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European and American Art  Collected by 
General Rush Christopher Hawkins 
for the Annmary Brown Memorial

About the Collection

Rush Hawkins in the uniform of a Hawkins ZouaveRush Christopher Hawkins was born in Pomfret, Vermont, on September 14, 1831.  He left home at age 15 to enlist in the Mexican War and, though underage, was eventually entered in the Second Dragoons.  After the Mexican War he studied law and settled in New York City.  During the Civil War Hawkins served as Colonel of the 'Hawkins Zouaves', the 9th New York Volunteers, and was raised by brevet to the rank of Brigadier General in 1866. Hawkins continued to participate in public life publishing works on history, politics and culture (see selected list below) and devoting himself to building collections of early printed books and early and modern works of art. In his 90th year Hawkins was struck by an automobile as he crossed Fifth Avenue and died on October 25, 1920.

Annmary Brown painted by Jacob Blondel, 1860.Rush Hawkins painted by Jacob Blondel, 1860.Annmary Brown, daughter of Nicholas Brown (Class of 1811), granddaughter of Nicholas Brown (Class of 1786) whose name the University adopted in 1804, and sister of Carrie Brown Bajnotti, whose memorial is Carrie Tower, was born in Providence on March 9, 1837.  She spent her early years in Tappan, New York, accompanied her parents to Rome when her father was appointed Consul-General, and was later educated in Geneva at Madame Arlaud's select school.  Annmary Brown and Rush Hawkins were married in 1860.  After her death from pneumonia in 1903 Hawkins decided to build a memorial in her memory.  It was to be "first of all a Memorial to a woman of noble character [and] secondarily a collection of art treasures."  The Memorial was to contain Hawkins' book and art collections as well as his Civil War memorabilia and the General and Mrs. Hawkins' personal correspondence and mementos of their life together.  General and Mrs. Hawkins are entombed in a crypt at the rear of the building.  General Hawkins' placed fresh flowers on his wife's tomb each year on her birthday, a practice which continues to this day.

Flowers on Annmary Brown's grave, March 8, 2002Annmary Brown Memorial drawn by Margaret B. Stillwell, former curatorThe Annmary Brown Memorial, constructed between 1903 and 1907 to the design of Rhode Island architect Norman Isham, was independent until 1948, when it was deeded to Brown University.  In 1990 Hawkins' book and manuscript collections were removed to the John Hay Library with the exception of personal effects and the General's collection of books by and about people named Hawkins. The majority of the paintings, many of which had previously graced the couple's home, remain in the Memorial's galleries and storage facilities.  

Shortly after founding the Memorial Hawkins engaged C.H. Collins Baker to produce a catalog of the Memorial's  collection of paintings which was published in 1913.  (Baker later cataloged several of the Huntington Library and Art Gallery's collections and his archive of exhibition catalogs and newspaper clippings on British art is housed there.)

Paintings, in oil & water colours by early & modern painters, collected by Rush C. Hawkins, catalogued by C.H. Collins Baker and deposited in the Annmary Brown Memorial at Providence, Rhode Island,  London, Printed for the owner by the Medici Society, 1913 
Josiah record

The Holy Family, after Andrea del Sarto, 16th centuryOne hundred and seventeen paintings are included in the secondA Glass with the Squire, Eastman Johnson, 1880 edition of this catalog, fifty-six by 'early painters' and the remainder 'modern painters'. Hawkins' preference was for representational works and Baker in his preface explains that "redhot Impressionism, Post-impressionism and Futurism are not included in the arc General Hawkins set himself to traverse as regards the representative nature of the Annmary Brown Memorial Collection."  Baker also describes the patriotic motive behind Hawkins' collection building efforts. 

"America in contrast with Europe has no aesthetic heritage...A community deprived of aesthetic canons, especially a civilised community, would sooner or later deteriorate into sheer materialism.  Realising this, patriotic Americans have pledged themselves to make up for America's lack of an art heritage by importing the finest examples of European and Eastern art that fall within their range."

Hawkins in the introduction to the catalog describes his hope that the collection will instruct and edify the American public at large.  

"From the first, one part of the governing purpose was to bring together a small collection representing the greater Schools of early painting, and if possible to procure representative works by some of the most famous artists of each.  So that when brought together in a single room, student or layman would be able at a glance to become acquainted with some of the better work of the early art periods of several of the older countries that promoted the cultivation of the arts."

The collecting of culturally representative works also informed Hawkins' book collection method by which he very successfully attempted to acquire a representative book (preferably the first) issued by each of the first printers during the 'incunabula' period from Gutenberg's discovery in the mid 1450's to the end of the 15th century. Just as he would do with his art collection he engaged the best expert he could find - Alfred W. Pollard, former Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum - to produce a catalog of his collection.

Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris Exposition, 1889 (T803.C1 E9x Hay Star)Rush Hawkins was recognized by his contemporaries both as a distinguished book collector and a discriminating patron of the arts. He was appointed Assistant to the Commissioner General for the United States Commission at the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. As "Commissaire Expert des Beaux Arts," he was responsible for selecting and organizing all the works to be exhibited by American artists, some of whose work he later purchased for his private collection. He succeeded in alienating James McNeill Whistler, who withdrew his work from the American exhibition in protest when ten of his twenty-seven submissions were rejected. Their artistic feud was publicly conducted in the pages of the Paris edition of The New York Herald and later memorialized in Whistler's extended essay on The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (Chelsea, 1890, pp. 264-276).  Hawkins' official report is a spirited critique of contemporary art.

General Hawkins' correspondence, much of it relating to his collections, is bound in twenty-two large volumes.  The volumes and a card file index are available for consultation at the John Hay Library.  Two volumes of newspaper clippings relating to the General's activities are also available.  The references field in the database indicates if there is a related clipping on a painting.

Portrait of George Washington, anonymous forgeryIn 1984 the Hawkins art collection, which had grown to number 158 works,  was examined by a representative of Christie's and a small number of the attributions in the 1913 catalog were revised. For example, this portrait of George Washington attributed in the catalog to John Trumbull is now thought to be a forgery.  (See the notes to record #49 for an interesting commentary.)  Hawkins lamented the obstacles in the way of a collector "not of the millionaire class" and expressed the philosophy that "a real work of art does not depend upon a name, may have been painted by an obscure artist, and always with convincing certainty stands and speaks for itself."

The Annmary Brown Memorial is open to the public Monday through Friday from 1:00 to 5:00 pm with some exceptions.  It is advisable to call in advance: 401-863-1994.  For further information about visiting the Memorial contact