The historic Pennsylvania Coat of Arms needs your help! This painting is one of the few surviving original artifacts in Independence Hall and now it is in trouble. Help us restore this piece of 18th century Pennsylvania and national history back to its historic appearance.
History and Information
The Pennsylvania Coat of Arms Painting and Frame is exhibited in the Independence Hall first floor Courtroom. In 1785, this painting replaced the coat of arms of King George III after it had been taken down and burned following the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8th, 1776.
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.
The painting conservation proposal is for careful removal and/or reduction of the poorly saturating, synthetic varnish and inpainting, removal or reduction, if possible, of the older grime and varnish remnants, adjustment of the current, too-smooth fills (as much as safely possible), re-varnishing and filling of the extensive, unfilled paint losses and inpainting of the extensive, paint losses. The painting conservator estimates 170 hours to complete the task. The revised proposal I’ve asked for eliminates most of the filling of the extensive unfilled paint losses and inpainting of the extensive, paint losses– a very time consuming aspect to the work.
The total coast to restore this artifact is $42,000. that includes restoring the painting and frame.
We have setup a GoFundMe Campaign to help pay for this artifact so that it can be re-hung in Independence Hall.
If you would like to support the project, you can contribute thru GoFundMe or you can send a donation directly to the Friends of Independence NHP at 143 S. 3rd Street Philadelphia, Pa 19106
Thank you for any help you can give!