The Last Amateur: The Life of William J. Stillman

SUNY Press
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The authoritative biography of a nineteenth-century polymath.

This fascinating biography tells the story of William J. Stillman (1828–1901), a nineteenth-century polymath. Born and raised in Schenectady, New York, Stillman attended Union College and began his career as a Hudson River School painter after an apprenticeship with Frederic Edwin Church. In the 1850s, he was editor of The Crayon, the most important journal of art criticism in antebellum America. Later, after a stint as an explorer-promoter of the Adirondacks, he became the American consul in Rome during the Civil War. When his diplomatic career brought him to Crete, he developed an interest in archaeology and later produced photographs of the Acropolis, for which he is best known today. In yet another career switch, Stillman became a journalist, serving as a correspondent for The Times of London in Rome and the Balkans. In 1871, he married his second wife, Marie Spartali, a Pre-Raphaelite painter, and continued to write about history and art until his death. One of the later products of the American Enlightenment, he lived a life that intersected with many strands of American and European culture. Stillman can indeed be called “the last amateur.”

“The Last Amateur is a meticulously researched and highly nuanced portrait of William J. Stillman, an important journalist, artist, and critic of mid-nineteenth-century America. Stephen L. Dyson provides outstanding context and a convincing case as to why Stillman deserves to be better known due to his keen intellect, prodigious output, and insightful views on art and culture. It’s refreshing to see an academic who blends deep scholarship with an ability to write in a readable style that will satisfy both the scholar and the general readers. The result is a timeless classic.” — Paul Grondahl, author of Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma

“The Last Amateur is a complex and intriguing life history of a personality very much within the circles of the intellectual debates of the mid- and late nineteenth century on art, aesthetics, archaeology, geopolitics (especially in the eastern Mediterranean), and the development of photography. Stillman was sort of a Zelig character, and although he had an important influence on many of these areas of culture and society, he has been relatively little studied. The book is an important step in shedding light on the character and importance of Stillman.” — Harvey K. Flad, coauthor of Main Street to Mainframes: Landscape and Social Change in Poughkeepsie
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About the author

Stephen L. Dyson is Park Professor of Classics at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is the author of several books, including Rome: A Living Portrait of an Ancient City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Aug 13, 2014
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Pages
389
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ISBN
9781438452623
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / American / General
Biography & Autobiography / Artists, Architects, Photographers
Biography & Autobiography / Editors, Journalists, Publishers
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
History / Modern / 19th Century
History / United States / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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