Alden Picture Gallery
The pictures shown here bear absolutely no resemblance, unless purely coincidental, to what John and Priscilla Alden actually looked like. We simply do not know. Illustrations presenting the story of the “Pilgrims” and its imagery were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many pictures depicting John and Priscilla Alden, many inspired by “The Courtship of Miles Standish” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (an Alden descendant), are shown below:
The foremost artist of the Pilgrims was George H. Boughton (1833-1905). Boughton was born in England, but grew up in the United States. He later returned to England to finish his career. Reproductions of his paintings of scenes and characters from “The Courtship of Miles Standish” were widely distributed. “Why Don’t You Speak For Yourself, John?” was even made into a popular drawing room sculpture by John Rogers (1829-1904), creator of the famous “Rogers’ Groups” parlor sculptures in 1885. Boughton also painted the famous “Pilgrims Going to Church” (1867, originally “The Early Puritans of New England Going to Church”), a scene he interpreted from a quote in W. H. Bartlett’s The Pilgrim Fathers. Boughton’s images became well-known through their publication on trade cards, postcards and souvenirs.
The most prolific marketer of local pictures and souvenirs was Alfred S. Burbank (1856-1946) of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Burbank opened his “Pilgrim Bookshop” in 1872 and commissioned Pilgrim souvenirs and Plymouth pictures until his retirement in 1932. No one was more indefatigable in presenting the story of the Pilgrims and its imagery to the American public through books, cards, figurines, dishes and other objects. The Boughton pictures were among his most popular images.