Thomas Benjamin Pope: He Had His Good Days
BY SANFORD LEVY
OWNER OF JENKINSTOWN ANTIQUES
Thomas Benjamin Pope was born in New York City in 1834. He studied and exhibited at the American Institute in New York as early as 1849. Prior to the Civil War he
established a wholesale “stationer’s” store in Newburgh, N.Y. He enlisted in the Union Army and returned a wounded veteran. After the war Pope again settled in Newburgh where he painted, taught, maintained a gallery, wrote for many
newspapers and became widely known for his public readings and dramatizations. In 1891, at the age of 57, Pope was hit by a train and killed in Fishkill, N.Y.Pope’s paintings vary in quality and style. He did produce many works that still surface in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Landscapes of the area were done in oil, and sometimes watercolor and crayon. He also produced a small number of still lifes, from which color advertisements were made. When he put forth his best talents he showed his skill as a master interpreter of his subject. In our ad in this issue of The Gallery of Antiques and The Arts Weekly we are offering what is perhaps one of the finest works done by Pope. Here he pays attention to the details of the boats, reflections in the water, and the light on the mountains of the Hudson Highlands, demonstrating the highest level of the art form he pursued. In Pope’s “Winter Landscape,” the illustration accompanying this article, we can see one of his broader brush work paintings with a somewhat primitive approach to luminescence and much less defined detail. These are the types of pictures that are most often found bearing the signature of T.B. Pope and although they are interesting, they lack the fine quality of his developed works.
His faster studies and repetitive compositions must have been done for commercial consumption, or perhaps were the works of students who signed his name. Having bought and sold Pope’s paintings for 30 years, I do hope to assist in bringing the best works of this talented and diverse artist to recognition. Some of his paintings can be viewed at the Crawford House Museum, the Historical Society of Newburgh and the
Highlands in Newburgh, N.Y.
This essay originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of The Gallery setion
of Antiques and the Arts Weekly.