Gift of Colonel George W. Boyd, Class of 18101852.20
This capriccio features a fantasy assemblage of classical ruins in the spirit of Nicolas Poussin, the great French Baroque painter. Remarkably, it made its way to Bowdoin in 1852, one of the first European paintings to join Bowdoin’s nascent art collection, alongside works bequeathed James Bowdoin III in 1811. George W. Boyd (1791-1860), Bowdoin Class of 1810, may have acquired it while working in the 1820s and 1830s as a merchant and auctioneer in New Orleans with its deep French roots. He is also known to have acquired paintings from a New York City art dealer in 1841. One of two large-scale pendant paintings, it expresses the interest among antebellum Americans in classical imagery. The monumental scene – ruined columns, arches, and entablature – dwarfs the washerwomen and other figures below who may represent biblical subjects
At Boyd's death in 1860, Boyd bequeathed the single largest gift from an alumnus the school had ever received. The College expressed its regard for him, affirming its belief that "his honored name will assuredly stand at the head of a long line of benefactors."