Rufus Porter, Renaissance Man
These early examples of home decor via mural were created by a multi-faceted inventor, painter, and publisher.
Rufus Porter was a fascinating and incredibly talented man who left his mark as an inventor, painter, and publisher. Born to a prosperous New England family in 1792, he was an imaginative and prolific inventor, creating designs and working models of a large dirigible as well as numerous other items such as clocks, a repeating rifle, a camera obscura, and many farm implements. That would have been enough for most men, but not Porter. He also founded the magazines Scientific American and American Mechanic. But the subject of this blog post is his work as a painter, specifically an energetic painter of murals and stencils in houses from New England to Virginia, painting murals in over 160 houses in a matter of a few years. This photo of a house in New Hampshire illustrates his primitive technique, showing landscapes, seascapes, trees, and other subjects in his own inimitable style. The owner of this house discovered that the walls were covered with Porter murals when he began to remove layers of wallpaper. Colorful and creative, many of his his murals and stencilworks survive today and are carefully protected and preserved. A museum dedicated to the life and work of this remarkable man is located in Bridgeton, Maine. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the vicinity.