Jervis McEntee Diaries

Sunday December 15, 1872

Jervis McEntee Diary Entry, December 15, 1872, from the Jervis McEntee papers, 1850-1905, in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Sunday, Dec. 15, 1872- Whittredge came yesterday bringing a Scotch gentleman and his sister and a lady friend. They seemed much interested in my pictures and other things in the room. While they were here Russell the carman called me to the door to inform me that Kensett was dead! Kensett whom we had all supposed was almost well again. Joe Tompkins came in shortly after having just arrived from New Brunswick. Gussie and Sara came over to dinner and immediately after dinner I went up to Kensett's where I found the two Mr. Olyphants and David Johnson. Johnson told me about 1 o'clock he had been in to see Kensett and he was in his usual health and spirits. Talked about getting a new carpet for his room like Johnson's and wanted him to send him in a piece of it and spoke of his avidity to go to painting. He (Johnson) left to go to his lunch and came back in half an hour to find him sitting on his sofa dead. His physicians say that he died of appoplexy and that his death was sudden and painless. But to think of Kensett loved of so many dying alone. While I was there two gentlemen came in and after a short conversation with Mr. Olyphant they went into the next room to see the body. When they came out Mr. Olyphant told me that the elder was Kensett's brother who lives in Baltimore. Sadly enough he had been in the city for two days, but very busy, and knowing his brother was almost well he had set apart today to go and visit him. The first intimation he had of this event was the return of the telegram sent to him at Baltimore. I went in to see all that was left of the genial Kensett, the body without the soul saddest spectacle in life. He lay on the sofa where he died but it had been removed to the little room adjoining his sitting room. I was entirely overcome by the sight in such sad contrast with his appearance the last time I saw him. Finding I could be of no service there I went around to the Century to attend the meeting of the nominating committee of which I am a member. The news of Kensett's death soon became known and caused a profound feeling of sorrow. One of our sad duties was to put a new name in place of Kensett's as trustee of the club. A paper was handed round calling on the club to take some special action in relation to his death. As I begin to realize this death I am more and more saddened and impressed with the sorrows and trials of life and with the uncertain tenure of our stay here. Kensett was one of those men with whom the idea of passing away was never associated. No artist could have been more widely missed and none could have been more universally regretted.

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