Rufus Porter Talk at the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington – Saturday, August 5
Thanks to the generosity of collector Richard Thorner, the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington received a gift last year of 13 murals by renowned early American artist Rufus Porter created for the Adams Female Academy in Derry, NH around 1830. They had been forgotten for over 100 years, covered by wallboard, their vibrant colors protected from damaging sunlight. They were discovered when the former academy building was being renovated for private use.
On Saturday, August 5, at 4 p.m., David Ottinger will talk about how he removed the murals from the former academy by cutting out the sections of wall from the outside of the building. The talk will be in the first floor gallery of the Old Stone House Museum, where the panels which are mounted against the walls surrounding the new exhibit on early American decoration. The talk is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception.
These murals are rare examples of a decorative style original to historic buildings like the Twilight and Hall Houses before the advent of wallpaper. Perhaps more significantly, these works were created for an institution very much like the Orleans County Grammar School, providing a valuable way for us to understand the culture and environment of rural New England schools in the early 1800s.
Porter was one of America’s most important limners or itinerant painters, who traveled widely throughout New England from 1820 until 1848. While we don’t have direct evidence that Rufus Porter worked around Brownington, it is possible given his strong family ties to Orleans County.
Names, dates and other graffiti are inscribed on the surface of the paintings, much as they are on the walls and desks inside the Old Stone House. Porter created his stencil murals for an educational institution very much like the Orleans County Grammar School, and this new acquisition will provide a valuable way for us to understand the physical environment of schools in the early 1800s, as well as the culture of the young men and women who attended.