6ABC Loves The Arts

Celebrating two 19th century Phila. artists

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is celebrating the works of two 19th century Philadelphia artists.

William Trost Richards was a landscape painter who created more than a hundred miniature watercolors, including scenes of the Wissahickon. You can see his works in PAFA's historic landmark building and you can see for the first time ever, how the building itself came to be.

2012 is the 100th anniversary of the architect, Frank Furness' death and to celebrate his life's work, PAFA is exhibiting the drawings that went into creating one of his greatest masterpieces&..PAFA's own building.

George Thomas, Architectural and Cultural Historian said, "What you're seeing here for the first time ever and maybe for the first time of any Victorian building all of the surviving drawings that show us how he made a building."

The renderings were never intended to be seen by anyone but the masons and engineers who built the structure. For more than a century, the drawings have sat in storage.

The renderings were never intended to be seen by anyone but the masons and engineers who built the structure. For more than a century, the drawings have sat in storage.

"They've been kept here, and you know the miracle was that nobody threw them out," said Thomas.

While Furness was dotting Philadelphia's landscape with hundreds of his signature designs, artist William Trost Richards was painting postcard-sized pictures.

Anna Marley, Curator of Historical American Art, PAFA stated, "These little paintings are called coupons because William Trost Richards would send them to his patron, George Whitney, who was a very wealthy manufacturer in Philadelphia."

If Whitney liked the miniature, he ordered a large scale version. But he also created a special salon in his 18th street home to show off the small watercolors. They are now part of PAFA's permanent collection.

"We have magnifying glasses here. You can spend time looking at the detailed miniature paintings," said Marley.

Both exhibits are on display through year's end. For tickets and museum hours, go to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

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