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1949.1005 (RS17376)


Hand painted over scenic wallpaper (original probably French). Scene on a canal lined with views of various houses and churches of the Piscataqua region such as Hamilton House, Gov. Wentworth House, Old North Church, Pierce House, Langdon House, and Jewett House. Overall blue-green tone.


Soon after returning from a tour of Italy in 1905, Elise and Emily Tyson commissioned artist George Porter Fernald to paint an Italian garden-themed mural on the dining room walls of their summer home. The Tyson women looked to Italy as a source of ideas on the ideal country house and how to integrate it with the landscape, an idea no doubt influenced by the popular book Italian Villas and Their Gardens by Edith Wharton, published in 1904. The mural, which Fernald painted right over the existing wallpaper, depicts scenes of ancient Roman ruins, Renaissance villas, gardens, grottoes, and waterfalls. The predominantly blue and green colors of the mural and the water and gardens it depicts merge with the views from the windows of the Tysons' garden, the woods, and the river - the fantasy landscape blends with the actual. This merging of indoor and outdoor spaces is a continuing theme at Hamilton House.<br/> In 1907, Emily and Elise Tyson invited George Porter Fernald to return to Hamilton House. On this visit Fernald was asked to paint a mural in the house's drawing room in imitation of the French scenic wallpaper Les Monuments de Paris. In place of Parisian landmarks, however, Fernald painted the landmarks of the Piscataqua region - Fort McKleary and the Lady Pepperell House in Kittery; the mills of Dover; the Langdon House, John Paul Jones House, and Governor Wentworth Mansion of Portsmouth; and the Sarah Orne Jewett and Hamilton Houses of South Berwick among them. As before, he painted over the existing wallpaper in the room but this time left sections of the wallpaper unpainted, cleverly incorporating the leafy design of the paper into the mural as foliage on the trees.
Fernald, George Porter (Maker)
Location of origin
Associated Building
Original To Hamilton House (South Berwick, Me.). Original To Gov. Wentworth House. Original To Old North Church. Original To Governor John Langdon House (Portsmouth, N.H.). Original To Sarah Orne Jewett House (South Berwick, Me.). Original To Pierce House (Dorchester, Mass.). Original to Hamilton House (South Berwick, Me.).
painting (coating)
paper (fiber product)
Object type
Building Component
Maine (United States)
Descriptive terms
painting (coating)
paper (fiber product)
Unidentified Paper
People and organizations
Gov. Wentworth House
Hamilton House
Jewett House
Langdon House
Old North Church
Pierce House
Accession Number
Credit Line
Bequest of Elizabeth R. Vaughan
Related Items
Title George Porter Fernald at work on Hamilton House mural