Artists fund society


Organized in 1834/35 in Philadelphia "for the purpose of affording relief to the families of artists deceased, and that to each widow of a member of the society is paid the sum of $2,500 on the death of her husband." John Neagle was the first President. However, problems arose because artists were asked to contribute at least one painting of a minimal value of $100.00 per year for sale at public auction or exhibition. If the work brought more, the artist could pocket the money, which meant an incentive to contribute quality work. However, problems arose as some 'committed' artists with motives of using the Society to earn money for themselves, were much more participatory than others. This self interest, especially when it was Board members, caused resentment and in some cases, left the Society with surplus, unsold artwork. The first exhibition was held in 1841 in space over two shops on Chestnut Street. The sale of 1854 featured a collection of portraits by Charles Willson Peale as well as other works from his natural history collection, and sold for $11,672. with primary purchases being the city of Philadelphia for Independence Hall. Thomas Sully refused to participate because he "valued peace and tranquility." (Weigley,344) Artist members included John Cranch, Worthington Whittredge, John George Brown, John Kensett, Sanford Gifford, and John Casilear. Source: "The New York Times" Archives, 'Some Inquiries in Regard to the Artist's Fund Society', March 9, 1873; Russell Weigley, et all, "Philadelphia: A 300-Year History".