Provenance by Elizabeth M. Lesher, donor, August 7, 2018
“I was brought up, a Member of the Society of Friends, in the North of England where my grandparents, Harry and Marion Hadfield, spent much of their time at Swathmoor Hall, which was the home of George Fox and Margaret Fell and the center of developing Quakerism.
A well-known stipple engraving of the Anglo-American artist, Benjamin West, was handed down through the maternal side of my family. As a child in the 1950’s, I remember this intriguing “Family Gathering” of the artist’s son, wife, father, brothers and new-born baby, hanging in the gloomy expanse of the hallway at my Grandparent’s home – my Grandfather was a custodian of the nearby Swathmoor Hall. family gathering hanging in the gloomy expanse of her grandparent’s home. It featured the artist’s son, wife, brothers and newborn baby - as well as a depiction of the artist himself.
My mother inherited the portrait from her parents and brought to my attention that it should “finally rest” in Pennsylvania where the artist was born.
And it came to pass… that I moved with my family of five to Wisconsin in the United States, and of course it traveled with us. In 2016, my Grandson was born. He required medical and surgical attention, and I found myself in the Pennsylvania area taking care of him!
On a visit to Independence Hall, I spotted another Benjamin West engraving and my excitement drew me to contact the Chief Curator of the Independence National Historical Park. The Curator put me in touch with Delaware County Historical Society since Benjamin West was born right here in Delaware County.
And so, this captivating piece of art has come to rest with a group of historians and librarians who will surely treasure it, local generations and visitors who will enjoy and value its intricate detail and I am experiencing sheer joy!” Lesher said.
History of Benjamin Rush Painting on which this Print is Based
Domestic scene: interior with Elizabeth West sitting by the window on the left, gazing at her youngest son, Benjamin, lying in her lap, his brother Raphael standing to left, leaning against the chair, the artist’s father John and step-brother Thomas sitting on the right, looking at the baby, wearing dark Quaker dress and hats, their hands in their laps, with the artis standing behind, leaning on his father’s chair, wearing a pale waistcoat with a decorated hem, cravat, cloak and powdered wig tied at the nape, looking at his son, holding palette and brush.
The original is in the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT.
The West engraving can be seen at the home of Delaware County Historical Society at 408 Avenue of the States. Please call 610-359-0832 or visit padelcohistory.org with any questions. DCHS is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday; and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month. It is closed on Tuesdays.
Appointments and group/school tours are available upon request. Parking is free in the lot behind the building or across the street in the city’s municipal lot. Memberships are encouraged and donations are graciously accepted.