Artwork in the North Reading Room
If there is one mural painting for which Ella Condie Lamb is known for today, it’s “Open Book” which she created for the library. The mural depicts the seated figure of a mother reading from an open book, surrounded by her children and is meant to convey the idea that books are a source of knowledge and that they should be available to all: rich, poor, young, old, male, and female.
Lamb used her four children as models for this mural and, in accordance with Emma Flower Taylor’s wishes, she included a fifth child. The child placed on the lap of the mother was a memorial to Taylor’s first son, Roswell Taylor, who died in infancy from tonsillitis. Lamb’s first son also died in infancy from diphtheria.
Ella Condie Lamb was a painter, muralist, mosaic artist, and designer of stained glass windows. She was born in New York City in 1862. She entered the National Academy of Design in New York when she was sixteen and a year later took the academy’s first prize in a woman’s life drawing class.
Later, Lamb married Charles Rollison Lamb, an artist and architect. Much of Lamb’s work was done in collaboration with her husband. He designed the buildings and she designed the stained glass windows, murals, or mosaics that went into them. A perfect example of this is our library. Charles Lamb was the architect and Ella Condie Lamb filled our beautiful library with the amazing mosaics, murals, and stained glass.
Oil on Canvas
This oil on canvas painting was created by Thomas Hill in 1889 and is one depiction of his most famous scenes – American mountain scenery. His most favorite subject was Yosemite. Thomas Hill was born in 1829 and died in 1908.
The Pines was created by Charles Warren Eaton (nicknamed the “Pine Tree Painter”) in 1904 and was purchased as a part of the 1906 Art Exhibit with the Holland Dame (located in the North Mezzanine of the library).
The 1906 Art Exhibit began as experiment by the Municipal Improvement League. The experiment started when Charles Naegele, Frederick Flower, and other important citizens “worked to create an art museum in which citizens actually selected the picture they wanted from the exhibition.” Citizens were charged 10 cents to view the exhibition and were each given a ticket to vote for the best picture. “The painting receiving the largest number of votes was purchased at the end of the exhibition. Should the receipts be more than the price of the picture selected, the remainder was to be used to purchase an additional painting.”
The Pines by Eaton and the Holland Dame by Robert David Gauley were both purchased as a part of the exhibition. Both were also awarded medals at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
*Quoted information taken from our Library Tour Guide brochure.
This pastoral scene with cattle was created circa 1880 by Emil Van Marche (1827-1890) and is framed in a Rocco Revival frame.