UVA O’Keeffe Exhibit Features Watercolor of Former Law School Building
A new University of Virginia art exhibit of Georgia O’Keeffe watercolors includes a painting of Minor Hall at the time it housed the Law School.
The Fralin Museum of Art is presenting “Unexpected O’Keeffe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings” through Jan. 27. This rare exhibition explores O’Keeffe’s watercolor studies produced during her time at UVA in the summers from 1912 to 1916, and include several key sketches and paintings as well as other works demonstrating her developing style. This is the first time the watercolors have been on view outside the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The untitled painting of Minor Hall — named for John B. Minor, a law professor at UVA from 1845 to 1895 — is labeled “LAW-BUILDING-UNIVERSITY-VIRGINIA” and was painted between 1912 and 1914.
Law School faculty sought a new building after the Rotunda Annex fire in 1895, but the University couldn’t commit the necessary funds for a decade, according to Philip M. Herrington, a history professor at James Madison University who authored “The Law School at the University of Virginia: Architectural Expansion in the Realm of Thomas Jefferson.”
Herrington said in an email that Minor Hall is significant not only for UVA but American legal education in general because it was a rare single-use departmental building.
“The placement of Minor Hall signaled a major transformation in the development of the Grounds: Minor Hall was the first departmental building (excluding medical buildings) that stood away from the Lawn,” he said. “Another transformation was underway, as well: Minor Hall was the first step in a long process over the course of the 20th century whereby the Law School became an increasingly distinct, autonomous entity within the larger institution.”
Image Credit: Untitled (Law Building - University of Virginia), 1912-1914, Georgia O’Keeffe, Watercolor on paper, 9 x 11 7/8 (22.86 x 30.16), Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation (2006.05.614), © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum