Two watercolors from the Harvard University Archives by Jonathan Fisher, Harvard Class of 1795, are now on display at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. The exhibit, “A Wondrous Journey—Jonathan Fisher and the Making of Scripture Animals,” highlights Fisher’s curious mind and his multifaceted interests and talents as a minister, mathematician, linguist, teacher and writer—in addition to his work as a visual artist. “The two pieces [from Harvard] are important to the exhibit because it was at Harvard that Jonathan Fisher had the access to the books, ideas and teachers who forever inspired his intellectual pursuits,” said Farnsworth Assistant Curator Jane Bianco, who curated the exhibit.
Bianco tracked down Fisher’s mathematical thesis—which is as much a work of art as any of his paintings—through an online search during the four years that she spent researching Fisher and finding materials for the exhibit. She later learned about a second piece in the Archives, which depicts a view of Hollis, Harvard and Massachusetts Halls.
According to Robin McElheny, associate university archivist for collections and public services, Fisher’s thesis had been digitized but the view of three Harvard buildings had not. Both were taken to the Weissman Preservation Center for conservation treatment before they were sent to Maine. “Having them there places the works in a different context, beyond Harvard, and broadens their relevance. Their inclusion in the exhibit helps to reinforce that he was a man of many interests,” McElheny said.
Learn more about the exhibit here.