Library Celebrates Return of Hasbrouck Portraits – Please join us!

The Stone Ridge Library will host a reception to celebrate the return two life sized portraits of Julia Lawrence Hasbrouck and her husband Garret Decker Hasbrouck, painted in 1840 by noted Italian artist Francesco Anelli. The event will take place on Sunday, April 6 at 2pm in the Library’s newly restored Reference Room. Dr. William B. Rhoads, Professor Emeritus of Art History at SUNY, New Paltz will comment on the paintings, and Educator and Historian Susan Stessin-Cohn will read from one of Julia’s diaries.

While Julia’s diary entries offer insights into daily life in New York City where they family lived before coming to “the Ridge,” Julia often shared her thoughts about sitting for the portraits. In a diary entry, dated March 2, 1841, she writes:

“A lovely, bright day, warm as May.” “ At ten oclock, Garret, myself, the three children, and two nurses, went to Mr Anelli’s. Our portraits, are nearly completed. They are both beautifull in design, & execution.”

The portraits and diaries were a gift from the Hasbroucks’ daughter, Julia Hasbrouck Dwight, along with the 1798 stone house—their family home—that she donated in memory of her parents. The building has served as the community library since 1909.

In 2011, as the Library undertook a major campaign to stabilize and restore the original stone building, the paintings were shipped to Westlake Conservators in Skaneateles for evaluation, treatment and storage, while the Library sought funding for their restoration. Thanks to a grant by the Greater Hudson Heritage Network’s Conservation Treatment Program, Julia’s portrait was restored, regaining much of its original beauty. Although a second grant was not awarded in 2013, the Library will continue to pursue funding to restore Garret’s portrait. The Library purchased period reproduction frames which added both aesthetic appeal and protection to the pair.

Visitors to the Library will have the opportunity to compare the portraits, contrasting Julia’s post-treatment complexion and radiance with Garret’s dim appearance, until the second restoration takes place.

Of the portraits’ homecoming, Library Director Jody Ford commented, “It is a big moment. The paintings are an important part of our heritage and our history and are the centerpiece of the Library’s local history collection.”

Robert Miraldi, president of the Library Board of Trustees, said that the return of the paintings coincides with the major rehabilitation of the 1798 building which is just about completed. But, Miraldi pointed out, “we need to find a way still to restore Garret’s portrait.”

The Library will continue to seek funding, but the other hope, Miraldi said, is that someone in the community might step up. “We need help,” Miraldi said. “We have so many needs right now, and our money is mostly going into the restoration and stabilization of the building. But the paintings are so much a part of this building’s history that we need to find a way to restore and protect them.”

The public is cordially invited to attend the April 6 program. More information about the portraits, the building restoration and library events is available at http://www.stoneridgelibrary.org and on the Library’s facebook

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