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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hiding Behind the Walls

The work of an Itinerant limner 1790

When I entered this Newtown, CT House... 

...I didn’t see an immediate pile or gadget that caught my eye, but i did hear the owner, Steven, say to another party, “There are some things in the house, if you want to look.” Steven, who was sporting a sticker that said, “NOT for sale” and a British accent almost talked me out of going inside, thinking I might not be interested, when he interrupted himself by saying, “Well, go ahead and take a look.”

The interior was almost bare, indicating that a closing was near and there seemed to be as many “NOT for sale” stickers as there were “For sale” ones. I wended my way around the rooms in the first floor finding an interesting mix of modern and antique items. The one that caught my eye were 2 paintings on what seemed like cement. I had to ask about their origin.

Hiding behind these walls
I reintroduced myself to the owner, explaining that I was looking for a story and believed I had found one in some items upstairs. Steven began sharing that when the demolition began on the original home, a structure built around1790, they had discovered these and other items behind the wall.

The work of an Itinerant limner 1790
As we walked, he continued, "Theses were done by an itinerant limner."
“What is a limner?” I asked.
The work of an Itinerant limner 1790An itinerant limner is a painter who travels the countryside offering his services to homeowners. This was fairly common in the 18th century and one had apparently visited this home and been given work. The images of the birds and the portrait (likely, the lady of the house) were carefully preserved and custom framed upon their discovery. 

The process involved drilling holes in the exterior of the house and pumping a resin behind the painting so that it could be removed in one piece.

Nice work, Steven! (Note: If no one purchases the paintings, they will be donated to the Newtown, CT Historical Society.)

Part II of this story is coming soon “What was that in the bottle dump?”

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