127 S. Mission St., Wenatchee

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James Stuart Painting Restoration

“Sunset and Moonrise on the Great Chief” or “the Ruling Spirit of the Columbia”

Artist: James Everett Stuart (1852-1941)
Date of painting: 1894 (Oil on canvas 8’ x 5’)

Be a part of this historic art preservation project, for our community and generations to come, by helping us complete this restoration work!


About the Painting 

This majestic and unique piece of art is part of the collections at WVMCC. Painted by the well-known and prolific western landscape painter, James Stuart, this piece was originally displayed in the Washington State building at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco and later in the WA State Historical Society in Tacoma until 1954. After Frank A. Dupar, Sr. purchased the painting, it hung in the lobby of the Cascadian Hotel until 1968 when it was gifted to Wenatchee Valley College. It was then donated to the museum in 1985 where it now hangs in our museum annex building.

It depicts a rock formation that appears to be the profile of a Native Chief in full regalia (look at the shadowed section of rock to the left of the sunset-lit arch – can you see a profile of a face?!) The actual rock, near Goldendale, is believed to have fallen into the river, which was later flooded by the formation of the dams.

This beautiful treasure has a special history in our community as well as Washington State. It celebrates the mystery and beauty of the unique geological formations all along our great Columbia River. The preservation of this painting will allow us to display it proudly once again showcasing the invaluable link to history held here within our walls. Join us for an insiders view of the restoration work as it happens. We’ll share videos and photos here of the process, and continue to unfold the story of this historic piece as we uncover its mysteries.

Join this community project!

As part of our mission, the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center makes efforts to conserve the thousands of items in our collection for generations to come. The painting “Sunset and Moonrise of the Great Chief, of the Ruling Spirit of the Columbia” is one item in our collection that is especially exciting due to its unique history and it is in need of conservation. Over the past 123 years of its life, the painting has darkened and is in need of conservation to bring it back to its former vibrant glory. 

Our goal also includes the restoration of the original gilt frame that Stuart chose for his painting. Melanie Wachholder, Curator of Collections, said, “It is important to display a historic piece of art in its original frame, if at all possible. The frame itself is a historic piece, much like the many other pieces from this era in our collections. It represents the era, the design and the grandeur the painter intended for his piece of art. Although restoring this frame is also quite costly, together the frame and art make a complete collection piece.”

In addition to the restoration of the painting and frame, we need to raise money for professional transportation costs. These pieces must be transported professionally with the utmost care to ensure no damage occurs in the handling process. We are contracting with one of the best museum art moving companies around, and trust that they will be able to deliver back to us our spectacular collections piece and help us hang it for all to see.

By being a donor to this community project, you will get exclusive communications about the process. All donors will be recognized on an Honor Wall during this project campaign, and those who contribute $500 or more will be honored in perpetuity at the unveiling of the restored painting with their name on a permanent plaque which will be hung at its side.

Click here to contribute with a credit card online, send your donation to Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, 127 S Mission, Wenatchee, WA 98801, or call us for more information at 509-888-6240. Your contribution to this project is greatly appreciated.

Please join us in thanking our generous donors for their support for this historic project!

Painting Restoration Donors