- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Washington Allston, American (Georgetown, SC 1779 - 1843 Cambridge, MA)
- Mensuration: Drawing to Illustrate a Geometry Problem (IV)
- Other Titles
- Former Title: Mensuration: Man Dancing on a Keg; verso: Mensuration: A Building
- Work Type
- c. 1796-1800
- Physical Descriptions
- Brown ink on ivory laid paper
- 23.7 x 18.8 cm (9 5/16 x 7 3/8 in.)
framed: 48.6 × 38.4 × 3.2 cm (19 1/8 × 15 1/8 × 1 1/4 in.)
- To the artist's wife Martha Dana Allston at his death, 1843; to the Washington Allston Trust, 1862; permanent loan to the Fogg Art Museum, 1955
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Loan from The Washington Allston Trust
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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Label Text: The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820 , written 2017
When American artist Washington Allston began his studies at Harvard in 1796, he devoted his leisure time to painting and drawing. One of his classmates recalled that “even his mathematical manuscript . . . [had] the marks of his pencil, which he sometimes suffered to run riot in caricature.” These two notebook pages (8.1955.7, 8.1955.17) illustrating measurement problems feature a sample of these caricatures, likely inspired by popular prints from British satirists such as William Hogarth and James Gillray. According to Allston’s classmate, manuscript drawings like these caused the examiners at one of Harvard’s regular exhibitions of student work to share a laugh, “the cockles of their hearts being more rejoiced than they ever had been in the philosophy chamber.
- Publication History
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana, "Allston at Harvard 1796 to 1800", Cambridge Historical Society. Publications, Proceedings for the Year 1943 (Cambridge, MA, 1948), vol. 29, ill. p.
Thomas W. Leavitt, "Washington Allston at Harvard", Harvard Alumni Bulletin (Cambridge, MA, April 21, 1956), vol. 58, no. 13, p. 551
Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, "The Drawings of Washington Allston: A Catalogue Raisonné" (Ph.D. Diss., Harvard University, 1977), no. 215A, reproduced in b/w fig. 537; verso, no. 215B, fig. 538
William H. Gerdts and Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., "A Man of Genius": The Art of Washington Allston (1779-1843), exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, 1979), p. 202, cat. 71, ill.
- Exhibition History
"A Man of Genius": The Art of Washington Allston (1779-1843), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 12/12/1979 - 02/03/1980; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 02/28/1980 - 04/27/1980
The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, 04/17/2018 - 07/15/2018
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