Fine art, Prints, drawings and watercolours, Sketchbooks and albums, Admiral Sir Edward Gennys Fanshawe (1814–1906)

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Mr Rust, editor & renovator of the "Pacific Star", and his brother, Dr Rust, outside a saloon in Sacramento City [California], September 1851

PAI4666
Fine art

Object details:

Object ID PAI4666
Description No. 59 in Fanshawe's Pacific album, 1849 - 52. Captioned by the artist on the album page below the image: 'Mr Rust, editor & renovator of the "Pacific Star", and his brother, Dr Rust, from the diggings, also two citizens reading the newspaper, &c. Sacramento City, Septr 16th - 19th, 1851.' There is little information in Fanshawe's 1904 biography to explain this intriguing street scene and the two portraits. While at San Francisco, Fanshawe determined to go and see the California gold diggings at Grass Valley to which people had been flocking since the discovery of gold there in 1849. He and his companion, Blanchard (see PAI4667), arrived in Sacramento by steamer from San Francisco on 16 September but could not get a place on the stage to Grass Valley until the next day. Having dropped their bags at the Orleans Hotel they delivered letters of introduction to Colonel Grant, 'agent of the "California True Delta"' : this was a fairly short-lived local newspaper, related to one in New Orleans, that circulated in California and the Pacific from 1850. Grant became their guide for the day 'and being one of the oracles of the city and extremely good-natured, we found him a very good cicerone. The town is about half a mile square, but the streets may be prolonged over the level country to any extent that may be required. It is built, like all towns here, principally of wood, and has plenty of well-filled shops which give it a business-like appearance; there are also three of four stage coaches...in the course of the day and several steamers. There is an embankment about eight miles long which has been thrown up to protect the "city" from the overflowing of the river, the site having been laid under water the winter before last, when as yet the few inhabitants lived chiefly in tents' (p. 281: such flooding of the river plain remains a periodic risk even today). Grant presumably introduced them to the pair shown here. The top-hatted editor of the 'Pacific Star' - still the name of a Sacramento-based newspaper company - may be a Mr R. Rust of R. Rust & Co, who is mentioned in E.C. Kemble's 'History of California Newspapers' (Sacramento 1858; new ed. 1962). It appears to have been a newspaper family of which Edwin C. Rust was later another member. Fanshawe noted the degree to which men went armed with revolvers in California and Dr Rust, in outdoor working clothes and riding boots, wears one in his belt. He was presumably a medical doctor rather than a clergyman, though Fanshawe did carry an introductory letter to an an unnamed 'Rev Dr. ---' ( p. 285) at Grass Valley who was researching a work on the mines there. There is a 'well-filled' shop on the left with a frame house going up on a lot beyond, and a saloon on the right. This has a tiled or painted bar wall decoration of vines and a partly visible external sign perhaps reading 'CA[LIFORNIA...]: a theatre advertising bill is pinned to the doorpost. Men sit with their feet up inside reading the papers, with others at the bar. Outside, scraps of clothing, discarded shoes and playing cards - and at least two dead rats - have been swept out into the road and suggest the place is rather less salubrious than it may at first seem.
Date made 16 September 1851

Artist/Maker Fanshawe, Edward Gennys
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials watercolour
Measurements Sheet: 111 x 178 mm
Parts
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