*Monmouth County - Freehold - Currently at MCHA - A Family Reunited: The Conover Portraits and Polite and Useful Education: Pictorial Needlework Embroidery


A Family Reunited: The Conover Portraits

Caption: Portrait of William I. Conover (1836 – 1902) by George Henry Durrie. Gift of Mrs. J. Amory Haskell, 1939.

MCHA will open a special new exhibit on 2 November entitled “A Family Reunited: The Conover Portraits.” Seven portraits of Tunis V. Conover of Marlboro, his wife Rebecca Crawford Conover, and their three children Hendrick S., Anne B., and William I. Conover, were painted between 1819 and 1855 by three artists who worked in Monmouth County during those years. They were Micah Williams from New Brunswick, George Henry Durrie from Connecticut, and Harvey Jenkins, a local portrait painter. Five of the likenesses commissioned in 1842 from Durrie depict the entire family. Rebecca sat for her first portrait in pastel by Micah Williams in 1819 at age seven. Durrie captured her at age thirty. Then Harvey Jenkins created a third portrait of Rebecca about 1855 at roughly forty-five years of age.

Rebecca Crawford Conover (1812 – 1897), by Harvey Jenkins. Gift of Alan Baird, 2016.

It is highly unusual to be able to compare three portraits of a single individual at different stages of life, and as depicted by three talented artists, each with their individual vision and techniques. This remarkable collection of portraits has not been seen together since 1902, when it was divided among the two daughters of William I. Conover. The exhibit has been augmented with a nineteenth century oil on canvas painting of the Conover family residence in Marlboro that features two hunting dogs, and an exquisite pictorial sampler worked by Rebecca as a young girl. Items on display have come from the Association’s permanent collection, from two private collections, as well as from Conover family descendants.
The museum of the Monmouth County Historical Association is located at 70 Court Street in Freehold. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. The exhibit will remain on view through January 2019.

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