I can’t imagine that anyone would want to destroy such a quality painting and fun subject matter as this painting. I’d like to share the fun subject matter of a mural that was saved from demolition in Denver, Colorado.
Animal Circus by Hubbell Reed McBride was painted about 1940, oil on canvas adhered to a wall (marouflage). It is super cute in all its details, even when looking at it up close. Do a Google search for “Animal Circus Murals” and look at “images.” You won’t find anything that comes close in quality or being so cute (for kids of course!).
Our art conservation lab’s reputation for working on large paintings preceded the arrival of this mural to us. In fact, at the time we were just finishing up on the lining (backing) and conservation of three 30 ft paintings for the State of Texas.
So, this project is also unique in that our lab is one of very few that can line or back a 27 ft long painting… in the world. See the short video…
We preserving the condition and prepared it for reinstallation it will be stable for future generations to come. Stabilizing the cracking, flaking and giving the mural support so it won’t distort will insure its long life.
Over the decades, Fine Art Conservation Laboratories has collaborated with professional conservators all over the US, in Italy, England and Spain. We were pleased to collaboration and consult with Steven Prins, a veteran painting conservator of Santa Fe, New Mexico on this project.
FACL Educational video
FACL’s mural capability statement:
FACL’s mural consultation statement:
FACL’s mural conservation project videos on YouTube at
For FACL’s overview of mural conservation capabilities (videos):
Scott M. Haskins, Virginia Panizzon, Oriana Montemurro
805 570 4140 mobile, 805 564 3438 office
HR McBride (1892-1960)
As a boy Hubbell grew up in Mansfield, Ohio and developed a talent for drawing animals that made people smile. He took that art and touched the lives of millions of people. His whimsical paintings consistently made the cover of several best-selling national magazines, which took his career to New York. But, it seems, he walked away from his successful illustrator’s career to spend his life in rural America to the delight of everyone in that part of the country.
Cartoon farm animals were undoubtedly a favorite even from his very earliest works. Drawings captured funny faces of the animals he knew with characteristic whimsical personalities.
After high school, he found a job in Cleveland making illustrations for a newspaper syndicate, but when they let him go after a year he had gained enough confidence to try the big market in New York. Becoming friends the founder of Editor and Publisher magazine, he was connected through the industry and for the next 25 years he distinguished himself as cover artist and illustrator for several top Hearst publications like Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, as well as the Saturday Evening Post and Liberty & Collier’s Weekly Magazine.
The Animal Circus mural in this article was commissioned for a children’s mural in a home on Park Avenue West in the 1940s. Fortunately he painted it on canvas that was ripped off the wall when the building was demolished. Though badly damaged with the inept removal technique, it survived till it could get professional mural conservation treatments.
His work is easily recognizable for its warm humor, and for animals with memorable personality. With a wealth of experience in graphic arts, Reed was a gift to the community in the 40s and 50s, painting a wide canvas of all sorts: from sacred scenes in the First Congregational Church in Lexington, to background drops for the Mansfield Players and Children’s Theater.
In the 1940s Reed McBride painted several murals in Richland County that became well-known landmarks in stores, churches and the Municipal Building. This is the one he created for the Ven-Mar market on Marion Avenue.