Drexel is known for two creative sides – the humanities side and the scientific side. Do you do any outreach to the scientific side?
We are working on that. My goal is to connect with every college on campus. And next winter we are actually doing an exhibition on nano-artography - which I'm not going to be able to describe necessarily correctly, but images taken with electron microscopes on the nanoscale, which are produced in gray-scale, are edited using photo editing software to create images that show the beauty within the microscopic details of everyday materials. There is even an international competition created by Drexel’s Nanomaterials Institute.
I was asked this year to be a judge for the competition and after seeing how beautiful and interesting the photographs where I asked if it would be possible to do a show?
It's going to come down to the Nanomaterials Institute to explain what the process is, but we’re putting our toe in the water to see how we can connect with the more scientific side of Drexel and the technology side. The Materials Science and Engineering folks are excited because they want to be able to show off what they’re working on and to show that through art their ideas can be understood a little better. What's really neat is some of the pieces actually kind of mimic Old Masters and famous paintings. I'm interested in seeing if we can have an art historical interpretation compared with a scientific interpretation.
We’re also trying to connect with the business school which has been supportive of our exhibitions. I think it would be wonderful to do something about Francis Martin Drexel and the Drexel bank and see who we can pull in with expertise.
One of the paintings I saw in the exhibit - “Holding Your Drink: 3,000 Years of Drinking Vessels from the Drexel and Salzberg Collections” is by William Hogarth. How was that acquired?
We have a large amount of Hogarth prints, about 119 prints. They were donated to the library by Anthony J. Drexel Paul Jr. (A.J. Drexel’s grandson) in the 1970s and transferred into the collection sometime shortly after that. A number of pieces were originally donated to the libraries and then transferred to the collection. The collection is better able to showcase works of art, like the engravings, and allow access to them.
What are some of your favorite works in the collection?
We have an 18th century silver epergne by silversmith Thomas Pitts in 1765 displayed on the second floor of the Main Building. An epergne is an elaborate centerpiece for a table that holds treats and candies. It's stunning and I love it. It reminds me of pieces I worked with at Winterthur. I was a silver cataloguer at Winterthur, so silver is always going to be near and dear to me and it's really just a beautiful piece. It was bequeathed to the collection by A.J. Drexel and it's engraved with his wife's initials and the Drexel family crest. A.J. most likely purchased it as a gift to his wife Ellen.
Another favorite is “Through the Fields” by Francesco Paolo Michetti. It shows harvesters coming home from the fields. It’s very atmospheric and romantic and a great example of the types of artwork A.J. Drexel collected.
Interviewer Joseph Glantz is the author of Philadelphia Originals and the creative profile series Original Philadelphians
TITLE: A Midnight Modern Conversation
ARTIST: designed by William Hogarth (1697-1764),
engraved by T. Cook and
published April 1, 1798 by G. G. & J.
Robinson Pater-Noster Row, London, England
DATE: printed 1798
PLACE OF ORIGIN: England
MEDIUM: Engraving DIMENSIONS: 16 3/8 x 22 ½ in.
DONOR: Anthony J. Drexel Paul, Sr., Beore 1958
ACCESSION NUMBER: 2729
TITLE: Freiburg (Germany)
ARTIST: Tokujiro Nishi
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Japan
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS: 52 ¼ x 39 1/2 in.
DONOR: Gift of Kristine A. Mulhorn, PhD, and Ayumu Yokohama
ACCESSION NUMBER: 17.001.0010
TITLE: George III Silver Nine-Basket Epergne
ARTIST: Pitts, Thomas 1723 - 1793
PLACE OF ORIGIN: England
MEDIUM: Sterling silver DIMENSIONS: 23 1/4x23 x20 in
DONOR: Gift of Anthony J. Drexel, 1892
ACCESSION NUMBER: 50 A-W