Thomas Satterwhite Noble

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Thomas Satterwhite Noble
Thomas satterwhite noble portrait.jpg
Thomas Satterwhite Noble (undated photo)
Born(1835-05-29)May 29, 1835
DiedApril 27, 1907(1907-04-27) (aged 71)
Resting place Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio
EducationOliver Frazier, George P. A. Healey, Thomas Couture
Known for Painting
Notable work
The Modern Medea (1867)
The Price of Blood (1868)
The Sibyl (1896)

Thomas Satterwhite Noble (May 29, 1835 – April 27, 1907) was an American painter as well as the first head of the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Art Academy of Cincinnati

The Art Academy of Cincinnati is a private college of art and design in Cincinnati, Ohio, accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. It was founded as the McMicken School of Design in 1869, and was a department of the University of Cincinnati, and later in 1887, became the Art Academy of Cincinnati, the museum school of the Cincinnati Art Museum.



Margaret Garner/The Modern Medea Thomas Satterwhite Noble Margaret Garner.jpg
Margaret Garner/The Modern Medea

Noble was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and raised on a plantation where hemp and cotton were grown. He showed an interest and propensity for art at an early age. He first studied painting with Samuel Woodson Price in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1852 and then continued his studies with Price, Oliver Frazier and George P.A. Healey at Transylvania University in Lexington. In 1853 he moved to New York, New York, before moving to Paris to study with Thomas Couture from 1856 to 1859. [1]

Lexington, Kentucky Consolidated city-county in Kentucky, United States

Lexington, consolidated with Fayette County and often denoted as Lexington-Fayette, is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 60th-largest city in the United States. By land area, Lexington is the 28th largest city in the United States. Known as the "Horse Capital of the World," it is the heart of the state's Bluegrass region. It has a nonpartisan mayor-council form of government, with 12 council districts and three members elected at large, with the highest vote-getter designated vice mayor. In the 2018 U.S. Census Estimate, the city's population was 323,780 anchoring a metropolitan area of 516,697 people and a combined statistical area of 760,528 people.

Plantations in the American South large farms in the antebellum southern US, farmed by large numbers of enslaved Africans, typically growing cotton, tobacco, sugar, indigo, or rice

Plantations are an important aspect of the history of the American South, particularly the antebellum era. The mild subtropical climate, plentiful rainfall, fertile soils of the southeastern United States and Native American genocide allowed the flourishing of large plantations, where large numbers of enslaved Africans were held captive as slave labor and forced to produce crops to create wealth for a white elite.

Hemp low-THC Cannabis plant

Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.

Noble then returned to the United States in 1859 intending on beginning his art career. However, with the beginning of the Civil War, as a Southerner, he served in the Confederate army from 1862 to 1865. After the war, Noble was paroled to St. Louis and began painting. With the success of his first painting, Last Sale of the Slaves, he received sponsorship from wealthy Northern benefactors for a studio in New York City. Noble lived in New York city from 1866 to 1869, during which time he painted some of his most well-known oil paintings. In 1869, he was invited to become the first head of the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati, Ohio, a post he would hold until 1904. In 1887, the McMicken School of Design became the present-day Art Academy of Cincinnati. During his tenure at the McMicken School of Design, Noble moved briefly to Munich, Germany, where he studied from 1881 to 1883. [1] He retired in 1904 and died in New York City on April 27, 1907. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. [2]

Confederate States of America (de facto) federal republic in North America from 1861 to 1865

The Confederate States of America, commonly referred to as the Confederacy, was an unrecognized country in North America that existed from 1861 to 1865. The Confederacy was originally formed by seven secessionist slave-holding states—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—in the Lower South region of the United States, whose economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system that relied upon the labor of African-American slaves. Convinced that white supremacy and the institution of slavery were threatened by the November 1860 election of Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln to the U.S. presidency on a platform which opposed the expansion of slavery into the western territories, the Confederacy declared its secession from the United States, with the remaining states becoming known as the Union during the ensuing American Civil War. According to Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens in his famous Cornerstone Speech, Confederate ideology was centrally based "upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition".

Spring Grove Cemetery cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio

Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is a nonprofit rural cemetery and arboretum located at 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the second largest cemetery in the United States and is recognized as a US National Historic Landmark.

Noble's well-known works are largely historical or social/political presentations. He is best known for a series of four anti-slavery paintings. The first, Last Sale of the Slaves (1865) depicted the scene of the last sale of the slaves on the St. Louis courthouse steps. He followed this painting with John Brown's Blessing (1866) which depicted the abolitionist activist John Brown being led to his execution and blessing a child on the steps of the courthouse. His third painting, The Modern Medea (1867), portrayed the tragic event from 1856 in which Margaret Garner, a fugitive slave mother, murdered her children rather than see them returned to slavery. The picture is notable for Garner's expression of rage and for including the white slave hunters in the imagery. Noble's last painting, Price of Blood (1868), was not based on a specific historical event, but depicted a white slave owner selling his half-white slave son. As with The Modern Medea, this painting is unique for the era with the inclusion of the white perpetrators in the imagery. [3]

John Brown (abolitionist) American abolitionist

John Brown was an American abolitionist. Brown advocated the use of armed insurrection to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. He first gained attention when he led small groups of volunteers during the Bleeding Kansas crisis of 1856. He was dissatisfied with the pacifism of the organized abolitionist movement: "These men are all talk. What we need is action—action!" In May 1856, Brown and his supporters killed five supporters of slavery in the Pottawatomie massacre, which responded to the sacking of Lawrence by pro-slavery forces. Brown then commanded anti-slavery forces at the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie.

Margaret Garner United States fugitive slave

Margaret Garner was an enslaved African-American woman in pre-Civil War America who was notorious – or celebrated – for killing her own daughter rather than allowing the child to be returned to slavery. She and her family had escaped in January 1856 across the frozen Ohio River to Cincinnati, but they were apprehended by U. S. Marshals acting under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Margaret Garner's defense attorney, John Jolliffe, moved to have her tried for murder in Ohio, to be able to get a trial in a free state and to challenge the Fugitive Slave Law as well.

Exhibitions and major works

Noble's artwork has been exhibited in over 70 exhibitions, both during his lifetime and after his death. Most of his well-known initial works are historical presentations, painted to make strong political and moral commentary. Later in his life he painted many allegorical images, often having his children pose for figures in the paintings. After studying in Munich and towards the end of his life, Noble focused his artistic work on landscapes of Ohio and Kentucky countryside and Bensonhurst, New York. [3]

His most well-known paintings are Last Sale of the Slaves, John Brown's Blessing, Price of Blood and Margaret Garner. Each depicts a specific horror of slavery: in Last Sale of the Slaves, the selling of a mother and child; in Price of Blood, the selling of a son by the slave owner; in Margaret Garner, a mother killing her children rather than subjecting them to slavery. Noble also sketched a well-known lithograph for Harper's weekly based on his John Brown's Blessing. [4]

Thomas Satterwhite Noble The Price of Blood.jpg

Known exhibitions [1] [5] [6]

Major museum/collection holdings [5]

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  1. 1 2 3 Birchfield, James (1989). Thomas Satterwhite Noble, 1835-1907. University of Kentucky Press. p. 39.
  2. Kleber, John E. (1992). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. University of Press of Kentucky. p. 683.
  3. 1 2 Morgan, Joanne (2007). "Thomas Satterwhite Noble's Mulattos: From Barefoot Madonna to Maggie the Ripper". Journal of American Studies. 41. No. 1: Page 110.
  4. Birchfield, James (1986). "Thomas S. Noble: "Made for a Painter" [Part II]". Kentucky Review. 6. No. 2: 53.
  5. 1 2 "Thomas Satterwhite Noble". Ask Art. September 11, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  6. Flemming, Tuliza Kamirah (2007). Thomas Satterwhite Noble (1835- 1907): Reconstructed Rebel via