UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 07 Winter 17 Library
Natural Bridge by Frederic Edwin Church

From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson's Architecture and Design

Thomas Jefferson (American, 1743-1826)
University of Virginia, Rotunda, June 16, 1823 (N-330)
Ink on paper, 12 1/4 x 8 3/4 in.
Thomas Jefferson Papers, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.

Natural Bridge
Frederic Edwin Church
American, 1826–1900
The Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1852
Oil on canvas
38 x 33 in (96.52 x 88.82 cm)
Gift of Thomas Fortune Ryan, 1912.1

One of Thomas Jefferson’s most important legacies was his role as a designer and advocate for the creation of an iconic architectural identity for our fledgling country that still endures today. Jefferson’s architectural vision for the United States will be explored in a special exhibition, curated by Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D., Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History. From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture & Design at The Fralin Museum of Art will investigate and illuminate Jefferson’s many architectural accomplishments, as well as the classical tradition to which his architecture was aligned. The exhibition will consist of drawings, prints, paintings, photographs and building and construction artifacts, among other archival materials.

As a designer, Jefferson is primarily known for his home, Monticello, and the University of Virginia, established by Jefferson 200 years ago – both UNESCO world heritage sites – but his architectural career encompasses much more. He designed other houses and major public buildings that helped define American architecture, including extensive city plans for Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Capitol. Jefferson traveled extensively throughout Europe during his tenure as American minister to the French court. As a result, European architecture and garden design deeply informed his design ethos, and can be seen in several of his iconic buildings. Jefferson understood that as the U.S. grew, its built environment would need to be designed and that quality architecture would be of primary importance to the future of the country.

From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture & Design will focus on a number of key aspects of Jefferson’s career as an architect. His early influences and interests, including American landscapes he admired and architecture he encountered abroad that enlarged his view of design, will be discussed. Construction techniques and the tools employed in the construction of his iconic buildings will be highlighted, while also addressing some of the issues surrounding the construction by both free and enslaved men. The exhibition will move on to sections devoted to his design of private homes and public buildings. Of particular note will be an examination of Jefferson’s establishment and design of the University of Virginia.

Complementing the exhibition will be a suite of public programs, including a two-day symposium to be held at UVA in March 2018.

Thomas Jefferson (American, 1743-1826)
Pavilion No. IX We. Ionic of the temple of Fortuna Virilis, before 1821 (N-357)

Pricking, scoring and iron gall ink on engraved graph paper, 11 1/8 x 11 1/8 in.

Thomas Jefferson Papers, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.

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