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Masonic Master Mason Apron
Nathan Negus (1801-1825)
USA: Massachusetts, Boston
paint on silk; cotton
overall: 17-3/4"h x 16-3/4"w
Special Acquisitions Fund

Shield-shaped Masonic apron with no flap. Handpainted with Masonic symbols: all-seeing eye at top, sun, "G" at center of cloud, moon with seven stars, hand holding plumbline, level, pair of central columns marked J and B, open Bible with square and compasses on top, three steps, triangular mosaic pavement at bottom center with trowel. Inscribed along one edge of the pavement is "Painted by Nathaniel Negus Boston 1817." Cotton backing.

Nathan Negus was born in Petersham, Massachusetts in 1801, the son of Joel and Basmeth Negus. In 1817, when he painted this apron, 16-year-old Negus was an apprentice in the shop of Boston ornamental painter John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841). During his apprenticeship, Negus painted a number of Masonic aprons, as well as signs for Boston tradesmen, transparencies, and other decorative items. In 1820, after completing his apprenticeship, Nathan traveled to Georgia, where his older brother had been working as an itinerant artist and merchant. The brothers worked together and independently, becoming Freemasons in Georgia in 1821. Sadly, both men died while still in their 20s, Joseph in 1823, and Nathan in 1825, having returned home to Petersham just four days before.

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