Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Isham Parkyns, 18 March 1800

From George Isham Parkyns

Monday morn. 18 March 1800.

Mr. Parkyns has done himself the Honor to pay his respects to Mr. Jefferson, and shall esteem himself particularly happy to be favourd with any observations Mr. Jefferson may condescend to suggest on a series of paintings this morning arrived from his House in the Country, and which at present, are in Mr. Leipers withdrawing Room.

Mr. Parkyns feels himself extremely obliged to Mrs. Leiper, who has permitted him to use her name to Mr. Jefferson as an introduction to the Honor of his notice.

RC (MoSHi: Jefferson Papers); addressed: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

This brief communication is the only known correspondence between TJ and George Isham Parkyns of Nottingham, England (ca. 1749-ca. 1820). Parkyns, the grandson of a baronet, made little lasting impact as an artist but exhibited his work in London, wrote on landscape design, and aquatinted other artists’ works before traveling to the United States in the mid-1790s. After undertaking a series of aquatints to depict scenic views from Mount Vernon to Boston, he returned to Britain (George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564–1860 [New Haven, 1957], 488; H. L. Mallalieu, The Dictionary of British Watercolour Artists up to 1920, 2d ed., 3 vols. [Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1986–90], 1:262; G. I. Parkyns, No. 1. Sketches of Select American Scenery [Philadelphia, 1799]; Proposals for Publishing in Aquatinta, a Series of Views [undated; see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 …to …1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59,14 vols. description ends No. 48952]; James Moore, Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales [London, 1791]; Joseph Charles Barrow, Picturesque Views of Churches and Other Buildings [London, 1791–93]).

Mrs. Leiper: Elizabeth Coultas Gray Leiper, who had married Thomas Leiper in 1778 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ).

TJ retained his draft of a letter of recommendation for Parkyns dated 13 May 1800: “The bearer hereof mr Parkyns, a Landscape painter of eminence, proposing to visit the state of Virginia in order to make drawings of some of it’s most interesting scenes, I take the liberty of recommending him to those of my countrymen among whom he may sojourn or pass as a person worthy the attentions & hospitality for which they are so justly respected: and I bear this testimony to the character of this gentleman in order that they may be assured their civilities to him will be meritoriously placed” (Dft in DLC; entirely in TJ’s hand, initialed and endorsed by him; among other emendations, “interesting” is interlined in place of “remarkeable”; not recorded in SJL).

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