Editor's note: The following essay, from the exhibition catalogue In This Academy: The Pennsylvanian Academy of the Fine Arts 1805 - 1976, is reprinted July 16, 2008 in Resource Library with permission of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, or wish to obtain a copy of the exhibition catalogue from which it is excerpted, please contact the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, directly through either this phone number or web address:


A History of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1805-1976

By Frank H. Goodyear Jr



THE OBJECT of this association is to promote the cultivation of the FINE ARTS in the United States of America, by introducing correct and elegant copies from works of the first masters in sculpture and painting and by thus facilitating the access to such standards, and also by occasionally conferring moderate but honorable premiums and otherwise assisting the studies and exciting the efforts of the artist gradually to unfold, enlighten and invigorate the talents of our countrymen.
Application for Charter
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
December 26, 1805 PAFA Archives


The 170-year history of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has been distinguished by growth and indifference, by stunning successes and discouraging failures. Each generation has contributed its own deeds to the association that has become the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, building on the public-spirited vision of its seventy-one founders.

The Pennsylvania Academy has been the long-time guardian of the arts in America. In its studios an extraordinary number of America's most illustrious artists and sculptors have been trained. Throughout its history, the Academy school has been both a point of pride and challenge. On the gallery walls the masterpieces of American art have hung. Many of these exhibitions have been the most avant-garde for their times; many have not. All have been in the service of good art. Over the years, the Academy has acquired for its permanent collection many of the masterpieces of American painting and sculpture. The Pennsylvania Academy has performed its guardianship with abiding humanity and integrity.

The guardianship has not been without serious difficulty. At times the very existence of the Academy has been threatened. Almost always there has been a shortage of finances and adequate facilities. The question of Who is to run the Academy? has periodically raised acrimonious feelings between artists and directors. Factions have divided its resolution

There have been many missed opportunities, and, worst of all, there has been apathy. Yet, out of these difficulties there has always emerged a new resolve that the Pennsylvania Academy must meet the changing demands of the times. It is to that resolve that this catalogue is dedicated. Remarkably, the Pennsylvania Academy has survived.

The new American republic had neither an art academy nor a museum in 1783, when independence was finally wrested from the British. Between the end of the Revolutionary War and the founding of the Pennsylvania Academy in 1805, attempts to establish art societies were made in Philadelphia and New York City. Peale's Museum, founded in 1786 by Charles Willson Peale in Philadelphia, was one of the earliest. By the early l790s Peale was proceeding with plans for an art academy modeled after the Royal Academy in London.

These efforts resulted in the founding of the Columbianum in 1794. The short-lived Columbianum, an association of thirty professional and amateur artists, factious from the outset, sponsored a single exhibition, which was held in Independence Hall, and hastily organized an academy for art instruction. Much to the disappointment of Charles Willson Peale and other artists, the Columbianum never had a chance to succeed. Rembrandt Peale, one of its members, recorded that it "died a natural death, by schisms" in 1795.[1]

The Columbianum had been founded by a group of artists who had as their purpose the protection and encouragement of the "infant" fine arts in America. Its demise temporarily left Philadelphia without a fine arts institution. When the new Academy was founded, its principal organizers were, unlike those of the Columbianum, non-artists.

The direct inspiration for the Pennsylvania Academy's formation came from New York. There in 1802 a body of prominent merchants, led by Robert and Edward Livingston, had founded the New-York Academy of the Fine Arts. It was the example of the New-York Academy, rather than the Columbianum, that inspired the Philadelphians to establish their own academy. The elder Peale (cat. no. 32), his son Rembrandt (cat. no. 33), and the sculptor William Rush (cat. no. 34) were the only artists among the seventy-one founders. The principal organizers came from the legal and business community. Peale recognized that this Academy was a far cry from what he had envisioned.


The Formative Years: 1805-1845

The Revolutionary generation, once hostilities had ceased, actively promoted a national consciousness and style in the arts and letters. At the same time, it recognized the need for associations devoted to the cultivation of the fine arts in America if such goals were ever to be realized. An early devotee of the arts in America summarized these popular feelings when he remarked that academies would help to improve artists, to correct public taste, to call forth talents from obscurity, to promote a laudable emulation and finally, to give a character to the fine arts in America and, prevent the emigration of young artists to foreign countries.[2]

It was in this self-conscious spirit of nationalism that the Pennsylvania Academy was founded.

Plans for the new Academy were well along by December 26, 1805, when its founders met in Independence Hall to sign an application for an act of incorporation. Charles Willson Peale had written his friend Thomas Jefferson in the early summer that we hope soon to begin a building for the reception of casts of statues, also for a display of paintings, by the exhibition of which a revenue may be had to defray the expense of a keeper who shall be capable to give instruction to the Pupils.[3]

A week later Peale wrote Benjamin Latrobe informing him that upwards of $2400 had been subscribed for the Academy.[4] That same day, at a meeting of subscribers, George Clymer (cat. no. 31) was elected the Academy's first president, and a board of twelve directors was chosen.[5]

The new board carried out its initial duties with dispatch. At its first meeting, on July 1, 1805, it unanimously elected Benjamin West, president of the Royal Academy in London, its first honorary member. This was an obvious move to enlist West's support, for it was hoped that he would endow his native city with several of his own "designs" which would become the foundation of the Academy's collection. The board also authorized the expenditure of $1000 to purchase antique casts in Paris for the anticipated drawing classes,[6] and it commissioned John Dorsey, an amateur architect and member of the board, to design a building (cat. no. 9) in the proper neoclassical style for the exhibition of paintings and sculpture.

By May 1806, when a charter was finally obtained, the infant Academy had already made giant strides. The new building on the north side of Chestnut Street between Tenth and Eleventh streets, reminiscent of Benjamin Latrobe's Pumping Station of 1800 at Center Square, opened to the public in the spring with an exhibition of European paintings. An admission fee of twenty-five cents was charged; stockholders and their families were admitted free. Mondays were set aside exclusively for ladies, and the plaster casts of nudes that lined the walls were removed from sight.

The fact that the Pennsylvania Academy was a stockholder corporation raised serious problems among professional artists, who normally could not afford to pay fifty dollars to become a shareholding member. Who was the Academy for, after all, if not for the artists? Why couldn't it be made more accessible to them? Charles Willson Peale labored to make the Academy's facilities more accessible to artists, but he had limited success. Peale was somewhat of a dissenter on the board. He saw the Academy's school as the first priority; the board's primary objective was to collect and exhibit works of art.

In 1810 the Society of Artists of the United States was organized as a protest against the Academy's failure to organize exhibitions of contemporary works and to operate a school. Almost immediately, the Society, in need of the Academy's facilities, proposed a merger. The merger was never effected.[7] Out of the negotiations, however, must have come the resolution on the part of the Academy to do more for the professional artist in Philadelphia. In 1811 the Academy turned over its galleries to the Society of Artists for an exhibition of contemporary American art, which also included European works. It resolved the same year that Master Charles Leslie be an eleve of this academy, and that we will afford all the faculties in our power ... in giving him an education calculated to call forth the powers of his mind.[8]

The Academy sent Leslie to study in London with Washington Allston and Benjamin West; the Leslie family repaid its debt to the Academy in 1831, the year Charles Leslie was elected an Academician, with the gift of his Murder of Rutland by Lord Clifford (cat. no. 25). In 1812 the Academy joined the Society of Artists in sponsoring the Second Annual Exhibition. The same year, the board elected the first body of Pennsylvania Academicians, twenty-four "distinguished" painters, sculptors, engravers, and architects. The Pennsylvania Academicians, who enjoyed the privileges of stockholders, would serve the Academy in the administration of the annual exhibitions and the school until the association's dissolution in the 1870s.[9]

Even though the Academicians increased and regularized instruction at the Academy, instituting a "Life Academy" for the study of the human figure and a course of lectures on anatomy, dissatisfaction over the Academy's lack of commitment to student art education persisted among professional artists. The problem finally came to a head in 1828. In a "Memorial of the Resident Artists of Philadelphia," a group of artists outlined their grievances.[10] The board answered strongly, but with respect for the dissident artists. Most importantly, it dismissed its "keeper," James T'hackara, whose offensive treatment of artists trying to use the Academy facilities had been the real cause of the dissension. With Thackara gone, John Neagle noted in a letter of 1829 to President Joseph Hopkinson that "we will return with increased energy and affection to the support of your academy.[11] The dissidence had been temporarily curtailed.

There were other problems. Minutes of the Board of Directors contained, especially in the years 1808 to 1810, the simple inscription "No Quorum." Apparently, assembling the directors was a difficult task. Joseph Hopkinson, in the annual discourse delivered before the Pennsylvania Academy in 1810, noted lengthy periods of despondency. But Hopkinson also felt that the Academy by 1810 "may now be considered as completely formed and established" and that the threat of disbandment was over.[12] If any individual deserved distinction for having sustained the Academy through its infancy, it was Joseph Hopkinson.

While the infant Academy struggled to survive, it also realized significant gains. The years of George Clymer's presidency produced important exhibitions and acquisitions. Sixteen paintings from the Robert Fulton collection, including Benjamin West's King Lear and Ophelia, were exhibited at the Academy in 1807. It was Fulton who unsuccessfully argued that the Academy should purchase twenty-five canvases by West for $32,888! Additions to the collection included a collection of "impressions of Gems and Medals, some valuable Books of Engravings and several casts from Ancient Statues"[13] given by Joseph Allen Smith. Of far greater consequence, in the years 1811 and 1812, were the Emperor Napoleon's gift of twenty-four volumes of engravings by Piranesi, William Bingham's bequest of Gilbert Stuart's "Lansdowne" portrait of George Washington (cat. no. 152), and the purchase for the Academy of Thomas Sully's George Frederick Cooke as Richard III by friends of the artist.

After George Clymer's death in 1813, Joseph Hopkinson became the Academy's second president. For the succeeding twenty-nine years Hopkinson guided the Academy with a deft, affectionate hand, and by 1842, the year of his death, the Pennsylvania Academy had become the most prestigious and complete art association in America. Under Hopkinson's leadership, the Academy's facilities and collections increased significantly, its annual exhibitions grew in importance and popularity, and its finances became less precarious.

The small, Greek-style building designed by John Dorsey in 1805 for the Academy allowed little room for internal expansion. In 1810 a north gallery had been appended to the rear of the Dorsey building. Under Hopkinson three building programs were initiated. By 1820 a statue gallery on the east flank was under construction. Three years later a director's room and a library were added south of the statue gallery. These two additions in 1823 were probably designed by William Strickland.[14] Finally, in 1835 two small buildings were erected in front of the Academy. These were immediately leased as exhibition space for the newly incorporated Artists' Fund Society. In twenty-five years the physical facilities of the Academy had practically doubled.

During these years important additions were made to the permanent collection. In one of its most pioneering and courageous moves, the board negotiated the purchase in 1816 of Washington Allston's The Dead Man Restored to Life by Touching the Bones of the Prophet Elisha (cat. no. 1). The painting had attracted the Academy's attention three years earlier when it had been exhibited at the Royal Academy, where it was awarded a prize of two hundred guineas. The board agreed to pay Allston $3500 for the large Biblical canvas. Through subscription -- forty-six subscribers at $20 each -- it raised over $900. The balance was paid to Allston with money raised in 1817, when the Academy borrowed $4500 at 5 percent for four years, mortgaging its building as security. When the painting was first shown at the Academy in 1816 in a special exhibition along with Allston's Donna Mencia in the Robber's Cavern (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), its popularity and the recognition of its importance must have gratified the board. Certainly, Washington Allston was gratified, for he wrote to his agent in Philadelphia, James McMurtrie, of "the honor conferred by the Academy" in purchasing his work.[15]

A preference for monumental history and religious painting, in the manner of the Renaissance and Baroque traditions of Europe, prevailed among the Academy's directors responsible for special exhibitions and acquisitions. Clearly, the Academy directors, as gentlemen of taste, were acting out the aesthetic principles of their English peers. Special exhibitions, such as the 1833 exhibition of the masters of the Venetian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French, and English schools, were thought to be ideal. Moreover, the annuals always contained a section of traditional European art. The work of American artists like Allston and West was also popular at the Academy because it reflected the stylistic traditions of European history painting.

The Academy had purchased Allston's Dead Man in 1816, but the early schemes for acquiring an important canvas by Benjamin West had all failed. By West's death in 1820, the Academy still did not own an example of his work. It was not until 1836 that it realized this objective, acquiring West's Death on a Pale Horse from his son Raphael for $7000. Again, the Academy had to mortgage its building to meet the expense.

The Academy's commitment to American painting was shared by the directors, even though individual taste seemed to prefer European works. A specific appreciation for contemporary American painting existed among a small group of Academy directors who were active collectors. Of them, Edward L. Carey and Henry D. Gilpin were the most active and vocal in their support of American art. Carey was a generous supporter of American artists, many of whom were his close friends. Gilpin argued for the support of native genius, especially the Philadelphia school, on the basis that every great civilization spawned and profited from an important tradition in the arts.[16]

In Philadelphia, the most significant artistic events in the early nineteenth century were the Academy's annual exhibitions. These were normally held in the spring and were open to all serious professional artists and sculptors, American and European. The annuals provided a public forum for young American artists to expose their work and an opportunity to evaluate it within the context of the entire exhibition. The cumulative effect of these exhibitions on American arts, artists, and public taste was colossal.

The Academy was dependent on raising sizeable sums of money through door receipts from the annuals to defray its yearly operating costs. Through sales of stock, subscriptions, gifts, and admissions, it raised the remainder of its annual budget. Money was almost always in short supply. However, the directors who managed the Academy's affairs in these formative years were both generous and wise in their expenditures.

Joseph Hopkinson died in 1842. He left the Academy in particularly good order, with increased support and major improvements to its facilities. The 1845 annual report to stockholders noted that "the pecuniary affairs of the institution are in a more flourishing condition than during any singular period for the last twelve years."[17] Nine days after this report was issued, fire caused extensive damage to the Academy building and its contents.

The fire was described in a Philadelphia newspaper as "disastrous in the extreme,"[18] and it was featured in The Illustrated London News with an engraved view of the building on fire.[19] Fortunately, the fire was extinguished before it destroyed the entire building and its contents. The most serious damage occurred in the antique statue gallery, where the entire collection of casts was destroyed, and in the north gallery and the director's room. Important European paintings were lost. Remarkably, West's Death on a Pale Horse was cut from its stretchers by volunteer firemen as fire burned its edges.

The fire, set by a deranged "incendiary," was a cruel blow to the prospering Academy. It came at just the time when the young institution was realizing some financial solvency. However, it was only a temporary setback. From the disaster, the Academy emerged with a renewed sense of dedication and purpose. The Academy, through its struggles to survive, had served too many needs to be allowed to fail.


America's Most Conspicuous Art Institution: 1845-1876

At mid-century, with the popularity of American art rising, the Pennsylvania Academy was recognized, along with the National Academy of Design and the Boston Athenaeum, as a leader in its support of American art. Asher B. Durand, in acknowledging his election as an Honorary Professional Member of the Academy in 1854, noted his "full appreciation of this connection with the oldest Institution of its kind in the country, and which has been so long prominent for the service it has rendered to the great cause of art."[20] Even more flattering was the reception that greeted the Academy's president, Henry Gilpin, throughout his European travels in the summer of 1854. Gilpin proudly remarked:

I assure you, it has been a source of constant gratification to me to find that my connection with the Academy is a passport to the good feeling and attention everywhere of artists and friends of art.[21]

Further on in the same letter, Gilpin reconstructed his encounter with Baron von Humboldt, who was well acquainted with the Pennsylvania Academy, regarding it as "an honourable pioneer in one of the many roads of usefullness that are considered as characteristic of the American spirit."[22] An anonymous writer for The Crayon, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Academy's incorporation, concluded that "the institution itself is the noblest monument to Art we have in this country."[23]

In 1845 the immediate task was to repair the damage inflicted in the galleries by the fire and to replace the cast collection. The directors offered an architectural competition for the reconstruction; designs were submitted by John Notman, John Haviland, and Richard Gilpin. Gilpin, whose brother Henry was later to serve as president of the Academy, was selected for the job. Reconstruction commenced in July 1846, over a year after the fire. The new galleries were opened to the public in May of 1847. From the proceeds of benefits, the Ladies' Committee contributed $9550.95 toward the cost of reconstruction! The remainder of the cost was raised by subscription. New plaster casts for the collection were secured with the aid of Count de Nieuwerkerke, principal director of the Louvre, and at the same time the facilities of the school in the basement were improved.

It was impossible to replace the European paintings lost in the fire. However, in a move to strengthen the European collection, the directors authorized the purchase of four paintings from the collection of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's older brother, the ex-king of Spain, who had a summer estate in Bordentown, New Jersey. The Academy was able to acquire from the Bonaparte collection two important canvases by the French painter Joseph Vernet: Shipwreck (cat. no. 43) and The Royal Family of Naples at Portici. It also moved to acquire European works by offering substantial cash prizes for historical, scriptural, and dramatic canvases, as well as landscapes judged by a jury of outside experts to be superior works in the annuals. The jury selections were almost exclusively European canvases; one of the popular works acquired in this way was the Rouget De Lisle Singing the "Marseillaise", painted by the Belgian Godfried Guffens in 1849.

James R. Lambdin, a portrait painter and a director of the Academy, endeavored to amend the concept of this yearly awarding of prizes by proposing that the paintings chosen "must be by an American artist and executed within the United States or by American artists residing temporarily abroad."[24] Lambdin, whose resolution was defeated, represented a faction that urged the Academy to extend its support exclusively to American artists. Outside voices, like The Crayon, expressed the same concern:

The Pennsylvania Academy is nobly persevering in the purchase of works of Art ... Three pictures were procured last year: a landscape by Weber, "The Dying Brigand," by May, and "Datheen Preaching in the Neighborhood of Ghent," by Wittkamp; the first two were appropriate additions to the Academy's collection, and, under the circumstances, so was the picture by Wittkamp. The latter acquisition however, is a bad precedent, if likely to be followed by similar successors. We presume the Academy desirous of favoring the growth of Art in America ... let it judiciously buy, therefore, all works by native artists who need the encouragement and appreciation of home patronage, particularly that of an institution; they have a right to it through. their genius without regard to any national considerations whatever.[25]

It was not until the 1870s that a taste for American art predominated at the Academy. Collections like those formed by Edward L. Carey (cat. no. 38), which came to the Academy in 1879 as a bequest from his brother Henry, stimulated an interest in modern American painting.

Traditionally, academies have taken a stern view toward contemporary art. Through the latter half of the nineteenth century the Pennsylvania Academy stood in the vanguard of artistic taste. The annuals were a forum for contemporary American painting. Every major American nineteenth-century artist, at one time or another, exhibited his work at the Pennsylvania Academy. Even in the school, where one might expect a more conservative bent, the instruction was innovative.

Special exhibitions dealt with contemporary work. Both of Thomas Cole's allegorical landscape series -- The Voyage of Life and The Course of Empire -- were shown at the Academy, in 1844 and 1852 respectively. Over the anguished cries of ladies whose sensibilities were offended by the nude female figure, Hiram Powers's Greek Slave was unveiled in 1848. Paintings by German artists of the Dusseldorf School attracted attention in 1850. Eight years later the now famous "American Exhibition of British Art," organized by William Rossetti, which consisted exclusively of English Pre-Raphaelite works, was opened at the Academy. The exhibition consisted of 105 oils and 127 watercolors, including, among others, the work of William Holman Hunt, Daniel Maclise, Ford Maddox Brown, John Brett, Frederick Leighton, and John Ruskin. In 1860 Frederic Church's cosmic landscape, Heart of the Andes, after a triumphal success in London, was hailed in Philadelphia at the Academy.

In addition to exhibiting modern works, the Academy bestowed professional honors on contemporary American and European painters, sculptors, and architects. It is not surprising that Asher B. Durand and Daniel Huntington were elected Honorary Professional Members of the Academy in 1854, but in recognizing the talents of Frederic Church, John F. Kensett, Jasper Cropsey, and Thomas Crawford, the Academy was well ahead of critical and popular recognition. Remarkably, the Academy during the previous year had gone so far as to recognize a group of renegade English artists and architects, like William Dyce and William Butterfield, who were out of favor in English academic circles.

The Academy also recognized its own artists for distinguished services. From 1867 to 1872, the year Thomas Sully died, the Sully Fund, raised from the board, paid a yearly stipend of $1000 to the aging artist in recognition of his "steadfast labors amongst us, and as a tribute to his upright character and his social virtues."[26] In the same spirit, in 1868 the board offered Christian Schussele a $1000 gift as a testimonial for his services as an instructor. When Schussele declined the gesture, the board subscribed to purchase a painting from him for $2000. The board also recognized its social obligations; twice during the Civil War it turned over its door receipts for the benefit of the United States Sanitary Commission to aid wounded Union soldiers. In 1864 it made its galleries available to the organizers of the Great Central Fair.

During the middle years of the nineteenth century, the Academy was blessed with energetic, resourceful leadership. On its board were distinguished lawyers and businessmen, influential artists, scholars, and collectors. In Henry D. Gilpin (cat. no. 20), president of the Academy from 1852 to 1859, and his successor Caleb Cope, president from 1859 to 1872, the Academy had two able leaders. Under their leadership, the Academy prospered. In his stockholders' address of 1851, Gilpin noted with satisfaction the improved position of the Academy in many respects.[27] In 1845 there had been 304 Academy stockholders. In six years the number had more than doubled to 614. By 1857, 721 stockholders were recorded, and in 1859, 813. From an average of 5000 visitors to the Academy in the 1840s, an average of 13,000 was recorded in the mid-1850s.[28]

Not only was the patronage of the Academy on the rise, but the size of its school enrollment and annual exhibitions was rapidly growing. As early as 1856, at the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, murmurings of the need for additional space were heard. In 1860 a committee of the board was formed to ascertain the terms of a possible sale of the Chestnut Street property. The same committee noted the poor condition of the Chestnut Street building. For the next five years, no affirmative action was taken to find new headquarters. In 1865 a special committee, composed of John Sartain, James Claghorn, and George Whitney, reported to the board that the Chestnut Street building "in its present condition, not only impedes the operation of the Academy, but is rapidly hastening to distruction [sic] the works of art contained in it."[29] After hearing the committee's plans for enlarging the existing structure, the decision was reached to erect an entirely new building. The board authorized the disposal of the Chestnut Street property for not less than $90,000.

The board did not reach a decision to erect a new building until late in 1869. In December 1869, Joseph Harrison, James Claghorn, and William Struthers were appointed as a committee to select a new site. In May 1870, President Caleb Cope reported that the Chestnut Street building had been sold for $135,000. A decision was being forced on the Academy.

Serious disagreement developed in the Harrison Committee over the choice of a new site. Harrison favored a site in Fairmount Park, hoping the Academy would ally itself with the Park Commissioners. He proposed a comprehensive scheme of public educational improvement, whereby the collections of other institutions would be brought together at the same site, with free admission for nine months of the year; the other three months, during the annuals, admission would be charged. President Cope argued the impractibility of conducting a school in such a remote locality. After heated debate, the decision to purchase the "Steele" lot at Broad and Cherry streets was approved in November 1870. Harrison, dismayed by the selection, resigned from the board after fifteen years of service. Fortunately, Harrison bore no animosity to the Academy; in 1878 part of his princely collection of American painting came to the Academy. His place on the board was filled by Fairman Rogers.

In June 1871, John Sartain, James Claghorn, Henry Gibson, Henry Morris, and Fairman Rogers were appointed as a committee to select a design for a new building. The committee instituted a competition, preparing a program of instructions for the guidance of the architects. They specified that the new structure was not to cost more than $250,000. Not surprisingly, the facilities and design of the new building represented an enlarged concept of Peter B. Wight's 1866 National Academy of Design in New York. John Sartain had a crucial voice in outlining the requirements of the new school facilities.

The firm of Frank Furness and George Hewitt was awarded the commission. For Furness, a student in the New York firm of Richard Morris Hunt, the Academy commission represented his first major job. It is generally agreed that Furness was responsible for the work. To the task, he brought his own personal flamboyance and creative energies.

In 1872, after thirty years of service to the Academy, Caleb Cope resigned as president. His successor, James Claghorn, presided at the laying of the cornerstone of the new building on December 7, 1872. On that occasion, a letter from Horace Binney, aged ninety-two and the only surviving original founder, was read; other addresses followed. The capstone was lifted into position, and the invited guests repaired to the Union League to inspect the architects' drawings. It was a joyous, optimistic occasion.


America's Oldest Art Institution: 1876-1905

At 11:30 A.M. on Saturday, April 22, 1876, amidst a clamor of festive excitement, the Academy opened the doors of its new building (cat. nos. 13, 14, 15). Throngs of dignitaries and art lovers packed into the galleries to marvel for the first time at the bold exuberance of the architecture. They listened attentively as the speakers declaimed on the liberality of the Academy's patrons, on the wisdom of its founders, and on the limitless prospects for the future. The principal speaker, the Reverend William H. Furness, father of the architect, proudly hailed "the Rejuvenescence of our venerable Academy" and "the new day that now dawns upon the Beautiful Arts, that help so powerfully to gladden and refine and elevate the life of man."[30] At the conclusion of the address, marble statues of Jerusalem (Philadelphia Memorial Park, Inc.) by William Wetmore Story and Deborah by G. B. Lombardi were unveiled. President Claghorn then pronounced the building open. In the centennial year of the nation, the new Academy building created a sensation among visitors to Philadelphia; an American masterpiece in architecture had been erected.

The opening of the new Furness building represented a milestone in the history of the seventy-one-year-old Academy. President Claghorn called the year 1876 "the most important in the history of the Institution since its first organization in 1806."[31] While museums like the Metropolitan in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, both founded in 1870, and art schools like the Art Students League, founded in 1875, were but fledglings, the Pennsylvania Academy, with its new facility, was literally reborn to maturity. The Academy directors recognized their institution's historic preeminence; on the motion of Charles Henry Hart, it was ordered that the words "Founded 1805" always be printed after the name of the Academy.[32]

With the recognition of this historic preeminence and with more adequate facilities came a new commitment to growth and professionalism. Moreover, the board at that time was composed of many of Philadelphia's wealthiest, most ambitious leaders -- Fairman Rogers, Edward H. Coates, Henry C. Gibson, James Claghorn, Edward T. Stotesbury, and Joseph E. Temple -- and these men imparted their personal ambition to the Academy, making the last quarter of the nineteenth century one of the most spectacular and innovative periods in the Academy's history.

The most spectacular growth came with additions to the permanent collections. In April 1876, the John S. Phillips bequest of European prints and drawings was announced. One of the largest print collections in America, it contained more than sixty thousand items, and the bequest included $12,000 to maintain and increase the collection. In 1878, four years after Joseph Harrison's death, eleven paintings from the Joseph and Sarah Harrison Collection were given to the Academy. Among these were Benjamin West's Christ Rejected (cat. no. 45) and Penn's Treaty with the Indians, John Vanderlyn's Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos (cat. no. 85), and Charles Willson Peale's Artist in His Museum (cat. no. 100) [33] The latter painting, along with Peale's portraits of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin (cat. nos. 95 and 94), had been purchased in 1854 at the Peale Museum Gallery sale for $175. As an expression of the board's gratitude for this princely gift, Sarah Harrison was unanimously elected the Academy's first honorary lady member.

Shortly after the Harrison gift came the bequest of paintings from Edward Carey's collection by his brother Henry Carey. In 1886 a small collection of miniatures, with examples by Edward Greene Malbone and James Peale (cat. nos. 103 and 104), came to the Academy from Frank Marx Etting. The following year, the John W. and Eliza Field Collection, which included a double portrait of the donors (cat. no. 36) painted by John Singer Sargent in Paris in 1882, became part of the Academy's collection. In 1891, with the death of Henry C. Gibson (cat. no. 42), the largest and most valuable bequest ever made to the Academy was announced. The Gibson Collection contained more than one hundred European paintings, including works by Eugene Boudin, Alexander Cabanel (cat. no. 5), Gustave Courbet, Thomas Couture, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, Henri Fantin-Latour (cat. no. 12), Jean-Leon Gerome (cat. no. 233), Jean-Francois Millet, and James Jacques Tissot (cat. no. 40) . The collection also included four monumental pieces of American sculpture: Joseph Bailly's The Expulsion and First Prayer, William Henry Reinhart's Hero, and Howard Roberts's Eleanor.

At the same time that the Academy was receiving major additions to the collection, it was also the recipient of two funds for the purchase of contemporary American art. The first of these, bequeathed in 1860 but not received until 1878, came from Henry D. Gilpin. The other, given in 1880 by Joseph E. Temple (cat. no. 41), specified that one-half its income be applied to keep the museum open at least one free day a week and the other half be used for the purchase of contemporary American art. The Gilpin Fund has made possible the purchase of 155 American works; the Temple Fund, 138. It was noted in 1901 that the Temple Collection was "one of the fullest groups of contemporary American art in the country."[34]

The initial Temple Fund purchases reflected a curious eclectic taste: in 1881 the Academy acquired William Picknell's On the Borders of the Marsh; in 1884 Frank Kirkpatrick's In the Museum and Charles Sprague Pearce's Fantasie; in 1885 Thomas Craig's Evening;[35] in 1889 William Mason Brown's Fruit and Art Objects and George Maynard's Sappho; in 1891 Alexander Harrison's The Wave (cat. no. 191), Charles Davis's The Brook, Robert Vonnoh's Companion of the Studio, and William T. Richard's Bell Buoy, Newport, R.I. If anything, the acquisitions indicate a preference for the work of expatriate American artists.

In June 1892, the Academy hired Harrison S. Morris (cat. no. 10) as managing director. In Morris it acquired the services of a man with impeccable taste and extensive knowledge of modern American art. During Morris's tenure, which ended with his stormy resignation in 1905, the Academy engaged in some of the most enlightened collecting in its history. In 1894 Morris purchased Winslow Homer's Fox Hunt ($1200; cat. no. 19) from the annual, as well as Frank Duveneck's Turkish Page ($500; cat. no. 61) , William Merritt Chase's Lady with the White Shawl ($500; cat. no. 215), and Robert Vonnoh's November (cat. no. 208) . In 1896 Cecilia Beaux's New England Woman was purchased; in 1897 Thomas Eakins's The Cello Player ($500; cat. no. 228). In 1898 George de Forest Brush's Mother and Child ($5000) became part of the collection, along with William Morris Hunt's The Flight of Night ($1200) and Girl with White Cap ($200). In 1899 Edmund Tarbell's The Golden Screen ($700) and two paintings from the Thomas B. Clarke collection -- Charles Curran's A Breezy Day and Dwight Tryon's Evening (cat. no. 181) -- were acquired. In 1900 Henry Tanner's Nicodemus (cat. no. 246) and in 1902 Childe Hassam's Cat Boats: Newport ($500; cat. no. 192) were accessioned. Not only was the Academy acquiring masterpieces of American painting, it was also recognizing America's greatest talent well ahead of the times. Morris's buying was daring.

Members of the Academy's Board of Directors were also purchasing contemporary American works from the annuals. Edward Stotesbury acquired a choice collection of paintings by Winslow Homer, including Eight Bells (Addison Museum of American Art). Edward Coates, part of whose collection came to the Academy in 1923, owned several works by Thomas Eakins, including A Pathetic Song (The Corcoran Gallery of Art). John Converse purchased Daniel Ridgway Knight's immensely popular Hailing the Ferry (cat. no. 194) and Clement Newbold bought Edmund Tarbell's Breakfast in the Studio (cat. no. 205), both of which are now in the permanent collection. In addition to purchasing works, the board encouraged artists with the establishment of valuable cash prizes awarded during the annuals.

The annuals continued to be immensely popular. While admission statistics are not consistently available, the recorded figures do suggest huge turnouts. In 1889 receipts, at 25¢ per head, totalled $6,657.25. In 1900 the annual attracted 45,000 visitors, or an average of over 1000 per day. In 1901 the attendance reached 53,257 for forty-one days; in 1903, 55,226, with the largest attendance for a single day 5034 visitors. One reason the annuals remained so popular was that they attracted not only the best American artists, but often their best work. The annuals were events that attracted a national audience.

Special loan exhibitions on topics as diverse as architectural drawings, photography, and art posters were also regularly offered at the Academy. Often, the Academy turned its spacious galleries over to other art associations for their use. In 1879 the first annual exhibition of the Philadelphia Society of Artists was held at the Academy; in 1883 the Academy opened its galleries to the Philadelphia Society of Etchers; between 1898 and 1901 the Philadelphia Photographic Salons were seen at the Academy; and in 1904 the first exhibition of the Watercolor Society was held.

The Academy also organized its own special exhibitions. In 1881, "Paintings by American Artists at Home and in Europe" provided a chance for Americans to see the work of an important group of expatriates working primarily in Paris, Munich, and London.

Included in the exhibition was James A. McNeill Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Artist's Mother (Louvre, Paris), which was offered for sale at $1500. Regrettably, the Academy declined this opportunity to purchase one of Whistler's greatest works. In 1887-88 the first great loan exhibition of American colonial historical portraiture was held at the Academy. Subsequently, concerted efforts to build the collection of historic American portraits were made. In 1891 the Thomas B. Clarke Collection of modern American painting was shown. The following year, the second great English Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Academy was held. The exhibition comprised works from the collections of several distinguished patrons of Pre-Raphaelite painting, including Samuel Bancroft, Jr., and Professor Charles Eliot Norton of Harvard University; among the Bancroft collection were Dante Gabriel Rosetti's Lady Lilith (Delaware Art Museum) and Found (Delaware Art Museum). In 1893, a selection of works later shown at the Chicago World's Fair was first exhibited in Philadelphia. In 1896 the Academy organized a fine arts poster show, the announcement for which was designed by Maxfield Parrish (cat. no. 30); works by American artists such as Edwin Austin Abbey, Will Bradley, Edward Penfield, and John Sloan were exhibited along with posters by Pierre Bonnard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Aubrey Beardsley, and Walter Crane.

While the Academy's collections were taking on increased significance and its exhibitions were recognizing new styles and media, its finances were being placed on a surer footing. In 1885 the idea of instituting an endowment fund was first proposed. Previously, the Academy had operated on receipts and donations. By 1887 the treasurer was able to report gifts totaling $112,500.[36] By the end of 1905 the endowment fund was in excess of $300,000.[37] By 1895 the city was appropriating $5000 annually for the Academy's use in return for scholarships in the school and free days in the museum. By 1905 the city appropriation had doubled.

When the Academy school reopened in September of 1876, its directors noted with pride that, in their opinion, the school had "no superior in any country."[38] Under the directorship of Christian Schussele, and with Thomas Eakins, the sculptor Joseph Bailly, and Dr. W. W. Keen on the staff, the Academy school was singled out for its well-organized, progressive system of instruction.[39] In 1876, there was no student tuition. By 1879 the board noted "the rapidly decreasing available funds of the Institution"[40] and considered releasing Christian Schussele. In 1882 the board was forced to initiate a modest tuition. In the first year, the tuition brought in $1140. In 1895 the average tuition was still less than ten dollars.

Prior to the opening of the new facilities, the ill-equipped, cramped quarters at Tenth and Chestnut streets had been the initial training ground of many future important American artists: Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, Edwin Austin Abbey, and William Michael Harnett. There were many other students who came and went in anonymity. Reminiscences abound. Abbey remembered the Academy as a fusty, fudgy place ... The trail of Rembrandt Peale and of Charles Leslie, of Benjamin West, and all the dismal persons who thought themselves "Old Masters," was over the place, and the worthy young men who caught colds in that dark basement with me, and who slumbered peacefully by my side during long anatomical lectures all thought the only thing worth doing was the grand business, the "High Art."[41]

Among the earlier students at Chestnut Street, such impressions as Abbey's seem not to be the exception.

The new school and its small teaching staff attracted a throng of aspiring artists. They came first to study with Christian Schussele, who died in 1879, and then with Thomas Eakins, who resigned from his position in 1886, and later with Thomas Hovenden and Thomas Anshutz (cat. no. 17). Subsequently, students had the opportunity to study with William Merritt Chase, Cecilia Beaux, Emil Carlsen, Robert Vonnoh, Charles Grafly, Joseph DeCamp, and Henry Thouron. The Academy's faculty was one of the most prestigious in American art schools.

Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, John Sloan, and A. Stirling Calder remembered their student days at the Academy with gratitude. Others, like John Marin, Everett Shinn, Charles Sheeler, Morton Schamberg, and Arthur B. Carles, found their student training at the Academy of limited value. It was especially Thomas Anshutz's inspired teaching and great humanity that so many artists later acknowledged with deep respect. A. Stirling Calder summarized his feeling about the Academy:

There I received ineffaceable impressions that have colored my life. There I formed habits of thought that have persisted. There I received a broad generous opportunity that has left me poor, but free.[42]

It was out of such experiences as Calder's that the Academy Fellowship was formed in 1897 to foster a spirit of fraternity and to benefit the Academy in other ways. During its history, the Fellowship has sponsored exhibitions, awarded premiums in the annuals, conducted important lectures, and supported artists in times of need.

Not until the beginning of the twentieth century did the opportunity exist at the Academy for students to study abroad on traveling scholarships. In 1891, with a contribution from the board, an Academy student, John R. Connor, was able to spend a year abroad on a traveling scholarship. Each year through the 1890s similiar scholarships were offered. In 1902 Emlen and Priscilla Cresson bequeathed an endowed fund to the Academy in memory of William E. Cresson (cat. no. 3), a promising Academy student who had died at a tragically young age. The income from the fund was specified for foreign scholarships. Then the largest bequest ever received by the Academy, the fund provided, and still provides, the opportunity for student travel abroad.

The Academy did not move headlong toward its centennial without serious problems, even setbacks. In April 1886, a fire greatly damaged the largest exhibition gallery in the Furness building, destroying forty-nine paintings and damaging seven.[43] In addition, only twenty years after the building's completion, the board, constantly reminded of the lack of space, appointed a committee to investigate the possibility of acquiring adjacent property for the school; the architect Frank Miles Day was requested to submit alteration plans for the adaption of studio spaces to galleries.[44] And there was always the frustration of having insufficient funds to purchase the countless major American works which were available. Certain missed opportunities are documented -- the chance of purchasing Whistler's Portrait of the Artist's Mother for $1500 or Copley's portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Izard (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) for $6000. Moreover, attribution mistakes were made; the Academy purchased the portrait of Elizabeth Willing Powel as a work by Copley, later to discover it was painted by Matthew Pratt. The number of unrecorded missed opportunities must be countless. The Academy did well, but it might have done much better.

The one hundredth anniversary banquet, held on the evening of February 23, 1905, marked a milestone in the Academy's history. It was a gala affair, presided over by President Coates, with the attorney general of Pennsylvania, Hampton Carson, and Howard Horace Furness, the Shakespeare scholar, addressing the assemblage. The ever popular, dapper William Merritt Chase, an instructor at the Academy since 1896, spoke on behalf of the assembled artists and students. Chase called the Pennsylvania Academy the most important art institution in America. Even an unbiased outsider probably would have agreed with Chase's appraisal. The Academy had served its purposes well. In the twentieth century, would it be able to meet the changing demands of the time?


A Healthy Stake in the Twentieth Century: 1905-1930

In 1905 the Pennsylvania Academy, in its one hundredth year, stood at the pinnacle of its history. It had a solid international reputation, it attracted the most prestigious instructors and talented students, its collections were exemplary, it met the demands of its public, and it grew increasingly popular. For the next quarter century the Academy would continue its position of leadership. During this time, however, forces in the art world were beginning to undermine the authority of all art academies. By the 1930s the Pennsylvania Academy began its slide into anonymity as its leadership became overly conservative.

Between 1905 and 1906 both Harrison Morris and Edward Coates resigned from the Academy. Their successors, John Trask and John Frederick Lewis, were keenly interested in American art. President Lewis was especially interested in historical portraiture, which he bought extensively and sometimes indiscriminately; Trask was an acknowledged authority on contemporary art. Through these two, the acquisition program remained active. Between 1908 and 1912 important works by George Bellows (cat. no. 271), John Twachtman (cat. no. 2(6), Willard Metcalf (cat. no. 196), Philip Hale (cat. no. 190), and Robert Henri were added to the collection. In 1911 the Academy's funds were supplemented with the bequest by John Lambert of a third fund for contemporary purchases.

The most consistently impressive events at the Academy between 1905 and 1930 were the loan exhibitions. These exhibitions indicated a genuine interest in avant-garde American art as well as more traditional styles. The fact that the Academy sponsored modern art exhibitions contradicts the traditional belief that the Pennsylvania Academy was an exclusive bastion of conservative taste. Certainly, the annuals included fewer examples of modernistic work, but intermixed into the season were modern exhibitions. The combination of these events proved extremely popular; between 1908 and 1916, yearly attendance exceeded 170,000 visitors. In 1908, 214,594 visitors went through the Academy.

The earliest avant-garde exhibition at the Academy comprised a selection of photographs from the newly founded Photo-Secession gallery in New York; included were examples by Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz. Stieglitz, who earlier had served on juries for the Philadelphia Photographic Salons seen at the Academy from 1898 to 1901, represented the center of American involvement in modernism. Again, it was Stieglitz who served on the selection committee for the important "Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings Showing the Later Tendencies in Art," held at the Academy in 1921. The exhibition was the most complete survey of American modernism shown in Philadelphia up to that time. "Later Tendencies," along with the 1920 exhibition, "Representative Modern Masters," which included major European moderns like Matisse, Picasso, Redon, Severini, and the Nco-Impressionists, and "Contemporary European Paintings and Sculpture," with a catalogue introduction by Albert C. Barnes, were solid expressions of the Academy's involvement in modernism.

The Academy also featured more traditional styles of contemporary painting; it especially favored the new brand of realism associated with the Ashcan School and American Impressionism. There were early exhibitions of the work of Robert Henri, Everett Shinn, and Ernest Lawson, and in 1908 the Academy sponsored the now famous exhibition of "The Eight," which had first been seen at the Macbeth Galleries in New York. In Philadelphia the show attracted large crowds, but there were no sales. Immediately after its closing, the Academy held the tenth anniversary exhibition of the Ten American Painters, two of whom, William Merritt Chase and Joseph DeCamp, were Academy instructors. In the winter of 1917-18 the Academy paid tribute to the late Thomas Eakins, with an exhibition of 139 works.

In the 1920s the Academy organized a series of landmark retrospectives of eighteenth and nineteenth-century American painters. The first, held in 1922, commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of Thomas Sully's death. The Sully retrospective was followed in 1923 with the first modern exhibition of the work of Charles Willson, James, and Rembrandt Peale. In 1925 the Academy organized the only major exhibition of John Neagle's work ever held. In saluting these five artists, the Academy recognized not only their eminent abilities but also their service to the Academy in its formative years.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Academy school trained many of the future leading American modernists: Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, A. Stirling Calder, John Marin, H. Lyman Sayen, Morton Schamberg, Arthur B. Carles, and Carl Newman. Their training came from men like William Merritt Chase, Charles Grafly, and Thomas Anshutz -- unlikely fonts of modernism. However, at least with Anshutz, whose teaching philosophy strongly opposed giving a student "a formula that will cramp him to its own limits,"[45] the Academy student was encouraged to develop his own strengths and interests. With the presence of modernist painters like Arthur B. Carles, Hugh Breckenridge, and Henry McCarter on the faculty, a greater sympathy for modernistic painting existed at the Academy.

In 1914 President Lewis remarked that the school was in a "more flourishing condition" than at any time in its history. Its enrollment, which was to exceed 300 students in 1925, averaged between 200 and 250 students. Student scholarships had been liberally provided in memory of William L. Elkins and George D. Widener, a board member lost on the Titanic in 1912. In 1917, ninety students enrolled in the first summer school session at Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. The summer school provided a valuable opportunity for students to paint out-of-doors.

During the early years of the twentieth century the Academy was a vital organization. The assessment by Milton Brown that academies never played any significant role on the American artistic stage after 1913 is, of course, simply not true.[46] The Pennsylvania Academy continued to keep step with the changing times. It remained the most important focus for the American arts in Philadelphia.


Survival in the Twentieth Century: 1930-1976

An assessment of the Academy's recent history reveals several problems that have impeded the growth of the Academy during the past four decades. The general feeling that the art world eclipsed the Academy is probably fair; certainly the Academy failed to respond to the new movements in the art world. No single factor contributed to this condition. Internally, acute financial problems developed; the board, with limited aspirations for the Academy, failed to provide adequate financial support. Professional museum help was limited. Externally, academics came in for increased criticism for their conservative attitudes to art. Serious outside competition developed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Contemporary, avant-garde American artists gravitated to these latter institutions for the support they once had realized from the Academy.

John Frederick Lewis, the Academy's twelfth president, died in 1932. Lewis bequeathed the Academy a notable collection of portraits and self-portraits of artists like George Healy (cat. no. 18), Emanuel Leutze (cat. no. 27), Sanford Gifford (cat. no. 23), William Sidney Mount (cat. no. 28) , and Henry Inman. Before his death, Lewis had hired Joseph Fraser (cat. no. 44), a young architecture student from the University of Pennsylvania, to run the summer school at Chester Springs. Fraser ran the school from 1932 to 1936, and in 1936 he became director of the Academy. He retained this position until his retirement in 1969. In 1944 Fraser was awarded the Academy's Gold Medal of Honor for distinguished service to the Academy. Fraser's years, under six presidents, provided continuity, but comparatively little growth. The Academy had become a "slumbering giant," a reference to the widely held recognition of its tremendous assets.

Fraser's thirty-three-year term as director is perhaps best characterized by his personal friendship with, loyalty to, and interested support of local artists. Fraser's support helped cement the ties of artists like Walter Stuempfig, Franklin Watkins, Francis Speight, and Hobson Pittman to the Academy. During Fraser's tenure the Academy school nourished, increasing its student body and support. The summer school at Chester Springs prospered until its closing in 1950. Additional awards, prizes, and traveling scholarships recognized student work.

Important additions were made to the collection. In 1941 Augustus Saint-Gaudens's marble bas-relief portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Macveagh came to the collection. In 1950 Henry S. Drinker gave a large study collection of the work of his aunt, Cecilia Beaux. Stuart Davis's Ultra-Marine (cat. no. 279) was purchased through the Temple Fund in 1952. In 1954 landscapes by Jasper Cropsey (cat. no. 163), George Inness (cat. no. 172), and John F. Kensett (cat. no. 173) were given to the Academy by John Frederick Lewis, Jr. In 1961 ten portraits, including three self-portraits by Jacob Eichholtz, were presented to the Academy by Mrs. James Beal. The following year the Academy purchased Alexander Calder's Route Barree (cat. no. 313). Four highly important portraits were acquired between 1964 and 1969: an 1806 self-portrait by Benjamin West (cat. no. 89), portraits of Joseph Pemberton and Ann Galloway Pemberton by James Claypoole, Jr., and Charles Willson Peale's double portrait of Gouverneur and Robert Morris (cat. no. 93), painted in 1783.

Coincidentally, an indiscriminate amount of deaccessioning of European works in the collection was approved by the board. Works that were sold were considered either insignificant or irrelevant to the collection. Even worse was the dispersal of monumental sculptured marbles and casts deemed "not suitable" and "valueless" for the collection. One such piece, William Wetmore Story's Jerusalem had been prominently featured in the Academy's 1876 opening. One of Story's most important works, it now sits, defaced by the weather, in Philadelphia Memorial Park, Frazer, Pennsylvania. Other pieces were even less fortunate; partially damaged casts were destroyed on the recommendation of the Committee on Collections.

Each generation at the Academy has responded in a meaningful way to the important anniversaries of the institution. On the occasion of its 150th anniversary in 1955 two significant events were sponsored: the publication by Anna Wells Rutledge of a Cumulative Record of Exhibition Catalogues. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1807-1870, an invaluable research tool for American arts scholars, and a catalogued exhibition of the work of twenty-five deceased American artists and sculptors who had been associated with the Academy. In recognition of the need for a current history of the Academy, a chronology of important events in the Academy's history was included in the catalogue. The exhibition, after opening in Philadelphia, was seen in Madrid, Florence, Innsbruck, Ghent, and Stockholm.

Recently the Academy has endeavored to identify and celebrate its own history through catalogued exhibitions. There have been highly successful, popular exhibitions of the work of Andrew Wyeth (1966) and scholarly exhibitions like the 1967 Gilbert Stuart show and the 1971 "Philadelphia Painting and Printing to 1776," in conjunction with Winterthur Museum. The majority of the recent exhibitions organized by the Academy have dealt with the Academy's own artists or collections. In 1970-71 the exhibition "To Save A Heritage" brought national attention to the Academy's collection. Recently, exhibitions such as "Held in Trust," "Pennsylvania Academicians," "The Beneficent Connoisseurs," "John Sloan in Philadelphia," "Susan Macdowell Eakins," "Cecilia Beaux; Portrait of an Artist," and "The Pennsylvania Academy and Its Women, 1850-1920" have focused on specific topics directly connected with the Academy. These exhibitions have developed a deeper understanding of important aspects of the Academy.

Along with this self-education has come a heightened sense of obligation and responsibility to an increasingly aware public. This has taken numerous directions. In 1970, the Academy instituted an active conservation program with expanded conservation facilities. At the same time, it undertook the renovation of painting storage vaults. In 1972 it started a docent program as a public educative vehicle. Most recently, the restoration and modernization of its main building at Broad and Cherry streets has been underway. These endeavors are all designed to safeguard the Academy's nationally important artistic heritage, to provide meaningful interpretation and enjoyment, and to make the Academy more accessible to the public.

The restoration of the great Furness building is analogous in many ways to its construction one hundred years ago. As it then signaled a rebirth of the Pennsylvania Academy, so today does it signal a belief in the past and a new stake in the future. One hundred years ago the Academy was primed for a quarter century of success. One hundred years later its future as a guardian of the American arts appears optimistic.

1 Rembrandt Peale, "Reminiscences: Exhibitions and Academies," The Crayon, I (January-June 1855), 290.
2 "Review of the Second Annual Exhibition," The Port Folio, 8 (July 1812), 18.
3 Charles Willson Peale to Thomas Jefferson, June 13, 1805, CWP Letterbook VI, Collection of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
4 Charles Willson Peale to Benjamin H. Latrobe, June 21, 1805, CWP Letterbook VI, Collection of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
5 The first twelve directors of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (cited hereafter' as PAFA) included William Tilghman, William Rawle, John R. Coxe, Joseph McKean, John Dorsey, William Poyntell, Joseph Hopkinson, Thomas James, Charles Willson Peale, Moses Levy, William Meredith, and William Rush.
6 ]For a list of the antique plaster casts ordered by PAFA, see Anna Wells Rutledge, Cumulative Record of Exhibition Catalogues. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1807-1870 (Philadelphia, 1955), p. 1.
7 A report of the Society of Artists, printed in Rutledge, p. 2, records that "from the nature of the charter of that institution [PAFA], and a variety of other circumstances, it was found impracticable to unite."
8 PAFA Board Minutes, May 20, 1811. All of the PAFA minutebooks are located in the Academy archives.
9 For a complete history of this association, see Frank Goodyear, Jr., Pennsylvania Academicians (exhibition catalogue, PAFA, March-April, 1973).
10 For details of the grievances, see "Memorial of the Resident Artists of Philadelphia" (ms.), 1828, PAFA Archives. See also William Dunlap, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States (1843; reprinted., New York, 1969), vol. I, p. 422.
11 John Neagle to Joseph Hopkinson, March 10, 1829, PAFA Archives.
12 Joseph Hopkinson, Annual Discourse delivered before the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on the 13th of November, 1810 (Philadelphia, 1810), p. 6.
13 ]PAFA Board Minutes, December 26, 1807.
14 Like Dorsey, William Strickland was a member of the Academy's Board of Directors, serving from 1819 to 1846. It should be noted that Thomas Sully proposed the erection of a west wing in the 1820s, but his plan was never approved.
15 Quoted in Dunlap, vol. 2, p. 176.
16 Henry D. Gilpin, An Annual Discourse before the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on the 29th of November, 1826 (Philadelphia, 1827), unpaged.
17 "Report of the Board of Directors ... to the Stockholders' Meeting" (ms.), June 2, 1845, PAFA Archives.
18 Public Ledger and Daily Transcript, June 13, 1845.
19 The Illustrated London News, July 19, 1845, p. 37.
20 A.B. Durand to John F. Lewis, May 3, 1854, PAFA Archives.
21 Henry D. Gilpin to John F. Lewis, July 21, 1854, PAFA Archives.
22 Ibid.
23 "Sketchings: Pennsylvania Academy," The Crayon, 3 (July 1856), 217-18.
24 PAFA Board Minutes, May 30, 1849.
25 "Sketchings: Domestic Art Gossip," The Crayon, 4 (June 1857), 186.
26 PAFA Board Minutes, December 24, 1867.
27 PAFA, Report of the Board of President and Directors to the Stockholders, June 2, 1851 (Philadelphia, 1851), pp. 5-15.
28 PAFA, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Stockholders, June 4, 1855 (Philadelphia, 1855), p. 9.
29 "Special Report to the Directors," bound into the PAFA Board Minutes, January 16, 1865.
30 Inauguration Of the New Building of the Pennsylvania Academy Of the Fine Arts, 22 April 1876 (Philadelphia, 1876), p. 16.
31 "Directors Report to the Stockholders," PAFA Board Minutes, February 5, 1877.
32 PAFA Board Minutes, February 9, 1885.
33 ]See Frank Goodyear, Jr., and Carolyn Diskant, "Harrison Collection," in The Beneficent Connoisseurs (exhibition catalogue, PAFA, January-February 1974).
34 PAFA Board Minutes, March 11, 1901.
35 The original version of Craig's Evening was lost in the gallery fire of April 8, 1886. The replica was given to the Academy by the artist in 1887.
36 PAFA Board Minutes, January 10, 1887.
37 PAFA Board Minutes, March 12, 1906.
38 "Directors Report to the Stockholders," PAFA Board Minutes, February 5, 1877.
39 ]See [William C. Brownell], "The Art Schools of Philadelphia," Scribner's Monthly, 18 (May-October 1879), 737-50; Fairman Rogers, "The Schools of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts," The Penn Monthly, 12 (January-December 1881), 453-62.
40 PAFA Board Minutes, January 18, 1879.
41 Quoted in E. V. Lucas, Edwin Austin Abbey, Royal Academician: The Record of His Life and Work, (New York, 1921), vol. I, p. 13.
42 A. Stirling Calder to Joseph Fraser, 1939, PAFA Archives.
43 PAFA Board Minutes, April 8, 1886.
44 PAFA Board Minutes, February 2, 1898.
45 Thomas Anshutz to Edward Coates, May 15, 1893, PAFA Archives.
46 See Milton Brown, The Story of the Armory Show (New York, 1963), p. 28.


About the author

Frank Goodyear, Jr. became the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts' first professional curator in 1972. Goodyear was director and then president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, posts he held for two years and 10 years, respectively. In 1999 he was appointed as Director to the Heard Museum of Phoenix, AZ.


Resource Library editor's note

The above exhibition catalogue text was reprinted in Resource Library on July 16, 2008, with permission of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The permission was granted to TFAO on June 10, 2008. Mr. Goodyear's essay pertains to In This Academy: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1805 - 1976, which was on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1976 as a special Bicentennial exhibition.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Barbara Katus, Rights and Reproduction Manager of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Stacey Wittig for their help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.

Resource Library readers may also enjoy:

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Resource Library.

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2008 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.