TheNorthernLight

/May2008

5

ThepaintingnowhangsintheFarrConference

Centerwhereitenjoysappropriatelevelsoftempera-
tureandhumidity.Inaddition,itisaccessibletothe
museum’swideaudienceofvisitors,perhapspiquing
interestinFreemasonry.

ThepaintingdepictsKingSolomonofficiatingat

thededicationofhisTemple.Ontheleftisanurn
burningincensewithtwoworkmenabove.Oneofthe
menisanoverseerholdingasquare,theotherisa
craftsmanwhoissittingdown,indicatingthattheir
workiscomplete.

KingSolomonwearsaRoyalArchapronandthe

symbolisminthepaintingrelatestotheYorkRite’s
MostExcellentMaster’sdegree.Inaddition,other
commonMasonicsymbolsarevisible—thepartial
squareandcompassesattopcenterandtheall-seeing
eyeattopright.Accordingtothepainting’shistory,
Solomon’sfaceismodeledontheartist’sfather.

ThepaintingissignedbyGeorgeWhitingFlagg

(1816-97)ofNewHaven,CT.Flaggstudiedunder
hisuncle,WashingtonAllston(1779-1843),and
paintedmanyhistoricalscenesandgenrepictures.

Earlyinhiscareer,hewassupportedbyhispatron,

LumanReed(1787-1836)ofNewYorkCity,and
traveledextensivelyinEurope.

WhileFlaggachievedsomefameasapainter,he

enteredtheministrylaterinlife.Attheendofhis
life,hereturnedtopainting,doingmostlyportraits
beforehisdeathin1897.

NorecordhasbeenfoundthatFlaggwasaMason,

buthisfather,HenryC.Flagg(1790-1863),wasa

memberofNewHaven’sHiramLodgeNo.1,serving
asitsMasterin1834.Althoughthepaintingissigned
byFlagg,ithasahistoryofbeingstartedbyoneartist
andcompletedbyasecond.Thestorypasseddown
withthepaintingisthatthefirstartistpassedaway,
leavingthecanvasincomplete.Thesecondartistasso-
ciatedwiththepaintingisHarryIvesThompson
(1840-1906)fromWestHaven,CT.

Thompsonwasalsoatrainedartist,studyingunder

BenjaminH.Coe(b.1799)andexhibitingattheNa-
tionalAcademyofDesigninthe1870sand1880s.
ThompsonwasaMasonandamemberofAnnawon
Lodge,wherethepaintingoriginallyhung.

Itcannotbesubstantiatedthattwoartistsworked

onthepainting.Infact,thestoryofoneartistdying
andthesecondtakingupthebrushcannotbetrueas
Flagg,presumablytheinitialartist,passedawayin
1897,25yearsafterthepaintingwaspresentedto
AnnawonLodge.

Aftermorethan125yearswatchingoverthelodge

room,theKingSolomonpaintingwasquitedirty—
thinkofthedecadeswhensmokingwasfarmoreuni-
versalindoorsthatitistoday,aswellastheresidue
leftbyoldheatingsystems.

Theprimaryconservationtreatment,performedby

CarmichaelArtConservationinBedford,MA,wasa
thoroughcleaningusingappropriatematerialsand
carefultechniques.Milddetergentremovedthegrime
andaspecialsolventwasusedtoremovealayerof
yellowingvarnishthathadprotectedthepaintingfor
manydecades.

Cracksandlossesinthepaintweremadelessvisu-

allyobvious.Thepainting’scanvaswasalsore-
stretchedalongthetoprightedgetoprovideproper
support.

Anewlayerofvarnishwasappliedtothepainting

tohelpprotectitforanothercenturyandanewacid-
freebackingboardwasattachedtothebacktopre-
ventdirt,bugs,dustandothermaterialfromgetting
caughtonthebackandinsidetheframe.

Thechangeinappearancefromwhenthepainting

leftAnnawonLodgeisquitestriking.Newdetailsare
visibleandthecolorsaremuchclosertohowit
lookedin1874.

AnAncientMaulComes
toRestattheNational
HeritageMuseum

Recently,museumstaffbegantoreviewtheextended
loanobjectsthathadaccumulatedundertheirroof.

Paintingof

KingSolomon

officiatingatthe

dedicationof

histemple.

Theartistis

GeorgeWhiting

Flaggof

NewHaven,CT.