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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Iconic College View: "University of Pennsylvania" Richard Rummell (1848-1924)

"University of Pennsylvania"
Littig & Co., circa 1910 
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 Pennsylvania. 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.

The University of Pennsylvania was formed in 1740 when a group of Pennsylvanians constructed a large preaching hall for the traveling evangelist Edmund Woolley. When fundraising fell short, the building stood unoccupied for several years, when Benjamin Franklin proposed an innovative new school that would not only prepare clergy, but all persons seeking higher education in the arts as well as in making a living and doing public service. This proposal was the nation’s first “Liberal Arts” curriculum. Franklin assembled a committee of 24 trustees in 1749 who paved the way for the chartering of the “College of Philadelphia” in 1755.

Richard Rummell’s view of the University of Pennsylvania was completed around 1905 and is the only surviving landscape view that captures the University around the turn of the 20th century. Provost Charles Custis Harrison (active 1894-1910) ushered in a new era of rapid, expansive growth for the University, adding dormitories as well as Houston Hall, the University Museum, the Medical Laboratory, as well as the the Law, Engineering, and Dental School buildings.

Standing front and center and running along 34th street is Fisher Fine Arts Library. Completed in 1890, the Venetian Gothic masterpiece was originally regarded as highly innovative, but by 1915 was largely rejected by the university community and regarded as too gaudy to fit on the campus. Yet today it has earned a new level of appreciation and is registered as a National Historic Landmark. While the Van Pelt Library (1962) has since replaced Fisher as the main campus library, it still houses collections related to architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, historic preservation, history of art, and studio arts.

To the right of Fisher Hall stands College Hall, whose opening in 1873 marked the University’s move from Ninth Street in Center City, Philadelphia to the current West Philadelphia campus location. College Hall is recognized in the National Register of Historic places, and is most identifiable today by its green exterior- a result of the decomposition of the Green Serpentine stone used in its exterior façade. Interestingly, many believe the building was the model for the Addams Family cartoon mansion- created by Penn Alum Charles Addams in the 1930s. College Hall is adjacent to Medical Hall (now Logan Hall) in Rummell’s watercolor, although it is somewhat difficult to distinguish between the two.

The structure behind Irvine Auditorium, with a large smokestack rising toward the sky, is the Penn Mechanical Laboratory (also Central Light and Heat Plant), built in 1892. The laboratory was destroyed by fire in 1906 and replaced by the Irvine Auditorium, which continues to stand in its place today.

The large, prominent building across 34th street from Fisher Hall is the Towne Building, completed in 1906 and home to Penn’s school of Engineering and Applied Science. ENIAC (Electric Numeric Integrator and Computer) the world’s first all-electronic digital computer called the Towne Building home. Alongside Towne is the John Morgan building, finished in 1904, it serves as the primary location of the medical school’s administrative offices today. The Department of Hygiene Building also runs along 34th street next to the Towne Building, but it has since been replaced by Vagelos Laboratory (1996). Behind Towne stands the School of Dentistry (1896, now Hayden Hall), and across 33rd street is Weightman Hall (1904) and part of Franklin Field (to the far right). The ten acres of land that these buildings now call home was purchased by the University Trustees in 1889 for about $150,000.

The stately building to the bottom-right of the watercolor is Silverman Hall, location of the Penn Law School since 1900. The massive Georgian structure is composed entirely of brick and limestone with intricate detail. When opened, it was the largest structure devoted entirely to legal education in the United States.

The University of Pennsylvania Rummell view is printed on fine woven paper circa 1910 from an 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 W and L 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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