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Portrait of Gideon Burbank (1803 - 1873)

1863
46 x 35 in. (116.8 x 88.9 cm)

William Cogswell
American (Sandusky, NY, 1819 - 1903, Pasadena, CA)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Conrad Cobb
Accession Number: 1973.69.2
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

Gideon Webster Burbank, Sr., 1863
Born May 24, 1803 - died March 4, 1873 (Rochester, NY)

The artist, William Cogswell, was born in upstate New York and taught himself portrait painting in the 1830s. He worked as a professional artist in New York City and exhibited at the National Academy and the American Art-Union. His best-known work is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the White House Collection. His portraits also include Presidents Grant and McKinley.
The portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Burbank were conserved by a Henry Luce Foundation Conservation Grant.

Gallery label, Feb. 2011, Colleen Piccone

The portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Burbank provide an unparalleled way of standing ‘face to face’ with early generations of Americans – those people who lived before Kodak gave us the snapshot.
Gideon Webster Burbank was educated in New York City and established a dry goods business in Kendall, NY in 1824. The following year he married Mary Goodrich and she bore eleven children. In 1839, after the Erie Canal was completed, Mr. Burbank started a career in Rochester as a manufacturer of flour at the Frankfort Mills. His mill sent barrels of flour to London as Rochester’s exhibit in the first World’s Fair in 1851. In the late 1850s, he designed and operated the steamer “Fulton” which made trips between Rochester and Buffalo on the Erie Canal. In 1869, he became a partner in the firm of Richardson, Burbank & Company, owners of the New York Flour Mills. He also served as president and director of several banks, and as a trustee of the First Baptist church.
Mr. Burbank was one of the earliest and most generous supporters of the University of Rochester and served on its Board of Trustees for nineteen years. In 1854, when the University was just four years old, he established the “Gideon Webster Burbank Professorship of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy.” His gift of $20,000 was, until that point, the largest single donation and helped inspire confidence in the long-term success of the University. He later suffered great financial loss, but remained proud of his connection to the University, saying “That I have saved.”
The Burbank family plot is located in Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Text Panel, Feb. 2011, Colleen Piccone

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The Power of a Name Describes Trustee & flour-milling magnate Gideon W. Burbank's gift of the first endowed professorship to the University of Rochester in 1855.


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