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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Paintings at the Main Library - Part II

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 1, 2009


Last week’s column about the painting at the Main Library brought many visitors to the 1902 building to revisit the collection.


I guess I should have clarified that the 12 paintings are actually the works of two different artists.


Seven were done by Eliphalent Frazer Andrews, who I mentioned last week.


He was the Director of the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. from 1887-1902.


Several years ago, the Corcoran had an exhibit of works of Andrews, and we allowed them to borrow the small painting titled, “English Barnyard” to be part of their exhibit.


Following the exhibit, the Corcoran called to discuss the painting. 


While there, they evaluated the “English Barnyard” and compared it to the description of the painting left in Andrews’ journal at the Corcoran.


He had painted it in 1870 while still at his Steubenville studio, and listed its ornate Victorian frame and described the objects in the painting.


Today the painting has a rather plain frame, almost resembling a board from a barn.


In addition, a cow that is described in the barnyard is missing from the English farm scene.


Well, whatever happened to the ornate frame is unknown, and an x-ray at the Corcoran revealed that the cow disappeared when the painting’s canvas was ripped at some point in the past, and patched.  Whoever did the touch-up simply “painted out” the cow.


Three paintings were done by Charles P. Filson (1860-1937).  A Steubenville native, he joined his father’s photography business but took up drawing and painting as well.


Filson studied under Andrews when they were both at the Corcoran, and their portraits demonstrate a similar style.


The Filson Studios did much of the photography and portrait work for the 1897 Steubenville Centennial.


In addition to our library, Filson’s paintings remain today at Gambier College, Marietta College, the Chillicothe-Ross County Public Library, and the Jefferson County Court House.


In 1917, Mr. and Mrs. Filson relocated to La Jolla, Ca. for retirement, and an historian sent us an account of their twenty year life in California.


They lived at their western home in “Roca Vista Court” where both of the Filsons engaged in artwork and social activities.


In 1921, the Filsons purchased property closer to San Diego and began construction of another home at Sierra Mar.


Mr. Filson accepted a position in the Trust Department of the Southern Trust and Commerce Bank of San Diego in 1926.


Guests from Steubenville were mentioned quite often, and their visit would include lengthy tours of their California gardens surrounding the house.


Descriptions of their “motoring” to famous California sites were part of their residence, as well as train trips back to Ohio.


Their residence at 500 S. 4th Street in Steubenville disappeared from City Directories in 1926.


Charles Patterson Filson died on February 3, 1937 and was buried at Cypress View Mausoleum in San Diego.


Fascinating all that can be learned from a few paintings on the wall.