SAH News

Exhibit on Joseph Ramee with Exhibition Catalog by Paul Turner

by User Not Found | Apr 04, 2013
The French architect Joseph Ramée produced drawings for the Union College campus after meeting with President Eliphalet Nott in January of 1813. Ramée (1764-1842) had trained in Paris, where he adopted the simplified neoclassicism that would define his career. Forced to leave France during the Revolution, he spent the rest of his life moving from place to place, designing buildings and landscapes in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the United States, as well as in France. The campus plan for Union College was one of his most important works. It was also the most ambitious and innovative design for an American college or university campus up until that time.

A portfolio of the drawings was unexpectedly discovered in 1932, and the drawings are now held in the Schaffer Library Special Collections at Union College. The exhibition includes facsimiles of many of the drawings seen from front and back, as many are two-sided. They include site plans of the whole campus as well as plans of individual buildings and range from rough sketches to detailed watercolor renderings. Important features of the design are the central rotunda (possibly the source of the rotunda at the University of Virginia), arcaded connections between buildings, and close attention to landscaping.

The catalogue for the exhibition, authored by Paul V. Turner, is the first comprehensive treatment of these drawings. Turner, a native of Schenectady and graduate of Union College, is Wattis Professor of Art Emeritus at Stanford University and is an expert on the history of the American campus, as well as the life and career of Ramée. The catalogue reproduces in color all of Ramée's drawings for Union College and can be ordered after April 15 from the Union College Bookstore.

A reception with Paul Tuner will be held on Tuesday, April 16 from 5:00PM-6:00PM in the Nott Memorial. For more information call 518.388.8360 or go the website at

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