19th Century artist whose fresco murals decorate the U.S. Capitol receives statue in Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — In the home of a Severna Park couple, two portraits painted by Constantino Brumidi hang on the wall.

The portrait set was a thank you for letting Brumidi stay with the family in Washington, D.C. when he first arrived to the United States.

Alice Schumacher, whose family on her father’s side knew the painter, was surprised to see the news of Brumidi’s statue in Annapolis, she said.

The 500-pound statue arrived in Annapolis in late August and is located at the Brown-Leanos Park at Westgate Circle. The statue’s pedestal and foundation were donated by the Maryland order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America. Brumidi will be honored on Oct. 19 with a dedication ceremony.

“Until I saw the article in The Capital, I didn’t think many people even knew about him and then that statue showed up,” Alice Schumacher said.

The portraits are of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew J. Joyce, her great-great grandparents.

Brumidi (1805-1880), known for his fresco murals painted in the Capitol in Washington, D.C., had fled Italy as a political refugee and immigrated to America after meeting one of Schumacher’s long ago relatives. Brumidi ended up staying with the Joyces.

Mrs. Joyce with her arm resting, looks down from her perch on a wall in Schumacher’s home. A brooch sits in the middle of her chest and upon closer inspection has a building designed on it, possibly the Capitol. Mr. Joyce, who had a carriage making company, sits on the wall a couple feet away.

“As a little kid they scared me because I thought they followed me with their eyes,” Schumacher said with a laugh.

“I always thought it was neat. He had painted the Capitol dome and he had a reputation in the area,” she explained.

Alice Schumacher, and her husband Keith Shumacher, make sure to keep the portraits away from sunlight and 10 years ago they hired someone to restore the paintings and fix the golden frames.

Growing up, Alice recalls how much her grandmother, Louise Murray Russell talked about the portraits. Though they are not signed, a book written about Brumidi’s work provides a historical account of the connection between the family and the Greek-Italian-American painter.

“According to Mrs. Russell, it was her grandmother’s brother, John Norris, a student in Rome around 1850 studying to be a priest, who influenced Brumidi to come to America with him in 1852. Brumidi is reported to have lived at the Joyce home in Washington,” states the text of the book entitled, “Brumidi.”

After her grandmother died, Alice’s father gave her one portrait and the other for her sister. When her sister passed as well, Alice ended up with both paintings.

When asked if art has taken on a new meaning for her through the family’s connection to Brumidi, Alice said yes. She is also a painter, specializing in block prints for over 50 years. She even painted portraits of all four of her children.

“When you are involved with someone it is easier to connect and draw something,” she explained.

She’s also taught her grandchildren how to draw through a family summer camp they call, Camp MaDa, because one of her grandchildren called her ‘Ma’ and Keith ‘Da.’

“The grand kids would come over for summer camp, they had free range to do whatever they wanted to do but it was fun,” Alice said. “I got pictures of them, all the grand kids, they’re together and they are all busy drawing,” she said.

Keith added that they even made t-shirts to document the occasion.

Alice and Keith Schumacher have not seen the statue yet but they plan on seeing it.

“It is funny that he ended up in Annapolis,” she said. “I’ll have to go see it and take a picture of it.”

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Information from: The Capital, http://www.capitalgazette.com/

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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