MONTPELIER - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets recently announced that Norman Rockwell's "Maple Sugaring in Vermont" mural was recently moved from the Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont in Rutland to its original home here at the Agency's office
Many may not know that the acclaimed artist Norman Rockwell shared a long history with Vermont and Vermont agriculture. In 1939, Norman and his wife and children moved to Arlington, Vt. where he enjoyed the company of his rural neighbors - many of whom became his best models and most honest critics.
Rockwell also forged a friendship with Col. Henry Fairfax Ayres. Col. Ayres was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and served in WWI and WWII. He retired to Vermont in 1937 and was appointed the chairman of the Vermont Sugar Makers Association. Col. Fairfax brought science to the sugarbush - inventing the "Thermodrometer." This device was revolutionary to maple sugaring.
The partnership between Rockwell and Ayres resulted in a mural that Ayres commissioned from Rockwell and dedicated to the Department of Agriculture. The mural hung in the lobby of the department for years until repairs to the building were needed. It was then moved to the Rockwell Museum in Rutland for safe keeping.
After many years, the mural has found its way home to the Agency of Agriculture.
"The mural is lovely and an authentic representation of sugaring in Vermont - our signature product," said outgoing Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee. "We are so pleased to be able to display this special mural here at the agency. I want to especially thank the Rockwell Museum for taking such good care of this treasure."
Allbee also thanked Mark Patane and Diane Zamos, as well as artist Paul Gruhler, who was instrumental in transporting the mural safely, Bruce Martell and Don and Betty Lockhart and Col. Henry Fairfax Ayres, for his generous donation.
"After many years, the mural has found its way home to the Agency of Agriculture," Allbee said. "It reminds us that times and techniques may change, but Vermont maple syrup is still the best there is."