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The American Pre-Raphaelites: Participants, Patrons, Advocates

In January 1863, Thomas Charles Farrer, an English expatriate artist living in New York, convened the first meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Truth in Art. Among its members were artists who, like Farrer, rejected the mainstream practice of art. Instead, they heeded the call of art critic John Ruskin for “truth to nature” in their work and dedicated themselves to the meticulous capture of detail in landscapes they painted outdoors. Some named themselves realists, while others preferred the label of Pre-Raphaelite, signifying their alignment with the British movement of the same name championed by Ruskin. Over the course of several years, the Association published The New Path, a radical journal voicing their dedication to the reform of American art, architecture, criticism, manufacture, and design. The Association was a crusading organization of men and women from many walks of American life. Members and supporters were artists, architects, and critics, but also like-minded citizens—scientists, journalists, lawyers, businessmen, collectors, and subscribers to The New Path. They were united not only by an interest in reforming the practice of art and architecture, but by a patriotic commitment to the preservation of the Union and to the abolition of slavery.

The following list of known members of the Association, with a selection of others in the circle of the American Pre-Raphaelites, is drawn from the catalog of the exhibition The American Pre-Raphaelites: Radical Realists.

Image: Samuel Putnam Avery

John Ruskin
(1819–1900)

British art critic whose ideas inspired the English and American Pre-Raphaelite movements.

John Ruskin, Self-Portrait, 1861, watercolor over pencil, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, Purchased as the gift of the Fellows

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Image: Samuel Putnam Avery

Samuel Putnam Avery
(1822–1904)

Engraver, dealer, collector; hosted Association meeting on March 25, 1863, at his home in Brooklyn.

Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, Samuel P. Avery, 1876. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the family of Samuel P. Avery, 1904

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Image: Sarah Brandegee Barney

Sarah Brandegee Barney
(1833–1908)

Association member, sister-in-law of Sarah Maria Barney and Russell Sturgis Jr., aunt of artist Robert Bolling Brandegee.

Private collection

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Image: Sarah Maria Barney

Sarah Maria Barney
(1836–1910)

Association member, wife of Russell Sturgis Jr.

Sarah M. Barney, age 21, c. 1858. Russell Sturgis, Jr., Family Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library

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Image: Mary Louise Booth

Mary Louise Booth
(1831–1889)

Association member, journalist, advocate for abolition and women’s rights. First female writer for the New-York Daily Tribune and founding editor of Harper’s Bazar [sic] (1867–1889). Held salons at family home in Brooklyn. Her circle included T. C. and Annie Farrer, Sarah Strong Tuthill, and the Fords.

 

Mary L. Booth, 1855–1865. Brady-Handy Photograph Collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

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Image: Robert Bolling Brandegee

Robert Bolling Brandegee
(18491922)

Artist in oil and watercolor; student of T. C. Farrer and Sarah Strong Tuthill, his aunt, whom he succeeded as art teacher at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT.

Paul Worman Fine Art, Worcester

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Image: Fidelia Bridges

Fidelia Bridges
(1834–1923)

Artist, student of W. T. Richards. A watercolor specialist who also provided images for chromolithographs published by Louis Prang & Co.

Fidelia Bridges, c. 1864. Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

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Image: J. Cleaveland (Cleveland) Cady

J. Cleaveland (Cleveland) Cady
(1837–1919)

Subscriber to The New Path, architect, designer of the Brooklyn Art Association building in modern Gothic style (1872), Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale (1876), and American Museum of Natural History, south façade (1899).

Courtesy of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford

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Image: Edward Cary

Edward Cary
(1840–1917)

Journalist, editor, and American Pre-Raphaelite collector. Staunch abolitionist, editor of the Brooklyn Union, and later member, editorial staff of the New York Times.

Reproduced in obituary, The Fourth Estate (May 26, 1917): 30

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Image: Elisabeth Luther Cary

Elisabeth Luther Cary
(1867–1936)

Editor, art critic, author, and American Pre-Raphaelite collector; daughter of Edward Cary. Began publishing the journal The Scrip in 1905; first full-time art editor of the New York Times (1908–1936).

Print Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library

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Image: Elisabeth Luther Cary

Clarence Cook
(1828–1900)

Association member, editor of The New Path, critic, poet. Architectural drawing instructor at the Cooper Union. Editor of The Independent, then The New Path, and in 1864 became art critic for the New-York Daily Tribune. Published The House Beautiful (1878) and What Shall We Do with Our Walls? (1881), central texts of the American Aesthetic movement.

Thomas Charles Farrer, Portrait of Clarence C. Cook, 1861, pen and ink, reproduced as frontispiece to Poems by Clarence Cook, New York, 1902

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Louisa De Windt Whittemore Cook
(1821–1908)

Association member, wife of Clarence Cook. Suggested the title for The New Path. Clarence Cook dedicated The House Beautiful to her; she published a volume of his poems two years after his death.

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Image: William Doughty

William Doughty
(1837/1838–1909)

Honorary Association member (nominated by Eugene T. Gardner at meeting on February 18, 1863). Civil engineer and prominent figure in Troy, NY; trustee of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Reproduced in George Baker Anderson, Landmarks of Rensselaer County New York, Syracuse, NY, 1897

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Image: Annie R. McLane Farrer

Annie R. McLane Farrer
(1836–1933)

Association member, wife of T. C. Farrer. Graduated from Rutgers Female Institute in 1855, where she may have taken drawing classes. Moved to England with Farrer around 1871.

Annie R. McLane Farrer with son Charles Moore Farrer. Farrer Family Archives

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Image: Henry Farrer

Henry Farrer
(1844–1903)

Printmaker and watercolor artist; younger brother and pupil of T. C. Farrer who emigrated about 1862 (after T. C., who emigrated in 1858). A founder of and longtime exhibitor at the American Watercolor Society.

Farrer Family Archives

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Image: Thomas Charles Farrer

Thomas Charles Farrer
(1839–1891)

Association founder, contributor to The New Path, artist in oil, watercolor, and later a printmaker. Studied in London with John Ruskin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti at the Working Men’s College. In the United States from late 1858 to 1871, when he returned to England; served in Union army in spring/ summer 1862; instructor at Cooper Union School of Design for Women, 1861–1865.

Farrer Family Archives

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Image: Henriette Desportes Field

Henriette Desportes Field
(1813–1875)

Crayon artist; principal of Cooper Union School of Design for Women and hired T. C. Farrer as drawing instructor in 1861. Married to Henry M. Field, Presbyterian minister and abolitionist. Her salon at their Gramercy Park residence attracted artists (Eastman Johnson was a friend) and literati. Hosted Association meeting on March 17, 1863.

Courtesy of the Frick Art Reference Library

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Image: Emily Ellsworth Fowler Ford

Emily Ellsworth Fowler Ford
(1826–1893)

Poet and childhood friend of Emily Dickinson, American Pre-Raphaelite collector, granddaughter of Noah Webster, and wife of Gordon Lester Ford.

Reproduced in Notes on the Life of Noah Webster, vol. 1, comp. Emily Ellsworth Fowler Ford, ed. Emily Ellsworth Ford Skeel (New York, 1912)

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Image: Gordon Lester Ford

Gordon Lester Ford
(1823–1891)

Newspaperman, bibliophile, lawyer, American Pre-Raphaelite collector, philanthropist. Business manager of New York Tribune. In 1863, became publisher of the Brooklyn Union, an abolitionist pro-Union paper. Helped found Brooklyn Art Association.


Print Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library

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Image: James Terry Gardner

James Terry Gardner (later spelled Gardiner)
(1842–1912)

Association member, topographer, civil engineer. Friend and Yale classmate of Clarence King. Traveled west with King, joined US Engineer Corps; surveyed Yosemite Valley in 1864. Appointed chief topographer of Fortieth Parallel Survey; later director of New York State [Geological] Survey.

George Gardner Rockwood, James Terry Gardiner, age 21, May 6, 1863. James Terry Gardiner Papers, Manuscript and Special Collections, New York State Library, Albany.

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William C. Gilman
(1833–1922)

Subscriber to The New Path, insurance broker, American Pre-Raphaelite collector. Helped support publication of second volume of The New Path.

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Eastburn Hastings
(1833–1884)

Association member, architect; served in the Seventh Regiment, New York State Militia, Company H, during its one-month activation in 1861.

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Image: William John Hennessy

William John Hennessy
(1839–1917)

Artist and illustrator; neighbor of T. C. Farrer in the University Building, NY. Left the United States to settle abroad in 1870.

Paul Worman Fine Art, Worcester

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Image: John Henry Hill

John Henry Hill
(1839–1922)

Association member, contributor to The New Path, artist in oil and watercolor and printmaker. Son of John William Hill. Like his father, an early convert to Ruskinian “truth to nature.” In 1868 traveled west as staff artist for fellow member Clarence King’s geological survey expedition. Sojourned at Lake George in the early 1870s, returning to the family homestead at West Nyack, NY, upon the death of his father in 1879.

G. S. Irish, John Henry Hill, c. 1870s. Paul Worman Fine Art, Worcester

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Image: John William Hill

John William Hill
(1812–1879)

Association member and first president, artist in oil and watercolor and printmaker. Father of John Henry Hill and known as “Poppy” Hill. Topographical approach and technique of father and son transformed following the publication of Ruskin’s Modern Painters. They welcomed T. C. Farrer to their West Nyack homestead shortly after his arrival in the United States.

Paul Worman Fine Art, Worcester

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Sarah M. Hitchcock
(c. 1836–1891)

Art collector, philanthropist. Hosted Association’s literary meeting on March 31, 1863.

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Florence Howland
(1825–1911)

Association member, mother of Clarence King. From a Rhode Island family with strong abolitionist and temperance leanings. After the death of her husband (Clarence King’s father), she married Brooklyn merchant George S. Howland, who supported King at the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale.

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Image: James Jackson Jarves

James Jackson Jarves
(1818–1888)

Subscriber to The New Path; writer and critic often at odds with the editorial slant of both The Crayon and The New Path. Nonetheless, an ardent Ruskinian and a prominent early collector of early Italian paintings (sold to Yale in 1871).

James Jackson Jarves Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library

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Photograph: Silas Selleck, Clarence King and the Field Party of 1864

Clarence R. King
(1842–1901)

Association member, geologist. Headed Fortieth Parallel Survey from 1867 to 1872. Became director of the US Geological Survey in 1879. Met John Ruskin in England in 1883 and reportedly purchased two J. M. W. Turner paintings from Ruskin.

Silas Selleck, Clarence King and the Field Party of 1864, albumen print, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. From left: James Terry Gardner, Richard D. Cotter, William Henry Brewer, and Clarence King.

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Image: Francis Lathrop

Francis Lathrop
(1849–1909)

Subscriber to The New Path, decorative painter. Attended Association meeting on February 23, 1865. Student of T. C. Farrer and later of Ford Madox Brown, and Edward Burne-Jones in London. Member, National Society of Mural Painters; assisted John La Farge with wall paintings for Trinity Church, Boston. Selected by Clarence Cook to illustrate The House Beautiful.

Reproduced in “Francis Lathrop,” The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, vol. 9 (New York, 1901): 292

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Dr. John E. Lauer
(Dates unknown)

Subscriber to The New Path; collector.

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J. L. Littell (Little?) (Miss Or Mrs.)
(Dates  unkown)

Subscriber to The New Path.

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John Matthews Jr.
(1832–1883)

Association member, brother-in-law of Carl Muller, manufacturer of soda fountains (invented by his father) famous for their elaborate ornamentation.

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Margaret J. Mcdonald
(1839–1881)

Artist in watercolor and decorative painting, teacher. Student of T. C. Farrer. Attended Cooper Union School of Design for Women and member, American Watercolor Society.

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Image: Charles Herbert Moore

Charles Herbert Moore
(1840–1930)

Association member, artist in oil and watercolor and printmaker, contributor to The New Path. In 1871 accepted Charles Eliot Norton’s invitation to teach drawing at Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard; in 1875, transferred to Harvard College faculty to teach art history with Norton. First curator and director of the Fogg Art Museum. On his retirement in 1909, settled in England.

Harvard Art Museums/Harvard Art Museums Archives, Fogg History Photographs. Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

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Image: Carl Muller

Carl Muller
(c. 1820–1887)

Attended Association meeting on February 4, 1863, with member and brother-in-law John Matthews Jr.; sculptor and designer for Union Porcelain Works in Brooklyn.

Reproduced in “Masters of Art and Literature,” Cosmopolitan Art Journal 1, no. 3 (March 1857): 84

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Image: James E. Munson

James E. Munson
(1835–1906)

Association member, court stenographer, lawyer.

Reproduced in Myron  A.  Munson,  The Munson Record: A Genealogical and Biographical Account of Captain Thomas Munson [A Pioneer of Hartford and New Haven] and His Descendants, vol. 2 (New Haven, CT, 1895): 871

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Image: Henry Roderick Newman

Henry Roderick Newman
(1843–1917)

Association member, artist (specialist in watercolor); mentored by T. C. Farrer; taught at Cooper Union, 1864–1866. In 1870, traveled to Europe; settled in Florence in 1874. In 1877, Charles Herbert Moore introduced his work to Ruskin, who became a patron. Made first trip to Egypt in 1887–1888, returning nearly every winter thereafter; traveled to Japan in 1896–1897.

Henry Roderick Newman, after F. Guidi. Reproduced in Henry Buxton Forman, “An American Studio in Florence.” The Manhattan 3, no. 6 (June 1884): 527

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Image: Charles Eliot Norton

Charles Eliot Norton
(1827–1908)

Ruskin’s literary executor and a lifetime friend. Used his positions as editor of The North American Review and founder of The Nation to promote the American Pre-Raphaelite movement. In 1871 Norton enlisted Charles Herbert Moore to teach drawing at Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School.

Samuel W. Rowse, Charles Eliot Norton, 1858. Harvard University Portrait Collection, Bequest of Susan Norton to Harvard University, 1989. Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

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Image: Robert J. Pattison

Robert J. Pattison
(1838–1903)

Association member, artist in oil and watercolor, partner in the firm of V. G. Stiepevich and Company, Mural Decorators, drawing teacher in New York and Brooklyn.

Collection of the Brooklyn Historical Society

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Image: George Philip Philes

George Philip Philes
(1828–1913)


Subscriber to The New Path, publisher, bibliophile, and book dealer.

Reproduced in Harry Miller Lydenberg, “George Philes: Bookman,” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 48, no. 1 (First Quarter, 1954): 5

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Benjamin Richards Jr.
(Dates unknown)

Subscriber to The New Path.

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Image: William Trost Richards

William Trost Richards
(1833–1905)

Association member, artist in oil and watercolor. Pursued Ruskinian realism from 1858 until the late 1860s, when he turned from landscapes to marine subjects in both oil and watercolor.

William Trost Richards, c. 1855. William Trost Richards Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

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T. N. Rooker
(Dates unknown)

Subscriber to The New Path.

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Image: Eugene Schuyler

Eugene Schuyler
(1840–1890)

Association member, diplomat, historian. Gifted linguist and translator; earned PhD and law degrees. Held consular posts in Russia, Romania, Constantinople, Greece.


Reproduced in Eugene Schuyler and Evelyn Schuyler Schaeffer, Eugene Schuyler: Selected Essays with a Memoir by Evelyn Schuyler Schaeffer (New York, 1901).

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Image: Aaron Draper Shattuck

Aaron Draper Shattuck
(1832–1928)

Artist admired by the American Pre-Raphaelites. His landscapes displayed Ruskinian influence from the late 1850s to c. mid-1860s.

George Gardner Rockwood, Aaron Draper Shattuck, 1860s. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Albert Ten Eyck Gardner Collection, Gift of the Centennial Committee, 1970

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R. H. Smith
(Dates unknown)

Subscriber to The New Path.

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Image: William James Stillman

William James Stillman
(1828–1901)

Painter, photographer, writer, editor, diplomat. Met Ruskin in 1850 and became familiar with the British Pre-Raphaelites. Cofounder of The Crayon in 1855; contributor to The New Path. Keen woodsman and associate of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Following the death of his first wife, married Pre-Raphaelite artist and model Marie Spartali in 1871; settled in England.


Samuel W. Rowse, William James Stillman, c. 1858. Reproduced as frontispiece in William James Stillman, The Autobiography of a Journalist. Vol. 1 (London, 1901)

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Image: Russell Sturgis Jr.

Russell Sturgis Jr.
(1836–1909)

Association member, architect, critic, contributor to The New Path. Attended the Free Academy (later City College) of New York with James Lyman Van Buren and close friend Peter Wight. Strong proponent of Gothic architecture; designed Battell Chapel and Durfee Hall at Yale. Appointed professor of architecture at City College and in 1893, awarded university’s first honorary doctorate. Art critic of The Nation and contributor to The North American Review.

Russell Sturgis Jr., 1880. Reproduced in Everett P. Wheeler, “Russell Sturgis,” The City College Quarterly 5 (1909): 12–13

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Sarah Strong Tuthill

Sarah Strong Tuthill
(1830–1882)

Association member, art teacher. Graduate of Mount Holyoke Seminary. Taught in Chicago, Bridgeport, CT, and at a women’s college in Alabama at the start of the Civil War. In 1863, began long tenure as art teacher at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT. Taught nephew Robert Brandegee, who succeeded her at Miss Porter’s School. Joined Mary L. Booth and others in advocating for women’s rights. Exhibited at American Watercolor Society, 1867–1868.

Thomas Charles Farrer, Portrait of Sarah Strong Tuthill, 1862, drawing photographed by Maurice Stadtfeld, carte-de-visite albumen print, Paul Worman Fine Art, Worcester

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Image: James Lyman van Buren

James Lyman van Buren
(1837–1866)

Association member, lawyer, soldier. Cousin of President Martin Van Buren. Scholar of modern languages. Second lieutenant and later brigadier general in Union army; fought alongside General Grant in the Richmond campaign. Sturgis signed for him at last the Association meeting. Died in 1866 of illnesses contracted during his military service.

Courtesy Heritage Auctions

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Image: Peter Bonnett Wight

Peter Bonnett Wight
(1838–1925)

Association member, architect, critic, contributor to The New Path. Proponent of Ruskin’s polychromatic Italianate Gothic architectural style. Won competition for first permanent building of the National Academy of Design (1865), architect for the Yale School of Fine Arts building (1867). Rebuilt residences and commercial buildings after Great Chicago Fire (1871), developing fire-proofing construction technology. Published a memoir of the American Pre-Raphaelite movement in The Development of Fine Arts in America in 1884.

J. Gurney & Son, Peter Bonnett Wight, 1860s. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Albert Ten Eyck Gardner Collection, Gift of the Centennial Committee, 1970

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Banner image: Charles Herbert Moore, Autumn Landscape, 1865–1868, oil on canvas, Leonard and Ellen Milberg

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