Wall Murals from the Rufus Porter School:
From about 1825 to 1845, Rufus Porter along with his son Stephen Twombly and
his nephew Jonathan D. Poor, traveled around New England painting wall murals
in people's homes. These murals depicted landscapes of classic New England
scenes, painted using a scientific approach developed by Porter. Along with the
murals painted in the Nathan Church house parlor, the museum has a mural
painted by John Avery and a set of murals painted by Jonathan D. Poor from
East Baldwin, Maine in its collection. The Avery mural will soon be on exhibit.
The Poor murals are not yet on exhibit.
Preservation of Wall Murals
Jean Lipman states “Rufus Porter’s mural paintings, like his inventions and his scientific journals, were pioneer products, far ahead of their time. They represent our first native landscape school, and are among the most original and important artistic achievements of nineteenth-century America. It is imperative to save them from destruction now and to insure their future preservation.”
Lipman documented more than 100 houses over the course of 40 years (1940 - 1980) that had muraled walls in her book Rufus Porter Rediscovered published in 1980. Sadly many of them have been lost to fire, moisture, over painting, demolition and removal for sale. In response to the many inquiries coming to the Museum regarding wall murals:
whether they should be restored if they have paint loss
whether they should be removed and sold if the new owners dislike living with them
combinations of the above
Early in his career as an artist, Rufus Porter painted miniature portraits (evidence suggests portraits as early as 1815). Several distinct stylistic features can help identify Porter's hand. The most distinct characteristic is the ear on the subject. Porter is known for the grey C shape of the interior and the heart shape form of the lower interior back of the ear.
Articles and Helpful Links
Bethel Historical Society's Mason House - Contains Rufus Porter murals
Job Lane Farm Museum, which also contains Painted Murals
Maine Museum to Get Newly Discovered 1840s Murals - The New York Times
Lake Region: Weather Vanes Come Home to Roost at Bridgton Museum - Portland Press Herald
Rufus Porter and His New England Sitters-Antiques and Fine Arts
How to identify Rufus Porter's miniature Portraits: