Featured Acquisition: Elihu Vedder's Head
This 1896 canvas by leading American mural
painter Elihu Vedder is directly related
to the 15-foot-high
mosaic depicting the full length figure of
the goddess Minerva that he designed for
Jefferson Building. The mosaic is the major
focal point of the Great Hall and towers
staircase leading to the Visitors’ Gallery
above the Main Reading Room.
Created in the artist’s
studio in Rome, the painting of the head and
shoulders was actually a model for artisans
in Venice, Italy to follow in creating the
mosaic using small glass and marble tesserae.
A close look at Minerva's face reveals that
Vedder pencilled in geometric patterns so that
could properly align their small colorful pieces
to create highlights and shadows, and the illusion
of three-dimensional form.
The powerful image
of the classical goddess of wisdom and
learning was conceived as a symbol of the Library