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John Russell Pope (April 24, 1874August 27, 1937) was an architect most known for his designs of the National Archives and Records Administrationmarker building (completed in 1935), the Jefferson Memorialmarker (completed in 1943) and the West Building of the National Gallery of Artmarker (completed in 1941) in Washington, DCmarker.


Pope was born in New Yorkmarker in 1874, the son of a successful portrait painter. He studied architecture at Columbia University and graduated in 1894. He received a scholarship to attend the newly-founded American Academy in Rome, a training ground for the designers of the "American Renaissance." Pope travelled for two years through Italymarker and Greecemarker, where he studied and sketched and made measured drawings of more Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance structures than he did of the remains of ancient buildings. Pope was one of the first architectural students to master the use of the large-format camera, with glass negatives. Pope attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Parismarker in 1896 , honing his Beaux-Arts style, returning to New York in 1900, to spend a few practical years in the office of Bruce Price before opening a practice.

The West Building of the National Gallery of Art
Throughout his career, Pope designed private houses (including for the Vanderbilt family: see Vanderbilt houses), and other public buildings besides the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery, such as the massive Masonic House of the Templemarker (1911 - 1915), also in Washington, and the triumphal-arch Theodore Roosevelt Memorial at the American Museum of Natural Historymarker in New York Citymarker. In 1919 he provided a master plan for the future growth of Yale Universitymarker, one that was significantly revised by James Gamble Rogers in 1921 with more sympathy for the requirements of the city of New Haven, Connecticutmarker, but which kept the Collegiate Gothic unifying theme offered by Pope. Pope's original plan is a prime document in the City Beautiful movement in city planning.
Pope's designs alternated between revivals of Gothic, Georgian, eighteenth-century French, and classical styles. Pope designed the Henry E. Huntington mausoleum on the grounds of The Huntington Librarymarker and later used the design as a prototype for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.The Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art were both neoclassical, modelled by Pope on the Roman Pantheonmarker.

Lesser known projects by Pope include Union Stationmarker, Richmond, Virginiamarker (1919), with a central rotunda capped with a low saucer dome, now housing the Science Museum of Virginiamarker; Branch Housemarker (1917-1919), a Tudor-style mansion also in Richmond (the John K. Branch house, 1919) that now houses the Virginia Center for Architecturemarker ; Baltimore Museum of Artmarker; and in Washington, D.C. the National City Christian Churchmarker, Constitution Hallmarker, American Pharmacists Association Building, Ward Homestead, and the National Archives Buildingmarker (illustration, left). In Milwaukee, Wisconsinmarker he provided a severe neo-Georgian clubhouse for the University Club (1926) and in Oneonta, New Yorkmarker he designed the first building for Hartwick College (Bresee Hall) which was constructed in 1928. He designed additions to the Tate Gallerymarker and British Museummarker in London, an unusual honor for an American architect, and the War Memorial at Montfaucon, France. Pope was also responsible for extensive alterations to Belcourtmarker, the Newportmarker residence of Oliver and Alva Belmont. The Georgian Revival residence he built for Thomas H. Frothingham in Far Hills, New Jerseymarker in 1919 now houses the United States Golf Association Museum.

In 1991 an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, "John Russell Pope and the Building of the National Gallery of Art" spurred the reappraisal of his work, which had been scorned and derided by many critics influenced by International Modernism.

Selected works


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