Whose portraits adorn the walls of the Van Pelt Library? Why are you staring at them? Come on, you're supposed to be doing your history reading. But you keep wondering—who painted these people? And why weren't they doing their history reading?

If you think you've studied the wall cracks of all six floors of VP, you might already know where these paintings are found. To be a true VP expert, though, is to know that the library houses a collection of over 260 works of art by famous characters such as Salvador Dalí, Albrecht Dürer, Thomas Cole and Thomas Sully—all who probably did not expect their art to be memed. 

Title: The Tea Party (detail)

Artist: Herbert Gilchrist (1857–1914)

Year: 1882

Location: Kislak Center reading room 620.2

Title: Anne Gilchrist (detail)

Artist: Herbert Gilchrist (1857–1914)

Year: 1882

Location: Kislak Center reading room 620.1

Anne Gilchrist (1828–1885), born Anne Burrows, was an English writer from a distinguished Essex family. She was married to Alexander Gilchrist, the biographer of English poet, painter and printmaker William Blake. The Gilchrist family moved to Philadelphia in the 1870s for their daughter Beatrice Carwardine Gilchrist to continue her medical education due to regulations in England. Their son, Herbert Gilchrist, became a painter and published a biography of her mother titled Anne Gilchrist: Life and Writings.

Title: Retrado de Picasso

Artist: Salvador Dalí (1904–1989)

Location: Outside room 238.1

Known as a Surrealist, Dalí portrayed his fellow Spanish artist Picasso (1881-1973) rather realistically in this pencil drawing. The relationship between the two artists was relatively unknown to the public until a 2014 exhibition titled Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso juxtaposed the two legends side by side. Characterized as “fraught and fruitful,” the story of the two artists is one of “influence, rivalry, and artistic greatness.” According to a review by W Magazine, Dalí was inspired by Cubist works and Picasso by Dalí’s 1929 solo exhibition. Although they disagreed about the importance of the Surrealists, Dalí had written about 100 letters and postcards to Picasso, while Picasso reportedly paid Dalí’s travel to New York for his first exhibition.

Title: J. Bertram Lippincott

Year: 1913

Artist: Julian Russel Story (1857–1919)

Location: Lippincott Library

Title: Joanna Wharton Lippincott

Artist: Julian Russell Story (1857–1919)

Location: Lippincott Library

The Lippincott Library was founded in 1929 with a gift from Joanna Wharton Lippincott (1858-1938), daughter of businessman, philanthropist and founder of the Wharton School Joseph Wharton. In 1885, she married Joshua Bertram Lippincott (1857-1940), who worked with Joseph Wharton and inherited J.B. Lippincott Company, a Philadelphia publishing house founded by his father, Joshua Ballinger Lippincott, and became president of the firm in 1911. Joshua Bertram Lippincott served as a trustee of Penn.


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