Artwork brings ‘The War of 1812 at Sea’ to Fairfield

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Fairfield Museum and History Center will launch a special art exhibition, “The War of 1812 at Sea,” featuring marine paintings from the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery collection, on July 28.

The exhibition, which will be on display through Sept. 9, will chronicle the great sea battles around The War of 1812, some of which occurred off the Connecticut coast, and will feature marine paintings and models from art dealer Jinishian.

“Using meticulous research methods and their powerful imaginations, these skilled artists were able to re-create and bring to life the ships, the men, and the battles they fought 200 years ago for us first-hand today,” Jinishian said.

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The works to be displayed encompass oil paintings by the late Robert Sticker of Pleasant Mountain, Pa., of ships such as the USS Constitution and the USS Vixen; oil paintings by Paul Garnett of Marlborough, Mass., of the USS Constitution, US Frigate Essex and a whaler; watercolors by Arthur Shilstone of Redding of the warship Niagara raking the British with carronade fire and The Battle of Lake Erie; an oil by Patrick O’Brien, Baltimore, Md., of the USS Enterprise vs. the HMS Boxer, a battle off the coast of Maine; a watercolor of the Brig Oneida by William Walsh, Grand Isle, Vt.; a watercolor by Victor Mays of Clinton of the HMS Atalante off Killingworth Harbor; and two different models of the USS Constitution by model builder Lloyd McCaffery of Boulder, Colo.

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“We consider ourselves privileged to be able to display the outstanding work of these artists. Their paintings and models capture pivotal moments during the War of 1812, a troubled and dark time for our young nation and for Fairfield as well,” Museum Executive Director Michael Jehle said.

As a new nation in the early 1800s, the United States relied heavily on overseas trade with Britain and France, two global powers that were locked in conflict. American frustration grew as the British kept American ships from sailing freely, and also claimed the right to seize American sailors for service in the British Navy. Determined to prove America’s independence and restore its freedom to trade, Congress declared war on Britain in 1812.

According to historians, it did not take long for Fairfield and its neighboring communities along the coast to feel the impact of the War of 1812. With the British blockading Long Island Sound, Fairfield vessels were threatened while residents on land lived in constant fear of attacks. Memories of the burning of Fairfield during the Revolution must have intensified the fears of Fairfield residents, who organized themselves into militias and built the Powder House, that still stands behind Fairfield’s Tomlinson Middle School, to defend the area.

The artwork on display for this exhibition will be for sale through the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery and a portion of the proceeds will go to support programs at the Museum, according to Jehle.

Fairfield Museum and History Center (fairfieldhistory.org), 370 Beach Road, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free for members, $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and free for children age 5 and under.

Information on exhibits and upcoming programs is available at fairfieldhistory.org or 203-259-1598.

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