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Elihu Vedder



Creation Date

ca. 1894

Medium & Support

graphite, pastel and gold on brown wove paper


23 1/4 in. x 14 7/8 in. (59.06 cm x 37.78 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of The American Academy of Arts and Letters

Accession Number



Public Domain

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Elihu Vedder, an expatriate American artist working in Rome, subscribed to the belief that nature was the source of all art and that emulation of the great masters of art history, such as Raphael and Michelangelo, would lead modern artists to a greater understanding of nature. This reverence for nature and its perceived expression in High Renaissance art was widely shared among academically trained artists of the time. It speaks through this preparatory work for “The Art Idea,” Vedder’s mural commissioned for the Walker Art Building and dedicated in 1894. The Tree of Life with its symbols of Alpha and Omega--the beginning and the end--flank a classically posed female allegory of “Natura.” Outlined in graphite on brown paper, the drawing is finished with colored pastels. Known for his careful preparation, Vedder completed this final study as a polished work in its own right.

Portfolios: Collections: Works on paper - American Drawings   FEAT|Public Domain   Collections: Works on paper