Study for the Land Grant Frescoes


Study for the Land Grant Frescoes


Henry Varnum Poor
American, 1887-1970




Henry Varnum Poor set to work on the Land Grant Frescoes immediately after signing the contract, in September 1939. This drawing, annotated for content and with the right portion of the mural yet to be realized, is one of the artist’s first, a preparatory study for the design that Poor presented to the Penn State Board of Trustees just a few months into the project.

Several of the painting’s principal motifs have begun to take shape here. In the center stands a monumental Abraham Lincoln, signer of the 1862 Morrill Act, who passes the proverbial Tree of Knowledge to a student, beneficiary of the president’s action. To the far left, a young man on horseback prepares to ride off to school for the first time. Between these two segments, a few tentative lines give shape to a group of students examining their experimental plots. Evidently less certain of this section’s placement, Poor utilized the space below to sketch out a number of compositional possibilities.


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Gift of Miss Anne Poor




This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.


Ink, charcoal, and pastel on paper; 14 x 16-3/4 in. (35.5 x 42.5 cm)