Title: Landscape painter, graphic illustrator
Birthdate: October 16, 1830
Death Date: April 18, 1895
Plot Location: Section 8, Lot 31, east half, 4th from south line

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People with great talent are often the subject of a “nature versus nurture” debate. Were they born with a certain gift which simply “blossomed” or did they show an early aptitude which was then developed with practice and passion and hard work? Granville Perkins demonstrated an artistic talent at an early age, which he then nurtured the rest of his life.

He was born and raised in Baltimore where one source says his parents were amateur painters. That means he was certainly exposed to it as a hobby. As a teenager he painted scenic backdrops used in theatrical productions. That led to going on a tour with other artists to Central America and the Caribbean from 1851-1856.

This painting of a fortress in Cuba was made when he was only 25. Maritime scenes and tropical views were his favorite subjects. Having both the talent and the passion to pursue it, he came to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Since he loved landscapes, the world was his canvas so he traveled everywhere to capture images of it. 

Before the decade was out he was married, living in Jersey City, New Jersey, and working in New York. To pay the bills he drew for a weekly news magazine, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. 

Photography was still in its infancy when the Civil War created a demand for news coverage. Illustrators were in demand, and Granville jumped to the competitor, Harper’s Weekly, which also hired renowned artists like Winslow Homer and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. This is one of his full-page illustrations published in Harper’s.  A trip to Key West and back to Cuba after the war inspired many of his paintings.

City directories show the Perkins family remained in Jersey City until at least 1880. Two girls were born in the 1860s but their only son, Granville Jr., lived just four months in 1870. As an empty nester (and possibly a widower and remarried) he moved to 58 West 57th St. to be close to his work on Fifth Avenue.

His illustrations ranged from the sweeping to the simple, like this barnyard scene. Some scenes were South American landscapes after he traveled there and north to Nicaragua and the California coast. They were also featured in a variety of books, including those by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

From 1862-1883 his paintings were frequently exhibited at the National Academy of Design on Park Avenue. As an accomplished water colorist, Granville became a member of the New York Watercolor Society. He exhibited his watercolors at the Chicago Art Institute in 1889 and 1894.

His works have frequently been offered at auction. A record price of $12,500 was paid in 2020 for this piece, Ships at Midday.

The brushes dried for a final time in April of 1895. He suffered a brain hemorrhage on April 18, and the funeral was at his daughter’s house in Manhattan. Burial was scheduled to be in the plot beside his son at American Mechanics Cemetery in Philadelphia. For reasons unknown there was a change of plans, and he was interred here on April 27. A gravestone for this artist would be interesting to find whenever Section 8 is cleared of overgrowth in the future.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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