Wells Welcomes Home the "Portrait of Henry Wells"

05-23-12 - On loan since 2010, the “Portrait of Henry Wells” by American painter James E. Freeman returns to Macmillan Hall.


The College welcomed back the “Portrait of Henry Wells” by American painter James Edward Freeman. After being on loan at two museums, the portrait rendered in Rome more than 150 years ago returned to its home in Macmillan Hall on Friday, May 18.

The “Portrait of Henry Wells” was on display at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art (MWPAI) in Utica, N.Y. from September 12, 2009 to January 17, 2010. The painting was part of an exhibition titled James E. Freeman 1808-1884: An American Painter in Italy. The exhibition featured “fancy pictures” and portraits of Freeman made up of 21 objects, including 16 paintings and four works on paper by the now-obscure painter.

Henry_Wells_painting_photofromaboveJohn F. McGuigan and Mary K. McGuigan, independent art historians, were the guest curators for the exhibit at MWPAI. They are largely responsible for discovering Henry Wells' cultured lifestyle in Italy when doing research on the well-known portrait and “fancy picture” painter from Central New York, James E. Freeman. The McGuigans’ revealed that Freeman painted the picture of Henry Wells in his studio in Rome, Italy during the winter of 1848. The McGuigans noted that Henry sat 24 times for Freeman. The painting was then sent to Henry Wells and hung in his home at Glen Park.

 After spending time in Utica, the portrait traveled to the Newington-Cropsey Foundation in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., where it was on display from September 19, 2011 to November 18, 2011. The College would like to give a special thanks to MWPAI Registrar and Exhibition Manager Michael Somple, and Museum Technicians Erik Genalo and Dariiusz Sady for helping the “Portrait of Henry Wells” return to its home in Macmillan Hall, and also to Helen Bergamo for her archivist help and the McGuigans for sharing new revelations on Henry Wells with the College.


Clare Scott, 315.364.3404, cscott@wells.edu