7.0 th…Post: …Earles’ Galleries
Posted on: August 23rd, 2011 by dan 1,528 Comments

Earles’ Galleries was the gallery that  framed The Last Supper for Thomas Eakins.

James S. Earle & Sons traded under the name of Earles’ Galleries.  Their gallery was located at 816 Chestnut Street, in Philadelphia, PA. Thomas Eakins was well known at the gallery.  He taught nearby at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, located on N. Broad Street in Philadelphia.  The Academy was only several blocks from the gallery.  Thomas Eakins lived only about 15 or 20 minute walk from either location.  Earles’ Galleries is the location where Eakins held his only solo exhibition in the year 1896.  The exhibition displayed 29 of Eakins paintings.  It was a total disaster, NO painting was sold.  Eakins never again held a solo exhibit.

Earles’ Galleries, 816 Chestnut Street, Phila., PA  USA

As it would have looked during the time of Thomas Eakins, (1898).

Rendering by The Copyist © 2012                     [#1]

Purveyors of Looking-Glasses and Manufactures of Picture Frames.

Although, I think that Eakins liked the Gallery.  He was known.  He had a penchant for frames made of Chestnut wood with some ornate plaster on-lay and they accommodated him.  Now that I have mentioned the type frames Eakins liked, I think at some point in time (back burner business) I will have my frame tested and see if the wood is the type he preferred. The frame that held Eakins, The Last Supper painting, was made of wood with ornate plaster on-lay.  If it proves to be his frame type, it will just a further bit of confirmation, a small bit but still a bit.

Nameplate from The Last Supper identifies framer as Earles' Galleries

Nameplate from The Last Supper identifies framer as Earles’ Galleries      [#4]

I am displaying a picture # 4  of  a name plate that the Earles’ Galleries would have placed on the back of pictures after their framing.  It didn’t normally go on paintings.  However, this painting, The Last Supper, was framed like a picture and was behind glass with the back sealed.  Therefore it got a name plate. And # 4 is a picture of this name plate. The same type framing can be found today in picture framing  shops.  This name plate itself is a tie to Thomas Eakins.

Remains of the dust cover.         [#3]

I also show picture # 3 which shows the position of the nameplate on the remains of the dust cover.  I know that it is difficult to read/see but is is there.  All subject to careless handling   by some previous owner. I  have blocked out the lower right hand area due to an inscription located there which will be the subject of very, very important  post.

♦ ♦ ♦

Early on I went to 816 Chestnut Street just to see what was there now.   It is a dollar store.  It didn’t look anything like I expected.  I looked it over.  Supplies had to come through the front door.  Trash would have had to go out the front door.  I wondered about the store.  It was long and narrow.  There might have been some old boxes still in the basement.  I envisioned finding some old receipts from Earles’.  I went in, and the employees all appeared to be Asian.  My first problem was the language problem. They were all very busy.  In between customers I tried to talk to the cashier.  Her English was not so good. What could I do? I did not speak any Chinese.  I was looking for a shortcut and maybe ending my search early if I found something.  I had no idea it would be so involved. I offered her $100 if she would allow me to look in the basement.  Still hoping for a discovery of sorts, I planned on offering more money if I found anything.  What I saw was her taking a deep breath and when she let it out, her point was clear, she emphatically stated, “NOOOOO, NO LIGHT, U FALL, HURT, SUE, NOOOOO”.

I guess in this case ‘No did mean No’.

Aug. 29, 2011:

At this point in time, there are new owners and a new type of store. Today, Monday, I started my day by stopping into this new store.  It is now in tune with the neighborhood.  The name of the store is GOT THE LOOK, it is an upscale women’s boutique.  A very nice store, it has the right look. I went in and talked to the manager, a young women named DOT………    She was very business like.  Haven given her my card and explaining what I was doing and that I would like to just view the basement.  I’m only hopping to find some old receipts from Earles’  Galleries.  It all happened over 100 years ago but in researching we have to turn every stone, if possible.  She listened attentively and advised me that she would certainly pass the information along to her supervisors.  I plan to follow up.

Earles’ Galleries  went out of business during the depression years.  The building that was once four  stories high is now just two stories high.  It is an upscale ladies boutique as seen below.

photo   by …….dan         [#2]

816 Chestnut St., Phila., PA  (as it is today)

Hopefully we will have an update to this posting.

Nov. 6, 2011 : UPDATE

Again I visited the  GOT THE LOOK store and spoke to the manager DOT…….    While I was there she called her supervisor and rehashed everything.  I was given the approval from him as long as the property owners approve.  Hopefully we will have an update to his update.    Stay with us I think we are getting close.

Feb. 21, 2012: UPDATE

Today,  Mary…..the general manager  permitted me to inspect the basement of 816 Chestnut St.   I was there within the hour.  Two flashlights in hand.  The store personnel had one young fellow assist me.   He followed behind in case I was in need of help.  Now you must envision, the stairway to the basement was located midway through the center of the store.  The store was about a city  block long.

It was as I had expected, no lighting, dark, dusty and cavernous.  As I slowly walked through toward the front of the store my lights scanned all corners, flooring and ceiling  joists.   It seemed that the other stores on the street adjoining 816 had small interconnecting passages.  I glanced thru all openings.   There seemed to be  items left from every previous tenant.  But not my period.  Although, there was a dust covered foot stool with the large name embossed Bulletin on it.  Haven been a newspaper Bulletin boy in my youth I recognized the font type.  Some Flashback.

I backtracked and went into the back part of the basement.   This area was much wider than the upper floor.  It must be partly under one of the other buildings.  It was full of previous tenants leftovers.   One in particular was the old Horn Hardart dishes and spoons etc.  Boxes and boxes of their leftovers.   I remembered my earlier research,  discovering that an old Horn Hardart Automat had once been located at 818-20 Chestnut  Street.   There were some old pictures and paintings lying around.   I checked the backs  looking for Earls Galleries decals or stamping but no luck.  Not my period.

As I exited the basement I was a little disoriented  an continued walking up an additional flight of stairs.  I was now, unexpectedly,  on the second floor.  I looked around finding both men and ladies rest room facilities, having multiple units that looked to be still in good shape.  That was it.  However,  as I looked around I couldn’t see the front portion nor the back portion to the second floor  of the store that was just below me.  There were solid walls dividing these two sections.   There were not any doors nor access to these areas.  I banged the walls, they were solid.  The store personnel had no idea what might be behind the walls.  Although my search was for material that I believed would have been stored in the basement, if at  all.  Yet there could still be other items from Earls Galleries, or other previous  renters  still there, behind those solid  walls.  But my research of Earls Galleries has ended for now.  I must move on…. thanking  both Mary…and Dot…for their assistance…dan

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  To avoid any possible copyright conflict we have been advised  by our legal department to forgo any content feeders  and make no direct link to social medias nor other web sites.  Our painting The Last Supper by Thomas Eakins might be the most important American painting of the 19th century. It is an AMERICAN  ICON.   All the material on this site is original and copyrighted  and we must take all possible precaution in protecting those rights.    Permission to make use of any part  of this website, The Last Supper.info, must first be approved and approval must be in writing  from our Legal Department.   © 2011-2012: DanBreslin

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