W.H.Tippets on S.R. Stoddard: Portraits from the Lake George Mirror,1898.
It is entirely fitting that in beginning the publication of a series of portraits of Lake Georgians, and Lake George gems of scenery that the series should commence with a portrait of Professor S.R. Stoddard of Glens Falls, a gentleman who has done a great deal to bring before the public the beauties of Lake George and the Adirondacks.
Whatever position S. R. Stoddard, the author, artist and lecturer, occupies before the public, it may be said, he has earned for himself. He was born in Saratoga county close under the morning-side of Mount MacGregor and knew in his early days the hard work of a farmer’s boy, with educational advantages such as the average country school presents, where development of mind is never allowed to seriously interfere with development of the soil. His taste for art showed itself early
And as a child he could draw a recognizable portrait before he could read or write. At seventeen he was apprenticed to a painter in the car works of Gilbert, Bush & Co. of Troy, and six months later was placed by his superiors in the position heretofore occupied by the most expensive man in the establishment. He came to Glens Falls in 1864, set up for himself as sign and ornamental painter and ended by painting landscapes and portraits. Later he gained the unsolicited title of “professor” as teacher of art in the old Glens Falls Academy. His life dream is “Art” and to be better able to secure subjects for study, he took up photography.
The Adirondacks and Lake George took on new beauties in his camera and in time his name became known across the Atlantic as well as at home. He made books of pictures out of the subjects at hand and the descriptive matter which seemed their natural accompaniment opened out a new field to his versatile nature. In 1873 came his hand-book of Lake George filled with historic events and traditions of the “Dark and Bloody Grounds” offset by pictures of the Lake George of to-day. Following quickly came “Ticonderoga” and in 1874”The Adirondacks Illustrated,” the first and the last of these books running through successive annual editions and today recognized as standard authorities on the sections indicated by their titles.In 1880 material which had taken years to gather appeared in his “Map of the Adirondacks” which has been revised and issued annually since that time. In 1880 he surveyed Lake George personally, making a map of this lake which was approved by the State engineer and surveyor and accompanied that officials report to the legislature. A companion map of Lake Champlain followed later.
The better part of a lifetime devoted to the portraying of these scenes could not but have its effect. A great part of the development of this region is due to this artist. “Adirondack Stoddard” is a familiar name wheerever the Adirondack wilderness is spoken of. Th show its beauties more satisfactorily the sterioptican was brought into requisition and the art of the miniature painter was invoked to give the photographs the color of nature. Immediate success set the seal of public approval on his venture as a public lecturer. In 1898 he gave by invitation of the New York State Forest Commission “The Adirondacks” and his illustrated poem “The Hudson from the Mountains to the Sea” before the legislature in the assembly chamber in Albany, concerning which the press of the city united in unqualified praise. Travel brought broadening knowledge of other countries and pcitured stories of the east, of the “Land of Christ,” of “Egypt and the Nile,” of the ruins of the old world were produced, forming admirable foils to a better understanding of the newer “Wonderland of the West” of a world in process of creation as shown in Yellowstone; of the unearthly grandeur of the Grand Canyon in Colorado and the marvelous beauty of the Yosemite; the Alaskan “Land of Ice” and the “Sunny South,” all faithfully portrayed in his later lectures. In 1884 the New York Mail and Express said:
“Close upon the heels of Murray came S.R. Stoddard, with his camera, his note book and his brush, all of which he has used continuously for twenty-three years to make the fame of the Adirondack Wilderness known to the outside world. Stoddard has done even more than Murray to publish the results of his discoveries, for in guide books, on his maps, in his marvelous photographs, on the lecture platform, on the screen, in poetry and in song, he has for nearly a quarter of a century preached the Adirondacks, and them glorified.”
He has devoted the best years of his life, fully half the alloted years of man, to Lake George and the Adirondacks, but no section has inspired higher enthusiasm in him than his first love. Of it he writes:
“Lake George! How the heart bounds and the pulse quickens at sound of the words that bring with them thoughts of the “Holy Lake.” In fancy we breathe the air, haevy with the odor of pines and cedar, or fragrant with the breath of the blossoming clover. Again we wander among the daisies and buttercups that gem the hill-side sloping so gently down to where the wavelets kiss the white beach, or, floating among the verdant islands, watch the sunlight and shadows chase each other over the mountain side, while crag and fleecy cloud is mirrored in the water below. A memory of the past comes to me as I write; of good old days now past and gone; when lumbering coaches toiled heavily along where now go swiftly glancing trains, of tally-ho, now crowded out by monsters breathing fire and smoke; of sounding plank in place of shining lines of steel.”
Last summer, following his plan of gathering material from all parts of the world, he made a voyage to the North British and Faroe Islands and Norway, “The Land of the Midnight Sun,” thence to Russia, and returned through Germany and Holland. The results will be given in a series of lectures and in an additional book similar to his :Cruise of the Friesland,” which appeared in 1896, giving an account of his tour through Egypt, Palestine and other Mediterranean lands.
He is a tireless worker and the end is not yet…………..?