1906 (dated) 17 x 29 in (43.18 x 73.66 cm)
A scarce SIGNED 1906 Richard Rummell photogravure bird's-eye view of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The view embraces the entire campus as seen looking northeast from a point some 300 feet above the southwest corner of the campus. The intersection at the bottom where, Massachusetts Avenue meets modern day John F. Kennedy Street, is Harvard Square. The Old Burial Ground and the First Parish church appear at left. Wadsworth House, built in 1726, and the home of the Harvard Alumni Association, appears at bottom center just to the right of Harvard's triple arch gate. Nearby we can recognize Boylston Hall, built in 1858, and Gray's Hall, 1863. Further in, Harvard yard is surrounded by Weld Hall, Thayer Hall, and University Hall. Massachusetts Hall, the university's oldest building and the oldest dorm in the United States, is also evident.
Rummell's signature appears twice on the map. Once as part of the photogravure, in the lower right, and a second time below the printing, in pencil, at bottom right. Although the signatures are slightly different, one representing Rummell's style with a brush, and another Rummell's actual handwriting. Fortunately, we have seen enough examples of Rummell's signature, in both forms, to confirm that both are accurate and authentic.
Rummell's views come in several different forms. Some are color, but the oldest examples appear to be black and white in sepia tones, as here. The present view is additionally odd as the name of the university is omitted at bottom center, suggesting that this may have been a proof copy. While most of Rummell's university views are copyrighted by Littig and Company, the present view bears the F. D. Nichols Company 1906 copyright and the A. W. Elson and Company imprint. It is known that Rummell worked with to the Nichols, Elson, and Littig, but the complexities of these relationships have been lost to time. One major difference, nonetheless, between the Elson/Nichols photogravures and the Littig imprints is that the Elson/Nichols printings are sometimes signed, as here. The number 21 is written in pencil in the lower right margin – but it unclear if this has any meaning.
In more recent times Arader Galleries has acquired many of the original printing plates for Rummell's college views and currently issues restrikes, but the original 1906 printings, as here have become extremely rare.
Richard W. Rummell (1848 – June 4, 1924) was an American artist active in Brooklyn during the late 19th and early 20th century. Rummell was born in Canada, the son of german immigrant Frank X. Rummell and his wife Eliza Rummell. He immigrated to the United States as a youth settling with his parents in Buffalo. He relocated to Brooklyn when he was in his mid-30s, setting up an illustration office at 258 Broadway in Manhattan. Rummell is best known for his series of views of American colleges completed around the turn of the century. Since Rummell's views universally appear to be drawn from an altitude of about 300 feet, it has been speculated by many art historians that he worked from a balloon. Rummell was also a bit of a futurist and among his more interesting works are a series of speculative images of the New York of tomorrow, with vast airships, trains running over the tops of skyscrapers, and elegant sky bridges throughout. In the 1950s, the original printer's plates for many of Rummell's university views were rediscovered in a Brooklyn warehouse. They were auctioned and sold Arader Galleries, which today issues 'limited edition' reprints of his more desirable university views. Rummell's Brooklyn home was located at 45 Bay 28th Street and later 73 Hanson Place. In addition to his work as a visual artist, he was an accomplished actor and an avid yachtsman. He founding member of the Bensonhurst Yacht Club, where his yacht, the Careless was usually docked. He was also a member of the Royal Arcanum fraternal order. Rummell was survived by his wife, Emmeline Rummell, daughter, Chrissie Atkinson, and two sons, John Tribel Rummell, and Richard Rummell Jr., who became a famous Florida architect.
Very good. Even overall toning. Some soiling to outer margins. Margins extremely wide. Artist signature in pencil.