Brownell completed this carefully rendered portrait of the famous Charter Oak tree a year after the aged oak fell to the ground in 1856. The painting is in a wood frame carved from the oak.
According to legend, the Connecticut charter guaranteeing the colony’s right to self-government was hidden in the oak’s hollow by Daniel Wadsworth’s ancestor Joseph Wadsworth in 1687 when the new British governor of New England tried to seize it. The blue onion dome of the Colt firearms factory - another powerful Hartford symbol - is visible in the distance, to the right of the oak.
Charles DeWolf Brownell (American, 1822-1909)
The Charter Oak, 1857
Oil on canvas, 43 1/8 x 54 5/16 in.
Gift of Mrs. Josephine Marshall Dodge and Marshall Jewell Dodge, in memory of Marshall Jewell, 1898.10
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT