Little Beau Peep With Sheep
This oil on canvas mural was painted in 1929 by Leone C. Bradbury and depicts Little Bo Peep. The dedication plaque for this mural reads:
Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep, and doesn’t know where to find them; leave them alone, And they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them. The earliest record of this rhyme is in a manuscript dated around 1805.
“Little Bo-Peep” is one of a set of nine murals painted in 1929 for the newly constructed Ellsworth Elementary School in Denver, Colorado. The entire set is now collectively titled “”Flights of Fancy.” The murals were wheat pasted to the walls of the kindergarten room and black borders were painted onto the wall around the edge of the canvas. The murals were commissioned by the building’s architect as part of construction costs. During that era commissioning art, especially murals, for school buildings in Denver Public Schools District No 1 (DPS) was considered to be an important and standard practice.
In 1995, prior to the building being demolished, all nine murals were removed from the walls, restored, cleaned, backed with canvas, put on stretchers, and framed by Hays Shoop, then a conservator with the Rocky Mountain Conservation Center at Denver University. DPS then hung seven of these murals in their administration building and two in an elementary school. In 2014 DPS gave all nine murals to El Paso County. They were hung in Centennial Hall.
Leone Bradbury grew up in Denver. She attended Yale University School of Art from 1926 to 1932 when she received a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. She painted murals for two other newly constructed DPS buildings. In 1930 Leone painted a 6’ x 30’ mural for the Bryant-Webster Elementary School kindergarten room. That mural was part oil on canvas and part paint on plaster. That same year she painter either four or five large murals for Steck Elementary School kindergarten. These were painted directly onto plaster walls. At a later date she also painted murals for the Lakewood Country Club and the Brown Palace Hotel. From 1932 to 1934 Leone was an art instructor at the University of Denver. In late 1934 or early 1935 she moved to New York City where she was the Art Director for the International Silk Guild. When World War II broke out she returned to Denver.
The photo below was taken in 1995 at the start of the conservation process when all nine murals were removed from Ellsworth Elementary school. (Source: Denver Post newspaper articles, Yale University Archives, Denver University Archives, Denver Art Museum archives, Hays Shoop – conservator with the Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Arts, Denver Public Library, and Centennial Hall dedication plaque)