Connecticut National Bank of Bridgeport
Connecticut National Bank of Bridgeport
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Connecticut National Bank of Bridgeport
December 28, 1899
National Bank Note Company
11 1/2" (w) by 7" (h)
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The Bridgeport Bank was founded by a small group of prominent Connecticut men on November 20, 1806. The citizens of the young borough of Bridgeport recognized that in order to facilitate their growing trade with the West Indies and Europe, they needed the stability of currency and financial assistance that could only be provided by a local bank. On February 3, 1807, the Board of Directors selected Isaac Bronson to fill the office of bank president. This wealthy and influential citizen lent his reputation to the bank and insured its survival when the British blockade all but suspended trade along the Atlantic seaboard during the War of 1812.
Bridgeport Bank helped guide the borough, which became a city in 1836, from its early days as a center of trade through its emergence as a manufacturing center in the ante-bellum years. This period of the bank's history was marked by several financial panics resulting from over speculation. Yet when as a result of these recessions numerous Connecticut banks were forced to liquidate, the prudence and experience possessed by presidents such as Sylvanious Sterling (1837-48) and Sherman Hartwell (1849-69) insured the Bridgeport Bank joined the recently created National Banking System and became the Bridgeport National Bank.
A dramatic rise in manufacturing occurred in the Bridgeport area after the Civil War. During the twenty years between 1886-1906, the bank's deposits mushroomed from $60,000 to just over $1,000,000. This remarkable success fueled a series of mergers between the Bridgeport National Bank and its local rivals. In 1909, the bank merged with the First National Bank to become the First Bridgeport National Bank. Twelve years later after a merger with the Connecticut National Bank, the bank changed its name to the First National Bank of Bridgeport. Afterwards the bank developed trust and personal savings account services and in 1929 changed its name to the First National Bank and Trust Company of Bridgeport.
In 1933, the First National Bank and Trust Company of Bridgeport opened a branch office in Newfield after its merger with the Newfield Bank and Trust Company. No other Connecticut bank had opened a branch office since 1865, but soon most banks were following the First National Bank's initiative. More and more bank patrons were moving from city centers to reside in their surrounding suburbs. Banks could no longer rely solely on one downtown office to conduct business.
The First National Bank and Trust Company changed its name to the Connecticut National Bank in 1955 shortly after its merger with the Westport First National Bank. In that year, the Connecticut National Bank could boast deposits of over $100 million. Shortly before its controversial merger with the Hartford National Corporation, the Connecticut National Bank was worth over $700 million, making it one of the largest banking operations in the state.
After its merger with the HNC in 1982, the name of the Connecticut National Bank replaced that of the Hartford National Bank and Trust Company in every one of the 115 branches owned by the HNC. This situation changed when the HNC was purchased by the Boston-based Shawmut National Corporation in 1988.
The main vignette of this piece is from the painting Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur.
Bonheur painted the Horse Fair from a series of sketches of Percherons, and other draft horses, which she had made at the Paris horse market on the tree-lined Boulevard de l'Hôpital, near the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital. She attended the market twice weekly for a year and a half during the mid 19th century. She sought a permission de travestissement from the Paris police to dress as a man, to avoid drawing attention to herself. She had earlier studied at a Paris slaughterhouse in 1845, a typical activity for an animal painter that she was the first woman to engage in, and had experienced harassment as a visible woman.
In addition to studies at the Paris horse market, she also modeled her animals on those from the Paris Omnibus Company. She broke from tradition in depicting the horse eye as it is, rather than using anthropomorphism for emotional effect. It has been suggested that one of the human figures is a self-portrait.
Bonheur routinely wore masculine clothes at home and in the country. The Horse Fair is printed as Plate 18 in Greer's book The Obstacle Race, in which she writes: "There was nothing titillating about the full trousers and painters' smocks that Bonheur wore", and quotes the artist herself as saying:
"I am a painter. I have earned my living honestly. My private life is nobody's concern."
Among the influences on Bonheur's work are the painters George Stubbs, Théodore Géricault, and Eugène Delacroix, and sculpture from Ancient Greece. She described the painting as her own Parthenon Frieze.
The painting was praised by the critics when it was first exhibited at the Paris Salon in May 1853. Several commented on the masculine nature of the work. Earlier, Bonheur had offered studies of two paintings to French Minister of Fine Arts Charles de Morny, Duke of Morny, for consideration of a state commission. He selected the other work, Haymaking in the Auvergne, now held by the museum at the Château de Fontainebleau. Bonheur rejected his attempt to change his mind after the 1853 exhibition.
The painting was subsequently shown in Ghent in 1853 and then in Bordeaux in 1854, but the city declined to buy it for FF 15,000. It was sold to the British art dealer Ernest Gambart in 1854 for FF 40,000. Bonheur added finishing touches in 1855.
It was shown at various locations during a tour of Britain in 1855 to 1857. In London, the painting was shown in the home of Edwin Henry Landseer, the artist well known for his works on animals. Queen Victoria requested a private viewing at Buckingham Palace. It was the most acclaimed of Bonheur's works, and is described by the Metropolitan Museum as one of its best-known works of art.
It was sold to cotton trader William Parkinson Wright in 1857 for FF 30,000, and then sold to Alexander Turney Stewart in 1866. After the deaths of Stewart in 1876 and of his widow Cornelia in 1886, the painting was bought at auction by Cornelius Vanderbilt II for $53,000 in March 1887, and immediately donated to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
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