Maine Historical Society



A Past Exhibit

Drawing Together: The Arts of the Longfellows

February 16 – December 31, 2007

Sketch by Mary K. Longfellow width=

Sketch by Mary K. Longfellow

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 marked the two–hundredth anniversary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's birth. As a tribute to the poet, Maine Historical Society organized an exhibit exploring the lives of Longfellow and his family through the art they created.

The poet Henry has long garnered world attention, but other Longfellows were extremely accomplished in their respective fields, from the cartography of Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry's brother, to the architectural history scholarship of William Pitt Preble Longfellow, Henry's nephew. Based on literally thousands of sketches, drawings, watercolors, and doodles in the collections of Maine Historical Society, Longfellow National Historic Site, and Harvard University's Houghton Library, Drawing Together presents a survey of this family's remarkable art. Through the achievements of some twenty individuals, including Henry, his aunts and uncles, siblings, children, and nieces and nephews, the exhibit offers a fascinating exploration of the family's history. The poet himself was a prolific artist – sketching scenes to illustrate poems, record a family outing and teach or entertain his children. Drawing skills were vital to the lives of Henry's son, Ernest, a professional artist, and the poet's niece, Portlander Mary King Longfellow, an accomplished watercolorist.

The exhibit featured a large number of little–known works ranging from drawings of Tripoli made in 1804 by Henry Wadsworth, the poet's namesake, to sketches made by Henry himself for and with his children. The Longfellows, keen observers of the world around them, created compelling works with the rudimentary pencil and pen and ink. The objects in this exhibition revealed not only how drawing, painting and other artistic pursuits were central to their daily lives but also reflected the rise of educational training in nineteenth–century America.

Drawing Together, co–curated by Laura Fecych Sprague and John Mayer, featured over sixty works from the collections of Maine Historical Society, the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge, the Houghton Library at Harvard University and others.

Drawing Together: The Arts of the Longfellows was sponsored by Shipyard Brewing Company, H.M Payson – Co., the BHA Foundation and Preti Flaherty Beliveau – Pachios.

Related Book | Exhibition Poster