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Christopher Pearse Cranch
Date: 1813 - 1892
Biography: The youngest in a family of thirteen, Cranch graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1835 and became "missionary at large" for the Unitarian Association. A return to Boston in the winter of 1839-1840 deepened his friendship and sympathy for the transcendentalists; and in 1843, just before his marriage to Elizabeth De Windt of Fishkill Landing, New York, he made up his mind to leave the ministry and wrote to his brother Edward that he was considering whether to make his living as an illustrator, as an author or, encouraged by a few lessons with John Greenough in Boston, as a landscape painter. In 1846 he and his wife sailed for Italy where in Rome, Sorrento and Florence he worked and studied diligently and made many friends in the colony of artist and writers, among the Bierstadt, Gifford, Cropsey and the Brownings. He returned to New York in 1849 and two years later became an Associate of the National Academy of Design and in 1864 a full member. Before his second trip to Europe in 1853 he wrote 'Farewell to America' for Jenny Lind, which she sang to a musical setting composed by her husband. Cranch remained in Paris until 1863 and in 1871 settled briefly near his lifelong friend, the editor George William Curtis, on Staten Island. In 1873 he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. He found its social life charming and while he regretted that it 'knows little....about art' he thought that in years to come it would learn 'not...from any spontaneous impulse..., but froma sense of duty and an ambition to be 'up to the universe.' _________________ Christopher Pearse Cranch was born on March 8, 1813, in Alexandria, Virginia, the youngest of thirteen children of the distinguished jurist William Cranch and Nancy (Greenleaf) Cranch. Christopher was a grandnephew of President John Adams and a nephew of Noah Webster. He received some early artistic training from his brother William. After graduating from Harvard Divinity School (1835) Cranch entered the Unitarian Ministry. He traveled and preached in churches from Maine to Virginia and as far west as Missouri and Illinois. During 1839-1840, when he was preaching in South Boston, some of Cranch's poems drew the attention of Emerson. Cranch then became a friend of the leading Transcendentalists and contributed to the 'Dial.' In 1841 he married Elizabeth De Windt and took up landscape painting. The couple lived in Italy during 1846-49, where Cranch wrote, painted, and became a friend of the American artists William Wetmore Story and Jasper Cropsey. The Cranches returned to America in 1849 and lived in New York City. In 1853 the artist took his family to live in Paris for ten years. He visited Barbizon and exhibited several times at the Salons. Returning to the Unites States in 1863, Cranch resided for a time on Staten Island. He became a full member of the National Academy of Design in 1864. He also belonged to The Fraternity, a society of New York artists and writers, and contributed drawings and essays to their manuscript journal (1869-77). In 1873 Cranch settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he continued to write and paint and where he participated in the Boston Radical Club. He was a membre of the Century Club, the Artists' Fund Society, and the American Society of Painters in Watercolors. He exhibited regularly at the National Academy of Design and the other major American art academies. He was also a well respected poet. C.P. Cranch died in Cambridge on January 20, 1892.