Collections on Display
In 1758 Nathaniel Barrell married Sally Sayward, the daughter of Jonathan and Sarah Sayward, who lived in what is now the Sayward-Wheeler House in York Harbor, Maine. Two years later, Barrell embarked on a three-year trip to England to establish himself as a merchant, which at the time was one of the surest means of acquiring wealth and position. In 1763, just before his return, he made a number of purchases from Samuel Walker, "Upholsterer and Cabinet Maker, at the Crown, near three Nuns Inn, without Aldgate" in London. The most extraordinary of Barrell's purchases is this carved looking glass and a pair of candle sconces. The glass and sconces are the epitome of the Rococo style, which was at the height of fashion in the mid-eighteenth century and have been placed in the Langdon House, across from the finest Rococo carving north of Boston, as a compliment to the rare style.
Gov. John Langdon Portrait
This portrait of Gov. John Langdon, attributed to Edward Savage, circa 1790, portrays the politician in a somber light. As one of the only images of Langdon in the house, it shows Langdon in three quarter profile, wearing a short white wig. John Langdon was a United States senator, three-term governor of New Hampshire, a delegate to the first and second Continental Congress, and a signer of the United States Constitution.
Eliza Langdon’s Harpsichord
This instrument was placed in the southeast parlor when Eliza Langdon, the only surviving child of John and Betsy Langdon, was a child. The harpsichord was made in England of mahogany, pine, and a light wood veneer. It is possible that Eliza played President George Washington a tune during his many visits to her father’s home during his 1789 tour through Portsmouth.
Helen Elwyn Kremer by Cecilia Beaux
This portrait of Helen Elwyn Kremer was painted by American portraitist Cecilia Beaux between 1907-1910. Helen was the daughter of Revered Alfred Langdon Elwyn, Jr. and Helen Maria Dyer. After her husband’s death, she lived at the Langdon House with her sisters, Frances Elwyn Wendell and Elizabeth Elwyn Langdon. Helen’s niece, Frances Wendell Stone, never liked the portrait, but Cecilia Beaux loved it and always borrowed it for exhibitions. According to Frances, Aunt Helen wore pearls at the sitting but Beaux did not paint them.