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TIME Magazine, Monday, Nov. 23, 1936
On Sept. 19, 1803 an impetuous, unpractical, pock-marked young Irishman stood in a Dublin courtroom charged with high treason. His name was Robert Emmet and his crime was planning, with French help, an abortive Irish rebellion. Those were the days when orators were orators, and Robert Emmet's speech, "taken from the notes of a celebrated Stenographist," has been the favorite forensic floral piece of Irish-American ward politicians and barroom declaimers for 100 years.*
The British hanged Robert Emmet, and his brother Thomas emigrated to the U. S. with his wife and daughter Elizabeth, who had a pretty talent in drawing. A fellow passenger on the packet was a portrait painter and steamboat designer named Robert Fulton, who set about improving Elizabeth Emmet's gift. Within eight years Thomas Emmet was Attorney General of the State of New York and Elizabeth Emmet was beginning her career as a portrait painter.
For over a century the males of the Emmet line have been important legal and political figures in the Atlantic states. The females have inherited the Emmet artistic talent. Last week Manhattan's Arden Galleries held a family show of five generations of the Emmet women's paintings. The 130 exhibits by 14 artists begin with nine portraits by Immigrant Elizabeth Emmet (1794-1878), and end with nine sculptures by Great-Great-Grandniece Julia Townsend, aged 22, and with two by Beulah Emmet, aged 18.
A talent stretched over 100 years seldom produces a genius. Nevertheless two living Emmets of the third generation have considerable reputations among society portraitists: Lydia Field Emmet, Ellen Emmet Rand. Of greatest interest to gallery goers was Lydia Field Emmet's boyhood portrait of her nephew, the best-known contemporary of the clan, lanky playwright Robert Emmet Sherwood (Reunion in Vienna, The Petrified Forest, Idiot's Delight).
*Excerpt:-"My Lords you are impatient for the sacrifice! The blood which you seek is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim, it circulates warmly and unruffled through the channels which God created for noble purposes but which you are about to destroy. ... I am going to my cold and silent grave--my lamp of life is nearly extinguished--my race is run, the grave opens to receive and I sink into its bosom. ... Let no man write my epitaph for as no man knows my motives dare now vindicate them. Let them and me repose in obscurity and peace and my tomb remain uninscribed until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then and not till then let my epitaph be written. I have done!"