NYC photo exhibit explores architectural work at the pre-WWII American Academy in Rome

PiazzaDelPopoloPiazza del Popolo and the Pincio Gardens, Rome. Aerial Perspective. Ernest F. Lewis FAAR’11

Now on display at the New York offices (7 East 60th Street) of the AAR: “An Exhibition of Architectural Drawings by the Fellows of the American Academy in Rome, 1910-1935”.

The show is curated by Fikret K. Yegül, RAAR ’98 (Professor, History of Architecture/Classical Archaeology, University of California, Santa Barbara) and John Pinto, FAAR ’75, RAAR ’06 (The Howard Crosby Butler Professor of Architectural History, Princeton University).

Pinto and Yegül have selected 50 photographs of architectural drawings, representing the works of some twenty AAR Fellows between ca. 1910-1935; the exhibition opened on 16 April, and will run through the summer months. Viewing is by appointment; contact Barbara Alton at 212.751.7200 ext. 23 or email her at The Academy’s website ( will soon host a full virtual exhibit of the show’s extraordinary material. And the forthcoming late May issue of the SOF News features an extensive piece on the project and show.

Lindos2Acropolis at Lindos. Restoration. Cecil C. Briggs FAAR’31

“The first exhibition of the fellows in architecture,” writes Fikret Yegül in the catalogue to this photographic show, “took place at the American Fine Arts Galleries in New York in 1896, only two years after the founding of the Academy in 1894 as the ‘American School of Architecture in Rome’.”

“In the four decades after that show, between 1897 and the Second World War in 1939, some thirty-one fellows in architecture and half as many in landscape architecture produced several hundred drawings as a part of their fellowship requirement. This ‘prescribed work’ was both archaeological in nature, consisting of measured drawings, restoration studies and full-scale architectural details, and creative design. The latter, called the ‘Collaborative Project’, required the contribution of a team of architects, landscape architects, sculptors and painters.”

“As a group this collection is the largest and most cohesive body of architectural output of its kind produced by American architects. It is comparable in quality and diversity with the best works of the French Prix de Rome winners of the École des Beaux-Arts—a venerable institution the Academy always tried to emulate.”

AtriumVestaeAtrium Vestae, Rome. Restored Section. Edgar I. Williams FAAR’12

“Luckily for us, all work produced by the fellows until 1939 were photographed on 8”x10” glass plates and kept at the Academy Library (now given as archival material to the Fototeca)….Quite apart from their historical and educational significance, they are visually and artistically engaging and exciting. Unbroken over nearly four decades, they represent a continuum and process of American thinking about architecture.”

Essential reading on all this: Fikret Yegül’s masterly book Gentlemen of Instinct and Breeding: Architecture at the American Academy in Rome, 1894-1940 (Oxford University Press, 1991).



One Response to “NYC photo exhibit explores architectural work at the pre-WWII American Academy in Rome”

  1. For the latest from the AAR and its alums, Spring 2009 SOF News now online « Society of Fellows of the American Academy in Rome Weblog Says:

    […] to the exhibition of architectural drawings by pre-WW II Academy Fellows that they curated, now on display at AAR offices in New […]

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