- Sylvia Outland, Art Curator
March 14th marked the return of the portrait, featured on Antiques Roadshow, of John Milton Charters and William Morris Charters (1846 - 1848) twin sons of Dr. William Morris Charters (1806 - 1883) and Cynthia Dutton Seely (1809 - 1860). Both portraits were painted, circa 1849, by Marcus Mote a Quaker artist living and working in Warren County. The Betsy H. Maple Trust, represented by Karri Hamilton daughter of Betsy Maple, (second wife of William Chester “Chet” Maple) personally delivered the painting the family gifted to the Harmon Museum. Both paintings descended in the family of Charters Dyche Maple (1899 - 1958) to his sons William Chester Maple (1935 - 2009) and Dixon Charters Maple (1929 - 2001).
Since childhood, I have always been drawn to antique objects; they bring a relevance and history which contemporary objects do not offer. This experience led to my exploration of historical drawings and etchings from the Victorian period, starting with Edwin Landseer, who was one of the most popular animal illustrators during this time period.
Images of animals and children started to proliferate at the turn of the century as people sent greeting postcards and also read magazines like Harper’s Weekly which contained stories written and illustrated in serial fashion. Printed magazines were available all over the country as reading became an important cultural activity and literacy increased. In addition, life was documented and shared in wonderfully illustrated children’s books. One can imagine domestic scenes by the fireside involving reading and the slow activity of embroidery.
Artwork and literature are rife with cultural symbols; they are a tool which teach our youth as well as shape adult behaviors. Morals abound in these tales, both about humans and animals. At this time, animals started to be seen as domestic companions and valued for their loyalty and compassion. Many of these prints show scenes of tenderness and altruism, while others illustrate acts of aggression and barbary.
These stories and the prints which accompanied them, had a profound effect upon public perception of the treatment of animals and children leading to new organizations for their protection including the Society for the Care and Protection of Animals (SCPA) and new child labor laws. Using research from this important historical period, I created a series of embroidered drawings on wool. There is a kind of nostalgia in these images, not of a perfect world, but a slower paced life with some sweetness. It is also important to note that the cultural awareness which awakened regarding children and animals unfortunately did not extend to all humanity, especially African Americans and immigrants. The resulting embroideries seek to shine light upon our collective potential for acts of altruism and bravery, amidst the presence of depravity. How can we extend the generosity of animals and children into contemporary society so that all people can find tenderness, sensitivity to others and begin to understand our collective value?
- written by Jeanne Doan, Assistant Director
The Warren County Historical Society began 2019 with lots of plans: a series of Lunch and Learn presentations, new programs, and traditional events. Then came Covid-19. No one predicted what a dramatic effect it would have. At the time of the shutdown, the Archaeology and Native American Artifact room, on the ground floor of the museum, had become a depository for overflow from other storage spaces.
During the shutdown, volunteer time was used effectively to clean and reorganize multiple storage spaces. The now clutter-free artifact room badly needed a make-over. Damp, dark, and outdated, the room cried out for help. Enter Mr. Doug Baird, a specialist in fossils and Native American artifacts.
After inspecting all the artifacts in the display cases and boxes in the vault, Mr. Baird informed us that WCHS has "the finest collection of fossils and Native American artifacts I have seen outside of the Smithsonian."
WCHS staff and volunteers have been working hard to clean, repaint, and rearrange. Display cases were resurrected from the basement of Glendower. Mr. Baird and his assistant sorted and relabeled the artifacts. The project was completed late November.
We want to extend our thanks to everyone who has been key to this transformation. The Harmon Museum looks forward to unveiling our new comprehensive display honoring our ancient Ohio beginnings.
Nathaniel Grauwelman as well as various staff and volunteers.