Views and Vistas: Edwin Megargee’s Twin Oaks Farm Mural

Views and Vistas

Edwin Megargee’s Twin Oaks Farm Mural

Edwin Megargee (1883–1958) was recognized throughout his professional career as a prolific and much sought-after horse and dog animal portraitist. This exhibition explores his underappreciated body of work for members of the American Jersey Cattle Club during the 1920s and 1930s. Morristown resident Peter Hood Ballantine Frelinghuysen commissioned a mural of his 150-acre Twin Oaks dairy farm to decorate his bedroom addition to the McKim, Mead, & White-designed 1913 neo-Georgian mansion. Depicted in the panorama are family members and staff integral to regional and national bloodstock: Twin Oaks Jersey “Noble” line bulls were awarded nine consecutive championship medals from 1922 to 1930. Today, the Peter H. B. Frelinghuysen brick family home is the core of the Morris Museum mansion galleries, and Edwin Megargee’s one-hundred-year-old painting continues to adorn the walls of what is now our second-floor conference room. “Personality is the hardest thing to put on canvas,” the artist once explained, and this vista remains a testament to Megargee’s commitment to render a portrait which “shows the character of the subject.” We learn much from a close exploration of this mural tableau of a working dairy farm from Morristown’s past.

Views and Vistas: Edwin Megargee’s Twin Oaks Farm Mural (c. 1920) is curated by Anne Ricculli, Ph.D., Director of Exhibits and Collections with the support of Curatorial Interns Maura Ferrigno (Bates College) and Joey Patire (Gongaza University). Photography by Marcus Romero, Director of Communications, with Jean Minthe, Morris Museum Graphic Designer. Installation by Sara O’Connor, Preparator. Lighting by Lewis Perlmutter, Bickford Theatre Technical Director and Jimmy Warren, Assistant Technical Director.

Special thanks to James Lewis, Department Head, and the staff of the Caroline Rose Foster North Jersey History & Genealogy Center, The Morristown and Morris Township Library, for archival research assistance.

Image Caption: Edwin Megargee (American, 1883–1958) Untitled (Twin Oaks Farm Mural Panel # 8 and #9), c. 1920 (detail) Digital photograph of acrylic on canvas painted mural panel. From left: Bob Calendar, Twin Oaks farm manager; Steve Karris, competition showman; A.L. Bromlet, animal handler with Adaline Havemeyer and Peter Hood Ballantine (PHB) Frelinghuysen, owners of Twin Oaks farm.

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