Leather fire bucket, painted by Portsmouth artist John Blunt for Leonard Cotton, a local cooper, one of Portsmouth’s most significant land owners, and a member of the Mechanic Fire Society (founded in 1811).

Through October 31, 2017

Strawbery Banke Museum, 14 Hancock Street, Portsmouth, N.H.

For information, call 603.422.1100 or visit strawberybanke.org


Strawbery Banke has collected objects since the early 1960s but many have rarely, if ever, been on display. The Painted Past provides an opportunity to feature a number of such items with the theme of being connected by paint. Material in the exhibition includes furniture, architectural elements, ceramics, portraits, fire memorabilia, toys, and other artwork.


The items are connected to prior residents of Portsmouth and the surrounding area, including Author Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Strawbery Banke’s own “bad boy,” who is represented in the exhibit with material collected by his widow Lillian for the shrine she built in his memory; ceramics painted by fellow writer and celebrated poet Celia Thaxter of Appledore Island; and decorative material produced by local artists and artisans such as John Blunt who painted a fire bucket with a large splayed eagle centering a shield with a barrel, symbolizing client Leonard Cotton’s trade as a cooper (see image).