According to legend, in 1687 Joseph Wadsworth (ancestor of Atheneum founder Daniel Wadsworth) hid the Connecticut charter guaranteeing the colony’s right to self-government in the hollow of a great oak, thereby saving it from seizure by the British governor of New England. Hartford painter Charles Brownell completed this portrait of the Charter Oak in 1857, a year after the tree fell in a storm. The majestic oak dominates the foreground, while the blue onion dome of the Colt firearms factory—another powerful symbol of Hartford—is visible in the distance.
The painting is in its original frame, a wooden frame carved from the Charter Oak.
Charles DeWolf Brownell
The Charter Oak, 1857
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Josephine Marshall Dodge and Marshall Jewell Dodge, in memory of Marshall Jewell, 1898.10