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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Iconic College View: "Washington and Lee University" Rummell, Richard (1848-1924)

"Washington and Lee University"
Litting & Co. circa 1910
Dimensions 13.5" 9 3/4"

At the turn of the century, the accomplished landscape artist Richard Rummell (1848-1924) painted a panoramic bird’s-eye view watercolor of Washington and Lee University. 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 history of Washington and Lee University is a rich story that shows the transformation of one of the oldest colleges in the United States. The University has been around under many different names since before the civil war. The years surrounding various wars were not always easy, but with strong leadership and funding from the two namesakes, the University was able to turn itself around and become the fine institution it is today.

The school began as Augusta Academy in 1749 but changed its name after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to Liberty Academy. A few years later, in 1782, the school moved to Lexington, Virginia. George Washington later donated $10,000 to the small school in order to help it prosper, bestowing the largest gift ever to an institution at that time. Because of his generous donation, the school was renamed Washington Academy in his honor in 1798. The first educational building, known as Liberty Hall, burned down in a fire though the ruins are still standing as a reminder of the University’s humble beginnings.

Shortly after the fire, the townspeople and faculty members decided to move the college closer into town. This allowed for the town and college communities to improve together. The new location of Washington Academy was at the top of a hill that overlooked the town. In 1804, the first buildings of the Academy were built, Graham and Union Halls. These buildings were built with the intention of placing a third one in between the original two. In 1813, the Virginia Legislature gave the Academy the new name and status as Washington College. The center building, built in 1824, is still standing today and while originally known as just the “Center Building,” it is now named Washington Hall.

In the 1830’s, the size of the College had grown enough that new classrooms needed to be built, but both Graham and Union halls were poorly structured so the board decided to build a new building. The Lyceum, now know as Payne Hall, was built to the west of the Center Building in 1831. Its original purpose was for use as a library, chemical laboratory and cabinet. Union and Graham Halls were demolished in 1835 to salvage materials for a new dormitory which would be of a similar style to the Lyceum on the other side of the Center Building. This building, Robinson Hall, was finally completed in 1842. During the following year, two story wings were built to connect the three buildings creating what we now know as the colonnade, pictured in the center of the view. In 1844, a wooden statue was added to the top of Washington hall to honor George Washington. As the University expanded, Payne Hall became the building for the English department and is currently undergoing construction to improve and bring it closer to its original state. Washington Hall is now an administrative building while Robinson houses the math department.

One of the other most important buildings on campus is Lee Chapel, which was built during Robert E. Lee’s tenure as President of the College. The original chapel used by the college was a room in Robinson Hall, but with Robert E. Lee’s changes to the school and the increase of the student body, a separate chapel made sense to the Board. The chapel was built in a style which allowed it to fit into the surrounding landscape. It was located at the bottom of the hill facing Washington Hall. During his tenure as President of the University, Robert E. Lee had an office built in the lower level of the chapel in addition to a library, which now houses a museum. Robert E. Lee died in 1870 and was buried in the chapel. Within a year of his death, the name of the school was changed to Washington and Lee University because of Lee’s hard work at improving and saving the school from falling into ruin.

The Washington and Lee University 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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