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Page, William (1811-1885)


William Page was born in Albany in 1811, but he attended public school in New York. In 1826, he began to take classes at the National Academy of Design after it first opened, and it was from here that he was awarded one of it first annual student prizes. By 1830, he was painting commissioned portraits in cities throughout New York State, including Rochester, Albany, and New York City. He joined the American Academy in 1835, where he also served on its board of directors. Throughout the 1830s, Page exhibited his work at notable venues like the National Academy of Design and the Boston Athenaeum. In 1837, Page received the honor of becoming a full member of the National Academy ("William Page Papers").

William Page’s association with Pfaff’s is uncertain. He is described as a friend of Ada Clare, which suggests that he was a member of the 42nd Street Coterie that met regularly at her home (Rawson 103). Page was also a tenant in the Tenth Street Studio Building, where several individuals with connections to Pfaff's took up residence as artists, during the years of 1861-63/64 and 1867-80 ("Roster of Tenants" 134). In fact, he held a large exhibition at this studio in 1867 ("William Page Papers"). The fact that some of Page's work, in the form of art criticism, appeared in the Saturday Press, the periodical edited by Henry Clapp, further suggests some sort of connection to Pfaff's, even if it may have just been reprinted from The Independent (cf. Saturday Press, Oct. 13, 1860; Oct. 27, 1860; Nov. 3, 1860). In addition, he was friends with writer and publisher, Charles Frederick Briggs, who was part of the crowd at Pfaff's. It was Briggs, along with his other friend, James Russell Lowell, who helped promote his artwork and published his theoretical writings ("William Page Papers").

After spending time in Europe during the 1850s, Page returned to the US in 1860. He had a studio in Eagleswood, New Jersey, as well as the one on Tenth Street. He is known to have worked with notable photographer, Matthew Brady. Also during this period, Page lectured on the subjects on Titian and Venetian art and was considered an expert of both. In 1871, Page was elected president of the National Academy of Design ("William Page Papers"). Throughout his career as a portrait painter in New York City, Page became acquainted with a varied group of people from John Quincy Adams and Charles Sumner to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne (Downes, “William Page”). His better known portraits include: Ruth and Naomi, A Holy Family, Ceres, The Young Merchants, and Farragut’s Triumphal Entry into Mobile Bay. Before his death in 1885, Page also published a book entitled Shakespeare's Portraits ("William Page Papers").