Richard Rummell College and University Viewson Dec 29, 2017 at 11:11 am
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the publisher Littig & Company commissioned accomplished artist Richard Rummell, among others, to paint watercolor views of prestigious colleges and universities. These watercolors were used to create photogravure engravings, giving them a photographic, rather than painted, quality.
Several features make these views unique. They are panoramic or panoptic and look as though they were drawn from an altitude of about 300 feet. There has been speculation that the preliminary drawings were made from a hot air balloon. This may have been true in some cases, but it is highly likely that the artists walked the streets of campuses making sketches, and then adjusted the perspective to appear as though they were done from a significant height. Some views include buildings that never existed. This came about because Rummell and the other artists would meet with university administration and included projected buildings when requested, possibly to assist with university fundraising. Occasionally plans for a new building would subsequently be scrapped, leaving the panoramic view as a record of what might have been. In many cases, they are the only panoramic views available of a college or university. Original prints and early restrikes of the most prominent institutions are difficult to find.
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University of Chicago
University of Michigan
University of Pennsylvania
A note on the printing method: Photogravures are made from a copperplate that has been coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which has been exposed to a film positive. An etching or engraving is made, with a richness and continuous tone similar to a photograph.