by Christopher Hodapp
New Hampshire Mason Ryan Flynn is one of the most talented and well-known American Masonic artists working today. On his Facebook page this past week, Brother Flynn announced his latest project — a large portrait depicting Boston's Prince Hall, who is regarded as the 'founding father' of African-American Freemasonry in America.
The portrait depicts MWB Hall in the 1780s holding the English charter of Boston's African Lodge 459 in one hand, and the lodge's gavel in the other. Outside of the window behind him stands Boston's Faneuil Hall:
The Internet is filled with artistic representations of WB Prince Hall, but most of them have little to do with reality. There are no known contemporaneous drawings or portraits of him.“The secret is out.Many of you have inquired about this “mysterious” project that I have been working on since early September.With the unbelievable support of my dear friend and brother RW Oscar Alleyne and L Ken Upchurchcollins I am proud to announce that I am painting a portrait of Prince Hall.
Earlier this year I had the idea to do this due to the fact that a historically accurate portrait of Wor. Hall has not been attempted in a very, very long time.It’s a large painting, 4ft x 3ft. I have a long way to go but it was time to finally share this project.
Everything down to the engraving on his gavel will have a symbolic meaning to it. I hope I do him justice.”
RWB Oscar Alleyne, who is the Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge F&AM of New York, explains:
Speaking of Prince Hall, last Monday, Brother David Blanco of Blanco Cigars announced the release of a new line of Nicaraguan cigars named after Hall."RWBrother Ryan Flynn reached out to discuss his special portrait project with RWB L Ken Upchurchcollins Grand Historian of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alabama and myself."You see, there is no actual image of Prince Hall. All of the images out there are but artist renditions. Some feature details that aren’t exactly historically accurate given what we know of the African American community in 1700’s Boston (eg. wig wearing, assumptions of his skin color etc)"Ryan wanted to be a close as possible to the scant descriptions and the time and place of this American Masonic Legend while revealing the watchful eye of leadership, fire, admiration and resilience that Prince Hall championed in life and legacy."The portrait captures elements of 1700’s Boston, Prince Hall’s historic abolitionist writings to the Massachusetts Legislature previous to his Masonic initiation, a detailed description of his presiding in the East during a festive board/table lodge setting for African Lodge as well as that infamous charter cementing Lodge 459’s connection to the Premier Grand Lodge of England in 1784 and regular Freemasonry worldwide.
Ken and I simply offered advice as our Brother Artist did his thing with love in his heart and fraternalism on his mind."
(NOTE - Kindly do not reproduce the image of the painting at this time. It is still a work in progress, and all rights are reserved by artist Ryan Flynn.)
From the pre-launch publicity:
Prince Hall by Blanco Cigars are manufactured in Estelí, Nicaragua by Blanco Cigars at the family’s factory, and blended by Master Blender and fifth generation Master Mason David Blanco.
The genesis and creation of the brand started over a year ago, but due to COVID-19, is just now making its way to market as a regular production cigar. The impetus behind the brand was a desire to recognize and honor a great man and legend in the history of the United States and Freemasonry: Prince Hall. He was known as one of the most influential free black leaders during the founding of the United States in the 1700s, fighting slavery as one of the leading abolitionists and for equal education rights. He is also famously known as the father of Black Freemasonry which, to this day, is known as Prince Hall Masonry.
His contributions to the black community in the late 1700’s were many and he accomplished them as a free man and citizen of The United States. He was also a business owner and it is believed he served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.Prince Hall became interested in the Masonic fraternity because Freemasonry was founded upon ideals of liberty, equality and peace. His love of these ideals is what drove him to become one of the first black members of Freemasonry in The United States. However, they were not considered a “full” Masonic lodge until 1787 when Prince Hall received a charter from the Grand Lodge of England, the mother of all Freemasonry. In 1787, African Lodge No. 459 became African Lodge No. 1 with Prince Hall as the head of the Lodge.
Available in two wrappers.
A full body cigar with rich, robust flavors and aromas. Including notes of leather, wood and earth with a floral bouquet and hint of spice throughout the retro-hale. Culminating with a clean, smooth finish.
Wrapper: Habano Maduro (Nicaragua)
5 x 50 Square
6 x 52 Compass
6 x 60 Level
7 x 70 Boaz
A medium body cigar with complex notes of oak, leather and caramel with a pleasant floral aroma. Culminating in a slightly sweet, creamy, textured smoke with a clean, smooth finish.
To purchase these cigars online, visit their shop at: https://blancocigars.com/shop/Wrapper: Habano Rosado (Nicaragua)
5 x 50 Square
6 x 52 Compass
6 x 60 Level
7 x 70 Jachin
Square, Compass and Level sizes come in 50 count boxes and are also available five packs.
Boaz and Jachin sizes come in 30 count boxes and are also available in five packs.