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Monday, July 18, 2011

An Iconic College View: "University of Michigan." Rummell, Richard (1848-1924)

"University of Michigan"
Littig & Co. 1907
20 X 29 in. unframed, 25 X 34 in. framed

At the turn of the century, the accomplished landscape artist Richard Rummell (1848-1924) painted a panoramic bird’s-eye view watercolor of University of Michigan. From this watercolor, a copper-plate was engraved and a limited number of pulls (engravings) were distributed. Today, Arader Galleries owns the collection of copper plates used for engraving and watercoloring. Using the original process and 100 year old original plates, Arader is proudly re-striking and making the beautiful college view available for acquisition the same way it was 100 years ago.

Facing the school from east to west, Rummell carefully depicts the picturesque grounds surrounding the iconic “Diag” – the large open green in the middle of campus. His beautiful watercolor, painted in 1907, portrays the University of Michigan as an established and premier university complete with memorable architecture, much of which can still be seen today. The university, founded in 1817 as “Catholepistemiad,” had progressed in leaps and bounds from its humble beginnings as a single-building school in Detroit. After a decline in the 1820s and 30s, during which time the oft ridiculed name was changed, the university was reorganized and relocated to Ann Arbor by the newly christened state government of Michigan in 1837. Under the direction of visionary presidents such as Henry Philip Tappan and James B. Angell, the university quickly became recognized for its innovative approach to higher learning. By the time of this engraving, the university consisted of nine colleges including a renowned medical school and the student body that contained both women and African Americans students. Rummell certainly captured the university at an exciting time in its history.

At the forefront of the watercolor, with its impressive fa├žade and distinct dome, sits University Hall (1871), centerpiece of the university. The building was originally built to serve a dual purpose. First, Henry S. Frieze, acting president at the time, insisted in 1870 that an auditorium be built to allow the growing student body and faculty to assemble together. Second, the Regents wished that the new building connect Mason Hall (1840) and South College (1848) in order to create a striking nucleus for the institution. In addition to fulfilling those objectives, the building was used for administrative purposes, contained several lecture halls, and housed a chapel for students. In 1950, the decision was made to raze and replace University Hall and South College, University Hall’s southern wing, largely due to structural concerns. Mason Hall, found to the immediate north of University Hall, was the first academic building on campus and still stands there today, a part of a complex with Angell Hall, Haven Hall, and Tisch Hall which mainly serves as classroom space.

Just to the north of University Hall, one can spot the Law Building (1863), also known as Old Haven Hall. Rummell’s watercolor displays the building after two extensive rounds of renovation necessitated by overcrowding. At the time of the engraving’s publication, the Law Building served as the home to the law school’s classrooms, faculty offices, and library. Several years later, while the Law Quadrangle was being constructed (1923-1933), the Law Building adopted the name Haven Hall as it became more affiliated with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and other university departments. In 1950, however, the building was destroyed by a large fire, resulting in the decision to construct an addition to Angell Hall under the same name. East of the Law Building and nestled in the trees lie the Professors’ Houses in two units, built in 1839 and 1840 in order to accommodate the faculty of the university. By 1907, the houses had obtained different purposes with those to the east being used by the School of Dentistry and those to the west being used by the Homeopathic Medical School. The buildings were demolished in 1908 and 1914 in order to make space for further campus development. Currently, the Natural Science Building sits upon the land where the northwest houses were located and the Chemistry Building sits on the site of those to the northeast.

On the other side of University Hall to the south looms the prominent tower of the Museums Building (1881). For almost fifty years, this building accommodated the university’s natural history and anthropological collections although the collections quickly outgrew the space allocated for them. In 1928, they were relocated and the building took on the new name of the Romance Language Building, reflecting its new role on campus. Unfortunately, this spectacular building suffered from several construction defects and was eventually demolished. Directly to the southwest of the Museums building, Rummell displayed the Alumni Memorial Hall (1910) with its brilliant stone exterior and impressive entryway. Interestingly enough, the building had not yet been completed when Rummell painted the watercolor, construction had just begun. Instead of painting the actual building, Rummell relied on architectural sketches and drawing to incorporate the soon-to-be completed structure into his view of the university. Since the completion of the Hall’s construction, it has been used to house the institution’s art collection, serving as the Museum of Art, as well as the headquarters of the Alumni Association. It is still in existence today. Also still used by the university are the two buildings to the east of the Alumni Memorial Hall: Tappan Hall (1894) to the direct east and the President’s House (1840) to the east of Tappan Hall. Tappan Hall, originally a classroom building for the College of Literature, Science, & the Arts, now functions as the Fine Arts Library and is the oldest classroom building on campus. The President’s House still serves its original purpose as official residence of the university’s president.

Finally, the southeast section of campus contains several buildings significant to the growing university. Old Library (1863), with its tall twin towers, rounded reading room, and impressive overall design sits directly on the south side of the Diag. For many years, the Old Library stood as a landmark on campus, signaling the time of day with its clock tower and chimes as well as housing the university’s considerable book and art collections. The library served these purposes until 1915 when the Regents deemed the building unsafe due to the deterioration of its wood infrastructure. The building was demolished with the exception of its fireproof stacks which were used in construction of the library’s replacement, the Hatcher Graduate Library, which is still in use today. Just to the south of Old Library sits the West Physics Building (1888) and the Old Engineering Building (1840) to the south of that. The West Physics Building burned during demolition in 1966 while the Old Engineering Building was removed in 1922. Today, the sites of these buildings are now utilized for the Clements Library and the Shapiro Library, respectively. The engineering complex, consisting of the West Engineering Building (1904) and the Engineering Annex (1886), are located to the east. As their names suggest, these buildings were used as the center for the College of Engineering at the time of Rummell’s engraving. The Engineering Annex, with its noticeable tower, was demolished in 1956 in order to provide space for the Shapiro Library, while the West Engineering Building is now known as West Hall, containing units of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and the School of Information and Library Studies.

The University of Michigan Rummell view is printed on fine woven paper from the original 1915 engraved copper-plate by a master printer. Coloring is performed by a team of expert watercolorists, and framing is completed in-house with acid-free mat and high grade plexiglass that fits all museum specifications.

The uncolored engraving is available for $350. The beautifully hand colored example is $500. The Rummell View is also available through Arader Galleries in Curly Maple, Black, or Black and Gold frame for $750. There is no charge for shipping. Orders can be placed through our NYC gallery at 212-628-7625 or by contacting us via grahamarader@gmail.com

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