Monday, October 4, 2021

Cole in Conway 193 years ago today

It was a dark and stormy night 193 years ago today when Thomas Cole and his traveling artist companion, Henry Cheever Pratt spent the night in Conway, New Hampshire.

This loose pen and ink sketch over graphite pencil on a torn and stained piece of paper is evidence of this visit. 

It is now in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. You can read more about this sketch here

The tale is narrated from notes written by both Cole and Pratt.  

Cole wrote "After a long lonesome walk through a dark gloomy forest - after dark we arrived at Conway -"

Pratt wrote that they stayed at "Abbot's" which Catherine Campbell suggested may have been Thomas Abbott's Pequawket House in Conway where Kennett Middle School is located now. 

While their travel was difficult with rain, winds, washed out bridges and the like, Cole and Pratt found many scenes they deemed “worthy of the pencil." Cole felt that "These views were well composed for pictures -”

In the bottom right hand corner of the sketch are a series of mysterious scribbled shapes and below the scribbles is the label "Root fence." 

A similar, if not the same, view point and perhaps the same root fence, was painted by the artist Charles Herbert Moore in 1872, forty-four years later now at the Princeton Art Museum. 

Here is the overall view. 

For more information on this art work see this link here

The Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown New York has recreated a stump fence as part of their living history program. 

Conway was the inspiration for a sketch that later were turned into a print and was then adapted for a transfer printed ceramic plate. Look for the log cabin in each image (click on images to enlarge them). 

If you are interested in learning more about Thomas Cole in Conway contact us at the Conway Public Library’s Henney History Room. We offer free outreach programs to local schools and community groups on this subject and many other historical subjects.

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