Wilson Eyre: The Philadelphia Domestic Ideal

At the turn of the twentieth century, Wilson Eyre was at the height of his architectural powers. For sixteen years he had had a successful practice in Philadelphia, one of America’s major architectural centers. The United States bad become a world power, with money to give con­crete evidence of this in the buildings of her great cities, and Philadelphia’s blend of conservative...
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Painting the Town: Bethlehem and its Artists

Since its founding in 1741, the city of Beth­lehem in eastern Pennsylvania has bene­fitted from the presence of artists associated with its Moravian founders and their educational institutions, specifically the Moravian Semi­nary for Young Ladies, founded almost as early as the city itself, and Moravian College. In the eighteenth century Valentine Haidt served as the city’s...
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Violet Oakley, Lady Mural Painter

When Violet Oak­ley accepted the commission – and challenge – of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to decorate the State Capitol then under con­struction in Harrisburg, she announced that the subject of her mural series would be “The Romance of the Found­ing of the State.” In 1902, the ardent lady mural painter, then twenty-eight years old and the only one of her kind,...
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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 Special Place for Photography

Edward L. Wilson wanted photography to have a special place at the Centennial Exhibition. Smartly dressed, the publisher of the nationally­-read Philadelphia Photographer stood out from the typically rumpled and chemical-stained lensman. But his enthusiastic promotion caused him to stand out even more. Wilson nudged his colleagues toward professionalism and toward his vision of a productive,...
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“And Who is Eakins?”

By late 1912, in his sixty­-eighth year, Thomas Eakins – who today is frequently referred to as the greatest of American painters, notwithstanding more familiar names such as Homer, Whistler and Wyeth­ – was a tired and ailing man. The compact, rugged physique he had retained throughout his middle years had finally given way; first, briefly, to an almost delicate obesity; then, with...
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Julius Bloch: The Time Has Come

Early in his career, artist Julius Bloch (1888-1966) painted serene landscapes, but the force of his compassion for the human struggle soon over­powered his heart and his canvas. He felt compelled to portray instead the blacks, the working poor, the unemployed that made up the fabric of American life during the Great Depression. In 1932, he won­dered in his journal why such somber subjects...
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Pennsylvania Woman as Artist: Mary Cassatt

A tombstone stands thirty miles northwest of Paris, France. It is inscribed to the memory of a “Native of Pennsylvania of the United States of America.” Not only is the presence of the grave of a Pennsylvanian in France a somewhat uncommon occurrence, ‘except for soldiers who served there in past wars, but this Penn­sylvanian held many other distinctions as well. Beyond the...
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The Battle of Gettysburg Series – By Peter Frederick Rothermel (1812-1895)

Perhaps the most impressive item of public art in the capital, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is the monumental “Battle of Gettysburg, Pickett’s Charge,” by Peter Frederick Rothermel. Its sheer size, over sixteen feet high by more than thirty-two feet wide, and its theatrical composition, make it an over-powering experience. The “Battle of Gettysburg,” is located on the...
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Black Cultural Development in Pennsylvania Since 1900

The cultural history of Blacks in America is varied and diverse. At the same time, it is deeply inter­woven into the whole of America’s cultural fabric. Yet, the significant cultural contributions of Black Amer­icans have been overlooked. Because of this omission, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that the art of Afro-Americans began to receive the recognition it so...
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