Museum enters portrait in statewide competition

This 19th-century portrait, believed to be of Mary Wood Early, who worked as a nursemaid for the Latham family, of Winchester, has been entered by the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley  into the 2016 Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Competition.  Courtesy photo

This 19th-century portrait, believed to be of Mary Wood Early, who worked as a nursemaid for the Latham family, of Winchester, has been entered by the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley into the 2016 Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Competition. Courtesy photo

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley Collection has entered a 19th-century portrait in the 2016 Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Competition.

Twenty endangered artifacts from around the state have been entered in the competition and the public is asked to vote for its favorite artifact until Wednesday. The voting poll is online at www.vatop10artifacts.org.

Julie Armel, deputy director of community relations for the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, said exposure received through the programs helps raise awareness of the museum’s conservation needs.

According to a Museum of the Shenandoah Valley news release, the portrait is thought be of a Shenandoah Valley sitter, believed to be Mary Wood Early, who worked as a nursemaid for the Latham family, of Winchester. The museum acquired the portrait from a descendant of the sitter in 2007. The portrait has been attributed at this time to a Maryland-born artist, George Esten Cooke, who live from 1793 to 1849.

The release added that the portrait has a rip, and layers of grime and discolored varnish hide the finer details that would help a scholar determine the painting’s date of creation, the artist who created it and confirmation of the sitter depicted.

The portrait is in need of conservation and will be on display at the museum’s gallery during the online voting. The cost to repair the tear and to clean the painting is estimated to be $2,000.

When voting for the competition, the website also provides a way to make donations for the conservation of any of the 20 nominated artifacts.

The final Top 10 honorees will be announced Sept. 27.

This is the third year the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley has nominated one of its artifacts for the competition. In 2014, a portrait miniature from the museum’s collection was named one of the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts and last year, a 19th-century portrait of Storer College founder Rev. Nathan Cook Brackett received the People’s Choice honor.

Armel said, “The museum has been fortunate to have received funds to conserve the two artifacts nominated in the competition in 2014 and 2015.”

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is located at 901 Amherst St. in Winchester.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

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