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December 23 2003

Press Release: Brownscombe Prints Now Available at WCHS’s Museum Shop

Five hundred limited edition numbered ‘giclee’ prints of Jennie Brownscombe’s oil painting, Children Playing in an Orchard, are now available through the Wayne County Historical Society.  Each numbered print has a certificate of authenticity from the society. This beautiful spring scene was accurately captured from the original owned by the Wayne Highlands School District, using advanced digital imaging and the ‘giclee’ process, to produce high quality prints on canvas. Two sizes of framed (27” x 43” and 17” x 27”) and unframed (24” x 40” and 14” x 24”) prints are on sale at the Wayne County Historical Society’s Museum Shop, 810 Main Street, Honesdale, Wednesday through Saturday from 00 AM to 4:00 PM and Sundays from noon to 4:00 PM beginning June 22nd through October. Prints can also be shipped by UPS. Call 570 253-3240 for details.

Proceeds from the sale of prints prior to 2004 will support the local production of a documentary film about the life of Honesdale’s native artist, Jennie Brownscombe. The film will be released locally in 2004 by Salsa Shark Productions and will be available for purchase. Proceeds from the sale of prints after March 31st 2004 will benefit a Jennie Brownscombe Scholarship Fund and the Wayne County Historical Society. If sales permit, the scholarship will be awarded annually to a Honesdale High School Senior attending a four-year college or university majoring in the arts.

Painted in 1933, Children Playing in an Orchardis one of the last paintings completed by Jennie Brownscombe.  Charmed by a request for one of her “pictures” by school children from her hometown, Brownscombe completed this painting knowing that in years to come, little children of Honesdale, “not yet born, would see and enjoy it.”

In the spring of 1932, at age 81, recovering from a stroke two years earlier, Jennie Brownscombe was still busy working at her easel in her New York City studio. Doctors were encouraging Jennie to give up her New York studio of more than 20 years, due to her failing health. Jennie refused, stating that she “was not yet ready to retire” and would soon go to her “excellent summer studio” in Palenville, New York and return to the city in the fall to continue her work. Before leaving New York City for Palenville, Jennie received a letter from her friend Miss Ann Seamans, Principal of Lincoln School in Honesdale. She thanked Jennie for sending many of her historical prints to hang in her classroom, and for the copy of the book “Children of the Mayflower” which Brownscombe illustrated. Miss Seamans also mentioned that the children at the Lincoln school would like to have one of her paintings. In one of her many letters preserved by the Wayne County Historical Society, dated June 20, 1932, responding to Miss Seamans request, Miss Brownscombe “I am glad you tell me of the school wanting one of my pictures—It is a tribute to me that the school I attended when a girl, should wish to give me a commission.”

Late in 1933 the finished painting entitled Children Playing in an Orchard was delivered by the artist, during one of her trips to visit friend, and hung in the Lincoln School. The artist was paid an unknown sum that was reportedly a small amount, which came from the school’s petty cash fund and “pennies from the children.”

In response to receiving the check, the artist wrote on January 12,   “I want to tell you how glad I am to know that my picture is so valued by those who see it. It was a pleasure to paint it, and to think that in years to come, little children not yet born, would see and enjoy it.”

The painting remained at the Lincoln school for the next 60 years where countless children saw and enjoyed the painting while passing by in the hall. The painting was never marked or damaged in any way. In 1992 the painting’s importance and value was realized by the school district and it was loaned to the Dorflinger Museum and Wayne County Historical Society’s Museum for temporary exhibits. It then was moved to the Board Room of the Wayne Highlands School District where it hangs today.

Cooperation between Wayne Highland School District, Donald Pugh, Peter English owner of Grandstyle Framing Co. of Honesdale, and the Wayne County Historical Society has made these beautiful prints available to the public to enjoy and appreciate the great artistic talent of Wayne County’s own, Jennie Brownscombe.