A Wealth of Maryland History

Artist: Tompkins Harrison Matteson (1813-1884)

Painting: Founding of Maryland by Tompkins Matteson
Title: Founding of Maryland
Date: 1853
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 37 x 51"
Accession number: MSA SC 1545-2551

"The Founding of Maryland" was painted in 1853. Correspondence relating to this painting notes that despite the title of the painting, there are questions regarding  its meaning. At an exhibit at the Maryland Historical Society in 1971, the Director, Mr Manakee and the Curator hung the painting next to the original Acts of Toleration, because they were certain that this was the scene being depicted. They pointed out the similarity of the central figure to the figure in an etching of Cecil Calvert which the MHS owns, the prominence of the document and Puritan costumes. While there is not conclusive evidence of the correct title or subject of the painting, the interpretation of the piece as an allegorical depiction of the The Acts of Toleration is a strong possibility.

Tompkins Harrison Matteson, the artist, was born in Peterboro, N.Y in 1813. In 1813 he moved to NYC. In 1850 he retired to Sherburne, MA., where he died in 1884. He was always busy, painted many portraits and taught groups of students, among whom was Elihu Vedder. "The Founding of the Colony of Maryland" was formerly in the collection of Avis and Rockwell Gardiner until its purchase by Arthur Houghton, Jr. in the 1970's; Mr. Houghton gave the painting to the Archives in 1983. Since  it was given to the Archives it was first exhibited at the Hall of Records on the St. John's campus and is currently in the State House, Senate Lounge.

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