Christopher Pearse Cranch, 1813 - 1892

Christopher Pearse Cranch was a Unitarian minister, poet, author, artist, and member of the Transcendental Club.  He graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1835 and for a short time afterward served as assistant pastor to Frederic Henry Hedge.  He then moved to the Ohio Valley and from 1837 to 1839 edited the Western Messenger, one of the first Transcendentalist magazines, with James Freeman Clarke.  This magazine defended Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amos Bronson Alcott, Orestes Brownson, and liberal Unitarianism in general against the attacks of the religiously orthodox.  At this time Cranch drew a number of inspired and amusing caricatures of Emerson, based upon passages in Emerson's works, that became famous and today are highly prized.  Cranch published early poetry in the Dial and the Harbinger; he published some later poetry in his collection The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875).  He was also a landscape painter of some acclaim.  After studying the masters in Europe, he returned to the United States and came to paint in the style of the Hudson River School.  Although his paintings have been criticized by some as indefinite, they have also been praised for serenity and a true relation to nature.