Medieval Pages, Beaux Arts Drawing

Paper jewels at the Arthur Ross Gallery at the Fisher Fine Arts Library
Treasured Pages. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
from the Free Library of Philadelphia, till Jan 8, 08

Have always admired the oversized drawing (93 x123 inches) located in the lobby area of the Fine Arts library.
Its stunning to see the control of the water media. The *delineator* was Harry Sternfeld, and it was painted at the American Academy in Rome in 1921.

This article by Lois Olcott Price, called "Unearthing an 'Archeo': The On-Site Treatment of an Oversize Architectural Drawing and Some Notes on Its Fabrication" is an fascinating and detailed account of its restoration and preservation, undertaken several years ago while the library itself was undergoing major restoration.

"I first examined this immense 8 x 10 foot architectural drawing entitled "Portico of Civita Castellana" by Harry Sternfeld, late in the spring of 1989 (fig. 1). At that time it was framed, glazed and bolted to the wall in the large sunlit front stairwell of the Furness building on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania..."

link "The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania preserves the works of more than 400 designers from the 18th century to the present. ...

Other major architects whose work is represented in the Architectural Archives include Alfred Bendiner, Cope and Stewardson, Paul Philippe Cret, Frank Miles Day, Wilson Eyre, Frank Furness, Edmund Gilchrist, Lawrence Halprin, Warren Powers Laird, Mitchell/Giurgola, John Nolan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Zantzinger Borie and Medary. In addition to these American 19th and 20th-century architects, the Architectural Archives collects the work of several significant European architects. The Freidrich Weinbrenner collection is the most important archive of this architect's work outside of Europe and provided the basis for a major exhibition and scholarly catalogue by Professor David B. Brownlee.

From Britain come the drawings of Robert Adam, Gilbert Blount, William Chambers, James Thomas Knowles, and William Butterfield. From France, the experiments of G. Robert Le Ricolais are represented by an extensive collection of forty structural models, calculations, and drawing. A sketch book of 300 drawings by Barthelemy Vignon and student projects by Villain further enrich the collections."

link NYT article on restoration of the Furness Building by Venturi and Scott Brown


Ziska said...

I *love* beaux arts drawing! There's a book out of Engineers drawins from the l'ecole national des ponts et chaussees "L'ingenieur artiste" and another from L'ecole national superieure des beaux-arts "Pompei travaux et envois des architects francais au XIX siecle" which has the frescos in the elevations. Is there a catalog with this show by any chance?


Kim said...

Would love to see those!

Z, the illuminations are the show in the gallery, and will see if there's a catalogue next time i'm down there.

the archeo is on permanent display; i'll look into what other holdings the Fine Arts Library might have.

Ziska said...


Actually there were two exhibits of draftings which left me choked up. One was at the NYC Arts Library of musical instruments. The Lute drawn in pen with a single stroke for the exterior outline is what froze me to the spot. The second was in DC, an exhibit of dinosaur illustrations with 19th century pen and ink elevations of dinosaur bones.

I had a friend who drew arrow heads for the museum of Natural History in NYC- she had to spike where her chair was and tie down the lamp and the object to keep the reflection constant while she drew.

Kim said...

have updated with a link to the Architectural Archives at Penn.