In the last few weeks we were astounded to discover the full extent of the elaborate and beautiful hand-painted decorative border in Thomas Cole's East Parlor, shown in the photo above. The Greek key design at the very top is stenciled in oil paint, and Cole rendered the drapery and fringe, with its delicate details and amazing 3-dimensional effects, by hand, using a far more translucent water-based paint. According to our interiors specialist, Jean Dunbar, who has been working with us on the restoration of the interior of the Main House for the last five years, "Knotted fringe was popular at the time—for trimming drapery, but also tablecloths, towels, and clothing, especially shawls. The East Parlor’s decoration has much in common with wallpaper borders that Cole knew from his time in that trade, such as the c.1820-1830." We believe that Cole painted it around the time he moved into the house, c.1836 or so. He continued to decorate and redecorate the house into the 1840s.
Ms. Dunbar’s work at the site has been funded in part by a grant from the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.