Six Degrees of Dartmouth College

Rufus Porter Style Mural

Rufus Porter Style Mural of Dartmouth College?

“Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” is not an original idea. In New England, the game should be entitled “Six Degrees of Dartmouth College”. In July, Mrs. Brit suggested that a “Rufus Porter style” painting course presented by Bridgton’s Rufus Porter Museum might be fun. Having limited artistic aptitude other than one college studio art class and a degree in history of art, an attempt was made to keep up with Mrs. Brit, talented chef, adept artist and accomplished interior designer. Unfortunately, Bridgton was enduring a major rain storm and outdoor activities were curtailed. No excuse could be made. Once committed to the class, finding an artistic theme to correspond with a maladroit’s ability initially proved to be very difficult. Finally a concept presented itself: “Dartmouth College, Horse Sheds, Gardner House – Rufus Porter”.

How could an original painting by SRoy for DRoy, Dartmouth ’80, be an unwelcome gift… regardless of how amateurish or hideous? How difficult would it be to paint one white structure on a hill? (Best left unsaid.) The instructor oohed and awed at Mrs. Brit’s sense of color, her depiction of the Vermonter’s dog and cat, the light and the overall composition. The comments on the Dartmouth scene included, “nice sky, beautiful ferns”. Does the Dartmouth painting recall “the college on the hill and “the lone pine above her”? Not! The from another era painting’s title should be “Dartmouth College, 1780, SRoy, ten-years-old”.

Rufus Porter 1792-1884
Itinerant painter and inventor and founder Scientific American Magazine
The name Rufus Porter does not register with most Americans. There are few Mainers who have heard of Porter or his accomplishments. The Rufus Porter Museum, located in Bridgton, tells the story of America’s Leonardo di Vinci. Porter made a living as a painter of portraits and murals in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire and as far west as Hawaii. But painting was not Porter’s only forté. Porter, a descendant from an illustrious landowning Massachusetts family lived in the Bridgton area, attended the local private school, Fryeburg Academy (founded by his uncle), and proceeded to paint, educate, invent and travel. Porter’s significant accomplishments include the founding of Scientific American, the invention of the revolving rifle (sold to Samuel Colt for $100 in 1844), and widely published instructions on how to construct a portable camera.

Six Degrees of Dartmouth
DRoy – Dartmouth College Class of 1980
Daniel Webster – Fryeburg Academy Headmaster 1802 – 1803, Dartmouth College Class of 1801
Rufus Porter – Fryeburg Academy, Student and Painter of Dartmouth College Scenes

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