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Jonathan Fisher Watercolors from Harvard Archives on Display in Farnsworth Art Museum

The pieces are included in the exhibit "A Wondrous Journey—Jonathan Fisher and the Making of Scripture Animals," which will be on display in Rockland, Maine through January 5, 2014.

Paintings on display

August 20, 2013—Two watercolors from the Harvard University Archives by Jonathan Fisher, Harvard Class of 1795, are now on display at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. The exhibit, "A Wondrous Journey—Jonathan Fisher and the Making of Scripture Animals," highlights Fisher’s curious mind and his multifaceted interests and talents as a minister, mathematician, linguist, teacher and writer—in addition to his work as a visual artist. “The two pieces [from Harvard] are important to the exhibit because it was at Harvard that Jonathan Fisher had the access to the books, ideas and teachers who forever inspired his intellectual pursuits,” said Farnsworth Assistant Curator Jane Bianco, who curated the exhibit.

Bianco tracked down Fisher’s mathematical thesis—which is as much a work of art as any of his paintings—through an online search during the four years that she spent researching Fisher and finding materials for the exhibit. She later learned about a second piece in the Archives, which depicts a view of Hollis, Harvard and Massachusetts Halls.

According to Robin McElheny, associate university archivist for collections and public services, Fisher’s thesis had been digitized but the view of three Harvard buildings had not. Both were taken to the Weissman Preservation Center for conservation treatment before they were sent to Maine.

The painting of Harvard, Hollis and Massachusetts Halls has been in the University Archives since the 1970s, after spending many years on display in the Perkins Room in Massachusetts Hall. Painted in 1794, it is one of several views of Harvard that Fisher painted during his postgraduate time in Cambridge. The painting was first acquired by the Storer family of Boston. It was eventually given to Harvard in 1873 by David Murray, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Rutgers University.

McElheny was enthusiastic about the loan because she believes that having the painting in this exhibit about Jonathan Fisher “places the works in a different context, beyond Harvard, and broadens their relevance. Their inclusion in the exhibit helps to reinforce that he was a man of many interests.”

Learn more about the exhibit at the Farnsworth Museum of Art, which will be on display through January 5, 2014, here.