MONTPELIER, Vt. — A massive painting showing 350 years of state history has been donated to the Vermont Historical Society, where it will be preserved and protected.
The mural, “Tribute to Vermont,” by late New England artist Paul Sample, has been hanging in the lobby of insurance company National Life Group’s headquarters in Montpelier since 1961.
The 50-foot-by-8-foot (15.2-meter-by-2.4-meter) painting shows scenes from Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in the Champlain Valley in 1609 to the development of the ski industry in the 1950s.
The insurance company said the painting, installed in a busy office building lobby, has begun to show signs of stress. It said conservation experts have found dirt and grime on the painting’s surface, some paint loss and spots where the painting apparently was bumped into and damaged.
National Life said it wants to have the painting removed for long-term conservation. It said the painting will be displayed by the Historical Society in a climate-controlled environment overseen by curators.
“We’re honored that the Historical Society shares our appreciation for this major piece of art,” company president Mehran Assadi said.
The Historical Society plans to install the painting in a permanent exhibit at its Vermont History Museum in Montpelier. Thousands of people, including most Vermont schoolchildren, visit the museum each year.
Historical Society executive director Stephen Perkins said he’s excited to use the painting “as a jumping-off point for conversation about Vermont’s past, present and future.”
“This beautiful painting tells Vermont’s story in a wonderful way,” Perkins said in a statement issued by National Life.
Sample, a 1920s graduate of Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, was the college’s artist-in-residence when he was commissioned to paint “Tribute to Vermont.” He created it on two canvases and joined them, using a maple tree in the middle to hide the edges. He depicted more than 50 scenes in the painting, including Vermont’s politics, its agricultural heritage, its formerly dominant machine tool industry and its outdoor activities.