Rebecca and Jay Rayburn Fine Art Collection

Forty-six pieces of fine art painted by artists who were born, lived, or educated in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The collection is the accomplishment of more than four decades of acquisitions by Robert and Jane Humphreys formerly of Owensboro, Kentucky. Their daughter Rebecca and her husband Jay Rayburn inherited the collection. The Rayburn’s generously agreed to loan portions of the art on a rotating schedule to the Governor’s Mansion.

Jane G. and Robert E. Humphreys, Jr. were active patrons of the arts and instrumental in the development of the visual arts culture in Owensboro. The Humphreys traveled throughout the United States and Europe to acquire their renowned painting collection which offers an overview of Kentucky’s art preferences during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their collecting interests focused on landscapes and figural studies are representative of the dominant styles in American art from the 1870s through the 1930s.

Exhibition I
Exhibition II
Exhibition III


Paul Sawyier (1865-1917)

A prolific impressionistic urban and natural landscape painter and a naturalist, Frankfort’s own artist Paul Sawyier was born in Madison County, Ohio in 1865. He moved with his family to Frankfort, Kentucky when he was five and stayed here until 1913. His formal study of fine art included such noted teachings as: William Merritt Chase, Thomas Noble and Frank Duveneck in both New York City and Cincinnati. Sawyier, like many other artists and architects of the period was also heavily influenced by the amazing displays of art and culture including his own paintings in the “Kentucky “ building at the1893 Columbian Exposition and Worlds Fair in Chicago. Most often Sawyier is known for his unmistakable watercolors; however he increasingly turned to oil painting as his talent matured.

From 1908 to 1913 Sawyier spent most of his time on a small houseboat painting Kentucky River scenes of Frankfort and in search of picturesque scenery often traveled down river to Jessamine County and further south to the Dix River. In 1913 Sawyier moved to Brooklyn, New York in search of greater notoriety and fame as an accomplished painter. By 1915 he had relocated to upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains where he died of a heart attack at age 52 in 1917. It is estimated that Sawyier painted some 3,000 pieces of art over his lifetime, a small percentage of which still exist or have been reproduced as prints

Harvey Joiner (1852-1932)

Born in Charlestown, Indiana April 8, 1852 Harvey Joiner showed artistic capability at an early age although he never received formal training or education in art. The family moved to Blue Lick, west of Memphis, Indiana, when Joiner was young. Harvey Joiner did many portraits for the first twenty years of his career including the first five governors of the state of Indiana. At age 16, he worked on a boat and began sketching scenes of African-Americans on the Mississippi River Boats, and by 1880, he had established a studio in Louisville, Kentucky and specialized in scenes of Kentucky beech woods mainly in Cherokee Park. He also painted allegorical subjects. His studio in Louisville, Kentucky had a fire and tragically he lost many of his paintings and sketches. In the spring of 1874 he met a German portrait painter named Hoffman in St. Louis, and became his assistant and pupil. Joiner was a prolific painter, completing more than 5,000 paintings by 1929. He has become famous for his woodland scenes, especially of beech trees, and was exhibited all over the world. It is documented that he exhibited in a private gallery in Denmark in 1923. Joiner's works are noted for his unique use of light and shadow, recalling the great French landscape artists of the 19th century.

Frank English

Frank English was a Kentucky native born in Louisville; however English spent most of his life in Delaware and Pennsylvania. After leaving Louisville, where he started to paint, English resided in Claymont, Delaware. He studied art from 1880 to 1882 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, during this time Thomas Eakins may have been one of his teachers.

He is known to have studied art abroad in England and Holland. He later taught and briefly served as vice president at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. In the second decade of the twentieth century, English moved to Point Pleasant, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. English was primarily a watercolorist, although he sometimes used oils, painting landscapes and seascapes. The landscapes were usually views of suburban Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania countryside; he also painted farm and harbor scenes. Although English did not paint many Kentucky scenes, the appeal of his style to collectors’ and admirers from the Commonwealth may relate to the serene quality his works share with those by Sawyier and Robert Burns Wilson.

Carl Brenner (1838-1888)

Carl C. Brenner, landscape Painter, was born August 1, 1838, at Lauterecken, on the Rhine, he attended the public schools of his native village, from his sixth to his fourteenth year; was considered one of the brightest of his class, and showed such decided talent in drawing that his teacher made application to King Ludwig I for his admission to the Academy of Fine Arts, at Munich. The king was ever ready to assist artistic talent, and readily granted the permission; but here he met with opposition from his father, who, as himself and two other sons were glaziers, desired that Carl also should follow the trade, and refused to allow him to pursue his art studies. After working with his father until 1853, the family immigrated to America, arriving at New Orleans in the winter and moving to Louisville, Kentucky. Here his talent was discovered by Mr. George P. Doorn, proprietor of the "Anzeiger," who noticed some of his excellent pencil sketches of Mississippi scenery, and at once advised him to become a landscape painter. He worked as a house painter and glazier to afford his true passion of painting canvases. In 1863, Brenner painted a vast panorama of Civil War scenes for Louisville’s Masonic Hall. His techniques exhibit a wide range of styles including Romanticism, Realism, and Tonalism. His favorite subject was beech trees. He is the father of the artist Carolus Brenner. Brenner exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design from 1877 to 1886. He exhibited Glimpse from Wildcat Mountain at the Louisville Industrial Exposition in 1879. He exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1878 and from 1881 to 1885, the National Academy of Design and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C.

Patty Thum (1853-1926)

Reported to be Kentucky’s first Vassar graduate, Louisville native Patty Thum studied art with William Merritt Chase and Thomas Eakins in New York City. Thum was a painter of landscapes, still-lifes, portraits and genre scenes which were exhibited in Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis and New York City. Thum is perhaps best known for her outstanding still-life paintings of flowers particularly roses. The painting Two Roses conveys Thum’s sensitivity and appreciation for the revered flower. Painted in 1914, one can easily imagine the beautiful work of art hanging in the Governor's Mansion upon its completion in the same year.

Helen Maria Turner (1858-1958)

Helen Maria Turner was born in Kentucky in 1858, however it was almost by circumstance of her family traveling to Louisville and after a staying on for sometime she never lived in Kentucky again. Turner’s friendship with Charles Curran another Kentucky native led her to Cragsmoor in New York State where Curran was part of a thriving artist colony. Woman Standing in Dutch Door, one of Turner’s better known impressionistic figural studies was likely painted between 1910 and 1930. The subject holding the parasol and gazing outside has been discussed as a representation of the artist herself or possibly a figural model which was common in the Cragsmoor community.

Rebecca and Jay Rayburn Fine Art Collection