Porter was a true Renaissance man of his times. He was not only a decorative painter and portrait painter but also an inventor and author. He had a huge impact on decorative painting in America with his book, A Select Collection of Valuable and Curious Arts, published in 1825, and the many essays he published as founder and editor of Scientific American in the 1840s and 1850s.
Focusing on mural painting, which at the time was done in oil on dry plaster as an inexpensive substitute for imported French scenic wallpaper, Porter taught would-be artisans how to lay out a room and fill in landscape details. Establishing a uniform horizon line. Using fluid brushstrokes to create trees and shade their trunks. Use pre-cut stencils to include houses and barns. Adding narrative interest with bays, inlets, and a variety of vessels, both sail and steam.
That is why standing in an original Rufus Porter painted room is a unique experience not to be missed. Porter understood, as the Hudson River school artists did, that America’s real treasure was its land. More than any other artist of his era, he succeeded in making that treasure a part of people’s daily lives.