Trenton Rises Against Early Sale of Historic Paintings at Thomas Edison State University – Trentonian
TRENTON — Greed has a new name: Thomas Edison State University.
Trenton stakeholders are angry at the capital college’s decision to part ways with NC Wyeth’s famous painting depicting George Washington’s visit to Trenton in 1789.
Wells Fargo donated the painting to the university in 2019 with the understanding that it would remain in its possession for at least three years.
University officials said The Trentonian that the three-year moratorium has expired, releasing the painting to be sold to the highest bidder.
The board approved the sale at its June 10 meeting, and the university plans to use some of the proceeds for an “exciting new initiative for the city of Trenton very soon.”
“Every decision the university makes is made within our mission and in the best interests of our students,” said Victoria Monaghan, spokeswoman for Thomas Edison State University.
But members of the Trenton Historical Society accused the university of not having the city’s best interests in mind.
The non-profit organization has set up a protest table and handed out flyers outside the school for the past few weeks, hoping to change the mind of college president Merodie Hancock on the imminent sale of one of the most emblematic of the 3,000 paintings composed by Wyeth, who is considered one of the greatest American illustrators.
According to the Brandywine River Museum’s NC Wyeth Catalog, the artist used an article published in the Columbian Magazine on April 25, 1789, describing Washington’s entry into Trenton, as a reference for the creation of the mural. He painted it in Chadds Ford’s studio in Pennsylvania.
“It’s invaluable. We hope other members of government above the college will take note of what they are doing and say, ‘You can’t do this,'” said Karl Flesch, vice president of the Trenton Historical Society, adding the organization. also planned to organize a letter-writing campaign to Governor Phil Murphy. “We will continue to be a thorn in their side. The plan is to keep doing it through the summer, fall, whatever it takes.
The nonprofit has already won the backing of Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, who called the university’s decision to sell a piece of history “myopic”.
He hoped that state officials would intervene to find the painting a home in the New Jersey State Museum or the Statehouse.
” It’s a masterpiece. I hope they don’t replace it with finger paint,” Gusciora said. “You just hope they would reconsider this and think about the long-term consequences. Once [money’s] past, all you have are the memories.
The university did not say whether it had any offers so far for the oil-on-canvas mural officially titled “Reception at Washington on April 21, 1789, at Trenton on his way to New York to assume the duties of the presidency of the United States”. .”
It was commissioned in 1930 by First Mechanics National Bank, a company inherited from Wells Fargo. The bank originally loaned the mural to the university in 2013, when it moved from its West State Street headquarters to another location in Trenton.
The coin was officially donated to the university six years later in what has been described as the largest donation in the school’s history. Since then, it had been in the main entrance atrium of Thomas Edison State University at 101 West State Street.
“It’s wrong on so many levels. They are just taking advantage of the situation. Everyone feels a sense of betrayal,” said Algernon Ward Jr., board member of the Trenton Historical Society. “It’s a breach of public trust.”
Trenton is steeped in Revolutionary War history, and Washington’s crossing of the icy Delaware River in December 1776 and his victory at the Battle of Trenton marked a watershed moment for Americans.
At the time it was offered to the university, Hancock seemed to grasp the importance of the mural to Trenton, saying the college looked forward to “showcasing it even more in the future”.
His tone changed dramatically in Thursday’s statement to The Trentonian.
“While this is a unique gift in the history of our university, donations to the university are ultimately about furthering our mission to educate and empower working adults,” said said Hancock. “We very much hope that this painting finds a new home where it can be seen and enjoyed more widely while helping us advance the TESU mission.”