This book reconstructs the career of Hammatt Billings, one of the most prolific and versatile artists of the nineteenth century. Skilled in a wide range of media, Billings designed furniture, statuary, monuments, architecture, and public and private gardens. He was a painter in both oils and watercolors, a portraitist, and an illustrator whose drawings appeared in the original American editions of Uncle Tom's Cabin and Little Women.
Although Billings worked for many private patrons, he was also very much a public artist, giving visible form to the popular celebrations of his era. He designed fireworks displays for the Boston Common, decorated buildings in times of public celebration and mourning, laid out plans for a variety of fairs and festivals, and created floats for parades.
Extensively illustrated and meticulously researched, this book recovers the work of an enormously talented man and makes it clear that no discussion of nineteenth-century Boston or American culture can be complete without a consideration of Billings's contributions.