Author: Nicole Courturiaux
Ben Rush once pledged that if it would help the college in any way, he would be willing to be buried on the grounds of Dickinson College. Rush, however, being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was smart enough to reach the same conclusion you may have: turning the Academic Quad into a graveyard is probably more creepy and depressing than “helpful.” A traditional American oil painting however, is a much better contribution to this institution of higher learning.
The Trout Gallery’s newest exhibition features an acclaimed portrait of Benjamin Rush by artist Thomas Sully and will become part of our permanent collection. Where has this painting been for so long, anyway? The Smithsonian – until Dr. Lockwood Rush (Benjamin’s 3x great grandson with an uncanny resemblance to his ancestor; pictured above) and his wife Jackie decided we were more deserving of the painting then the other institution Ben founded—Franklin & Marshall. Good work, President Durden!
An individual sharing Durden’s love for Ben might see the portrait’s move to Dickinson as a homecoming or funeral of sorts, that finally makes good on his offer to make the campus his final resting place. Or perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch (like trying to deny that B.R. didn’t accidentally kill George Washington – look it up). Regardless of his questionable over use of medical bleeding (tools used for such purposes can also be found in the exhibit), our Founder was a revolutionary spirit whose fiery personality is captured in Sully’s dashing brushstrokes and dramatic use of light. The sheer historic weight of the painting is definitely worth a trip to the gallery. And while you’re there, check out the incredible collection of Rush’s treasures, including his annotated Bible calling King George the Devil and an original concept sketch of the college, which does not include paying for laundry.
“A Revolutionary Image: Thomas Sully’s Portrait of Benjamin Rush” (Oct.9-Feb. 20)
The Trout Gallery in Weiss Center for the Arts
Gallery hours: Tues.-Sat. 10am-4pm