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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Iconic College View: "University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill" Richard Rummell (1848-1924)


"University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill"
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 North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 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 North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest state university with two hundred years worth of history. It was chartered in 1789 and was open for classes in 1795, becoming the first U.S. public university. During the Civil War, David Lowry Swain, the North Carolina Governor, persuaded the Confederate President Jefferson Davis to exempt students from fighting in the war. Even so, Chapel Hill lost much more of its population than any other village in the south and was forced to close during the Reconstruction in the late 19th century for five years.

On March 27, 1931, legislation was passed to integrate UNC with the State College of Agriculture and Engineering and the Women’s College to form the consolidated University of North Carolina, eventually becoming the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The first building to be constructed on the campus of America’s first state university was Old East. It served as a classroom building as well as a dormitory, but today, a renovated Old East houses men and women students as a residence hall. The cornerstone was ceremoniously laid down on October 12, 1793 and in 1877, Zebulon Baird Vance, the Governor of North Carolina and the chair of the Board of trustees, declared the anniversary of the construction as University Day. Since being built, the building was declared a national Historic Landmark in 1966. It can be seen as the tall elongated yellow building in the center right of the watercolor. The building is considered to be one of the symbols of UNC.

Surprisingly, the University’s signature structure is not an academic building but a small neoclassical structure placed over a well between Old East and Old West and at the south end of McCorckle Place. University president Edwin Alderman added the domed Old Well in 1897 as part of a campus beautification effort. He found the well’s original wooden cover shabby and ordered it replaced with a rotunda modeled in part after the Temple of Love at Versailles. Today, passer-bys are able to drink from the marble water fountain that sits in the center of the Old Well. Many students follow the campus tradition; a drink from the Old Well on the first day of classes will bring good luck. The Old Well is now a National Landmark for Outstanding Landscape Architecture. Rummel placed this particular structure in the center of the painting.

McCorckle Place is not a building, but rather a plot of land as seen in the foreground of the watercolor. William Richardson Davie supposedly selected the location for the university and has now a tree to commemorate it. Interestingly, the legend behind the Davie Poplar tree says that if the tree falls, so will the university. Because of the harsh weather, there are two genetic clones to ensure that the university will not collapse.

Person Hall, the red rectangular building located on the right hand side of the watercolor, is the university chapel that was essential in the Carolina’s early days. It was named for General Thomas Person, a donor of the original University, who paid $1,050 that allowed the University of North Carolina to complete the construction. It now serves as a music building.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 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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