U.Va. Symposium to Examine 'Jefferson, Palladio and the Fine Arts in America'

November 09, 2009

November 6, 2009 — The vision and art of Thomas Jefferson, the legacy of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio and the development of architecture at the University of Virginia, including the work of McKim Mead & White, will be the focus of a symposium Nov. 20-21.

The symposium is free and open to the public. The registration deadline is Nov. 18.

Experts in art, architecture, decorative arts and landscape architecture will explore these topics in relation to the University and two current exhibitions: "Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: the Creation of an Architectural Masterpiece," at the University Art Museum through Jan. 4, and "From Village to Grounds: Architecture After Jefferson at the University of Virginia," on display through May 31 in the main gallery of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture.

Scholars will explore the Palladio's impact in celebration of the 500th anniversary of his birth, as well as Thomas Jefferson's involvement in architecture and other arts, and the development of U.Va. in its architecture and art since 1825.

Jefferson owned multiple copies of Palladio's "Four Books of Architecture." As he told a friend: "Palladio was the bible, stick close to it." Jefferson's profound influence on the arts in America extends to architecture, art collecting, furniture, gardens, music and literature.

On the first day of the symposium, scholars will address Palladio and Jefferson and Jefferson's interest in the fine arts. Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History at U.Va. and curator of the two exhibits, will give introductory remarks.

Friday's sessions include:

• "Palladio in a Cold Climate," featuring Bruce Boucher, director of the U.Va. Art Museum.
• "Palladio's Drawings in Eighteenth-Century English Collections," with Cinzia Sicca Bursill-Hall, professor and director of Art History Program, Department of Art History, Università di Pisa.
• "Chiswick House (the Model): Is it Palladian at All?," with Richard Hewlings, English Heritage, a quasi-governmental organization that preserves British historical sites.
• "Palladio and the American Architectural Image," with Calder Loth, architectural historian, Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
• "Lessons from Palladio at Monticello," with William L. Beiswanger, Robert H. Smith Director of Restoration, Monticello.
• "Furnishing Monticello: Function and Fashion," with Susan R. Stein, Richard Gilder Senior Curator and vice president for museum programs, Monticello.
• "What Jefferson Saw on the Vaunted Scene," with Elizabeth V. Chew, curator, Monticello.
• "Doctor Kimball's Time Machine: A Look at Sidney Fiske Kimball, the Man Who Rediscovered Jefferson-as-Architect," with Hugh Howard, author of "Houses of the Founding Fathers, Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson."

The day's proceedings will end with a screening of the movie "Rotunda," a film and musical score by Judith Shatin, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor and director of Virginia Center for Computer Music in U.Va.'s McIntire Department of Music.

Discussion will continue through the second day, along with investigations of the development of architecture at U.Va. after Jefferson, including the designs of McKim, Mead & White, whose Carr's Hill is celebrating its centennial this year.

Saturday's sessions include:

• "Temples of Justice: Thomas Jefferson and the Palladian Courthouse in Virginia," with Craig Reynolds of Elizabethtown Community College.
• "An Uncultivated Legacy: Jefferson's Botanical Garden at the University of Virginia," with Lily Fox-Bruguiere, M.A. candidate in architectural history, U.Va.
• "Workmen at the University," with Bryan Clark Green, director of historic preservation at Commonwealth Architects, Richmond.
• "At the Wellspring: Fiske Kimball at the University of Virginia," with Joseph Dye Lahendro, a historic preservation architect at U.Va. Facilities Management.
• "Brooks, Pratt and the Romantic Picturesque at the University of Virginia," with R.R.S. Stewart, a graduate of the master's programs of architectural history and urban and environmental planning at U.Va.
• "Working in Jefferson's Shadow: the University's Architectural Commission," with Garth Anderson, M.A. candidate in architectural history, U.Va.
• "The World Heritage List Goes Colonial Revival: the University of Virginia Gardens," with Lydia Brandt, a Ph.D. candidate in art and architectural history, U.Va.
• "The University Discovers its Women: Mary Mumford Hall at the University of Virginia," with Emilie Johnson, a Ph.D. candidate in art and architectural history, U.Va.
• "Louis Kahn at the University," with Brian Cofrancesco, a B.A. candidate in architectural history, U.Va.

The symposium is sponsored by U.Va. departments of Art and Architectural History, the U.Va. Art Museum, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library/Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture, and the Page-Barbour and Richard Lectures Committee Endowment.

For information about the symposium or to register, visit the Art Museum's Web site or call Patty DeCourct at 434-924-1428.

— By Jane Ford