Recalled to America
“I was invited to return to America to paint the walls of the library in Franklin, Massachusetts,
a small town a half hour from Boston, where there is an Academy of Science and Letters . . .”
Taking up residence in Turin and Florence after his 1891 departure from the United States, Juglaris remarried. Although Boston newspapers reported rumors that Juglaris’s new wife was an Italian countess, she was actually the widow of an old friend who had served as personal physician to the Italian liberator Giuseppe Garibaldi. However, due to his wife’s poor physical and emotional health, Juglaris’s happiness with Marzia Copello Camposoprano proved short-lived. Only six years after their marriage, he was widowed for a second time. He chose never to marry again.
In Turin and Florence Juglaris continued to pursue his vocation as an artist, regularly exhibiting works that emerged from his easel. Meanwhile, a number of his faithful American students and friends remained in constant correspondence with him. One of them, Henry Hammond Gallison, a jurist as well as a painter, solicited Juglaris’s talents for the embellishment of a new building for America’s oldest public library in Franklin, Massachusetts, outside Boston.
Gallison was a trusted friend to the wealthy daughters and heirs of a local mill owner. They sought a suitable memorial to honor their late father and mother, Joseph and Emily Ray, while benefitting their hometown. The capable Gallison offered to supervise the entire project on their behalf. Among other things, he saw it as an opportunity to collaborate with Juglaris.
The new library was designed and constructed in the style of an ancient Greek temple. As part of its interior decorations, Gallison planned to execute several massive landscape paintings. He commissioned Juglaris to create a vast reading room mural and, later, a series of five friezes for an adjoining memorial hall that also served as the library’s grand entrance.
Recalled to America in this way from 1902 to 1904, Juglaris welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate at Franklin the talent as a muralist that he did not have a chance to display in the heart of Boston, where ten years before other artists were recruited to decorate a new public library. Reflecting a very competitive spirit, he confided in his memoir: “[At] the Boston library there were decorations by Puvis de Chavannes, by Sargent, by Chase [sic] and others, but... I must do better, especially more pleasing decorations.”
As his work on the murals got underway, Juglaris divided his time between Franklin and studios in Providence, Rhode Island, and Annisquam, Massachusetts. The latter was an artist’s colony on Massachusetts Bay where Gallison kept a summer place. In Annisquam Juglaris stayed at a local resort hotel and wrote letters to a friend, the Italian archaeologist and literary figure Edoardo Calandra. Preserved in the archives of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the letters marvel at the progress the United States had made in the decade of his absence. Juglaris forecast a brilliant future for the young nation:
“Imagine, when I left Boston eleven years ago, it had five hundred thousand inhabitants. It now has more than a million. Elevated and underground railroads, immense stations, splendid streets and roads with huge palaces, ugly but amazing [apartment] buildings twenty or twenty-five stories high, steam and electric elevators, omnibuses, streetcars, vehicles of every kind. A frenetic, exciting coming and going. In short, it is a country that will dominate the universe and educate the world. [It is] impossible to describe the progress of this great people.”
It took three years for Juglaris to finish his mural and friezes, respectively entitled Grecian Festival and The Hours. Combined, they constituted the largest mural project to be found in the United States.
As both the works reached completion and word of their magnitude spread, public interest was piqued, generating extensive newspaper coverage. One newspaper predicted that Juglaris’s murals would make the Franklin Public Library a “Mecca for art lovers.” Although the excitement faded after the dedication of the library, Juglaris’s work continued to be greatly admired by those who found their way to Franklin. One of those admirers was former U.S. President and Supreme Court Chief Justice William Howard Taft who toured the library after delivering a commencement address at Dean Academy (now Dean Collage) across the street. More than a century later, Juglaris’s mural and friezes at the Franklin Public Library survive intact, a testimony to his talent and creative vision.
Henry Hammond Gallison: The Measure of a Man
In his memoir, Tommaso Juglaris bluntly describes Henry Hammond Gallison as “a small man, ugly and thin: he looked like an umbrella with a hat.” Yet Juglaris’s remarks were not necessarily intended to be unkind or disparaging. In fact, he had a keen appreciation for Gallison’s many commendable qualities, which included gentlemanly manners and apparent reliability and trustworthiness as a friend and confidant. Moreover, Gallison’s own wife, the German-born Marie Reuter, had not dissimilar observations to make about the physique of the man whom she first met in Paris through mutual friends while professionally training as a singer. In a typescript memoir entitled My Life on Two Continents, preserved in the Schlesinger Library archives at Harvard University, Marie Gallison writes: “During the summer many Americans came to Paris; among them there was an actor’s family, a Mrs. Aldrich, her 12 year old boy and her daughter, who was engaged to be married to [Abbott Graves,] an American painter of flowers. One day Mrs. Aldrich asked me to meet a friend of her future son-in-law. He was a small man with a remarkable head, large blue eyes, a high, broad brow, and thick blond[e] hair, made the impression of a spiritual mind, but looked dreadfully shabby, had a homely large nose which was constantly twitching and made him look like a caricature. When he was gone I said to Mrs. Aldrich: ‘Why did you introduce me to that funny little dwarf?’”
His small stature and awkward looks notwithstanding, Gallison was said to be “[a] very rich and a very learned man.” A year after first meeting Gallison Marie Reuter married him, impressed by his sincerity and earnestness. A graduate of Harvard College, Gallison was definitely “learned.” Before pursuing art studies with Juglaris in hopes of making painting his full-time vocation, Gallison had successfully trained and worked as both a medical doctor and attorney. Unfortunately, the loss of a family fortune shortly after his marriage to Marie meant that Gallison had to continue practicing medicine and law for the sake of livelihood. Helping support the household which they maintained together in rented rooms on Brattle Street in Cambridge, directly across from the historic Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House, Marie found ready employment as a vocal soloist and as a music instructor at both Dean Academy in Franklin and Radcliffe College. She was the first conductor of the Radcliffe Choral Society at Harvard University.
Juglaris’s memoir notes that Gallison served as a judge in Franklin, Massachusetts, where he had family roots. In his wife’s words, Henry Hammond Gallison was also “a great favorite among the population of Franklin,” Massachusetts. Gallison was able to parlay local popularity and community respect for his accomplishments into a rich vein of patronage from the Ray sisters who accepted his proposal for the construction of a library that would honor their deceased parents. Clearly, without Gallison’s vision, shepherding, and ability to effectively cultivate financial support, the lavish Franklin Library project would never have emerged. Thus, Juglaris was profoundly indebted to Gallison for the invitation to forge an enduring legacy through his murals and friezes for the Franklin Public Library.