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Marquand, Allan, Class of 1874



Princeton University. Property of the Trustees of Princeton University.

Oren Jack Turner, Sr., active early 20th century, Allan Marquand, 1922–24? Photograph, 22.7 x 18 cm (8 15/16 x 7 1/16 in.) mount: 33.5 x 25 cm. (13 3/16 x 9 13/16 in.) Most likely a gift of the sitter

Source: Princeton University Art Museum, x1983-217

Allan Marquand, Class of 1874 (1853-1924), founded the Department of Art and Archaeology and for more than forty years devoted his talents and his means to making it one of the best in the country. He shared with Charles Eliot Norton of Harvard the distinction of being the first to introduce the serious study of art into the curriculum of the American college.

The son of Henry Gurdon Marquand, a New York banker and one of the founders and a chief benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he was educated at St. Paul's School and at Princeton. In college he was an excellent student, an accomplished gymnast, first-place winner in three track events, and president of the Boating Club, which sponsored the crew. He graduated second in his class (1874) and was Latin salutatorian and class president. His classmates rejoiced in his success because, they said, "jealousy and envy of others were not in him."

After graduation he studied theology for three years at Princeton Seminary and at Union Seminary in New York, and then, after a year of study at the University of Berlin, went to Johns Hopkins, where he received his Ph.D. in philosophy. At Johns Hopkins, he invented an ingenious "logic machine" -- a forerunner of the computer -- which is preserved in Firestone Library. He was called back to Princeton as lecturer in logic and tutor in Latin in 1881. President McCosh, detecting an unorthodox, un-Calvinistic bent in Marquand's teaching of philosophy, encouraged him to undertake instead the teaching of the history of art. He became an instructor in this subject in 1882 and, a year later, first incumbent of a professorship of art and archaeology, endowed by his uncle, Frederick Marquand.

He held this chair until 1910 when he relinquished it in order to provide funds for an additional professor in the department; thereafter he served the University without salary. He made important gifts to the Art Museum, of which he was the first director, and supplied the department's library with books and photographs from his own collection and paid for other departmental purchases out of his own pocket. He also founded and financed the Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology.

His generosity was matched by the personal interest he took in his colleagues and his students and by the influence he exerted on them. "There was in his character," Professor C. Rufus Morey said, "a refinement that had nothing about it of the fastidious, but rejected nonetheless the false and unworthy with unerring discernment. Without conscious effort on his part, his life and work evoked in his pupils and associates a standard of precision and candor in scholarship."

Marquand's devoted effort brought forth a good harvest. In 1882 he was the lone instructor of a few students. Forty years later he presided over an art faculty of thirteen members who gave sixteen courses elected by eight hundred undergraduates. In all the colleges east of the Mississippi, half of the teachers of art had been trained in the graduate curriculum he had developed.


A chief ornament of the Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology was Marquand's own life-work -- his eight-volume catalogue raisonn of the works of the ateliers of members of the Della Robbia family, fifteenth- and sixteenty-century Florentine sculptors and ceramists. His interest in these artists began with an altarpiece by Andrea Della Robbia that his father bought for the Metropolitan Museum in 1882. After publishing a study of this altarpiece in the American Journal of Archaeology in 1891, he made a tour of Italy (the first of many) in search of unstudied Della Robbia works, and his preliminary observations appeared in the Journal and in Scribner's Magazine in 1893.

A lapse of almost twenty years between his initial quest for material and the appearance of the first published results of his investigations was due in part to the demands of other publications, including his work on Greek Architecture, and in part to the thoroughness of his scholarship. The first Della Robbia volume, which inaugurated the Princeton Monographs, appeared in 1912; the second, in 1914. Then, after five more years of research, five more volumes appeared in rapid succession between 1919 and 1922. Failing health interrupted completion of the eighth and last volume, but the manuscript he left was so far advanced that it was readily completed by his colleagues after his death. All eight volumes were republished in 1972.

Shy and somewhat hesitant in manner, Marquand was most effective as a teacher in small groups. There his own example generated standards of accuracy and thoroughness, and his kindliness encouraged his students to develop their own views. His famous course in Italian sculpture, through which all the graduate students of the department passed at some time in their careers, was noted for the completeness with which it explored all of the important monuments and the published works about them, and the opportunity Marquand gave to all his students to express their own theories. "Even in his own field of the Della Robbias," one of his former students recalled, "he took the attitude that we knew as much about it as he, and in that way gave us a sort of professional courage."

Outside of Princeton he was equally active and generous in promoting his chosen subject. He was one of the founders of the Archaeological Institute of America and of the American Journal of Archaeology. For some thirty years he anonymously financed traveling fellowships of the Institute and as chairman of the Committee on Medieval and Renaissance Studies -- his own creation -- helped initiate the careers of a long line of students and teachers of the fine arts. He also supported the American School of Classical Studies in Rome at which he served a year as professor of archaeology.

According to Professor Morey, his successor as chairman of the department,

"Marquand's work was achieved with no sacrifice of the quiet kindliness which constantly marked his relations with others. Lacking completely the aggressive force with which other creative spirits have gained their ends, Allan Marquand built unconsciously on the loyalty and devotion which he inspired in all who worked in close contact with him. Like his favorite artist, Luca [della Robbia], he saw life simply and directly, and as something which was ultimately sound and beautiful. This viewpoint, his work, and his influence, derive their common admirable character, in the last analysis, from the outstanding quality which is basic in every estimate of the man, and in every memory his deeds and human contacts have left behind them: his utter and unconscious unselfishness."


Professor Marquand began to build an outstanding art library for his own use early in his career. He transferred it from his house to the Campus in 1900, formally deeded it to the University in 1908, and continued to add to it during his lifetime. It provides the nucleus of the library that has been developed as a memorial to him and that is now considered one of the finest art libraries in the world.


In 1887 Professor Marquand acquired an estate in the western section of town, which he renamed Guernsey Hall after the island home of his Huguenot ancestors. Here he and Mrs. Marquand, who was a recognized authority on flowers and trees in old paintings and manuscripts and an honorary Master of Arts of the University, frequently entertained faculty and students.

In 1953 their children gave seventeen acres of the estate to Princeton Borough for use as a park. It provides open playing fields and walks among handsome, old, and often rare, trees for the enjoyment of the people of Princeton.


Alan Marquand '1874 Papers in the University Archives

Allan Marquand and Evelyn College

Della Robbia in the Art Museum

Source: Leitch p. 314 ff