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Artist renders portrait of former NH Gov. Keyes

CONCORD - The newly painted portrait of former Gov. Henry Wilder Keyes will be presented to the Governor and Executive Council Dec. 5.

What was thought to be Keyes' portrait was removed from the second floor hallway of the State House this summer when the person in the charcoal and pencil enhanced photograph was determined not to be Keyes.

In September, the Senate research staff identified the person in the portrait as former state Representative and Congressman Jacob Hart Ela of Rochester.

At the request of the Keyes families and others, including Dean Dexter, who first raised the issue of mistaken identity, painter Craig Pursley, who operates the American Heritage Gallery of Art in Bath, did a portrait of Keyes from a photograph provided by the governor's grandchildren.

The photo is from a campaign poster when Keyes ran for the U.S. Senate while he was still governor.

Dexter is leading a fundraising effort to pay for the portrait so taxpayer money is not used.

What was thought to be the Keyes portrait was found in the Legislative Office Building in 2005 and was determined to be a portrait of Keyes by then state curator Russell Bastedo. The portrait, which was actually that of Ela, had hung on the second floor hallway with the portraits of other governors since that time until it was removed last summer.

Keyes was governor from 1917 to 1919 and served in the U.S. Senate from 1918 until 1937.

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Garry Rayno may be reached at grayno@unionleader.com.


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