Print This Issue

September 18, 2007, Volume 54, No. 4

The article below appeared in Almanac, Volume 29, Number 19 on February 1, 1983.

Click here to download the issue in PDF format. (Article appears on page 3)

A Gallery for the Furness Building

On February 8 members of the University will gather for the opening of an exhibition, Francisco Goya y Lucientes: The Disasters of War, La Tauromaquia, Spanish Entertainment, and other prints from the Collection of the Arthur Ross Foundation.

They will celebrate not only the show, but its showcase-the new Arthur Ross Gallery-in a building that is itself a work of art. The Furness Building, a 19th-century masterpiece of Victorian architecture designed by Frank Furness, served as Penn's main library from 1891 until 1962, and currently houses the fine arts library and related archives and collections. The new gallery is in Furness's first-floor south wing, a Robert Rodes McGoodwin design added in 1931 to house the Horace Howard Furness Shakespeare Library. After 1962, when the Shakespeare collection moved to the sixth floor of Van Pelt, its former home was refurbished by the Class of 1939 to serve as a meeting room for both University Council and the Stated Meetings of the University Trustees.

When Frank Furness designed the building he intended it both as a gallery and a library, according to Dr. Paul Todd Makler, curator of the University's art collection.

The Arthur Ross Gallery is important, Dr.Makler said, because it will give students the experience of living with art. "They should take it as part of life, not something relegated to Sunday afternoons at the Art Museum. ... The idea is not to rival the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but to provide students with an educational experience-and an opportunity to curate shows,” he explained.

The opening of the gallery means that Penn can begin to showcase its 4000 treasures accumulated since becoming a university in 1791. The University-owned art includes famous pieces such as the prized Thomas Eakins painting, The Agnew Clinic, and the David Rittenhouse Orrery, made by the mathematician and Penn professor in pre-Revolutionary days.

"The Arthur Ross Gallery will be the first of a number of separate galleries to be developed in the Furness Building and integrated with its fine arts library and archives," according to Dean Lee Copeland of the Graduate School of Fine Arts. "We will be able to exhibit the present and future collections of the University and it will also allow us to bring exhibits here from outside for the enjoyment and education of students, faculty, staff, and the Philadelphia community," he said. Dean Copeland said that the goal is to restore the entire building (the Furness Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places) and that Mr. Ross's generosity is a significant step toward achieving this.

Professor Marco Frascari of the Graduate School is the designer of the gallery, which will retain its Gothic motif. He is using the original McGoodwin walls and the present multi-paned windows, which will include photo-sensitive glass to control the amount of sunlight in the gallery. The lobby is also being restored. The wooden doors and all other wood trim has been returned to its original light color; the black iron­work staircase will be returned to its original light tone. Two lanterns that were once on top of the stairposts have been recreated by GSFA students and faculty.

Arthur Ross was an undergraduate in the Wharton School, 1927-30, a Member of Sigma Alpha Mu and the Punch Bowl business board. He then attended Columbia University where he received his B.S. degree in 1931. Since then he has had a distinguished career in business and philanthropic activities and has also served the United States government as a public member on various delegations to the United Nations and its economic and social agencies. "Arthur Ross has a long-standing friendship with the University of Pennsylvania where he studied and which has subsequently benefited from his interest in education and the arts," said President Hackney. "His concern in this area has also been felt in New York City where his programs for preservation and beautification have benefited both the cultural life and the environment of the city. It is a matter of pride that he has chosen to establish the Arthur Ross Gallery in Philadelphia, recognizing it as an appropriate means of enriching the learning experience at the University."

The Opening Exhibit

The opening exhibition, on loan from the Arthur Ross Foundation, includes a complete edition of Francisco Goya Lucientes' La Tauromaquia prints on the bullfight. Twenty plates from The Disasters of War, a graphic account of the sufferings which the Napoleonic wars brought to Spain, and other selected etchings will be on display from February 8 to March 31. Among the works is the renowned lithograph Spanish Entertainment, which Goya executed at the age of 80, near his life's end.  The lithograph is one of a set off four, known as the Bulls of Bordeaux, and represents the ultimate expression of his Spanish character and ancestry. In his introduction to the catalog of the exhibit, Arthur Ross noted That Goya was "ushering in a new age of art."

"Goya was born in the tough, barren northeast region of Spain and his great artistry and brilliant use of the copper plate as an art form soon established him as one of the great artists of all time," Mr. Ross continued. "Coping with his changing fortunes gave him an independent and iconoclastic perspective on life. A towering figure by the end of the eighteenth century, he had the strength and talent to become a precursor of a new beginning in art both as to subject matter and style."

La Tauromaquia was the name given to the set of 33 Goya etchings issued in Madrid in 1816. The series brought him wide acclaim and further established his reputation as one of the great figures in the world of art. This work was, in some ways, a reaction to his completion of Los Caprichos, that sardonic indictment of Spain's social and political structure. The epigraph to the catalogue accompanying the exhibition is drawn from a description by Goya of a print from The Disasters of War.

'Tis the way of the world-men tease and fight one another he who yesterday played the bull plays today the horseman in the ring. Fortune directs the spectacle, assigning the roles according to her Fickle caprice.

At the time The Tauromaquia was published, bullfighting was a political issue: despite its popularity, there was liberal opposition to the Spanish national pastime. Although Goya's opinions are not clearly stated, the influence of the Enlightment view appears in the brutal realism of some of the episodes, which are reminiscent of the pessimistic visions of human nature depicted in The Disasters of War

Dibersion de Espana. (Spanish Entertainment), from the lithograph series Bulls of Bordeaux completed in 1825 in France, will also be included in the exhibition. This print shows an event common in Spanish villages-bulls set free in the main square so all can test their potential as matadors. As in The Tauromaquia, the bullfight appears to be a commentary on the Spanish populace. Goya died in exile three years after the series was finished. -M.F.M.


Almanac - September 18, 2007, Volume 54, No. 4