George M. Anderson Photograph Collection PP247 - More Information

George M. Anderson Photograph Collection
1861-1969
PP247

Special Collections Department, H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Historical Society
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

History (continued from Anderson Photograph Collection main page)

George McCullough Anderson, D.D.S was a Professor of Orthodontics at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, and at the Dental School at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. He also was a collector of the work of Adalbert Johann Volck (1828-1912), a Baltimore dentist, artist, cartoonist, sculptor, and silversmith. In 1970 he self published The Work of Adalbert Johann Volck, which includes 100 images of Volck’s works.

Adalbert Johann Volck (1828-1912) was born April 14, 1828 in the town of Augsburg in Bavaria, Germany. As a youth he studied art in Nuremburg and Munich, and in 1848 participated in the revolutions then sweeping through Germany and parts of Europe. Volck was captured and sentenced to four years of service in the Bavarian Army. Rather than serve, he deserted and fled to the United States. Volck arrived in Boston and headed west. In 1849, he followed the gold rush to California but soon returned east, finally settling in the Baltimore area, where he would remain for the rest of his life. He entered the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery as one of its first students, graduating in 1852. Volck was a member of the Association of Dental Surgeons and served as president of the organization. He was one of the first dentists to use porcelain fillings. In 1852, he married Letitia Robert Alleyn, one of his patients, and their union produced two sons and three daughters.

During the Civil War, Volck became an ardent supporter of the Confederacy. According to some accounts, he served as a personal courier for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, carried dispatches across the Potomac River, smuggled medicine and other contraband for the Confederacy, assisted volunteers, mechanics and artisans with their defection to the South, and used his Charles Street home as a rendezvous and hiding place for Confederate sympathizers. Other sources dispute these exploits. Volck is most famous for his political drawings and etchings produced during the Civil War, although this is largely due to a later rediscovery of his work, rather than any contemporary impact. There was limited circulation of his drawings in the North and most likely none in the Confederate States until after the war. Under the pseudonym V. Blada, Volck printed three series of thirty Civil War sketches, titled Sketches from the Civil War in North America. Another series, Comedians and Tragedians of the North, caricatured prominent northern figures including President Lincoln, General Benjamin F. Butler, General Winfield Scott, and Thomas Hicks, Governor of Maryland. Benjamin Butler and President Lincoln drew particular scorn from Volck’s pen; Volck produced a series of sketches and two books lampooning Butler, and nine images featuring Lincoln. Although his feelings toward Lincoln softened over time, he maintained his affinity for the Confederacy; discussing his Civil War sketches in a letter to the Library of Congress in 1905, he wrote that his “greatest regret ever was to have aimed ridicule at that great and good Lincoln - outside of that the pictures represent events as truthfully as my close connection with the South enabled me to get at them.”

Following the war, Volck continued both his dental practice and art. He produced portraiture and works in silver, bronze, oil, and sculpture, while largely avoiding the political slant of his earlier work. Volck was also a fixture in the cultural and artistic life of Baltimore. He was a founding member or member of various organizations devoted to the arts including the Academy of Art, the Allston Association, the Wednesday Club, the Athenaeum Club, and the Charcoal Club.

Volck died on March 26, 1912 and is interred in Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore.

Sources:

Anderson, George C., The Work of Adalbert Johann Volck (Privately printed by George McCullough Anderson, 1970)

Keidel, George C., “Catonsville Biographies: A Series of Personal Sketches,” The Argus, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, November 13, 29, 1915.

Neely, Jr. Mark E., Harold Holzer & Gabor S. Boritt, The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987)

Van Dyk Macbride, “The Lincoln Caricatures,” The Lincoln Herald Vol. 56, no. 3 (1954): 23-43.

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