July 10, 2010
Local portrait to be displayed
HOMER — In 2006, Dave Quinlan found an unlikely treasure in the Phillips Free Library’s back room. It was a oil painting of Eli Carpenter, a wealthy farmer who lived in Homer in the 1800s.
The painting, which has since been restored at a cost of $3,000, will be unveiled at this year’s Holiday in Homer celebration on July 17.
Quinlan, a Marathon art teacher and Homer resident, was invited in 2006 by the library’s director, Lois Papp, to look at paintings the library had stored in its back room. Quinlan was invited back because he was an art teacher and he had shown interest in existing artwork hanging in the library.
Quinlan found a painting, with damage that included a hole in the canvas, leaning on the wall in the back room.
Quinlan knew the subject of the painting, Eli Carpenter, because it was handwritten on the frame of the painting, but the painter was not identifiable. He knew the artist was not Francis Carpenter, because of the particular style of the painting. Quinlan said the smirk on Eli Carpenter’s face showed the personality of the unknown artist.
A paper attached to the back of the painting identified the painter, Sanford Thayer.
Thayer was a well-known artist from Syracuse who eventually taught Eli Carpenter’s nephew, Francis Carpenter. Thayer was known for landscapes, such as scenic views of the Adirondacks, said Quinlan. Francis Carpenter went on to paint “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet,” which hangs today in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Quinlan said Thayer’s talent was shown in the painting of Eli Carpenter.
“This particular portrait was done by Sanford Thayer and shows the type of caliber of artists we (Homer) had in the area at the time,” Quinlan said.
The Phillips Free Library received a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to restore the painting.
The portrait, which was painted in Homer the summer of 1853, was sent to West Lake Conservators, located in Mottville. John Sutton, a conservator of paintings at West Lake, said the restoration cost about $3,000 and took six months to complete.
The frame of the painting was replaced and the painting was cleaned and revarnished. Sutton said that the paint showed signs of being restored in the past. He also said there was no major loss to the paint.
Quinlan said the portrait will be unveiled at Holiday in Homer and will most likely move to the library’s permanent art collection.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe