30 April 2009

Back to the Aldens

One of four blocks for a John Alden portrait

Today I had a nice long time in the studio and was able to carve all of the blocks for my 4-color portrait of John Alden. I'll be carving 4 blocks for the Priscilla portrait next, as both prints will use the same ink colors and will be printed at the same time. These are smallish prints, a little under 5" x 6".

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, depicting these two has been challenging since there's not much information to go on. This is further complicated by the fact that in 1858 poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, himself an Alden descendant, wrote a hugely popular narrative poem called The Courtship of Miles Standish about the early days of Plymouth Colony. There's an ongoing debate about whether or not the poem is fact or fiction, but it colors Americans' perceptions of John and Priscilla.

Here are the known facts. John was not a Puritan himself, rather he was hired at the age of 22 to act as the ship's cooper (barrel maker) and given the option to return to England or stay in New Plymouth. In 1623 John and Priscilla were married.

William Bradford gives this description of John Alden, which has influenced my print:
"John Alden was hired for a cooper, at South-Hampton, wher the ship victuled; and being a hopfull yong man, was much desired, but left to his own liking to go or stay when he came here; but he stayed and maryed here."

It's that part about "being a hopeful young man, was much desired" that caught my attention. Taking that line and running with it, I've inferred that John Alden had charisma, sex appeal, like his descendant Marilyn Monroe. My theory is that John Alden was a hunk, so that's my direction, and probably the title of this print: John Alden was a hunk.


d. moll, l.ac. said...

I fully support your theory.

Sharri said...

I'll vote for that theory, too. He was a cooper, and would have been the equivalent of working out at the gym, daily. Your model qualifies ;-)

Annie B said...

Thanks, ladies. It's the only theory that works. Of course, there's a hitch. Stay tuned...

moreidlethoughts said...

I am now thoroughly intrigued and will dig out whatever I can find. Like Marilyn Monroe being a descendant!
(Not being a New Englander or even American, much of this history didn't feature at my school.)

Bette Norcross Wappner -- said...

he's definitely a hunk.
i once knew a guy whose first and middle names were John Alden. not quite a cute and lived in minnesota.
hee :)
great carving, annie.

Leslie Moore said...

Your Alden is a hunk! Can't wait for "the hitch."