Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Memory Painting of Sing Sing Prison

(Above) As acquired, original watercolor and pen & ink drawing of Sing Sing Prison, in original frame from late 19th century.

(Above and below) Nothing makes your heart sink more than an artwork that has been against a wood backing for 100 years. You can just feel the acid burning—the pain.

(Above) The back of the framed watercolor. Ouch!

(Above) Poster from the 1932 Spencer Tracy, Betty Davis movie drama, “20,000 Years in Sing Sing.” Sing Sing and Alcatraz were the most infamous prisons of all time.

(Above) Newly framed watercolor in an acid free environment.

(Detail) Detail of inmates lined up in the Sing Sing Prison yard. (click image for larger view).

(Above) Detail... click for much larger view.

(Above) Detail. Praying for Survival... click for much larger view.

(Above) Detail... click for much larger view. Notice you can see the weather vane directions.

(Above) Detail... click for much larger view. Prisoner talks with prison guard.

ABOUT A MONTH AGO I WAS THE WINNING BIDDER ON EBAY for this beautiful anonymous watercolor and pen/ink drawing of Sing Sing Prison. Sing Sing—the original big house. Home of the electric chair—where prisoners went to spend their allotted time in hell.

This piece can be dated by the warden pictured in the drawing—I surmise his image was possibly traced from an engraving done during the period. The reason I say that is that the style of the warden’s image is different from the rest of the painting.

Warden W.R. Brown was at Sing Sing for only two years, between 1891 to 1893.

So, I thought it would be good to share this recent find with the readers of Accidental Mysteries— an opportunity to see a new item in my collection. Down the road, I plan to have this amazing piece of documentary history fully restored, but for now—it’s in a safe and archival environment.


Anonymous said...
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Stacia said...

Gorgeous artwork! Congrats on winning it!

BTW, the US Civil War was 1861-1865, so the 1890s were after the Civil War.

Elizabeth said...

Congratulations with your find, it is a beautiful watercolor.

Have a lovely day.

John Foster said...

Stacia-thanks. I knew that but that's what 2 glasses of wine will do to a late late night post.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx said...

Ruins of a Society and the Honorable, ISBN: 978-0578043432, is an autobiography and a story based on real life circumstances as Al Bermudez Pereira lived it and remember it to the best of his knowledge and recollection. Names have been changed to protect sources from reprisals and legalities. Real names contained in this book were either approved by the individuals personally; were part of a publication made available to the public and encrypted in citations or were spoken of by Bermudez in honorability; while others are based on personal opinions. This book contains incidents which took place in one day and a half while at a Sing Sing Prison where he worked and outside the prisons environment. It then sidetracks to speak of other stories, voice opinions and reflects on his life as a young Latino growing up in Brooklyn and abroad. This book honors many who crossed paths with Bermudez during his lifetime, who inspired him and whose recognition is well deserved. Honorableness can be described in many different definitions and involve many different circumstances that led him to honor who he felt deserves to be honored, and indeed an honor for him to do so. Although 75 percent of this book is based on prison experiences, other parts of this book relates to the many life encounters we’ve all experienced in our own lives. In reference to autobiographies and real life circumstances concerning prison life, this will be Al Bermudez’s final book. Throughout this book, the actual story stops with an asterisk, (*) to voice an opinion or explain a different set of circumstances; then it continues onto the actual story with the words. (STORY CONT)

"Winner of Literary Award for 2009 Best Autobiography/Biography"
—Multicultural Literature Advocacy Group, Living in Color Literary Awards, March 20, 2010.

"Thank you for thinking of me"
—Sonia Sotomayor, United States Supreme Court Justice, February 23, 2010.

"A Prison Story/Autobiography like you have never read before"
—Michael Levine, WBAI 99.5 FM. Expert Witness Radio, March 22, 2010.

“Nominated as Finalist for the 12th Annual International Latino Book Awards”
—Jim Sullivan, Executive Director, May 28, 2010.

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