Hartford, Connecticut: Parlor Memorial
Wadsworth Atheneum, Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut
Hurting economically at the outset of the Civil War, the small towns of backcountry New England swelled the Union army with new recruits. Casualties were overwhelming, with some towns losing most of their young male populations. Postwar New England experienced a deep sense of loss that transformed its social landscape and led to the creation of monuments, memorial halls, rural cemeteries, and memory art that eventually found its way into museum collections across the region.
This parlor memorial was created between 1865 and 1870 by Eliza Trask of Nobleboro, Maine, in honor of her husband, Adoniram Judson Trask, who had served with the 21st Regiment of the Maine Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. An antique cherry snake-foot candle stand and the layered wooden structure sitting atop it are totally encrusted with hundreds of carefully chosen seashells; daguerreotypes and tintypes of Adoniram and other family members highlight the pyramid.
This amazing American folk art composition testifies to deep family devotion and painstaking craftsmanship. It’s displayed in the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Hudson River School Gallery, where its naturalism complements epic scenes of the American landscape.
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main St., Hartford, CT. 860-278-2670; wadsworthatheneum.org