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Paintings by Charles Chapman students on display in Morristown

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MORRISTOWN – The Morristown Public Library is featuring a unique art display this week: a gallery of paintings created by students of Charles S. Chapman.

The paintings were created during the 1930s and 40s during art classes taught by Mr. Chapman, a Morristown native and acclaimed artist.

Mr. Chapman, born in 1879, summered in Morristown after he moved to New York City and beyond, and taught north country residents and visitors his trade. The collection at the library includes 40 paintings gathered by Joseph McDonald, the present owner of the Chapman home.

Mr. McDonald said it’s likely that roughly 100 people took painting classes with Chapman while he was in Morristown, and many local families may have some of those productions lying in unexpected places.

“I want to make sure people realize what they look like so they don’t throw them away,” he said.

The paintings are typically 12 inches by 16 inches on Masonite, Mr. McDonald said – though the sizes can vary. Mr. McDonald said most of the paintings produced by students of Chapman are of outdoor scenes.

“People have these and they don’t know what they are,” Mr. McDonald said.

Over the years Mr. McDonald located the collection on display at the library by attending garage sales, visiting antique stores and talking with area residents.

Hopefully, Mr. McDonald said, the display will help people recognize other paintings produced in the class and enable families to understand and appreciate their full historical value.

“They’re certainly as good decorations on somebody’s wall as anything else I’ve seen,” he said of the student paintings.

One of the students who studied under Chapman for a summer in 1938 stopped by the exhibit Monday afternoon to see the painting she made as a 10-year-old.

Nancy F. Seeley, of Oak Point, said her parents would take her to the Chapman house in their boat. Once she arrived she would set up her easel and learn painting techniques directly from Chapman.

Mrs. Seeley said she was happy to see all of the paintings gathered together.

Chapman died in New Jersey in 1962. He was a successful painter who was commissioned by the Museum of Natural History in New York, a member of National Academy of Design and has a painting featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibit at the Morristown Public Library will be on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

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