(1826-1893), a member of his father's successful banking firm,
Drexel & Company, was the most influential financier of the
19th century. He is known as a philanthropist and founder of Drexel
University in Philadelphia.
named the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, it opened
its doors on December 17, 1891. The architect, Joseph M. Wilson
(1838-1902), had returned from Europe just prior to designing
the Main Building. The european influence is reflected in its buff brick exterior,
resembling an Italian palazzo and a light-filled, multi-storied
interior, consisting of classical arches, columns and pilasters.
Drexel believed that education should be both practical and cultural.
The Drexel CollectionSM was created as early as 1892. The
east side of the first floor of the Main Building was designated
as a museum and displayed art specifically purchased by Mr. Drexel
for the Institute. He kept a log, presently in the Collection,
wherein he listed the art purchased with the date and the place
include examples of prints, drawings, textiles,
sculpture, 19th century paintings and portraits of the Drexel family, with
several by Anthony J. Drexel's father, Francis Martin Drexel (1792-1863),
an artist turned banker.
When Anthony Drexel died in 1893, objects from his personal
collection were willed to the Institute. One of the Collection's
most notable pieces is a David Rittenhouse Tall-Case Clock, dating
to c. 1773, donated in 1894 by Emma Bouvier Peterson Childs, widow
of George W. Childs (1829-1894), founder of the Philadelphia newspaper,
the Public Ledger, and best friend of Anthony J. Drexel.
1901, upon the death of John D. Lankenau, husband of Anthony's
sister, Mary Johanna, a fine collection of 19th century paintings
came into The Drexel CollectionSM, with works by Jean Boptiste Camille Corob (1769-1875) examples of the Barbizon
School, including works by Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878)
and Jules Dupré (1811- 1889) as well as paintings by artists
of the Düsseldorf Academy such as Andreas Achenbach (1815-1910)
and Oswald Achenbach (1827-1905).
these substantial additions, the space in the museum on the first
floor proved inadequate. At this time, the Picture Gallery became the exhibition area for the Collection.
Over the years, descendants of the Drexel family, alumni and friends
have continued to contribute to The Drexel CollectionSM. The Collection also displays objects in the Great Court & Rincliffe Gallery in the Main Building.