These paintings are attributed to William Matthew Prior (1806-1873), an American artist born in Bath, Maine. He traveled throughout New England and eventually settled in Boston in 1841. With his wife and brothers, he set up a portrait studio and spent most of his time painting portraits to order. He also did reverse paintings on glass of many of the famous people of his time. These two paintings are copies of the Gilbert Stuart Portraits, and were probably painted between 1860 and 1870.
The portraits were bequeathed to the Old Northwest Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution by Mr. Harris Raymond Loomis (1880-1971) and Mrs. Marquerite Loomis (1883-1971.) Former Mayor of Ravenna, Mr. Loomis was well known throughout town for his philanthropy. In 1956, he donated $200,000 for the purchase of Lake Hodgson as a water supply for the growing city. Ravenna will forever be indebted to Mr. Loomis for his generousity.
The D.A.R. donated the paintings to the library in 1996 for all to enjoy. When the library began its expansion and renovation in 2004, the paintings were taken to McKay Lodge in Oberlin for restoration. Restoration has stabilized the separation of the paint from the glass and where paint was missing, infilling was done. The paintings were returned to the library in time for the grand opening in 2006. The paintings are located on the upper level above the east fireplace.