February 1, 2023

Connecticut River Museum Welcomes Captain Stephen Clay Home

Connecticut River Museum Curator Amy Trout stands with the recently acquired portrait of Captain Stephen Clay, now on display in the new exhibit “Blue Water Bound: Voyages from the River to the Sea” now open through October 9.

Essex, CT – It may have taken a couple of centuries but Stephen Clay has returned to the Connecticut River and is in residence at the Connecticut River Museum.   The announcement was made at the Museum’s recently held Annual Meeting where Chairman of the Board Maureen O’Grady reported on the acquisition of a portrait of the sea captain, merchant and ship owner Stephen Clay.  Born in Middletown, CT, Stephen Clay (1751-1809) is an outstanding example of the individuals in the maritime business community who built the towns along the Connecticut River in the early days of the Republic. He was a ship owner and sea captain active in the West Indies trade.

The oil-on-canvas painting is by William Jennys (1774-1859), an itinerant artist who was active in the Connecticut River Valley during the first decade of the 19th century.  Portraits by Jennys are well represented in museums and historical societies across New York and New England. The Clay portrait is typical of the period and includes a ship in the background indicating his stature as a ship owner.

The acquisition of the painting was made possible by the Milkofsky Curatorial Fund of the Connecticut River Museum, a restricted fund of donations designated for the acquisition and conservation of Connecticut River historical artifacts and records.  The Museum actively collects museum-quality objects, manuscripts, paintings and photographs that help to document life in the Connecticut River Valley over the last 500 years.  People interested in donating well-documented artifacts and manuscripts may contact Curator Amy Trout at 860-767-8269 extension 115.

The Clay portrait is currently on display in the Museum’s new exhibit “Blue Water Bound: Voyages from the River to the Sea” now open through October 9.  Located at 67 Main Street on the Essex water Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org for further information.