The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: An Ideal and a Symbol

By 1805, the year the Pennsylvania Acad­emy of the Fine Arts was founded, Phila­delphia had achieved a large measure of political, social and economic stability. It had been the nation’s capital and contin­ued to thrive as a center of banking and commerce. The largest city in the United States at the opening of the nineteenth century, it was arguably the center of culture, with Boston its...
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A Salute to the Bicentennial of the Keystone State

The current Bicentennial celebration commemorates not the birth of the United States, but the proclama­tion of thirteen British-American colonies that were “free and independent states” as of July 4, 17.76. When they formed a loose compact in 1761, their articles of confederation declared that “each state retains its sover­eignty, freedom and independence.” The...
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Shorts

“A Portrait of an American City: 200 Years of New Castle History,” chronicling the founding and settlement of the first community laid out in present-day Lawrence County, is on exhibit at the Lawrence County Historical Society through May 1999. Laid out by John Carlysle Stewart in 1798, New Castle was incorporated as a borough in 1825 and recognized as a city in 1869. “A...
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Two Hundred Years and Counting – The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Two centuries ago, on Thursday, Decem­ber 26, 1805, seventy-one individuals gathered at the State House (now Independence Hall) to formally establish an art institution for Philadelphia. Meetings throughout the summer had led to the drafting of a charter, formation of a board of directors, and the collection of funds for a building. By the day after Christmas, a professional calligraph­er had...
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Rediscovering the People’s Art: New Deal Murals in Pennsylvania’s Post Offices

On a February morning in 1937, artist George Warren Rickey (1907-2002) and a group of four men met at the post office in Selinsgrove, Snyder County. Armed with cloth-covered rolling pins, the men attached Rickey’s mural entitled Susquehanna Trail to one of the lobby’s end walls. After six hours, they transformed the entire blank white wall, from marble wainscoting to ceiling, into a...
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