"An American Arrangement: Understanding Jefferson's Public Displays of Art at Monticello, 1816-1826"

Hodgson, Eliza, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Nelson, Louis, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, University of Virginia
Johnston, Andrew, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia

For the majority of Thomas Jefferson’s life, the existing American fine arts collections and curiosities were restricted to the eyes, the homes, and the institutions of the elite. Consequently, American fine arts education and practices were largely limited, if not non-existent until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Focusing on two principal public spaces at Monticello - the Entrance Hall and the Parlor - this study examines how Jefferson’s art and ethnographic arrangements developed and departed from contemporary public displays both across the Atlantic and elsewhere in America. Based upon where Jefferson worked, travelled, and lived, both at home and abroad, it is possible to interpret what he was trying to achieve through the visual presentations at Monticello, as well as the potential impact these spaces had on early American visitors and the public arts scene in America more broadly. Relying on Jefferson’s personal records: drawings, letters, diary entries, as well as contemporary visitor accounts and previous scholarship, this project also refers to a set of 3D laser scan data collected at Monticello. This data is represented in a series of elevations, illustrating the displays in the Parlor and the Hall rooms as they may have existed in the years 1816 to 1826. The first chapter will introduce the two spaces, necessary contextual information, and some of the characters who engaged with these public spaces at Monticello. Chapter two will introduce the technology employed to create the room elevations, the archival evidence used, and explain the reasoning behind the arrangements represented. The final chapter will engage with the reinterpreted spaces, as defined in the second chapter, in an effort to reveal the many messages embedded in Jefferson’s displays, the overarching themes, and the impact that the two rooms had on the arts culture in early national America.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Monticello , Thomas Jefferson, American , 18th century , 19th century , American Museum , Museum Displays, Museum History, Collectors and Collecting , United States, Art, Arrangement , Laser Scan, Faro Focus
Issued Date: