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Artwork in Olin Library

The portraits in Olin Library honor the distinguished writers, teachers, benefactors, and other important individuals who have greatly enriched the intellectual life of Washington University. Many of them were major literary figures. Most were library regulars (a few still are). Almost all of them gave their papers to the Libraries for safekeeping. So it is only natural that their images should also reside here, as a reminder of the heritage we share when we step inside a library.

This guide provides a brief introduction to the portraits and other artwork on display in Olin Library. Many of the individuals listed here were gifted writers, and the best way to learn more about them is to check out their books, available on the library's shelves. In many cases, the Department of Special Collections maintains extensive holdings of their manuscripts, correspondence, and other papers.

Click on the links below to view the portraits and other artwork in Olin Library:


Archaeon

Archaeon
Bronze (1961)
by Barbara Hepworth
Gift of Isabel & Howard Baer
Location: Level 1, Grand Staircase Lobby

Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) was a major 20th-century English sculptor. Known for her lyrical abstract forms and sensitive use of material, Hepworth is considered one of the foremost figures in modern art. Her work represents some of the earliest abstract sculpture to appear in England. In 1965, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Her home at St. Ives, Cornwall, is preserved as the Barbara Hepworth Home and Sculpture Garden and is run by the Tate St. Ives, a branch of the Tate galleries. This piece, originally in the private collection of Isabel and Howard Baer, was given to the University in 1962. Archaeon, a word which carries geologic, microbiological, and antiquarian connotations, conveys Hepworth's interest in ambiguous, subtly anthropomorphic forms.


Art Class

Art Class
Photograph (1999)
by Peter Tuteur
Gift of the artist
Location: Level 2, Tuteur Group Study, Room 208

Peter G. Tuteur is a pulmonologist and associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine. Also a gifted photographer, Dr. Tuteur has been taking pictures since the age of 10. He has shown and sold his photographs at galleries in St. Louis, Chicago, and Breckenridge, Colorado. This image, a gift of the artist, was presented to the Libraries in 2004 to commemorate Olin Library's renovation and to be hung in a small group study.


Gerald Early

Gerald Early
Oil on canvas (2007)
by Jamie Adams
Location: Level 1, SW lounge

Essayist, commentator, and cultural critic Gerald Early is the Director of the Center for the Humanities and the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters. Born in Philadelphia in 1952, he earned his Ph.D. at Cornell University and joined the English faculty here in 1982. A scholar of African American literature and culture, Early has been a featured commentator in Ken Burns' documentaries on baseball, jazz, and the boxer Jack Johnson, and is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio. He is the author and editor of more than a dozen books, including Tuxedo Junction, One Nation Under a Groove, Speech and Power, Lure and Loathing, and The Muhammad Ali Reader. In 1994, Early received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism for The Culture of Bruising. A collection of his papers will eventually be housed in Special Collections.

Go to the Center for the Humanities


Stanley Elkin

Stanley Elkin
Oil on canvas (1991)
by Patrick Schuchard
Location: Level 2, Grand Staircase Lobby

Novelist, short story writer, and satirist Stanley Elkin (1930-1995) was the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters at Washington University, where he taught for 35 years. Born in New York, he grew up in Chicago and did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Illinois before he joined the Washington University English department in 1960. The author of ten novels and several novellas and short story collections, Elkin is known for his experimental style and dark comedic vision. A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, he received Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, the Paris Review Humor Prize, and was a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Elkin's papers are held in Special Collections.

Go to the Stanley Elkin Papers in Special Collections


Donald Finkel

Donald Finkel
Oil on canvas (1998)
by Barry Schactman
Location: Level 2, Grand Staircase Lobby

Donald Finkel, poet-in-residence emeritus in English, is the author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry. Born in New York in 1929, he received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University. Having taught at the University of Iowa and Bard College, Finkel was recruited to help form the Writing Program at Washington University in 1960 along with his wife, the poet Constance Urdang (1922-1996). His books have earned him numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a nomination for the National Book Award, and two nominations for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His translations of the Chinese poet Bei Dao are also highly regarded and helped introduce the dissident writer's work to English-language audiences. A popular and influential teacher for 30 years, Finkel retired in 1991. His papers, along with those of his wife, are held in Special Collections.

Go to the Donald Finkel Papers in Special Collections
Go to the Constance Urdang Papers in Special Collections


William Gass

William Gass
Oil on canvas (1995)
by Marion Miller
Location: Level 3, Grand Staircase Lobby

William H. Gass is a renowned novelist, essayist, translator, and teacher. Born in 1924, he taught in the Philosophy department from 1969 to 1999 and is the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities. He founded the International Writers Center and directed it from 1990-2000. Gass has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism a record three times-for Habitations of the Word, Finding a Form, and Tests of Time. He won the 2007 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism for A Temple of Texts. Among his many acclaimed works of fiction are Omensetter's Luck, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, Cartesian Sonata, and The Tunnel, winner of the American Book Award. Gass is the recipient of a Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award and the first PEN/Nabokov Award, which recognizes a living author whose work is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship. Special Collections holds an extensive collection of his papers.

Go to the William Gass Papers in Special Collections


Edna Fischel Gellhorn

Edna Fischel Gellhorn
Oil on canvas (1940)
by J. Scott MacNutt
Location: Level B, Gellhorn Lounge, Under Grand Staircase

Civic leader, reformer, suffragist, and children's advocate, Edna Fischel Gellhorn (1878-1970) was a tireless campaigner for the most challenging causes of her day. Born to a prominent St. Louis family, she graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1900. In 1903, she married Dr. George Gellhorn, an internationally renowned gynecologist on the medical faculty at Washington University, with whom she had four children. (One of their daughters, Martha Gellhorn, became a celebrated international correspondent.) In 1920, Edna Gellhorn became the first vice president of the National League of Women Voters, also serving as president of the St. Louis and Missouri Leagues. Reforms which she helped to achieve were the Missouri minimum wage law, improved educational facilities, elimination of child labor, and improved election laws. In 1968, Washington University created the Edna Fischel Gellhorn Professorship of Public Affairs, a chair endowed by her admirers.

Go the the Edna Gellhorn Papers in Special Collections (PDF)


J. H. Hexter

J. H. Hexter
Oil on canvas (1990)
by Anne Green
Location: Level 3, SE Reading Room

Jack H. Hexter (1910-1996) was a historian and professor of Tudor and 17th-century British history. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, he studied at the University of Cincinnati and Queens College in New York before joining the History department at Washington University in 1957. Hexter left St. Louis in 1964 to become the Charles Stille Professor at Yale, where he founded the Yale Center for Parliamentary History. In 1978, he returned to Washington University as the John M. Olin Professor of the History of Freedom, a position he held until his retirement in 1990. He also helped found the Center for the History of Freedom in Arts & Sciences, which published the landmark 15-volume series The Making of Modern Freedom. Hexter later became involved in politics and developed "Troops to Teachers," a joint U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense program that recruits military officers to become teachers in public schools. His papers are held in Special Collections.

Go to the Jack H. Hexter Papers in Special Collections (PDF)


Man Carving His Own Destiny

Man Carving His Own Destiny
Bronze (1932)
By Albin Polasek
Location: Level 2, East Ginkgo Overlook Lounge

Czech-American sculptor and educator Albin Polasek (1879-1965) emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 22 and studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In 1916, he became the head of the sculpture department at the Art Institute of Chicago, a post he held for 30 years. This statue is one of several Polasek produced with the title Man Carving His Own Destiny, after the original he designed in 1907. It was presented to Arthur Holly Compton while he was a professor of physics at the University of Chicago. Compton won the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on X-rays. He served as chancellor of Washington University from 1945 to 1953. Compton's papers are held in Special Collections.

Go to the Arthur Holly Compton Papers in Special Collections


James Merrill

James Merrill
(On loan to the National Portrait Gallery until May 2013)

Oil on canvas (undated, c. 1950s)
by Larry Rivers
Location: Level 1, Special Collections Reading Room

James Ingram Merrill (1926-1995) was a major American poet and author of more than 20 books. Born in New York City, he was the son of Charles Merrill, co-founder of the brokerage firm Merrill Lynch, and his second wife, Hellen Ingram. He graduated from Amherst College and spent most of his life in Stonington, Connecticut, although he traveled widely and also had homes in Athens, Greece, and Key West, Florida. Merrill won numerous awards for his poetry, including two National Book Awards, the Bollingen Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the first Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress. He founded the Ingram Merrill Foundation, which awards grants to artists and writers. In 1985, Merrill was the Hurst Visiting Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University. His papers are held in Special Collections.

Go to the James Merrill Papers in Special Collections


John Morris

John Morris
Oil on canvas (1997)
by Patrick Schuchard
Location: Level 1, SW lounge

John N. Morris (1931-1997) was a distinguished poet, essayist, and professor of 18th-century English literature at Washington University for 30 years. Born in Oxford, England, he was educated in the United States and served in the Marines during the Korean War. Morris taught at several universities, including Columbia and the University of Delaware, before coming to Washington University in 1967. During his life, Morris published four collections of poems, and his poetry often appeared in such magazines as Poetry, the New Yorker, and the New Republic. A fifth volume of selected poems and an unfinished memoir were both published posthumously by Washington University in 2002. Morris was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His papers are held in Special Collections.

Go to the John Morris Papers in Special Collections


Howard Nemerov

Howard Nemerov
(On loan to the National Portrait Gallery until May 2013)
Oil on canvas (1991)
by Marion Miller
Location: Level 1, Ginkgo Reading Room

Howard Nemerov (1920-1991) was a widely admired author and two-time Poet Laureate of the United States. Born in New York City, he graduated from Harvard in 1941 and served in the U.S. Army Air Force over the North Sea during World War II. Nemerov taught at several colleges and universities before joining the faculty at Washington University in 1969 as the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of English. He was a highly visible and popular teacher and continued to write prolifically, publishing over 30 books. He received many awards and honors throughout his career, among them the Bollingen Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and more than 20 honorary degrees. Nemerov's papers are held in Special Collections.

See also: "The Consent," a poem by Howard Nemerov, with calligraphy by Joanne Kluba, outside the Ginkgo Reading Room on Level 1.

Go to the Howard Nemerov Papers in Special Collections


John M. Olin

John M. Olin
Oil on canvas (1967)
by William F. Draper
Location: Level 1, Grand Staircase Lobby

A native of Alton, Illinois, John Merrill Olin (1892-1982) was a leading industrialist, philanthropist, and member of Washington University's Board of Trustees for 40 years. In 1913, he earned a degree in chemistry from Cornell University and joined the family business at Western Cartridge Company. In 1944, Olin succeeded his father as president of the company, then renamed Olin Industries. Under his leadership, the business grew into a major manufacturer with interests in brass, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, paper, cellophane, munitions, sporting goods, and home construction. In 1963, Olin retired and devoted himself to philanthropy and other activities, including thoroughbred horse racing. (His colt, Cannonade, won the Kentucky Derby in 1974.) Olin's donation of $1 million to Washington University in 1956 enabled the construction of the present library facility, which was formally dedicated in 1963 and renovated in 2004.

Go to the John M. Olin Collection in Special Collections (PDF)


Jarvis Thurston

Jarvis Thurston
Oil on canvas (1993)
by Marion Miller
Location: Level 1, Special Collections Reading Room

Jarvis Thurston, born in 1914, joined the faculty of Washington University in 1950. He served as chair of the English department from 1967 to 1969 and retired in 1982. The author of numerous articles and short stories, Thurston is best known as an editor. He and his wife, the poet Mona Van Duyn, founded the literary quarterly Perspective and served as the magazine's principal editors for its entire run from 1947 to 1975. During that time, the magazine developed a reputation for publishing work by promising new poets and fiction writers. Authors whose work Perspective helped to introduce include W. S. Merwin, Anthony Hecht, John Gardner, William Gass, Stanley Elkin, Donald Finkel, and Constance Urdang, the latter three serving on the editorial staff of the magazine for many years. Thurston's papers are held in Special Collections.

Go to the Jarvis Thurston Papers in Special Collections


Karl and Helen Umrath

Karl and Helen Umrath
Oil on canvas (1959)
Both by Dorothy Quest
Location: Level A, Open Study Area

St. Louis businessman and philanthropist Karl D. Umrath (1884-1968) was born in Prague and emigrated to the United States in 1902. Umrath worked as a salesman for the National Cash Register Company, and during the Depression he invested heavily in the stock market while prices were low, a strategy that eventually paid off. In 1905, he married Helen Rubelmann (1881-1964), and in 1958 the Umraths gave $1 -million to Washington University. Asked about the unexpected bequest, Mr. Umrath said, "I am my brother's keeper, and the best way to keep one's brother is to make him self-sufficient." In later years, the Umraths continued to give generously to Washington University. In recognition of their support, the University erected and dedicated Umrath House, a women's dormitory, in Mrs. Umrath's name and Karl D. Umrath Hall on the main campus in honor of her husband.


Mona Van Duyn

Mona Van Duyn
Oil on canvas (1993)
by Marion Miller
Location: Level 1, Special Collections Reading Room

Mona Van Duyn (1921-2004) was an accomplished and influential poet, editor, and teacher. In the 1960s, she was poetry consultant for the library's Modern Literature Collection. Her reputation and relationships with many poets and novelists were crucial to acquiring the papers of Samuel Beckett, James Merrill, and many other important writers. Her book To See, To Take (1970) won the National Book Award for Poetry, and Near Changes (1990) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She won many other top poetry awards and received fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She taught in University College and was Visiting Hurst Professor in 1987. Van Duyn served as U.S. poet laureate in 1992-1993, the first woman to hold this post. Her papers are held in Special Collections.

Go to the Mona Van Duyn Papers in Special Collections


About the Portrait Artists

Jamie Adams is a professor and director of the Core Program in the Washington University College of Art.

William F. Draper (d. 2003) was an illustrator, portraitist, and official combat artist for the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Anne Green is the daughter of J. H. Hexter. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

J. Scott MacNutt (d. 1974) was a portraitist and instructor in the St. Louis School of Fine Arts at Washington University.

Marion Miller is a portraitist and professor of art at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Dorothy Quest (d. 1995) was a painter and frequent collaborator with her husband, the artist Charles Quest, professor of art at Washington University from 1944 to 1971.

Larry Rivers (d. 2002) was a celebrated painter, artist, musician, and icon of the Pop Art movement.

Barry Schactman is professor emeritus of art at Washington University.

Patrick Schuchard, professor emeritus of painting in the Washington University College of Art, is a painter, sculptor and public artist.

About this site

This site was created to coincide with the portrait installation for Gerald Early, September 2007.

Editors: Joy Lowery, Aaron Welborn
Photos: Jamie Adams, Robert Benson, Mary Butkus, Aaron Welborn

Special thanks to University Archives staff members Sonya Rooney and Miranda Rectenwald for research assistance.

For additional finding aids to papers and collections held in Special Collections, visit: library.wustl.edu/units/spec

This site is intended for educational and non-commercial use only. Copyrights on images may be held by the University, the creator, or the creator's assigns, heirs or representatives and may not be reproduced without permission.