Showing posts with label Westminster Historical Society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Westminster Historical Society. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eugene Harrington Rogers


Eugene Harrington Rogers
No download or reproduction without express permission
This is Eugene Harrington Rogers, son of Cassandria and brother of my great grandfather. I'm not really sure where this was taken, but perhaps this was his studio. I love the large artist's palette and his generous muttonchops. His life is not a great mystery; he was born in Holden, Massachusetts and lived most of his adult life in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. We're not sure when or if he had much formal training, but he married Mary Clark, opened a sign painting and advertising business at 304 1/2 Main Street in Fitchburg and lived on Arlington Street. They never had children and he died of a heart ailment at only 45 years old.

You may have noticed the large painting and recognized the "White Rock fairy". This is actually a very
good copy of a painting called "Psyche" by Paul Thumann.  Thumann's original was exhibited to some great attention at the Chicago World Exhibition and I would assume White Rock bought the rights after that. Being an artist myself, I always wanted to know about Eugene. A small oil still life hung in our house all my childhood and larger pastel of a Newfoundland dog hung in my grandmother's house. These were the only existing works the family knew of. My cousin, an illustrator and art restorer in Manhatten, looked around on the internet from time to time and discovered that some of his work was registered. Tracing backwards she found that it was in the collection of the Fitchburg Historical Society. Sure enough, when I visited I found an enormous charcoal drawing called "Overlook Reservoir and Mt. Wachusett". It was a lovely landscape with which our family was quite familiar as it's a popular hiking spot in Fitchburg. A little more research by my cousin, my aunt and myself found a mural at the local Baptist church and another large charcoal landscape at the Westminster Historical Society. My cousin says they are all quite good. Now all three of us were intrigued....

One of the best sources of small town information for genealogists is digitized newspapers. Luckily the
Fitchburg Sentinel has digitized much of its collection and Eugene showed up regularly between 1870 and 1900. The accounts of his sales are complementary and lively as is the story of his rivalry with another sign painter.  At this time he was doing landscapes, small still-lifes and animal portraits of hunting dogs in oil, pastel and charcoal. The Sentinel described his success this way "The sale increased so rapidly that the demand was far ahead of the supply within 10 days....Mr. Rogers' work went to the shores of the Pacific and throughout the West and South." Queries in the historical society newsletters have turned up no further clues. The signature on the work would be E.H. Rogers.
If you live in the West or South or even in New England and have a work with this signature, the family would love to hear from you.