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Philadelphia Sketch Club artwork


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Philadelphia Sketch Club was founded in 1860 by six students of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: George F. Bensell and his brother Edmund B. Bensell, Edward J. Mcllhenny, Henry C. Mispham, John L. Gihon, and Robert Wylie. The group sought out illustration and design opportunities not available within the Academy. By 1894 the group's membership exceeded 400 active members, a number of whom were also instructors at the Academy.

The sketch club offered members courses on life drawing and classes on anatomy. In addition to classes, the group offered artists a space for exhibitions. The first exhibition was held in 1865 and featured a small oils show and competition.

The Philadelphia Sketch Club continues to support working visual artists by providing studio space, workshops, programs, exhibition and networking opportunities. The organization supports the visual arts by providing free public access to exhibitions; supports visual arts education through low cost, open enrollment workshop programs; and promotes the historical value of the visual arts to the community by providing free public access to their historic collections and facility.

The Philadelphia Sketch Club artwork comprises original pen and ink drawings, watercolor, and ink wash sketches by founding members of the organization. A significant portion of the images portray scenes from Shakespearean plays including Ophelia and The Tempest. Most pieces are signed by the artist, but the collection also includes some unsigned works. Among the artists included in the collection are: E.B. Bensell, J.W. John, J.B. Beale, W.E. Cresson, R., R.H. Reed, Gihon, G.F. Bensell, H.C. Bispham. Also included in the collection is a chromolithographic proof of a small poster advertising the first prize exhibition of the Sketch Club in New York City in 1866.

Sold by Marika's Antiques, 2021.

Accessioned as 2021.000061. Samantha Dodd processed, wrote and encoded the finding aid, 2023.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Samantha Dodd
Finding Aid Date
2023 May 24
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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E. B. Bensell, 1863-1866.
Box 1 Folder 1-4
G.F. Bensell, 1864, undated.
Box 1 Folder 5
Gihan, undated.
Box 1 Folder 6
H.C. Bispham, undated.
Box 1 Folder 7
J.B. Beale, 1865-1867.
Box 1 Folder 8
J.W. John, undated.
Box 1 Folder 10-11
R., undated.
Box 1 Folder 12
W.E. Cresson, 1862-1868, undated.
Box 1 Folder 13-14
Other artists, undated.
Box 1 Folder 15
Unsigned art, undated.
Box 1 Folder 16-19

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