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The inscription is as follows:
- COLUMBUS. The gift of Maria Farmer to the Senate of Mew York, 1784.
A curious and interesting history attaches to this painting. The official record found on the Journals of the Senate of 1784, shows how it came in possession of the State.
The Journal of that year states—
A letter from Mrs. Maria Farmer, directed to his Honor the President, offering to the acceptance of the Senate an ancient portiait of the celebrated discoverer of America, Christopher Columbus, taken from an original painting 1592, and which had been in her family upwards of 150 years:
Resolved, That the Senate do accept, with grateful aeknowledgments, the antient and valuable portrait offered by Mrs. Maria Far
When the Capitol was removed from New York in 1797, this picture was left behind, and seems to have been forgotten, in the transfer of the seat of government; and it continued neglected, or abstracted, for many years.
In March 1827, the following entry appears on the Journal: March 26, 1847.
On motion of Hon. John L. Weile,
Resolved, That the Clerk of the Senate cause the portrait of Christopher Columbus, presented to the Senate by Mrs. Maria Farmer, in 1784, to be removed from the city of N. Y., and put up in some suitable place in the Senate Chamber.
Mr. John F. Bacon, then the Clerk of the Senate, in compliance with the orders of this resolution, visited New York, and after considerable search, and through the assistance of the venerable Mr. Skaats, the keeper of the City Hall, found it in the garret of that building. He proved the property of the State in it, and brought it to Albany, when it was placed in the Senate Chamber, which then occupied the present area of the Cloak and Document Room of the
Assembly. When the Senate Chamber was changed, the picture was hung over the fire-place, where it was rapidly going to ruin, when by the resolution of the honorable Senator from the 31st, it was rescued.
Maria Farmer, who gave this portrait to the Senate, was the direct descendant of Jacob Leisler. It appears evident that her family derived this picture from him, as her statement of its having been in the family over an hundred and fifty years, shows.
Leisler is described by Hoffman as the first and only political martyr that ever stained the soil of New-York with his blood. He was the Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony. When a family of Huguenots were about to be sold into redemption slavery for the price of their passage, he interposed and rescued them, and thus gave to New-York its Huguenot population, which has given to our history many names of worth. To this Leisler, the city of New-York owes its Battery; but the State of New-York, in the value of the example he gave, owes him much more.
He headed the popular party during the struggles in the Colony concerning the House of Orange, and for so doing, as was then consistent with the spirit of the times—being a lover of freedom, and believing in popular rights—he was denounced as a rebel, and died on the scaffold 5–his example being one of the early seeds which, long maturing, yet in after days bore full fruit.
Leisler was a merchant also, and visited Europe, travelling all over its countries. He was a prisoner and met with various adventures. While abroad, he probably procured this portrait, as identified with the New World, where his fortunes were cast. By a singular incident, it has come to be a remembrance of him, which will probably always be associated with his name. The picture does not purport to be an original; no such has ever been in existence. This accounts for the date, which is after the life of the great discoverer had closed.
The date of 1592 appears in the picture. This was the time when the portrait was made. It has the age of 23 marked on it. History shows that it was just at that age when Columbus made his first sea voyage—a young adventurer. In the back ground of the picture is portrayed the departure of a small vessel. The scene on shore is the grouping of a small seaport town.
The son of Columbus says there was no portrait ever taken of his father, but in describing what he was like, his description is almost identical with the features portrayed in this painting. Even at Genoa, the bust that is there, is made up from the description given by different authors.
The proofs of genuineness, and the facts of a curious and eventful history, cluster around this portrait, with a most interesting and valuable accuracy. Its lineage is far better supported than that of most pictures, presenting like claims, and every research made in respect to it has only confirmed its authenticity.
It seems most fitting that this portrait should at last, cared for and restored, be the ornament of the Senate Chamber of the State, where they first came who brought to the New World the industry, and enterprise, and virtues that belonged to the temperate regions of Europe. Nor is it less so, since, wherever there is a knowledge of correct history, one of our own native citizens has so intertwined his fame with that of the Great Discoverer, that there will henceforth be an enduring association between the names of Columbus and Irving.
IND E X
JOURNAL OF THE SENATE.
Alfred, bill relating to and authorizing a loan, 161, 168, 187, 201
Free, in New-York Female, petition, &c., of Sacred Heart, re-
Basin, concerning double wharfage at, res, ................. 55
City Savings Bank, papers relating to, .................. 56,61
Board of Supervisors, resolution of, concerning lands returned
petition from, and inhabitants, on Free School
Assembly, committee from to announce organization, ......... 6
Assessments, abuses of it in N. York, report upon, in 1849, ... 262
Association, for building &c., (see Building,) ............... 260
Astoria, bill relating to village of. 34, 37, 71, 88, 92, 93,379,390