Hazel Home Art and Antiques Wausau, Wisconsin

Hazel Home Art and Antiques Wausau, Wisconsin

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Crazy person of the day. "Crazy Nora" mid-19th Century, Philadelphia, Pa. Painted in 1850 by William Winner, American (1815-1883). Historical Society of Pennsylvania, gift of A. Cuthbert Thomas 1897

Irish immigrant Honora Powers (1790-1865) was a familiar street person in Philadelphia during the 1820s and 1830s.  She reportedly “had gone mad” as a result of a fever and dissension between factions at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in 1822.  In 1871 The Sunday Dispatch carried an article by Betsey Baker who observed that “she [Nora] was a never-ceasing object of interest and sympathy…her weird ramblings, her minglings of creeds and curses, her keen wit and her scathing sarcasm, her piety and her profanity had for me greater attractions….She sold ointment purchased from the Friends of the Almshouse, loaned out books, given to her by charity for one-cent a day—she earned food by scrubbing and house-cleaning.”   


William E. Winner (c. 1815-1883) was born and practiced in Philadelphia.  He exhibited at the Academy of Fine Arts and focused on genre and portrait painting.  Other examples of his work in the collection are “Street Scene in Winter,” “The Pie Man,” “Home from School,” and “The Skaters.”
(Color photo and text courtesy of Philadelphia History Museum). (Black and white image courtesy of  The Frick Collection)

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