Among the rich resources provided for students is a fine, small, art collection. The collection includes 18th through early 21st century American and European paintings, prints, and sculpture; vintage photographs; and contemporary American sculpture and paintings. Recent acquisitions build on the strength of the existing collections.
The College’s Art Collection and new Kirby Art Study Center room offers first-hand encounters that are an integral part of teaching and learning across disciplines at the college and forge creative connections that inspire tomorrow’s leaders. The study of original objects can develop skills in close observation, visual and critical analysis, questioning assumptions, evidence-based reasoning, working collaboratively in diverse teams, creative response, and research using primary sources.
Also part of the art collection are two superb Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company figurative stained glass windows (1898 and 1899) depicting Alcuin and Charlemagne and The Death of Sir Philip Sidney at the Battle of Zutphen.
The centerpiece of the art collection is the Kirby Collection of Historical Paintings, which consists of American portraits, history paintings, and sculpture. Assembled by Allan P. Kirby ’15 with the assistance of his friend and New York art dealer E. J. Rousuck, Kirby described his criterion: “It was intended to have broadly represented the many fields of achievement through which men can leave lasting impressions upon the nation.”
Many of the portraits can been seen in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, built in 1929–30, given by Allan P. Kirby’s father, Fred Morgan Kirby, to house the Department of Government and Law. Of special note are Thomas Jefferson at the Natural Bridge by Caleb Boyle, Grover Cleveland by Eastman Johnson, portaits of George Washington, and Gouverneur Morris by Thomas Sully. The Kirby Collection’s historical paintings include Barbara Frietchie by Dennis Malone Carter and The Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock by Peter Frederick Rothermell.
Rousuck also assisted Kirby in acquiring British and European paintings for the 1930s-era Chateau Chavaniac, built as a private retreat by Allan P. Kirby and named after the birthplace of the Marquis de Lafayette. The F. M. Kirby Foundation gave the Chateau, located north of the campus in Easton, with its collection of decorative arts and paintings, to the College in 1984.
Of course, there are many representations of the Marquis de Lafayette in the collection, including a full-size bronze sculpture of Lafayette by Daniel Chester French, which was cast from a plaster model given to the College by French. Another gift from French is a small bronze cast of the maquette—a small study—for his bas relief sculpture of Lafayette at Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, the same plaster model of Lafayette was used for both sculptures.