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Worth a Thousand Words: Prints from the Farnsworth Collection

September 12, 2015 – April 17, 2016

Exhibition Dates

September 12, 2015 – April 17, 2016


Presidential portraits, scenes of everyday life, idyllic landscapes and bird’s eye views, popular sporting prints and subject matter appealing in its romantic, political, nostalgic, even moralizing tones comprise a part of the museum’s early print collection. These nineteenth-century pictures, skillfully rendered and overly narrative, are among a vast range of popular prints once proudly displayed across the nation in schools, libraries, town halls, churches and business offices, and in American households as varied as the urban Farnsworth homestead and the rural Olson farmhouse. At the very onset of the Farnsworth’s history, some 65 years ago, these reproductions constituted a significant type within the museum’s growing collection of works on paper—and a type of cultural value to the citizens of Rockland.

A number of prints on view in this exhibition were acquired by Robert Peabody Bellows, who was engaged as an advisor to help form the early collection of the William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum. Philip Hofer, a member of the advisory committee to Bellows, and founder of the department of printing and graphic arts at Harvard’s Houghton Library, encouraged Bellows to narrow the collecting focus of the museum to American paintings and prints, and to Maine-related themes.