Thursday, October 25, 2012

Deathday: John Sartain 1897 Poe Friend & Publisher

John Sartain (October 24, 1808 - October 25, 1897) was an editor, publisher, and an artist who pioneered mezzotint engraving in the United States.


John Sartain was born in London, England on October 24, 1808. At the age of twenty-two he emigrated to the United States and settled in Philadelphia. Early in his career he painted portraits in oil and made miniatures. He engraved plates in 1841-1848 for Graham's Magazine, published by George Rex Graham (1813-1894), and believed his work was responsible for the publication's sudden success.[1] Sartain became editor and proprietor of Campbell's Foreign Semi-Monthly Magazine in 1843 and from 1849-1852 published with Graham Sartain's Union Magazine.

Sartain was a colleague and friend of Edgar Allan Poe. Around July 2, 1849, about four months before Poe's death, the author unexpectedly visited Sartain's house in Philadelphia. Looking "pale and haggard" with "a wild and frightened expression in his eyes", Poe told Sartain that he was being pursued and needed protection; Sartain worried he was suicidal.[2] Poe asked for a razor so that he could shave off his moustache to become less recognizable. Sartain offered to cut it off himself using scissors.[3] Poe had said he had overheard people while on the train who were conspiring to murder him. Sartain asked why anyone would want to kill him, Poe answered it was "a woman trouble."[2] Poe gave Sartain a new poem, "The Bells", which was published in Sartain's Union Magazine in November 1849, a month after Poe's death.[4] Sartain's also included the first authorized printing of "Annabel Lee", also posthumous.[5]

Sartain had charge of the art department of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, in 1876; took a prominent part in the work of the committee on the Washington Memorial, by Rudolf Siemering, in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia; designed medallions for the monument to George Washington and Lafayette erected in 1869 in Monument Cemetery, Philadelphia. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and a cavaliere of the Royal Equestrian Order of the Crown of Italy.

His Reminiscences of a Very Old Man (New York, 1899) are of unusual interest. Of his children William Sartain (1843-1924), landscape and figure painter, was born at Philadelphia on the 21st of November 1843, studied under his father and under Leon Bonnat, Paris, was one of the founders of the Society of American Artists, and became an associate of the National Academy of Design. Another son, Samuel Sartain (1830-1906), and a daughter, Emily Sartain (1841-1927), who in 1886 became principal of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, were also American artists.


1.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 330. ISBN 0801857309.
2.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 416. ISBN 0060923318.
3.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 246. ISBN 0815410387.
4.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 25. ISBN 081604161X.
5.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 244. ISBN 0815410387
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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