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 windows were originally installed in Pardee Hall (Alcuin and Charlemagne) and Van Wickle Hall (Sir Philip Sidney). The windows are now installed in Skillman LIbrary.
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 these paintings can now be viewed in the new the Kirby Art Study Center, at the Williams Center for the Arts.
A selection of the portraits can been seen in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, built in 1929–30, given by Fred Morgan Kirby, to house the Department of Government and Law. Of special note are portraits of Thomas Jefferson at the Natural Bridge, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Marshall, and Thurgood Marshall. The Kirby Collection’s history paintings include Barbara Frietchie by Dennis Malone Carter and The Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock by Peter Frederick Rothermel.
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.
In the past five years, the College Art Collection has become a repository for a selection of original prints produced by the college’s Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI). A generous gift from Bennett (’79) and Meg Goodman of more than 1,200 19th and 20th century has transformed the vintage and contemporary photography collection; 2019 saw the gift of photographs by Larry Fink: his “Fish and Wine” series; “Sense of Sound” the 2008-09 commission to document the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Lafayette and Carnegie Hall, and “Night at the Museum,” which documented the 2014 kick-off capital campaign event held at the American Museum of Natural History.