News & Media

An 1851 mural of the Bay of Naples resurfaces at Clifton Mansion

JACQUES KELLY, BALTIMORE SUN — The merchant and philanthropist Johns Hopkins was a Quaker, but he was no fan of plain living. Visitors stepping from carriages into the entry hall of his Italianate summer home off Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore were greeted with the sight of a majestic stair foyer lighted by ruby-red glass windows, as well as a large mural of the Bay of Naples rendered by an artist or artists whose names have been lost to history.

This scene of the city of Naples, its bay and Mount Vesuvius in the background, painted about 1851 on a north-facing wall, has somehow survived decades of changing tastes, settlement cracks and generations of perhaps overly zealous house painters who covered it over.

Evidence that the mural still existed behind coats of paint surfaced about 25 years ago when Civic Works, a Baltimore nonprofit, moved into the mansion. Fine-art conservationists are now coaxing this faded, forgotten treasure, all 15 by 25 feet of it, out of the shadows of time.

Read the whole interview online at the Baltimore Sun. Photo credit to Algerina Perna, the Baltimore Sun.