PRINT Summer 1978

Domestic Tranquility

EDWARD LAMSON HENRY PAINTED a workmanlike portrait of John Bullard and his wife in their parlor on Brooklyn Heights in 1872. Bullard was a prominent leather merchant. He wanted to be seen as a man who could have what he chose from anywhere he wanted. The newspaper he is studying is not the only way in which the world is brought into his front room. With an obsessive meticulousness, the painting depicts the diversity of periods and styles in the ornamentation of his home with possessions. Bullard is seated like an emperor on a throne, surrounded by silk-covered chairs, rosewood inlaid doors and fireplace mantle, a plain ladder-backed rocker, tiers of paintings in ornate frames, and Medusa, a bust by the then-fashionable sculptress Harriet Hosmer.

Everything in the room, even the woman, is organized around him to reflect and confirm his status at the center of his world. He is haloed on the

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