Sketch for new print
I'm starting a new print that will be the last one (at least for now) in the Pilgrim series. It's a portrait of John Alexander and Thomas Roberts, two men who were lovers in Plymouth Colony in the 1630s.
We know about John and Thomas only because of court records from their prosecution. Here's the account in full:
John Alexander & Thomas Roberts were both examined and found guilty of lewd behavior and unclean carriage one with another, by often spending their seed one upon another which was proved both by witnesses & their own confession; the said Alexander found to have been formerly notoriously guilty that way, and seeking to allure others thereunto. The said John Alexander was therefore censured by the Court to be severely whipped, and burnt in the shoulder with a hot iron, and to be perpetually banished from the government of New Plymouth, and if he be at any time found within the same, to be whipped out again by the appointment of the next justice, &c, and so oft as he shall be found within this government. Which penalty was accordingly inflicted.
Thomas Roberts was censured to be severely whipped and to return to his master, Mr. Atwood, and serve out his time with him, but to be disabled hereby to enjoy any lands within this government.
That's all we know. But what it says to me, a homosexual 21st century American, is that we've been here since the first boats arrived. That makes me proud. It also says to me that even the harsh Puritan penalties against homosexual activity weren't enough to stop these men from being lovers.
I used a photograph (above) from an exhibit called Dear Friends: American Photographs of Men Together, 1840-1918 for my initial sketch. The photo is obviously from a much later time period, but I like the posture very much. In my redraw I blended the clothing of the two men into a single shape to accentuate their hands. It will change more as I render it in wood.