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Sign of The Duke of Cumberland
1753
Original Owner:Originally owned by Oliver Pomeroy , American, 1729 - 1776
Original Owner:Originally owned by Mary Lyman , American, 1729 - 1776
Maker:Maker Unknown
Painter:Overpainted by Louis James Donlon
Paint on pine board, ash posts
Primary Dimensions (height x width including hardware): 42 1/4 x 21in. (107.3 x 53.3cm) Other (height x width of sign only): 40 5/8 x 20 1/4in. (103.2 x 51.4cm)
Credit Line: Collection of Morgan B. Brainard. Gift of Mrs. Morgan B. Brainard
Gallery Copy: Before the Revolutionary War, portraits of British nobles or military heroes were frequently used on American tavern signs. William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland, was a son of King George II and the uncle of King George III. He commanded English forces against the 1746 Jacobite (Catholic Scottish) uprising. He fell from favor in Britain after his surrender to French forces at the start of the Seven Years War. However, he remained popular in America until royal imagery fell out of favor around the time of the Revolution. The musket ball holes in the sign are evidence of what some people may have thought of the image.
Description: Images: on both sides, three-quarter view of leaping black horse, with rider dressed as cavalier; image is centered against white ground; side 2 is overpainted, with grass added beneath horse's feet; no underlying images. Construction: Single board, with applied moldings; no structural frame. Board is oriented vertically and hand-sawn at top and bottom to create decorative pediment and skirt profiles. Double moldings make a rectangular frame for the central image. The ogee-profiled inner moldings are applied to both faces of the signboard and nailed with hand-wrought nails; corners are mitered. The outer moldings consist of thick boards with rounded ("bullnose") edge profiles, applied to the side edges and to the top and bottom faces of the signboard; at the corners, the outer horizontal moldings are contoured to fit around the shaped vertical moldings. Wood is Pinus strobus, Eastern white pine, identified by analysis (Hoadley, March 2000). Surface: Side 1 is severely weathered, although brushwork, following the contours of the horse, remains visible in the black paint; no other colors were found remaining in the image. Lettering was executed between scribed guidelines. Side 2 was overpainted by Louis James Donlon in 1914; the repainted image has a cartoon-like character, created by heavy black outlines (possibly oil paint) surrounding areas of vivid, rather flat colors. A patch of grass was added beneath the horse, although there is no evidence of such a background element on side 1.
Historical Note: Original locations. This sign hung at two separate structures within the Stepney Parish of Wethersfield, which was incorporated as Rocky Hill in 1843. The Pomeroy house, referred to by antiquarians as the "Long Tavern," was a frame structure, probably built in the 1750s, on the river landing in Rocky Hill, near Pomeroy's wharf. It is no longer extant. When Robbins became tavernkeeper, he evidently acquired the Pomeroy sign and moved it to his own house, located on the hill above the landing, along the main road from Middletown to Hartford. Robbins was among the wealthiest men in Connecticut, and his brick residence, built in 1767, was one of the most expensive houses built anywhere in the Connecticut River Valley prior to the Revolution. Both substantial and stylish, it introduced into the area such cosmopolitan Georgian features as a Palladian-style window and cornice with modillion blocks and flutings. That Robbins did not commission a new sign to hang in front of his handsome house suggests that the image on Pomeroy's old sign may have held a particular significance for him, as for his predecessor. Robbins's house remains standing on its original site, now fronting a side street parallel to Rt. 99 in Rocky Hill.
Inscription: Side 1 has two sets of initials on pediment, "I R.S" over "OPM"; above the image, "The Duke of Cumberland" (badly worn); below the image, "ENTERTA/ INMENT"; on the apron, "1773" over "1753" (badly worn). Side 2 is overpainted, displaying the same text, except as follows: on the pediment, "OPM" has been overpainted, over earlier initials, and spacing has been altered to "ENTERT/ AINMENT".
Object Number: 1961.63.43
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