Alsop House Wall Paintings
The exterior and interior decorations of the Alsop House were executed around 1840 in oil on plaster, an unusual method in American domestic architecture. The artist is unknown. The decoration has a superficial resemblance to that of the Empire Style, possibly suggesting a French influence. However, a similar classical taste prevailed throughout all of Europe at the time. The painter belonged to the decorative tradition stemming from Raphael, augmented by the Pompeiian mode of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This somewhat academic style is relieved by a lively naturalism. This effect is particularly evident in the morning room with its foliage, birds, and insects.
With the exception of the stable, which was remodeled as Wesleyan's art library, the fine exterior of the Alsop House was kept intact. Its pink color simulates a shade discovered in old, intact paint along the moldings on the sculpture porch. The restoration of the exterior paintings as well as the ceiling and wall paintings in the north and south parlors was directed by Richard Buck, Head of the Conservation Department at the Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard University. The entire restoration of the house and wall paintings took Buck and a colleague at the Fogg two years. They were assisted by Thaddeus Beck of Boston, trained as a church painter in Vienna. Allyn Cox worked on reproductions of the exterior frescoes.
Continue to Exterior Decorations
Sources for information on these Alsop House pages: The history of the painted motifs is derived largely from research by Allyn Cox. For further research on the house and its decorations we are indebted to Samuel M. Green (Professor Emeritus, Art Department) and Dolores M. Gall. An earlier version of this text was prepared by Laura M. Edmiston (B.A. Wesleyan 1991).