Fountain Elms is a beautiful Victorian home located next to the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute (MWPAI). It is the ancestral home of the institute’s founders, and it is open to the public as a museum. You can get to Fountain Elms from MWPAI by way of a basement hallway, which is what Steven and I did last Saturday.
A lady was showing some other visitors around, telling them things about the rooms and the family that lived there. We did not take advantage of the guide this visit, but we have on previous visits. The people that work there are very knowledgeable and patient about answering questions.
The downstairs rooms are furnished and decorated as they would have been in the 1850s. You can only walk into them so far, which is a good thing, because the decorating style of the time was a bit crowded. I probably would have fit right in, because I tend to fill my rooms with a lot of stuff, too. Of course, my stuff is not elegant, but different times, different stuff.
Upstairs there are paintings, accessories and artifacts behind glass, and a beautiful vintage doll house. I think I sent a post card of the doll house to my sister, when she was at home recuperating from an operation.
I was quite interested in the paintings, which included portraits painted at various times. Some were identified, some not. What struck me was the different levels of realism. How can I put it? Some of the artists had the proportions wrong, or the figures looked stiff and unnatural. Others from similar years looked as if they might turn and speak to you. I really ought to take an art class, so I would know more about these things. Was the stiffness the style of the time or of that particular artist? I know portraits are usually commissioned works, bought and paid for the way we pay professional photographers for family portraits today (well, Steven and I have never done such a thing). And I remember reading in period fiction how people wanted to hire the fashionable painter of the time to do their portrait. But I don’t know why you wouldn’t hire somebody that made you look real. Or is that a silly thing to say, and readers who know about art history are rolling their eyes. Oh well, I’ve been rolled at before.
We enjoyed our visit to Fountain Elm. We went back through MWPAI and made our way to our car, to once again brave the Genesee Street detour, in search of further Mohawk Valley adventures.