Franklin Stanwood was born in the Portland Alms House and shortly thereafter was adopted by Captain Gideon Stanwood. He was self-taught and developed a very linear style, which accorded well with the ship portraits for which he is best known. He also painted “house portraits” and landscapes. He was a sailor by profession and perhaps went to England at some time for it is believed that he met Charles Dickens, whom he admired, either there or in this country at the time of the Dicken’s 1867 visit.
In the middle of the 19th century, Portland was an important commercial and cultural center, boasting such artists and writers as Charles Codman, Charles Octavius Cole, Harrison Bird Brown, John Rollin Tilton, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Nathaniel Willis.
Stanwood died at the early age of 36 of consumption.
|1852||Born March 16 to Margaret Barclay of Calais, Maine, at the Portland Maine Alms House. Adopted March 17 by Gideon L. and Elizabeth H. Stanwood of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. “Little Frankie”, said to have spent his early years aboard his parent’s vessel.|
|1860/61||Entered Portland School system.|
|1863||Capt. Gideon retired and settled in Gorham, Maine. Franklin enrolled in Gorham Academy becoming fascinated with Shakespeare, Dickens and Poe.|
|c. 1870||Began career as a mariner.|
|1873||Sketching on a voyage to Peru.|
|1876||Painting of a house in Deering, Maine completed at Buenos Ayres, Argentina. Left sea to become marine and landscape painter living in Gorham with a studio at 167 Fore Street, Portland. Wrote poetry for local press. Stanwood’s health poor with beginnings of consumption. In Maine Business Directory, “Maine Artist at 191 Middle Street.” Studio at 191 Middle Street, Portland. Living at 188 Spring Street, Portland. Founding of the Portland Society (now Portland Museum of Art and Maine College of Art) after sketching tour of White Mountains with Harrison B. Brown and businessman-artist James P. Baxter. Stanwood was an early member.|
|1882||Stanwood exhibited at Horace G. Hewes Art Studio, Portland.|
|1885||Death of Capt. Gideon, January 17. Artist working at his mother’s house, State Street, Gorham.|
|1888||Death of artist, June 20 in Gorham. Buried in Western Cemetery, Portland. Gravestone marked “Marine Artist”. Same year had two poems published in The Poets of Maine, complied by George Bancroft Griffith (Portland: Elwell, Picard & Co.).|
The Magazine Antiques, October 1981, p. 926.