Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks~History~Neighborhoods | Neighborhoods: Barry Square Mural. All photos ©Karen O'Maxfield. All Rights Reserved.


The fresco mural on the entryway walls of the Camp Field Branch Library was painted in 1939 by Alton S.Tobey, Hartford artist and graduate of the Yale University school of the Fine Arts. It is true fresco, in that the color was applied to the wet plaster in such a way that it became an integral part of the plaster. The painting includes eight different subjects, all but the last taken from the works of Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The first panel on the left, from Mark Twain is "Joan of Arc," depicts the coronation of Charles VII. Before him stands Joan of Arc placing the crown upon his head, thereby making him King of France. Behind her stand French soldiers and the standard bearer.

Mark Twain, his Hartford home in the background, is the main figure in the next panel. On his right is Will Rogers as the "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." Behind him is Merlin the villain.

King Arthur tranquilly combs his beard with his fingers as he gazes at the Connecticut Yankee and his magic rope. Huckleberry Finn is pictured in battered hat, dangling a frog as Tom Sawyer whispers some mischief in his ear.

The next panel portrays Aunt Polly and her medicine bottle. With her is Becky Thatcher. Jim the handyman stands behind them. John Canty, father of the pauper in the "Prince and the Pauper," is seen in the distance. In the panel above the window on the left Tom Canty, dressed as the Prince, pleads desperately with Henry VIII while the Prince, in pauper's guise, looks on.

The next three panels are scenes from "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The first of these shows a Southern gentleman in a slave market. In the next, Eliza, clutching her son, is seen being comforted by a Quakeress who has befriended her. Abraham Lincoln looks silently on from the background. Over the door on the right, Topsy is sitting before Harriet Beecher Stowe. At her left Simon Legree stands with his bloodhounds. Uncle Tom, holding little Eva's hand, is on Mrs. Stowe's right. The Stowe home on Forest Street forms a background for this panel.

The last panel on the right shows a group of Union soldiers holding flags, among which that of the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry can be identified. The main figure is Harriet Beecher Stowe's son Frederick who was mortally wounded in the Civil War.

These last panels appropriately recall the significance of the site upon which the Branch is built.

The Camp Field, which stretched south and east from this point, was the assembly and training ground for thousands of Connecticut youth in the early days of the Civil War. The Fourteenth Connecticut was one of a number of regiments organized here in the summer of 1862 and rushed from this spot to the bloody battlefield of Antietam, where they suffered great losses.

The history of the Camp Field was recounted in a paper read by the late Francis Parsons at the opening of the Branch, and is now part of the Library's collection.

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