Note: p13m3 The interest of the collection is not confined, however, to the light it throws on Jefferson's personality and his personal services to architecture. Though he rebelled against the prevailing style of the time, he was also inevitably its unconscious representative. His drawings offer the fullest evidence we have concerning the design of buildings in colonial times and in the early years of our national life. Until now the first considerable documentary source for our knowledge of early American architecture has been the group of drawings for the construction of the Capitol and the President's House in Washington, beginning in 1792 Note: p13f1 Of the drawings made prior to this date, doubtless never very many, those published are few in number. Note: p13f2 Jefferson's drawings begin about 1769. They are of a number and elaborateness unexampled in America until long afterwards; they have been preserved with a religious care due in his lifetime to his own methodical habits, and after his death to the interest of every scrap of paper connected with a man of such political importance. Nowhere else can the mental processes of an early American architect and the inner development of his designs be followed so closely. Scarcely less interesting a part of the collection is the group of drawings by other architects came into Jefferson's hands and were preserved with his own drawings. Though few in number, they include work by Hoban, Hadfield, Thornton, Latrobe and Mills, and are important, not only for the relationship with Jefferson which they testify, but also for their extraordinary independent documentary value.
Note: p14m1 In the pervasive classical revival common to Europe and America, of which Jefferson's work forms a part, it will be found that his position was not always derivative and secondary in comparison to European standards, but that in certain respects he anticipated corresponding buildings in older countries, and in some other regards gave to American architecture an original direction. Beyond this national or international interest, moreover, the drawings may have a significance for the comparative study of previous periods, as modern and more determinate instances of often repeated processes, the infiltration of classical influence in a vernacular art, and the supplanting of naïve craftsman by amateur enthusiasm and professional specialization.
Note: p14m2 The history of opinion regarding Jefferson's architectural attainments may be briefly traced. Though early appreciated by intelligent foreign travellers such as de Chastellux Note: p14f1 and La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Note: p14f2 and gladly availed of by friends and public men of his time, they were rather the object of good-natured tolerance in the relatively Philistine generation which succeeded them. Note: p14f3 It was felt that a public man might indulge in artistic matters during his hours of relaxation, but scarcely pursue them seriously. Note: p14m3 Even William Dunlap, the historian of early American art, who saw Jefferson's drawings soon after his death and recognized the minuteness and Palladian accuracy with which he entered into his architectural projects, fell easily into a belief that Jefferson merely drew the details of Monticello after general designs by Robert Mills. Note: p14f4 Except for more and more fleeting mention by biographers, and an occasional reference concerning some special building, Jefferson's artistic activity then dropped from sight, until it was brought strongly to notice once more by Herbert B. Adams in 1888. Note: p14m4 His monograph, Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, Note: p14f5 included reproductions of a number of Jefferson's drawings, recognized his indebtedness to Palladio, and gave him credit for the architectural design of the university buildings. In 1895 appeared the pioneer special discussion of Jefferson's whole work as an architect, by James Kevan Peebles , Note: p14f6 a judicious article displaying thorough mastery of the rather scanty material published up to that time.
Note: p15m1 Jefferson's artistic reputation, however, had now a new obstacle to encounter, the a priori skepticism of the circle of professional architects, who failed to recognize how much conditions of practice in this country during the eighteenth century differed from those of today. Thus the late Montgomery Schuyler, though assigning a large importance to buildings with which Jefferson was associated, felt that the chief credit for them must have belonged to the professionals with whom he was known to have had relations. Note: p15f1 Even more outspoken in this regard has been Mr. Glenn Brown, who has assigned the success of the University of Virginia buildings first to collaboration with Mills Note: p15f2 and later almost wholly to William Thornton. Note: p15f3 Counter to this current of professional skepticism has run a current of uncritical belief on the part of laymen, issuing recently in two popular articles by Mildred Stapley, Note: p15f4 and in a study by Dr. William A. Lambeth, Note: p15f5 which included reproductions of further drawings and memoranda for the University. Unfortunately these writers did not meet the doubts which had been raised, and further confused the subject by misunderstanding Jefferson's stylistic position and his relation to his contemporaries. Note: p15f6 As a result, Mr. Norman M. Isham took occasion in an elaborate review of Lambeth's book Note: p15f7 to raise again all possible doubts as to Jefferson's real authorship of the buildings ascribed to him, yet without adducing any new evidence which might be conclusive. It is but fair to say that the material so far brought to light was insufficient to effect a solution of the questions which had been mooted.
Note: p15m2 It devolved on the present writer to attempt a demonstration of Jefferson's architectural ability, based on published documents hitherto unnoticed, on unpublished Jefferson manuscripts, and, finally, on the drawings in the Coolidge collection. Two letters briefly indicating the material available and the results to which it pointed Note: p15f8 were followed by papers considering in detail the design of Monticello and of the Virginia State Capitol. Note: p15f9 In these preliminary studies an uninformed, often hostile, opinion had to be encountered, and a strategic order of presentation, often reversing chronology, adopted. It is hoped that they have disposed of the controversial aspects of the subject, and that the material may here be presented in a direct manner, with liberty to adopt chronological arrangement where it is desirable, and to ask suspension of judgment until all the evidence is given. In certain matters regarding Monticello and Shadwell further research has necessitated modifying somewhat the earlier statements and conclusions. These buildings are accordingly treated with the fulness of a fresh presentation, whereas the Virginia Capitol, concerning which no further material has been unearthed, is treated more summarily. If this seems disporportionate to the relative importance of the buildings, it is no more than in accordance with the relative time and pains which Jefferson gave to them.
Note: p16m1 The material available for the study of Jefferson's designs and buildings now fortunately rich enough to permit a finality of judgment which was impossible even a few years ago. In the matter of published documents the are the two new and fuller editions of his writings Note: p16f1 with many supplemental publications of his manuscripts, the most notable being a selection from the papers presented by Mr. Coolidge to the Massachusetts Historical Society. Note: p16f2 The calendars of the Jefferson collection in the Library of Congress, although still incomplete, cover the bulk of the manuscripts there; Note: p16f3 the material in other national archives has been made more accessible by published guides a inventories, Note: p16f4 and in some cases by publication in extenso. Note: p16f5 The same is true of the Virginia archives, Note: p16f6 and those of State historical societies, Note: p16f7 the publications of these societies in recent years being indispensable for the study of many phases of Jefferson's work.
Note: p16m2 The principal groups of relevant unpublished documents, aside from the collection at hand, and secondary to it, may be summarized as follows: The Library of Congress possesses letters between Jefferson, Latrobe, and others, which throw unexpected light on Jefferson's share in the authorship of the University of Virginia, the Capitol at Richmond, and other public buildings. The Department of State and the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds in Washington also have manuscripts of great value in establishing Jefferson's influence on our early governmental architecture. In the Virginia State Library are the recently upturned accounts between Jefferson and the State in relation to the designs for the Virginia Capitol, with important letters and vouchers, as well as the original plaster model for the building made in France by Jefferson's order. The Massachusetts Historical Society has, as a part of Mr. Coolidge's gift, Jefferson's manuscript library catalogue with lists of his architectural books, his farm book with classified memoranda on building, and many private letters and papers bearing especially on his domestic designs. At the University of Virginia, besides some drawings of unrealized importance for the University itself, are a few of other designs not hitherto printed, including Jefferson's house at Poplar Forest. Note: p17f1
Note: p17m1 In the possibility of becoming familiar with the architectural monuments themselves there have been in recent years both gains and losses. The publication of photographs and descriptions, of aid in the identification of manuscript designs, has gone steadily forward. Note: p17f2 The making of plans and measured drawings has also been begun, Note: p17f3 though here much remains to be desired. On the other hand, the destructive modification of the buildings themselves has been very serious. The remodelling of the Virginia Capitol and the Rotunda of the University, like that of the White House, however sympathetically carried out and however desirable from the artistic standpoint, have been attended, in the absence of careful archeological examinations during the progress of the work, by permanent losses to historical knowledge.
Note: p17m1 In the study of the Coolidge collection, the difficulties presented by the manuscript drawings are unusually great. Of the whole number of them, barely three hundred, very few bear formal titles. Except for two drawings by Mills and one by Lenthall, none of them are signed; perhaps half a dozen bear dates. Subject, authorship, and sequence must be established by comparison with existing buildings, with early descriptions and representations of them, and with letters, books of calculations, etc., by confrontation with drawings of established authenticity by other architects, and by the minutest examination of the drawings themselves, extending to study of their media and paper. This has been undertaken in the notes which accompany the reproductions, its results only being utilized in this essay, which attempts to determine the general questions of Jefferson's development, influence, and position in the history of architecture.