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Historical Murals

Painter:
Francis Vandeveer Kughler

Benefactor:
The Joseph P. Knapp Foundation

In 1954 Margaret Rutledge Knapp commissioned fourteen murals depicting events and themes important to the development of North Carolina. A gift for the Institute of Government’s new Assembly Hall, the murals were funded by $100,000 from the Joseph Palmer Knapp Foundation of New York. Themes were suggested by a local committee, which was led by Albert and Gladys Coates. The artist, Frances Vandeveer Kughler, chose those he thought best expressed the spirit of the state.

The murals were painted in different places: two in England; one in Manteo; parts of several in Person Hall on the UNC campus and Williamsburg, Virginia; and the remainder in Kughler’s New York studio across from Central Park. Twelve of the murals measure 8x11 feet, one is 7x11 feet, and one is 8x8 feet. The entire series was installed at the Institute of Government in November 1960.

When an extensive renovation and expansion of the School of Government’s Knapp-Sanders Building was completed in 2004, space allowed for eight of the murals to be hung in the new lobby and atrium. Five others are on loan at the University, in Manteo, and in Elizabeth City. One remains in storage.

A new mural, which will depict African-American history in North Carolina, is currently in development. The African American Legacy and Promise mural will hang in the atrium of the Knapp-Sanders Building. Future plans call for the publication of a brochure or booklet describing the history of the murals and the process of creating the new African American addition.

Queen Elizabeth

Many prominent figures in Elizabeth's court are represented in a scene set in the gardens of Hampton Court, the Queen's summer palace. Apart from the Queen and Sir Walter, onlookers include Dr. John Dee, the Queen's astrologer; John Bull, the court organist; Elizabeth Throckmorton; Sir Christopher Hatton; Sir Francis Walsingham; William Cecil, Lord Burghley; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon; Sir Francis Drake; Sir Humphrey Gilbert; and Francis Bacon as a youth.

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First English Colony

This mural was painted at Manteo. It represents the expedition led by Ralph Lane, the first of Raleigh's colonies on Roanoke Island. The "Lost Colony," intended as a permanent settlement, was planted later at the same site. Central figures in this mural include Manteo and Wanchese, two Native Americans who provided critical and life-saving assistance to the first colonists and traveled to England with Raleigh's first expedition of Amadas and Barlowe. Others include Lane, John White, Thomas Cavendish, Thomas Hariot, an Oxford University professor and several students.

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King Charles II and the Lords Proprietors

Painted at Warwick Gardens in England, this mural represents Charles II presenting a charter to Carolina to eight gentlemen who had played important parts in the Restoration. The lady at the King's right is his mistress, the Duchess of Cleveland (Barbara Villiers); Queen Catherine is at his left. Philosopher John Locke stands behind the King and Queen, charter in hand. Models for the King and the Duchess were their direct descendants, Commander the Honorable Maurice Fitzroy Newdegate and his daughter, Joselyn. The eight Lords Proprietors depicted are Edward Earl of Clarendon, George Duke of Albemarle, William Lord Craven, John Lord Berkeley, Anthony Lord Ashley, Sir George Carteret, Sir William Berkeley, and Sir John Colleton.

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Road to Carolina

This scene depicts a meeting of two caravans on the road to Carolina. A group of Scots about to break camp is greeted by Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, leader of a band of Moravians moving on to their first settlement while playing their trombones. Trombone quartets, called "Trombone Choirs," were traditional and the earliest Moravians to arrive in North Carolina had many skilled musicians and composers among them.

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Halifax Resolves

This mural depicts the delegates to the Fourth Provincial Congress at Halifax leaving the meeting house at nightfall on April 12, 1776, after they had voted "to concur in independency" by adopting the Halifax Resolves. Among those in the scene are Samuel Johnson, Thomas Burke, and Cornelius Harnett. This mural was painted in Williamsburg, Virginia, where Paul Green's drama "The Common Glory" was playing at the time, enabling Kughler to use the costumes and actors as models.

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On to Kings Mountain

This mural, painted in Chapel Hill, represents the ride of the mountaineers to make a surprise dawn attack on the Tories encamped on Kings Mountain. On the night preceding the Battle of Kings Mountain, the men with the best mounts were selected to ride ahead to attack before the enemy could be alerted. They fastened identifying sprigs of pine to their hats and rode hard through cold rain with their rifles wrapped in their coats to keep them dry.

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Founding of The University of North Carolina

William Richardson Davie in Masonic regalia is shown laying the cornerstone of Old East, the first university structure, on a brisk October afternoon in 1793. Near the bottom of the scene, Frank Porter Graham (President of the University in the 1930s and '40s) and Marian Drane Graham witness the ceremony. The model for the woman standing to Davie's right was a lineal descendant of Davie.

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Lafayette in the Old South

The Marquis de LaFayette is depicted at an 1825 reception given in his honor at a Southern plantation house. The figures of the host and hostess to the left and right of LaFayette are those of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Palmer Knapp. Most of the models for the other figures are members of Mrs. Knapp's family and household.

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Gettysburg

The Civil War is represented in this mural by the agonizing charge of Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1863. Brigadier General James Johnston Pettigrew, the central figure of this mural, is about to signal his North Carolina troops to fall back in the face of overwhelming Union fire. More than 40,000 North Carolinians lost their lives in the war.

Murals

Crusade for Education

This mural portrays Governor Charles B. Aycock addressing an audience in the House chamber of the state capitol in his crusade for education around 1900. The audience includes prominent North Carolina educators spanning a number of decades before and after the time in which this mural is set. Among those pictured are William C. Friday, William B. Aycock, William D. Carmichael, Robert B. House, Adeline McCall, Josephus Daniels, J.M. Broughton, Cornelia Spencer, Major L.P. McLendon, Ida and Dudley Bagley, Horace Williams, Marcus C.S. Noble, and Charles Duncan McIver.

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Industrial Awakening

This mural represents the great development of industry that occurred in North Carolina around the turn of the century. Lack of space limited the artist, thus he painted the textile industry as representative of all the others since it embodied a far-flung gathering of varied skills and talents. The setting is the interior of a textile factory around 1920. Among the industrial and business leaders depicted here are: (At the top) Clarence Poe, editor of the Progressive Farmer magazine; Ben and Caesar Cone, Spencer Love, Bowman Gray, Julian Price, James Hanes. (At the bottom) John Motley Morehead, James B. Duke, and R.J. Reynolds.

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Pageant of Dreamers

Lacking sufficient space to handle as separate murals many important events of a creative nature that have taken place in North Carolina, Mr. Kughler hit upon the idea of combining them into one mural depicting a drama group rehearsing a pageant of dreamers. Cecil B. deMille films the production while Frederick Koch directs. Among those pictured are Thomas Wolfe, Paul Green, Andy Griffith, Albert and Gladys Coates, Robert Lee Humber, Katherine Pendleton Arrington, Edwin Gill, Benjamin Swalin, William Sidney Porter (O. Henry), Walter Hines Page, Jonathan Daniels, and William Polk. The artist himself paints the scene at Kitty Hawk in the company of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Lindbergh, Icarus, and a Cherokee dancer.

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Into the Space Age

This mural depicts one of America's early manned space flights and commemorates the training program for Apollo astronauts held on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill. Kughler was fortunate in being allowed by NASA to witness the firing of a missile from a launching pad at Cape Canaveral. Gordon Gray, in hardhat, is pictured at the foot of the stairs. Also appearing on the stairs are Walter Anderson, one-time head of the SBI; H.G. Baity, former head of the World Health Organization; and Henry Brandis, former dean of the UNC School of Law and Institute of Government faculty member.

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Pleiades, Mystery of the Future

This last mural depicts seven figures representing the constellation Pleiades and employs kabbalistic symbolism drawn from the "Sephyr Yetziarah," the Book of Formation, and the "Zohar," the Book of Splendor. The four lower sisters are endowed with the attributes of the four worlds of the elemental scheme, the Kabbala. These worlds are Atziloth, the World of Emanations, from which all things derive; Briah, the World of Creation; Yetzirah, the World of Formation; and Asiah, the World of Action and the World of Matter. The triad of the three upper sisters holds symbols of force of which the universal pattern is comprised.

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