The Adams Portraits & Other Treats: 18th-Century Artist Benjamin Blyth
Benjamin Blyth, the Salem artist of the Society’s iconic portraits of John and Abigail Adams, also left a large, delightful number of other portraits of local families, merchants, and participants in the American Revolution. His brother Samuel, a jack-of-all trades in the construction and home-decorating trades, was far more successful. But because of Benjamin’s flight from Salem to Virginia in 1782, he and his brother seemed to swap careers. Therein lies the tale.
Bettina A. Norton is a retired museum professional. She has published widely in her field, American historical prints. In later years, she was editor and publisher of The Beacon Hill Chronicle and is currently Editor Emerita of the Boston Musical Intelligencer. She is author of Edwin Whitefield: Nineteenth-Century North American Scenery; History of the Boston Naval Shipyard, 1800-1974; Trinity Church: The Story of an Episcopal Parish in the City of Boston; ‘To Create and Foster Architecture: History of the Boston Architectural Center; Prints at the Essex Institute; and over 60 articles on American graphic arts, architecture, and social history. She has lived with her family in a house on Beacon Hill since 1941, and in 1967 she founded Hill House, its community center.
Image: Abigail Adams by Benajmin Blyth, circa 1766. Massachusetts Historical Society.