The Adopt an Artifact program was started in 2014 with a list of 5 artifacts. Since then, some artifacts have been adopted and others are still looking for someone to support them. If you are interested in adopting or would like to know more about the program, please call the Friends’ office at 215-861-4971.
We do not list the project price for the artifact because the artifacts must be studied by a conservator before we can give a cost for the project. If you would like to donate to the overall program, and not to a specific object, please click the donate button below.
Pennsylvania Coat of Arms painting and Frame
(exhibited in the Independence Hall first floor Courtroom)
This oil painting on canvas signed “G. UTTER/PHILA/PINXIT.” for George Rutter dates from approximately 1785 and features an early version of the Pennsylvania State Coat of Arms. The frame is by Martin Jugiez, the master craftsman who created the ornament on fine Philadelphia furniture and woodwork like that at Fairmount Park’s Mount Pleasant.
The Coat of Arms features an eagle-topped cartouche containing depictions of the Ship Welcome (a nod to Founder William Penn), a plow and wheat sheaves (both symbolizing agricultural bounty). Of
note is the dramatic way the two unharnessed, white horses holding the cartouche are depicted (bulging eyes, snorting breath). Rutter was a renowned sign painter, and his attention to decorative detail (like the foliate forms beneath the horses’ hooves) matches that given to the seal’s iconography. The state motto “Virtue, Liberty, Independence” appears below the cartouche. This object is one of the few surviving original Independence Hall furnishings.
This painting is very dark due to the discoloration of its varnish over time. Conservation treatment of the painting would clean and stabilize its surface bringing the object into more prominent visibility in the courtroom. The frame is chipped and broken in sections. Conservation treatment would return the frame to its decorative purpose as a complement to the coat of arms painting.
Sheffield plate inkstand
(exhibited in the Bishop White House first floor Parlor)
This circa 1800 inkstand by John Nowill of London combines a quill holder, an ink bottle holder, and a blotting sand holder on a tray. The round central container on the tray would have contained wax discs for letter sealing. On top of this round container is a holder for a small candle. This candle was used to heat the wax discs and make them soft for sealing letters.
The inkstand also contains a cone-shaped snuffer for extinguishing that candle. The inkstand is silver plated using a layered combination of silver over copper popularized by factories in Sheffield, England. The inkstand is dented, and its surface has been abraded. The snuffer has a broken top.
Conrad Alexandre Gerard Portrait
(exhibited in the second Bank of the United States)
Early in 1778, France and America signed a treaty that promised mutual support against England. For the Americans, this meant the money and troops needed to wage (and win) the Revolution. The 1778 treaty’s lead negotiator was Conrad Alexandre Gerard, an experienced diplomat. As a reward for his role in the successful treaty negotiations, Gerard was appointed the first French foreign minister to the new United States.
Although his stay in America was brief, Gerard won the hearts of Americans. As evidence of this affection, Congress commissioned Charles Willson Peale to paint Gerard’s portrait for their chamber in the Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall), and Peale completed the portrait in late 1779.
Peale depicts the aristocratic Gerard in an elegant interior. Through the room’s open window Independence Hall is visible, the earliest eyewitness view of the building before the original tower was removed. And, over Gerard’s left shoulder stands a statue of two women, one (France) with her arm around the other (America) in an embrace which represents the amity between the two nations. Today, Peale’s portrait of Gerard hangs in the historic Second Bank of the United States exhibit, “People of Independence”.
Over time, Gerard’s large portrait (8 x 5 feet) has had numerous repairs and restorations. The portrait currently shows several areas of paint repair loss and an overall darkened varnish. Some areas of the canvas were torn in the past, and these repairs are now failing.
In order to address the portrait’s condition issues, the park proposes an extensive conservation project timed for completion in 2018 in order to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the French-American Alliance.