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‘The Holy Family Tondo’

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Article Published: Dec. 13, 2012 | Modified: Dec. 13, 2012
‘The Holy Family Tondo’

Children from Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church look on as the Elliott Daingerfield holiday painting is unveiled at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum. The painting, created in 1896, is often referred to as ‘The Holy Family Tondo.’
Photo courtesy of BRAHM

On Saturday, Dec. 1, the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) unveiled a special gift for the whole community to enjoy this holiday season.

A large, round painting by renowned artist Elliott Daingerfield can now be found prominently displayed in the open atrium entrance of the museum, on loan from a private collection.

The unveiling, accompanied by live singing of Christmas hymns performed by the Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church’s children’s choir, was the climax of BRAHM’s holiday open house.

An oil on canvas painted circa 1896, the painting, often referred to as “The Holy Family Tondo” (“tondo” meaning “round” in Italian), depicts the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child in her lap with her mother, St. Anne, reading from the Book of Prophecy, as the infant John the Baptist lifts the cross to Christ. The Virgin has Jesus in her lap, but has removed her hands from him symbolizing that he is freed to become the perfect offering.

Daingerfield’s older daughter, Marjorie, a sculptor, used the same image of Mary releasing Christ to the world in her sculpture, “The Offering,” located in Blowing Rock at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church, directly across the street from BRAHM.

Daingerfield’s paintings comprised the inaugural exhibit when BRAHM opened last year. Daingerfield, born in Harper’s Ferry, Va., in 1859, spent much of his childhood in Fayetteville, N.C., before traveling to New York to study art.

He would eventually return to North Carolina, traveling in 1886 to Blowing Rock, hoping the “thin” mountain air would aid his recovery from the lingering effects of diphtheria.

As a landscape painter, he was deeply inspired by the sweeping vistas and green hills of the mountains. He returned, eventually building a small “four square” home and studio along the Linville Turnpike in 1889, which he called “Edgewood Cottage,” which today sits facing Main Street in Blowing Rock, adjacent to BRAHM. He maintained a residence in Blowing Rock until his death in 1932.

Visitors are invited to view “The Holy Family Tondo” in the atrium of the museum. BRAHM currently has three other exhibits up for guests to explore: “North Carolina Treasures,” featuring Max Woody woodwork and Bolick pottery; the Watercolor Society of North Carolina 2012 traveling exhibit; and “From Secession to Sesquicentennial: Commemorating the Civil War in Western North Carolina.”

Hours, location, and additional information can be found by calling (828) 295-9099 or visiting The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum is located at 159 Chest Nut St. in downtown Blowing Rock.

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