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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Early Artists

Early Artists

GRHC - September 22nd, 2010

Information on the first two professional artists in Grand Rapids history: Marinus Harting (born 1815) and A.J. Conant    



Marinus Harting, Grand Rapids first professional artist, arrived with his wife and children in 1854. Born in Delft, Holland, he received his early education at Rotterdam. Landscape painting was his specialty, but after coming to America, he developed a taste for portrait work, which included paintings of early settlers, Aaron Turner and Solomon Kingsbury.

Some competition arrived in 1857. A. J. Conant of Troy, New York, a painter of considerable merit, opened a studio and made some fine portraits from enlarged daguerreotypes. Perhaps there was not enough demand to support two artists. Whatever the reason Conant did not stay long and headed west where he found greener pastures in St Louis. In 1860 he was commissioned to paint a portrait in Springfield, Illinois; the subject, Abraham Lincoln.

Harting’s residence, a small cottage just north of the stone school on Ransom St, was where he kept his studio and gathered a class of ambitious students. Frederick S. Church, well known in New York for his illustrations, and Lawrence C. Earle were both students of Harting’s that won national distinction. Young Sarah Nelson, whose 1856 painting of Grand Rapids can be found on the home page of the Historical Commission website, was also a student of the Dutch master.

Marinus Harting was a very attractive man, with great enthusiasm and love for his art, an eager student of Nature, genial and loving in spirit, gentle and deeply religious in feeling. He died at the age of 44, in the spring of 1861 much beloved and greatly mourned.


Full Details

TitleEarly Artists
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, art, artists, Marinus Harting, Conant, painting, radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringSeptember 22nd, 2010

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