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Bust of T. H. Perkins

Bust of Thomas H. Perkins (1764-1854)
by Robert Ball Hughes, ca 1832
Images courtesy of the Perkins School for the Blind
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    Robert Ball Hughes executed the marble bust of Thomas H. Perkins by 1832, when it was included in the Boston Athenæum’s annual exhibition1. Perkins served as president of the Athenæum from 1830-1832. The bust resides at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA.

Portrait of Thomas Handasyd Perkins (1764-1854)
H. W. Smith engraving of original portrait by Gambardella, ca 1837


Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, or T. H. Perkins (December 15, 1764 – January 11, 1854) was a wealthy Boston merchant…
In later years Perkins became a philanthropist. In 1826, he and his brother, James Perkins, contributed half the sum of $30,000 that was needed for an addition to the Boston Athenaeum, and the old Boston Athenaeum Gallery of Art was moved to James Perkins's home. The Perkins School for the Blind, still in existence in Watertown, Massachusetts, was renamed in his honor after he donated his Boston mansion to the financially troubled "Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind" in 1832. He was also a major benefactor to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, McLean Hospital, and helped found the Massachusetts General Hospital.

From the Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography:

His most notable patronage, however, was of the celebrated Perkins School for the Blind. Impressed by the work with the blind of Samuel Gridley Howe and interested, as he wrote, in the fate of this class of the human family, he offered his Pearl Street home as the school's first residence. As the school quickly grew under Howe's able leadership and care, in 1839 Perkins sold the house and gave the proceeds to the school to enable them to purchase and adapt a hotel building in South Boston.

    Read more about T. H. Perkins
and the history of the Perkins School for the Blind at the Perkins Museum and at Perkins.org. The Perkins School for the Blind is located at 175 North Beacon Street, Watertown, MA on a 38-acre campus on the Charles River.

[1] Cushing and Dearinger, eds., Acquired Tastes: 200 Years of Collecting for the Boston Athenæum (2006), pp. 281-284 and reported by the Boston Athenæum.

last update 4/10/2013
For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2013