and publisher, John Neal added "art critic" to his list of accomplishments when he reviewed the Peale Museum's first annual art exhibition in 1822, beginning a life's work as an advocate for the arts, both visual and literary. By the end of the 1820s he had publicly critiqued all of the leading American artists and their works in national and international publications. These writings provided the foundation for an artistic dialogue that he sustained until the end of his life. Neal became an art reformer who used the written word as a tool for transforming opinion and ushering the public into a new era in American art.
By all accounts John Neal was an extraordinary individual. Born in Portland in 1793, the son of a Quaker schoolmaster, Neal became a clerk at the age of twelve to help support his widowed mother. After the economically devastating Embargo of 1807, he took up work as an itinerant writing master at the age of fourteen. By 1815 he had settled in Baltimore, where he turned to the study of law and literature. In 1817 he published his firstnovel, and in 1820 he passed the Maryland Bar Examination . While in Baltimore he became acquainted with members of the city's premier art family, the Peales. He was briefly engaged to Rosalba Peale, Rembrandt Peale's eldest daughter, and his friendship with her father earned him a place in that artist's masterwork, The Court of Death (1820 )  The Peales accommodated Neal's interest in culture, and it was through his association with them that he first came to think critically, and write publicly, about art. Neal's reviews of the first two annual exhibitions at the Peale Museum in 1822 and 1823 commented on specific works and offered more general remarks on the appreciation of art. He expanded upon these comments in an extended commentary on American artists in his novel Randolph, published in 1823, and that same year he traveled to Great Britain where he wrote a series of incisive articles about American art and society for the newly established cultural journal, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. He spent four years in Europe immersing himself in art; he visited Benjamin West's studio; walked in the footsteps of other great American artists who had studied in London; befriended and sat for a portrait by Chester Harding; and visited the Louvre in Paris. He returned to America and Portland in 1827, charged with European visions.
The Portland Neal returned to was very different from the city he had left in 1807. The economy had rebounded and he recognized in the prosperingseaport the preconditions for the arts to flower - a large and skilled artisan community and an aspiring merchant class to provide patronage. Neal had found a community ripe for the influence of his opinions, finely honed during his travels. Even before his return to Portland, Neal had his hand in the cultural life of the city. While still living in Baltimore he helped his friend Thomas Sully to promote the 1823 display in Portland of Capuchin Chapel by certifying for the public that the painting was an authorized copy of the original by François-Marius Granet and not one of the "many very vile copies in circulation." Once settled in Portland, Neal employed the tools in his critic's arsenal to powerful effect. He quickly established a forum for his commentary on both the visual and literary arts by becoming the publisher of a weekly newspaper, The Yankee, in 1828, one of the first cultural publications to appear in the United States (which soon after founding united with the Boston Literary Gazette). He then demonstrated the potential for artistic excellence within the community by discovering Charles Codman. His repeated telling of how he had found and elevated Codman's work served to excite local curiosity, demonstrate the power of patronage, and encourage artists and patrons alike to give up their taste for stiff and formulaic decorative painting in favor of more artistically ambitious work that elevated the senses.
Neal's influence was almost immediately evident in both Codman's paintings and his approach to gaining visibility for his work. Neal himself observed this when, in his first published discussion of Codman in 1828, he wrote that the artist was "now painting landscapes not a few of which would meet with a ready sale at Somerset-House. Two that we have, and three or four that our friends have, are admirable." A shift in the nature of Codman's subject matter reflects the dialogue between the artist and his new patron, as illustrated by one of the paintings that Neal owned. The Lady of the Lake (p. 32), based on Sir Walter Scott's narrative poem of the same title (1810), directly responds to Neal's interests and was likely a subject suggested by him.  The painting depicts the moment in the poem when the Hunter first sees the Lady of the Lake, "in listening mood, she seem'd to stand, the guardian Naiad of the strand." Scott's poem was noted for its evocative descriptions of the wild beauty of the Scottish Lowlands and, thus, was an apt choice of subject for a landscape painting. And the subject was particularly appropriate for Neal, who was best known as a literary critic and author who had modeled his own novels in part on the examples of Scott's early contributions to that form. This was not Codman's only painting on a literary theme; in a review of an 1835 exhibition of the artist's paintings, Neal singled out for praise "a scene from Scott's novel of Rob Roy, a beautiful picture, with one of his best efforts at wild and picturesque scenery." The qualities he hailed were attributes he particularly admired in landscape painting, for Neal, like Scott, was a proponent of Romanticism. He espoused a raw and powerful art, be it painting or literature, that provoked a visceral emotional response in those who apprehended it. Codman embraced Neal's aesthetic in works such as Approaching Storm (p. 33), in which humans cower in the face of nature's awesome force. Yet he did not exclusively endorse this approach to painting landscapes as his exploration of the genre deepened. Rather, his paintings from the late 1820s on reflect an awareness of many traditions as he variously cast nature as sublime, pastoral, mysterious, familiar, and the stage for history and narrative to unfold.
The dramatic change after 1828 in the scope and quality of Codman's paintings raises the question of what he looked to as models for developing his art. One answer is provided by Neal who noted that, of the thirty-six Codman paintings displayed in the 1838 Exhibition and Fair of the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association, at least six were copied from prints of works by other artists. Among these was a painting identified as Little Wanderer (p. 35), a copy after Sir Thomas Lawrence's Master Lambton (1825) which had been translated into a mezzotint in 1827 (p. 34). Again, Neal's hand is evident, for Sir Thomas Lawrence, the teacher of Thomas Sully, was among the few British artists whom he repeatedly singled out for recognition, praising his "free, fine, bold manner." Codman's The Duel (p. 36), listed as a "copy in oil from a print" in the 1838 exhibition, also suggests the influence of Neal, who was an active opponent of the practice of dueling.  While the opportunity to see and study the work of other artists was infrequent in 1830s Portland, reproductive prints of paintings by European and American artists were more readily available. Among the other works by Codman thought to be based on print sources are Landscape (p. 37), which is inscribed "P.Woverman" above Codman's signature, possibly indicating that it is based on a work by the Dutch artists Philips (1619-68) or Pieter (1623-82) Wouwerman. Codman himself participated in this phenomenon, working with Pendleton's Lithography in Boston to publish a reproduction of his The Entertainment of the Boston Rifle Rangers by the Portland Rifle Club in Portland Harbor August 12, 1829 (p. 38) that he offered for sale in his painting room .
Increasingly, Codman's landscapes mastered the appearance of his academic models, as he refined a style that employed strong contrasts of light and shadow, the manipulation of color and detail to create the illusion of receding space, and such stock elements as a dead tree or stump to signify the passage of time and the brevity of life. However, while he created the illusion of academic painting, he never developed the techniques of an academic painter. The hand of the ornamental artist is evident in the direct painting of his landscapes-the images are laid in with solid strokes of pigment, with little or no use of glazes to build depth and three-dimensional form.  Techniques that would be considered eccentric in the world of academic painting are found in Codman's work. Neal recalled that Codman had created highlights in one of his early landscapes by going "over the foliage with a pin."
The evidence strongly suggests that Codman's involvement with John Neal not only deepened his investigation of landscape painting but also helped him to find greater exposure for his work. His training as an ornamental painter had taught him to function within a traditional bespoke work system, in which he provided customized services for individual patrons. However, in the second quarter of the nineteenth century the era of face-to-face exchange between makers and consumers, of everything from art to shoes, was gradually being replaced
by speculative production for a mass audience. In the arena of fine art this was reflected by the increased opportunities for a broad public to view and judge art, such as the large, multi-artist exhibitions instituted by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1811, the National Academy of Design in 1826, and the Boston Athenaeum in 1827. The commissioning, ownership, and appreciation of oil paintings was no longer strictly the province of the elite. John Neal understood and participated in this revolution, establishing the identity of the critic, not as a privileged amateur, but as a professional who identified and interpreted trends for the public. His published art criticism, which began with the annual exhibitions at Baltimore's Peale Museum, extended to large-scale displays at the National Academy of Design and the Boston Athenaeum. He witnessed firsthand the power of these exhibitions to give artists crucial visibility and likely encouraged Charles Codman to show in these new forums.
Codman first exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum in 1828, contributing one painting, identified in the catalogue as Landscape, to the display. In 1830 he was represented by seven paintings and in three of the next four years he showed multiple works.  The majority of the twenty-one paintings he exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum were landscapes, and of those, imaginary scenes balanced real views, including View of the Notch in the White Mountains, Sebago Pond, and Dog Days (p. 40). The work to receive the greatest public attention was Codman's Pirate's Retreat (p. 41), a romantic view of a time when pirates prowled the coast, which he exhibited in 1830. The Portland Advertiser informed its readers that "the critics of'The Boston Athaneum [sic] Gallery of Paintings' speak in strong terms of praise of Mr.Codman of this town.-'His "Pirate's Retreat" is one of the finest works in the Gallery.' We areglad to hear of his success abroad-it is the echo of what we have long heard at home." John Neal concurred with the Boston critic's assessment of the painting, writing that Pirate's Retreat was "a picture which hundreds of years from today, it if be in existence, will be sufficient to establish the reputation of the painter. Taken as a whole, it is one of the four or five best things he has ever produced. " Oliver Wendell Holmes was so captivated by the painting that he wrote a poem inspired by Codman's vision of "fir-shaded mountain caves" and the "pirate band of brave sea-nurtured men" who dwelt there. In 1833 the Portland Advertiser reported that Pirate's Retreat had been purchased and was "now the property of a gentleman of this city." The painting's popularity must have generated commissions for copies, for three versions of the subject in Codman's hand survive.
Codman's participation in these exhibitions gave him exposure alongside other contemporary artists who were developing landscape as a genre, including Thomas Cole, Thomas Doughty (1793-1856), Alvan Fisher, and William Guy Wall (1792-1864). In 1831, three of the four works Codman exhibited at the Athenaeum were submitted for the premium for "the best landscape or marine view" that was awarded to Fisher.  Nonetheless, Codman's contributions to this new arena were noted. When he exhibited Lake Sebago (p. 43) at the National Academy of Design in 1832, a New York critic assessed it as "a truly beautiful landscape by an artist who should be better known." Unfortunately the recognition was not as positive at the 1838 Academy exhibition when he showed View of Diamond Cove, Portland Harbor, Maine, which was criticized for being too faithful and unvarnished a view of nature. Besides the visibility gained for his work, these exhibitions presumably gave Codman the opportunity to study original paintings by his peers. Although we cannot know whether the artist traveled to see them, given his strong ties to Boston, it is likely that he at least visited the Athenaeum displays. Those not only included the work of his American contemporaries, but also paintings by European artists, including Claude Lorrain (1600-82) and Salvator Rosa (1615-73). Their influence on Codman's stylistic development, as seen in such works as his Landscape (p. 44), strongly suggests that he had the opportunity to study their work through prints if not actual examples 
In 1828 Codman began to advertise special exhibitions on view in his "Painting Room," noting that there was no charge for admission and that visitors were welcome every day except Sunday.  In March of 1832, he invited "Ladies and Gentlemen of this town, and Strangers in town, who may have an hour to spare for a lounge," to visit his landscape gallery to see a newly completed body of work that included "a variety of Landscape subjects, most of them entirely original, and painted expressly for this exhibition." The following year an article by the "Correspondent of the Boston Transcript" observed that such "lounges" were among Portland's greatest attractions, elaborating that "Charles Codman has a spacious apartment over the Bank of Portland, forming quite a gallery for the display of several fine pictures from his own pencil, as well as others by foreign artists." Residents of the city availed themselves of these opportunities to study and judge original works of art. Thirteen-year-old Samuel Longfellow, the younger brother of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, recorded in his diary a visit "to Mr. Codman's painting room-in the Bank" where he saw "some beautiful paintings. The one that most struck my fancy, was a view of Sebago."
John Neal did his part to help Codman promote these exhibitions of new work. In April 1835, he urged viewers to visit "Codman's Sale of Paintings":
Two months later he reported enthusiastically, "Portland is no longer asleep; the arts begin to be encouraged as they should be; Codman, at his last sale, could have sold a much greater number of landscapes than he possessed, and has now as much business as he can attend to." That Codman was finding ample patronage for his easel paintings is also indicated by a change in how he was characterized in his advertisements. The earliest Portland listings described him as an "ornamental and sign painter" or "limner" offering "Military, Standard, Fancy, Ornamental, Masonic and Sign Painting." By 1831, he had reduced his offerings to "Military Standard, Landscape and Sign Painting." 1n 1835 he was advertising as "Charles Codman, Military Standard and Landscape Painter," and in 1837, for the first time, he was listed simply as "landscape painter" in the Portland City Directory. Codman's receipt of the commission, from Governor Robert P. Dunlap, to paint a view of the new state house in Augusta (p. 49), is further evidence that he had become recognized as the resident landscape painter for Portland and Maine. 
Codman's success in this field, and the prosperity that had fueled it, ended in the wake of the financial panic of 1837. The impact of the economic downturn on Codman is alluded to in a newspaper notice that begins, "it is, in good sooth, a burning shame that CHARLES CODMAN is not better patronized," and goes on to wish for a day when the author could afford to support the artist. The notice concludes with a wistful depiction of "Codman, the punning, eccentric Charles day after day singing 'home, sweet home,' as he brings into being those calm, pastoral, sunny landscapes, wherein he excels, and which have gladdened our hearts on many a wintry day. We wish he were better patronized." The First Exhibition and Fair of the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association in 1838, to which Neal contributed the display of Fine Arts that included thirty-six paintings by Codman, was an effort to promote the abilities and wares of Portland's artists and artisans struggling to survive in the new financial climate. 
Again, Codman's advertisements for this period indicate a decided change in the market for his work. By 1838, emphasis was once more placed on his skills as a painter of military standards with a terse reference to "landscape painting." The following year he advertised only his services painting standards, noting his "design to extend that branch of my business." Few landscapes - only Landscape (p. 44), Downeast (p. 48), and Diamond Cove (p. 71) - are known to date to the last years of Codman's life. In contrast, he appears to have been well occupied with painting standards, including one for the Calais Frontier Guard (p. 50) and a banner created for the Washington Total Abstinence Society of Ellsworth (Farnsworth Art Museum). The last published notices about Codman's work praise these standards and others created for the Frankfort Artillery Company, the Augusta Rifle Greys, and the Washington Total Abstinence Society of Portland (all unlocated) Evidently there was still a market for such functional civic paintings, and the prices Codman charged, from "30 to $200" depending on the degree of ornamentation, further suggest his motive for returning tothis lucrative branch of painting. These late standards are Codman's most ambitious works in that form and acknowledge his achievements outside of ornamental art. His standards for the Calais Frontier Guard (p. 50) and the Augusta Rifle Greys (according to contemporary descriptions  feature lozenges containing a copy of the central image from Sully's The Passage of the Delaware (p. 50), which Codman may have seen when it was exhibited in Portland during the summer of 1823. The banner for the Ellsworth chapter of the Washington Total Abstinence Society is emblazoned not only with a portrait of the late President but also a majestic depiction of Niagara Falls. The reduction in the scope of Codman's work may also indicate that the "consumption" or tuberculosis that claimed his life in 1842 was progressively diminishing his energies. John Neal anticipated the artist's sad end when he wrote in 1835:
The tribute Neal published after Codman's death continues in this vein, but in a more tragic tone, claiming that Codman's "extraordinary and beautiful pictures, full of strength, nature and individuality .... were the death of him." The obituary concludes, "But every good picture he ever painted is now trebled in value. Let that comfort the bereaved possessors, who have seen him wasting away, literally, before their eyes, from sheer discouragement and bitter poverty."
Neal's prediction was born out, for in the decades after his death, Codman's paintings were increasingly prized and regularly exhibited as examples for Portland's emerging artists. In 1844, Charles Octavius Cole (1817-1858) began gathering paintings for an exhibition gallery, advertising, "PERSONS having CODMAN'S LANDSCAPES, wishing to exchange them for Portraits, please call at COLE'S ROOMS." The gallery he opened featured "not far from 250 pieces - mostly landscapes," with Codman represented by many of his major canvases, including Pirates' Retreat  Also displayed was "Log Hut, after Codman by C. E. Beckett," demonstrating that Charles E. Beckett (1813-66), one of the landscape painters finding patronage in Portland in the 1840s, was looking to Codman as a model.  Cole apparently promoted the instructive potential of the artist's paintings, for Wilderness Shore (p. 53), a signed Codman, is inscribed on the reverse, "For Miss Wakefield to copy/ C. O. Cole."
Portland in the years after Codman's death was a very different city from the one he first visited in 1822. As the nineteenth century progressed, more and more painters - including Cole, Beckett, Harrison Bird Brown (1831-1915), John Greenleaf Cloudman (1813-92), John Bradley Hudson (1832-1903), Charles Frederick Kimball (1831-1903), George F. Morse (1834-1926), and John Rollin Tilton (1828-88) - had success finding a market in Portland for landscapes. Some of these had learned directly from Codman, who, in keeping with his own training, had frequently advertised for "A YOUNG MAN who has a taste for painting, as an apprentice to the above business." One such was Cloudman, who "obtained a chance to enter the studio of Charles Codman and there he devoted himself to the mastery of the technicalities of his profession." William Matthew Prior (1806-73) is also believed to have apprenticed with Codman, for one of his early portraits (private collection) is inscribed on the back, "WM Prior formerly of Bath ... Painted in C Codman's Shop." Even those who could not have known the artist had the benefit of having John Neal as their champion and Codman as their model. For example, Harrison Bird Brown followed Codman's practice of mounting exhibitions of his newest work in his painting room. (His 1869 exhibition included "Codman's Diamond Cove, dated 1829" [p. 67]. By the 1880s, the first efforts to record the history that led to the flowering of this vibrant artistic community in Portland recognized Codman "as the real pioneer of art in this city." From origins that were ordinary for painters of his age, Charles Codman had made an extraordinary contribution to crafting a new identity for American art and artists in the nineteenth century.
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