First battle between the puritans and the indians

Our painting represents a military scene — an event during the war between European settlers and Native Americans. Two of the Natives lie lifeless in the foreground. We are truly in 17th century America at the beginning of colonization. On one hand we see the overly studied layout of the Indian’s bodies, and on the other, the casual posture of figures standing center.

Oil on canvas, signed and dated at the bottom right :
Imogene Robinson Morrel- PARIS 1874
American School XIXth century

Imogene Robinson was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, at the beginning of the 19th century.  She studied art at the age of 16 in Newark New Jersey, then in New York City. In 1856, Robinson went to Europe for the first time. She studied under Adolf Schroeder and Wilhelm Camphausen in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Then, Europe called to her again. She went with a friend, Elizabeth Gardner. In July 1864, they arrived in Paris and made a living copying great works from the Louvre and Luxemburg museums for American patrons. The two artists were in close contact with the colony of American artists in Paris, but they likewise befriended French painters Meissonnier and Bouguereau. In 1869, Imogene Robinson married Colonel Abrahm Morrell. In 1871, Gardner moved into her last place, 73 rue des Petits Champs and became neighbors with Bouguereau. Several years later, in 1895, she married him.
As long as we can follow her official path to the Salons of 1868 and 1869, her entrée as the first woman at the Academy Jullian in 1873, we observe that Robinson Morrell did not participate in the Parisian art demonstrations. She studied portraiture and landscapes under François–Louis Français (1814-1879), and took certain courses taught by Thomas Couture (1815-1879), the last historical painter of the second half of the 19th century. Couture received many students, most notably Americans including Hunt and Longfellow. It was during this period that Imogene Robinson Morrell began her great historical compositions and painted our version of First battle between the puritans and the indians.
In 1874, she left permanently for the U.S. and eventually settled down in Washington D.C. in 1877. While en route, she exhibited at the Mechanic’s Fair in Boston and then at the Philadelphia Centennial Expedition in 1876 where her contemporaries welcomed her enthusiastically. She won two medals there for her historical compositions: The First Battle between the Puritans and the Indians and Washington and his Staff Welcoming the Provision Train at Newburg. The local press glorified her moving art and her patriotism.  We noted that her friend E.J. Gardner also exhibited two works there.
But her joyful years soon ended with her husband’s death in 1879. In 1886, the fire at the Knox warehouse destroyed her paintings and all the pieces destined to be bought by the government and shown at the Capitol.  Only her portrait of General John A. Dix can be seen today. In 1887, the National Academy of Fine Arts in Washington, which she founded and which renowned artists and students enjoyed, went bankrupt. The end of her life was difficult. Having lost the fortune she entrusted to some unscrupulous businessmen, she survived thanks to the kindness of her friends. She died in a miserable family boarding house on November 22, 1908.

The day after Imogene Robinson Morrell’s death, the Washington Post published an article lamenting her miserable end and the dramatic events that drove her to it. Her career was remembered along with the great quality of her destroyed and forgotten works.
Found accidentally in France at the dawn of the third millennium, a replica of The First Battle between the Puritans and the Indians finally reconciled this academic painter with history. A unique testimony, this discovery has since allowed us to better imagine the original work’s scope and technical quality.
Thanks to this unexpected preservation of one of her masterpiece, Robinson Morrell can reclaim her place among the painters of her time. This work of rehabilitation, only just begun, is largely owed to her.