Newspaper: The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday,
June 25, 1964
Submitted By: Bea Adams King
Gavels Made From Red
Hill Walnut Being Sold To Copy Henry Painting
Gavels made from walnut wood grown on the Red Hill Plantation of the orator Patrick Henry are being sold to raise funds for copying the famed Sully portrait of Henry and place it in the shrine in Charlotte County.
Mrs. Mabel Oliver Bellwood, Custodian at Red Hill, said today that the gavels are being sold at the Henry shrine, and that she is taking orders by telephone and by mail.
There is a selling price at the shrine, but Mrs. Bellwood said that many lawyers, jurists and others are sending donations to the Patrick Henry memorial Foundation shrine in large amounts to defray the cost of copying the Sully painting of Henry.
Orders are being sent to Mrs. Bellwood at Red Hill Plantation, Brookneal, Va. Checks and money orders are being made to the foundation, she said.
The highly polished walnut gavels were made by Larry Riley of Gloucester Point from walnut grown at Red Hill.
Mrs. Bellwood said today that an artist is being contacted in Richmond to copy the painting, and that after enough funds are secured from sales of the gavels the work will be done and the painting will be hung in the shrine.
Thomas Sully Portrait
The most familiar likeness of Henry is the oil portrait painted for Wm. Wirt by Thomas Sully in 1815, sixteen years after Henry's death. Wirt commissioned the portrait for the purpose of having it engraved as the frortis (?) piece for this biography "Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry". Later he presented the portrait to John Henry (1796-1865) who was then residing at "Red Hill" with his mother, Dorothea Dandridge Henry. As the youngest son of Patrick Henry, John had no clear recollection of his father, but his mother, his older brother, and his sisters pronounced the Sully portrait the best likeness they had ever seen of Patrick Henry, Chief Justice John Marshall, Francis Corbin, and John Buchanan, Henry's intimates during his lifetime, likewise approved the portrait and signed a written endorsement congrming (confirming) their belief that it was a "good likeness". John Henry left the portrait to his son Wm. Wirt Henry, who in turn passed it on to his daughter, Mrs. Matthew Bland Harrison. For some years Mrs. Harrison permitted it to hang in the Va. State Library, but in 1910 she sent it to Philadelphia to be sold at the Henkles sale of Henry relics. Mr. Charles Hamilton of Philadelphia bought the portrait and in 1912 placed it on loan at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. It was withdrawn by Mr. Hamilton's heirs in 1957 and sold to Colonial Williamsburg where it is now exhibited in the Capitol.
Mrs. Bellwood presented one of the gavels to County Judge R. Page Morton. She stated that she thought it particularly appropriate that one of the gavels be in Charlotte County's courthouse, the building where Patrick Henry made his last speech.