Edwin Tryon Billings

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Advertisement for E.T. Billings, Montgomery, Alabama, 1851

Edwin Tryon Billings (1824-1893) or E.T. Billings was a portrait painter in 19th-century United States. He lived in Montgomery, Alabama; Worcester, Massachusetts; and in Boston. Among his numerous portrait subjects were Daniel Webster, William Lloyd Garrison and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


Billings was born November 20, 1824, to wheelwright Ira Billings and Eunice Tryon of Massachusetts.[1] He lived in Montgomery, Alabama, intermittently c. 1850-1859;[2] and in Worcester, Massachusetts, c. 1854-1856.[3] He "first visited Worcester in 1854. Billings painted several important Worcester residents, including John Davis and Stephen Salisbury. His work hung in many public buildings including the Worcester County Courthouse and Mechanics Hall."[4]

He moved to Boston in the 1860s, working in the Studio Building on Tremont Street c. 1864-1891.[5][6] In the 1874 exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association Billings showed several paintings, including "Child and Kitten," and "Children and Rabbits."[7] His work also appeared in the 1887 National Academy of Design exhibit.[8]

Billings married Frances E. Keller in 1867.[1]Friends included painter George Fuller, with whom he travelled in the southern United States.[9][10][11] Among Billings' possessions was a copy of Walt Whitman's Two Rivulets, annotated by Whitman, and notably auctioned for a relatively high sum in 1909.[12][13]

Portrait subjects included:

Portraits by E.T. Billings


  1. ^ a b George Sheldon. History of Deerfield, Massachusetts. Vol. 2. Deerfield, Mass.: E.A. Hall & co., 1896. Page 84.
  2. ^ E.T. Billings Park, age 27, male, birthplace Massachusetts. cf. "1850 Federal Census, Montgomery County, Alabama.". Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  3. ^ Worcester directory, 1856
  4. ^ a b c American Antiquarian Society. "Calvin Willard". Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  5. ^ Boston Directory. 1864
  6. ^ Boston Almanac. 1865, 1875, 1888, 1889, 1891
  7. ^ 12th exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, at Faneuil and Quincy halls, Boston, September and October, 1874. Boston: Mudge, 1874
  8. ^ The Theatre, v.3, no.7, May 2, 1887
  9. ^ Sarah Burns. A Study of the Life and Poetic Vision of George Fuller (1822-1884). American Art Journal, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Autumn, 1981)
  10. ^ Sarah Burns. Images of Slavery: George Fuller's Depictions of the Antebellum South. American Art Journal, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Summer, 1983)
  11. ^ Helen Mary Knowlton. Art-life of William Morris Hunt. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1899
  12. ^ Sell a book Whitman set up: poet's own copy of Two Rivulets brings $137.50 at auction. New York Times, Nov. 7, 1909.
  13. ^ "... A remarkably interesting Walt Whitman Association work, his own copy of Two Rivulets, of which only one hundred copies were issued, and for which he helped set the type in the printing office at Camden, N. J. in 1876. This copy contains many alterations and additions in the author's autograph for a second edition of Two Rivulets, which edition, however, never appeared. Whitman presented this copy to Sidney Morse, the sculptor, and later it passed into the possession of E.T. Billings, the Boston artist. It brought $137.50." cf. "Rare editions sold: J. Chester Chamberlain Library." American Art News, Vol. 8, No. 5 (Nov. 13, 1909)
  14. ^ Catalogue of the collection of relics in Memorial Hall, Deerfield, Mass., 2nd ed. Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, 1908
  15. ^ Boston Public Library. "Board of Trustees - Former Trustees: James Freeman Clarke". Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  16. ^ George Hill Evans. Catalogue of portraits and other works of art in the gallery of Dartmouth College. 1901. Google books
  17. ^ Evans. 1901
  18. ^ a b Paine. Portraits and busts in possession of the American Antiquarian Society, and of other associations in Worcester, Mass. New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Jan. 1876
  19. ^ "American Antiquarian Society". Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  20. ^ "The South Gallery." National Academy Notes including the Complete Catalogue of the Spring Exhibition, National Academy of Design, No. 7 (1887)
  21. ^ a b New York Historical Society Retrieved 2010-10-02
  22. ^ Words of Garrison. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1905
  23. ^ Harvard University. "Harvard Medical School Faculty and Staff Portrait Collection: D-W, c. 1774-2001: A Finding Aid". Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  24. ^ Margaret W. Rossiter. Women scientists in America: struggles and strategies to 1940. JHU Press, 1984
  25. ^ Edward J. Young. Memoir of Rev. Andrew P. Peabody. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Second Series, Vol. 11, 1896

Further reading[edit]

  • George C Groce. New-York Historical Society's dictionary of artists in America. NY: 1957
  • Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American painters, sculptors & engravers.
  • Edwin C Pancoast. Billings of Boston—Yankee portrait painter : a new look at the life, times and work of Edwin Tryon Billings (1824-1893) and his early association with photography. Chevy Chase, Md.: Pancoast, 1990.
  • Obituary. Boston Daily Globe, Oct 21, 1893

External links[edit]