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Guide to the John Rogers Photograph Collection
1860-1927, undated
 PR 122

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jennifer Lewis

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on January 06, 2012
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Rogers, John, 1829-1904
Title: John Rogers Photograph Collection
Dates [inclusive]: 1860-1927, undated
Abstract: Collection of photographs portraying sculptor John Rogers, his family, residence, studio and sculpture groups. Included are photographs of sculpture by other artists.
Quantity: 3.5 Linear feet (6 boxes)
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 122

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Biographical Note

John Rogers was a prominent American sculptor of the second half of the nineteenth century. The popularity of his work was unprecedented among American sculptors; between 1860 and 1893 he sold approximately eighty-thousand works. His success has been credited to his keen marketing as well as to his passion for addressing themes close to the heart of middle class Americans. Rogers eschewed classical sculpture styles and instead produced extremely detailed, narrative sculpture groups that focused on themes of everyday American life, popular literature, and the Civil War. Cast in plaster in order to be affordable, the Rogers Groups were renowned for their wit, humor, and sentimentality.

Born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1829, Rogers counted among his ancestors several generations of New England clergymen and merchants. Rogers's immediate family, however, was not particularly wealthy, and discouraged their son's early artistic efforts on the grounds that the life of an artist would not provide a sufficient salary. Instead, Rogers began working as a machinist and draftsman. He lived in various regions of the country in the course of his career, finally rising to the rank of master mechanic for the Hannibal and St. Joseph Rail Road in Hannibal, Missouri in 1856. He lost this job in the money panic of 1857. Having time on his hands, Rogers decided to give in to his artistic aspirations and traveled Europe in 1858 to study with the masters. His experiences in Paris and Rome were discouraging. He disliked the predominant classical styles that were taught and discovered that even the finest American artists found it difficult to make a living from their work. After only a year abroad, he returned to Chicago to become a draftsman again, leaving behind his hopes of becoming an artist.

In Chicago in 1859, he was encouraged by a friend to submit a small sculpture for a church auction. The piece he submitted, Checker Players, attracted enough attention that within months Rogers decided to move to New York and become a professional artist. There he met with some initial resistance in getting his work into shops. To gain publicity, he hired an African American to sell his anti-slavery work,  Slave Auction, in the streets of New York, eventually drawing the notice of prominent abolitionists in the spring of 1860. Within the year he had made a name for himself and was getting positive reviews in the New York press. Stores were eager to stock his groups.

Rogers worked in plaster to keep production costs down and make his sculpture affordable. However, as orders increased, he became frustrated by the slowness and poor workmanship of his plaster casters. He endeavored to learn the trade himself and late in 1860 set up his own workshop, cutting costs and improving output. Although Rogers would produce some works in bronze and marble during his career, he would always be best known for his widely distributed plaster casts.

In the following years, he was increasingly successful. He broadened the audience for his work by placing groups in stores in Boston and Philadelphia. He began advertising in catalogs and periodicals and experimenting with packing methods so he could ship his works long distances. His works addressed a variety of themes, but those addressing the Civil War or portraying comical or literary scenes met with the most success.

In 1864, as his professional success grew, Rogers met and soon after married Harriet Moore Francis, a music teacher at Miss Haines' Gramercy Park Boarding School for Young Ladies. In 1866 they had their first child and began spending summers in New Canaan, Connecticut. By 1877 the family had built a house and made New Canaan their permanent home, returning to New York only occasionally. In New Canaan, Rogers built a studio adjacent to his house in which he sculpted the majority of his later works.

The Rogers Groups flourished in popularity through the 1870s and 1880s, but by 1889, the business began to go into decline as realism went out of fashion. Rogers, however, continued with his creative studio work, and produced one of his most acclaimed figures, a life-sized Abraham Lincoln, in 1892. Lincoln won a bronze medal the following year at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Rogers suffered through the late 1890s from a progressive illness and died in 1904. Although he is not remembered as a great classical artist, his ability to bring the appreciation of sculpture to a wide audience of Americans was considered revolutionary.

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Scope and Content Note

The John Rogers Photograph Collection spans the period from 1860-1927 and primarily contains photographs and documents relating to the family life and artistic career of John Rogers. Also included are photographs of other artists' work collected by Rogers, and photographs of famous acquaintances whose likenesses he sculpted.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into three series based on subject:

  1. Series I: Personal Photographs
  2. Series II: Sculpture by Rogers
  3. Series III: Sculpture by Other Artists

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Ball, Thomas, 1819-1911
  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887--Portraits
  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887
  • Calverley, Charles, 1833-1914
  • Conkey, Samuel
  • Hartley, Jonathan Scott, 1845-1912
  • Perry, Martha Rogers, 1840-1925
  • Rogers, Alexander Parker, 1874-1950
  • Rogers, Charles F., 1870-1947
  • Rogers, Derby, 1872-1955
  • Rogers, Elizabeth Bromfield, 1837-1872
  • Rogers, Ellen Derby, 1828-1894
  • Rogers, Frances Stetson, 1844-1923
  • Rogers, Harriet Francis, 1841-1927
  • Rogers, Henry Bromfield, 1837-1872
  • Rogers, John, 1800-1884
  • Rogers, John, 1829-1904
  • Rogers, John, 1866-1919
  • Rogers, Laura Derby, 1834-1907
  • Rogers, Laura Derby, 1879-1897
  • Rogers, Sarah Ellen Derby, 1805-1877
  • Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891--Portraits.
  • Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1882--Portraits

Document Type

  • Cartes-de-visite
  • Glass negatives
  • Lithographs
  • Photographic prints
  • Stereographs

Subject Places

  • New Canaan (Conn.)

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Gifts of Katherine Rebecca Rogers in 1936, 1937, 1955, 1956; gifts of Adelaide Hegeman Rogers in 1949 and 1955.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to 30 photocopies per day per person. Suitability of the original for photocopying is at the discretion of the staff. Neither blueprints nor tracings can be copied under any circumstances. Duplication of large-format items will be done by the house photographer. See Print Room guidelines for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from

Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282
Fax: (212) 579-8794

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: John Rogers Photograph Collection, PR 122, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

Within the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, additional images of John Rogers and Rogers family members are available in the Cased Photograph File (PR 012), certificates given to Rogers at various exhibitions are in the Certificate File (PR 014), a 1939 calendar showing Rogers sculpture groups is located in the Calendar File (PR 146) and an album containing photographs of Rogers and his sculpture groups is available in the Album File (PR 002-12). For correspondence, published catalogs, and promotional materials relating to John Rogers, see Miscellaneous Manuscripts Rogers in the New-York Historical Society Library. Bronze masters and plaster Rogers Groups are available for study in the Henry Luce III Center of The New-York Historical Society. For further information on John Rogers' life and work, see David H. Wallace. John Rogers: The People's Sculptor. (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press: 1967).

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Container List

Series I: Personal Photographs

Scope and Contents note

Series I is divided into two subseries: People and Places. Thereunder, photographs are arranged alphabetically by name of individual or place. The photographs date from 1860-1927; many materials are undated. Photographs are arranged in two subseries: People, filed alphabetically by name; and Places, filed alphabetically by name. Glass negatives of the Rogers' residence in New Canaan, Connecticut, are filed at the end of the series.

The People subseries consists of portraits of John Rogers, members of his family, and a few other notable figures. Family photographs include those of Rogers's parents, John Rogers (1800-1884) and Sarah Ellen Derby Rogers; some of his siblings, Ellen Derby Rogers, Laura Derby Rogers (1834-1907), Henry Bromfield Rogers (1837-1872), Martha Rogers Perry, Elizabeth Bromfield Rogers, and Frances Stetson Rogers; his wife, Harriet Francis Rogers; his children, Katherine R. Rogers, John Rogers (1866-1937), Laura Derby Rogers(1879-1897), Derby Rogers, Charles F. Rogers, and Alexander Parker Rogers. Photographs of paintings document earlier ancestors of Rogers, three of whom shared the name John Rogers (living from 1500-1555, 1572-1636, and 1666-1745) and one with the variant name John Rodgers who lived in the 18th century. Portraits of other members of the Derby, Jewitt, and Rogers families are also included. Portraits of prominent figures include abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, General William Tecumseh Sherman, and poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

The Places subseries includes photographs of the family home that Rogers built in 1877 in rural New Canaan, Connecticut, as well as of the detached studio that he later built on the same property. A lithograph of an unidentified New Canaan building is also included. At the end of this subseries are eight glass negatives of the residence, some of which include Rogers family members. Prints made from these negatives are available in the residence folder with the exception of those which are referred to as Rogers Family at Residence, for which there are no prints.

People

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Beecher, Henry Ward(1813-1887)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Cabot, Lillie
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Derby, Martha Coffin (b. 1814)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Derby, George
1871
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Derby, John
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Francis, David (1779-1853)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Jewitt Family
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Mason, Hannah Rogers (1806-1872)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Perry, Martha Rogers (1840-1925)
1866, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Perry, Nellie
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Rodger, John (18th Century)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Rogers Family--Group Portraits (19th Century)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Rogers Family--Group Portraits (20th Century)
1917-1927, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Rogers, Alexander Parker (1874-1950)
1877
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Rogers, Charles F. (1870-1947)
[1870]
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Rogers, Derby (1872-1955)

General note

See also: Box 2, folders 48-49

1872-1900
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Rogers, Elizabeth Bromfield (1844-1924)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Rogers, Ellen Derby (1828-1894)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Rogers, Frances Stetson (1844-1923)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Rogers, Harriet Francis (1841-1927)
1860, 1864, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Rogers, Henry Bromfield (sculptor's uncle)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 22 Rogers, Henry Bromfield (1837-1872)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 23 Rogers, Henry Bromfield, Jr. (b. 1867)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 24 Rogers, John (1500-1555), photograph of painting
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 25 Rogers, John (1572-1636), photograph of painting
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 26 Rogers, John (1666-1745), photograph of painting
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 27 Rogers, John (1800-1884)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 28 Rogers, John (1829-1904)--Portraits
1860-1864, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 29 Rogers, John (1829-1904)--Portraits in studio
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 30 Rogers, John (1829-1904)--Portrait with group of artists
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 31 Rogers, John (1866-1937)
1868-1870, 1917, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 32 Rogers, Katherine R. (1868-1919)
1870-1872, 1917, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 33 Rogers, Laura Derby (1834-1907)
[1860]
Box: 1 Folder : 34 Rogers, Laura Derby (1879-1897)
[1895]
Box: 1 Folder : 35 Rogers, Sarah Ellen Derby (1805-1877)
1860, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 36 Sherman, William Tecumseh (1820-1891)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 37 Whittier, John Greenleaf (1807-1892)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 38 Unidentified
undated

Places

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 39 Residence of John Rogers, New Canaan, Connecticut
[1885], undated
Box: 1 Folder : 40 Studio of John Rogers, New Canaan, Connecticut
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 41 Unidentified house, New Canaan, Connecticut
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 42 Glass negatives of residence, New Canaan, Connecticut (taken by Alexander P. Rogers)--Exterior
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 43-44 Glass negatives of residence, New Canaan, Connecticut (taken by Alexander P. Rogers)--Interior
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 45-47 Glass negatives of residence, New Canaan, Connecticut (taken by Alexander P. Rogers)--Rogers family at residence
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 48 Glass negatives of residence, New Canaan, Connecticut (taken by Alexander P. Rogers)--Derby Rogers in library
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 49 Glass negatives of residence, New Canaan, Connecticut (taken by Alexander P. Rogers)--Derby Rogers in parlor
undated

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Series II: Sculpture by Rogers

Scope and Contents note

Series II is arranged alphabetically by title of work and dates from 1862-1892; many photographs are undated. These titles correspond to the titles engraved by Rogers on his groups; works portraying people are listed under the individual's full name. A set of promotional photographs of the civil war Rogers Groups published by Maurice Stadtfeld and photographs showing more than one sculpture have been filed at the end of the series. Stereographs, cartes-de-visite, and cabinet cards produced for promotional purposes make up the bulk of this series, but modern prints and other non-promotional prints are also included. Works from throughout his career are represented. Oversize images of some works are available in Box 6.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 50 Air Castles (1862)
1862, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 51 The Bugle Call (1886)
[1886]
Box: 3 Folder : 52 The Bushwhacker / The Wife's Appeal for Peace (1865)
[1865-1876]
Box: 3 Folder : 53 The Camp Fire / Making Friends With the Cook (1862)
[1863]
Box: 3 Folder : 54 Camp Life: The Card Players (1862)
1863-1868
Box: 3 Folder : 55 Challenging the Union Vote (1869)
[1869]-1876
Box: 3 Folder : 56 The Charity Patient (1866)
1866-1872
Box: 3 Folder : 57 Checker Players (1860)
1865-[1876]
Box: 3 Folder : 58 Chess (1889)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 59 Coming to the Parson (1870)
[1871]
Box: 3 Folder : 60 Council of War (1868)
[1868-1876], undated
Box: 3 Folder : 61 Country Post Office (1863)
1863-[1876]
Box: 3 Folder : 62 Courtship in Sleepy Hollow (1868)
[1868-1876]
Box: 3 Folder : 63 Faust and Marguerite: Their First Meeting (1890)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 64 Faust and Marguerite: Leaving the Garden (1891)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 65 Fighting Bob (1889)
[1889]
Box: 3 Folder : 66 The First Ride (1888)
[1888]
Box: 3 Folder : 67 The Fisher Girl (1860)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 68 Flower Box (1876)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 69 The Foundling (1870)
[1870]
Box: 3 Folder : 70 The Fugitive's Story (1869)
[1870]
Box: 3 Folder : 71 Going for the Cows (1873)
[1873]
Box: 3 Folder : 72 Hide and Seek: Whoops (1874) and Hide and Seek (1875)
[1875], undated
Box: 3 Folder : 73 The Home Guard / Midnight on the Border (1865)
[1865-1876]
Box: 3 Folder : 74 Ichabod Crane and the "Headless Horseman" (1887)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 75 John Eliot Preaching to the Indians (1887-1890)

General note

See also: Box 6, folder 126

1890, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 76 Lafayette
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 77 Lambert, Mrs. Edward W. (ca. 1875)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 78 Landing of the Norsemen (1893)
[1893], undated
Box: 4 Folder : 79 Lincoln, Abraham (1892)
[1892]
Box: 4 Folder : 80 Madame, Your Mother Craves a Word With You (1886)
[1886]
Box: 4 Folder : 81 Mail Day (1864)
[1864-1876]
Box: 4 Folder : 82 Marguerite and Martha: Trying on the Jewels (1891)
[1891]
Box: 4 Folder : 83 Nightmare (1857)
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 84 Paez, Jose Antonio (1890)
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 85 Parting Promise (1870)
[1870]
Box: 4 Folder : 86 The Picket Guard (1861)
[1863]
Box: 4 Folder : 87 Polo (1879)
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 88 Private Theatricals / Last Moments Behind the Scenes
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 89 Returned Volunteer / How the Fort Was Taken (1864)
[1864-1876]
Box: 4 Folder : 90 Reynolds, John Fulton (1884)
[1884], undated
Box: 4 Folder : 91 Rip Van Winkle at Home (1871)
[1875]
Box: 4 Folder : 92 Rip Van Winkle on the Mountain (1871)
[1875], undated
Box: 4 Folder : 93 Rip Van Winkle Returned (1871)
[1872]
Box: 4 Folder : 94 Rogers, John (1866-1939), bust (1871)
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 95 Rogers, Sarah Ellen Derby (1862)
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 96 The School Examination (1867)
1867-[1876]
Box: 4 Folder : 97 Sharp Shooters (1862)
[1863]-1872
Box: 4 Folder : 98 The Shaughraum and "Tatters" (1875)
[1875]
Box: 4 Folder : 99 Sheridan, Philip Henry
[1895]
Box: 4 Folder : 100 The Slave Auction (1859)

General note

See also: Box 6, folder 127

[1863-1876]
Box: 4 Folder : 101 Stark, John (1889)
[1889], undated
Box: 4 Folder : 102 Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations (1866)
[1866]-1872
Box: 4 Folder : 103 The Town Pump (1862)
[1863]-1872
Box: 4 Folder : 104 Uncle Ned's School (1866)

General note

See also: Box 6, folder 127

[1866]-1872
Box: 4 Folder : 105 Union Refugees (1863)
[1863-1876]
Box: 4 Folder : 106 Vase (1876)
[1876]
Box: 4 Folder : 107 The Village Schoolmaster (1860)
[1863]
Box: 4 Folder : 108 Washington, George (1875)
[1875]
Box: 4 Folder : 109 We Boys (1872)
[1872], undated
Box: 4 Folder : 110 Weighing the Baby (1876)
[1876]
Box: 4 Folder : 111 Williams, John Earl (1870)
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 112 The Wounded Scout / A Friend in the Swamp (1864)
[1864-1876]
Box: 4 Folder : 113 Wounded to the Rear / One More Shot (1864)
[1864]
Box: 4 Folder : 114 Set of Photographs of Civil War Rogers Groups (1859-1865), taken and published by Maurice Stadtfeld
[1886]
Box: 4 Folder : 115 Photographs of multiple Rogers Groups
undated

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Series III: Sculpture by Other Artists

Scope and Contents note

Series III is arranged into two subseries: Collected Photographs of Sculpture, arranged thereunder alphabetically by sculptor, and Works Frequently Misattributed to John Rogers, arranged thereunder alphabetically by common title. Collected Photographs of Sculpture includes photographs of sculpture by the following contemporaries of Rogers: Charles Calverley, Thomas Ball, and L. Fenwick. Also included is a set of photographs of famous sculpture published by the Photo-Gravure Co. of New York. The miscellaneous category includes photographs of unidentified, mostly European sculpture. Works Frequently Misattributed to John Rogers includes works that have been determined to be the work of other artists but have been referred to as the work of John Rogers in published sources in the past. These include works by J.S. Hartley, Samuel Conkey and other unidentified artists.

Collected Photographs of Sculpture

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 116 Ball, Thomas, monument of Daniel Webster
1886
Box: 5 Folder : 117 Calverley, Charles (1833-1914)
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 118 Fenwick, Reverend L.
Undated
Box: 5 Folder : 119 Photo-Gravure Co. of New York, published set of photographs of sculpture
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 120 Miscellaneous
undated

Works Frequently Misattributed to John Rogers

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 121 Bronze Wreath of Leaves and Berries Surrounding Mirror
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 122 Fido
[1861]
Box: 5 Folder : 123 Garrison, William Lloyd
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 124 Lotta as the Marchioness, by J.S. Hartley
1876
Box: 5 Folder : 125 Trout Fishing, by Samuel Conkey
1868

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From Series II. Sculpture by Rogers

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 126 John Eliot Preaching to the Indians (oversize - showing John Rogers)
1891
Box: 6 Folder : 127 The Slave Auction (1859) and Uncle Ned's School (1866)
[1863-1866]

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