“Plaster casts from the antique,” Part II

After my post on the architecture department’s early collection of plaster copies, I would have bet that there was nothing more to be found about the topic. And yet somehow I needed to go looking anyway—there’s something oddly haunting about those ghostly white figures. Happily, I found something wonderful: two issues of an architecture department annual review that explain its program and highlight exceptional work by its students. The publications are from 1917 and 1928. I don’t know whether these were the only years it was done or if others simply haven’t survived. The 1928 issue opens with a beautiful photograph of the collection of plaster casts in the freehand drawing studio. Note that this isn’t the same studio as in the earlier post—by 1928 the architecture department had moved to much more spacious quarters in the Chemistry Building.

In the 1917 issue I found these beautiful examples of student work from the advanced Antique Drawing class. If you zoom in on the image of the room above, you can clearly make out the models for the bottom two drawings.

Bonus: Here’s a description of the aims of the program from the 1928 edition and a look at some of the student designs from the same year. This book is extremely beautiful.

Extra Bonus: Here’s a link to the National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir about William Houston, which was written by Ken Pitzer and Bud Rohrschah: whouston. It sheds some light on the question that occurred to me when I first saw the photo from yesterday–why was the young Houston sitting front and center, right next to Cal Tech’s president, Robert Millikan?

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