Art in the Reading Rooms

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Portraits | Window Medallions | Busts & Statues

Portrait Paintings

Six of the seven portraits hung on the east wall of the Martin Reading Room represent members of Charles Deering’s family. The final portrait, of French composer Erik Satie, was painted by Charles Deering's friend Ramón Casas and is often away from the room on exhibition loan.

The portraits, from right to left as you look at them (south to north), depict:

  1. ROGER DEERING (1884-1936) by Kenyon Cox, 1889
    Roger Deering was the son of Charles Deering, for whom the Deering Library is named. A noted philanthropist, Roger Deering left over $7 million in an unrestricted gift to Northwestern University upon his death in 1936.
    The artist Kenyon Cox (1856-1919) was a painter, illustrator and writer from Warren, Ohio. He studied in Paris at l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1877 until 1882 and exhibited at the Salon between 1879 and 1882. He illustrated books and magazines, wrote occasional art criticism, and taught at the Art Students League in New York from 1884 until 1909. In 1892, Cox painted four mural decorations for the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A skilled academic draughtsman and a strong colorist, Cox was skeptical of Impressionism and an outspoken opponent of modernism.
  2. WILLIAM DEERING (1826-1913) by Anders Zorn, 1899
    William Deering was the father of Charles Deering, for whom the Deering Library is named. William Deering founded the Deering Harvester company which in 1902 merged to become the International Harvester Company. The company's chief farm implement was a harvesting machine with an automatic binder, and Deering pioneered its development in the 1870s and 1880s. He was a generous benefactor to several institutions, notably Northwestern University, the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and Wesley Hospital in Chicago. The portrait was donated to Northwestern University by Charles Deering.
    The Swedish artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920) was a close friend of Charles Deering, and gave Deering the use of his studio in Paris in 1893. Zorn was an internationally recognized painter, etcher, and sculptor who maintained studios in Paris and London. His skill with portraiture in particular secured a wide range of patrons throughout the world. His first visit to the United States was in 1893, as commissioner for the Swedish art section at the Chicago World's Fair.
  3. ROGER DEERING (1884-1936) by Wayman Adams
    As noted above, Roger Deering was the son of Charles Deering, for whom the Deering Library is named. The Wayman Adams portrait was a gift of his mother, Marion Whipple Deering (Mrs. Charles Deering) to the library, and has been on permanent display since 1938.
    The painter Wayman Adams (1883-1959) was born in Muncie, Indiana and studied portraiture in Italy and Spain. He is known chiefly for his portraits, which show considerable influences of John Singer Sargent, another Charles Deering associate.
  4. MARION WHIPPLE DEERING (1857-1943) by Wayman Adams
    Marion Whipple Deering was the wife of Charles Deering, for whom the Deering Library is named. The couple married in 1883 and had three children: Roger, Marion, and Barbara. This portrait of Mrs. Deering was donated to the University by her family in 1939.
  5. CHARLES DEERING (1852-1927) by Paul Trebilcock after Anders Zorn
    Charles Deering was the Northwestern University trustee and benefactor for whom the Deering Library is named. This portrait is a copy by Paul Trebilcock of an earlier portrait by Anders Zorn. Paul Trebilcock (1902-1981) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as in Europe.
  6. JAMES DEERING (1859-1925) by Paul Trebilcock after Anders Zorn
    James Deering was the brother of Charles Deering, for whom the Deering Library is named. He joined his older brother Charles in the family business and assisted in directing the International Harvester Company after their father William's retirement in 1901. A discerning art collector, James is best known as the builder of Vizcaya, his winter estate near Miami, Florida, which since its completion in 1916 has enjoyed wide acclaim for its evocation of Italian architectural styles from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Vizcaya has housed the Dade County Art Museum since 1953.
    This 1932 painting by Trebilcock is a copy of an earlier portrait by Anders Zorn, and was bequeathed to Northwestern University in 1933 by Mrs. Chauncey McCormick [Marion Deering], daughter of Charles Deering and niece of James.
  7. ERIK SATIE (1866-1925) (El Bohemio, Poet of Montmartre) by Ramón Casas, 1891
    This portrait was acquired by Charles Deering, for whom the Deering Library is named, when Deering studied painting in Paris in the early 1890s. It was bequeathed to Northwestern University Library by his daughter, Mrs. Chauncey McCormick, in 1956. See more on the portrait here. It is frequently out on exhibition loan.

Window Medallions

"Grammar." The figure in purple is Priscian, the celebrated grammarian of the fifth century, A.D.

The Deering Library's 68 painted window medallions were created by G. Owen Bonawit (1891-1971), a master of secular stained glass from New York City. They represent scenes and figures from literature, mythology, religion, and history. Nineteen of these are located in the Art Library's Eloise W. Martin Reading Room; there are also four are in the Architecture Reading Room, and others in the other libraries and rooms in Deering Library.


G. Owen Bonawit (1891-1971) was a master of secular stained glass who created the painted medallions in the windows of both the Deering Library at Northwestern University and at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University, among many others. Born in Brooklyn in 1891, Bonawit's father was an illustrator and designer in Manhattan. Bonawit apprenticed in his uncle's shop and in 1915 went into partnership with Henry Wynd Young, a traditional stained glass artist. By 1918, Bonawit had established his own firm in New York City, which produced decorative leading, stained glass, medallions, banners, mosaics, and general interior decoration. In 1941, he became a professional photographer in Arizona.

Bonawit met James Gamble Rogers (1867-1947), architect of the Deering Library and many other buildings across the U.S., in New York. The boom in university buildings in Neo-Gothic and Collegiate Gothic styles during the 1920s and 1930s produced an unprecedented market for secular stained glass. Bonawit's firm, which had 15 employees in 1930, created a staggering 3,301 stained glass decorations, including 673 painted medallions, for Yale's Sterling Memorial Library (1930-31). A total of 68 painted medallions were produced for the Deering Library (1931-32). Nineteen of the 68 painted medallions are in the Martin Reading Room.

Four of Bonawit's 19 reading room window medallions (the two in each of the big windows at either end of the room) are painted in color. The rest are outlined or washed in dark brown paint, which was made of ground glass and a flux. Yellow and gold colors were produced by applying silver oxide or silver chloride stain to the back of the panel in varying concentrations, and by firing the glass at different temperatures. The brown paint wash used to shade figures was modeled by "stickwork," a medieval technique in which fine highlights are made by delicate scratching to remove the wash. Each medallion was fired at a temperature sufficient to melt the glass paint and to fuse it to the glass panel, but not so high that the lines would lose their definition. The panels were sent to another glass company for fitting into the leaded casement windows. Sources for Bonawit's Deering medallions include literature, history, music, philosophy, world religion, and the history of the Midwest. Library staff helped to select subjects and sent illustrations to Bonawit for translation into the designs.

For more about Bonawit, see Gaye Walker's "Brilliance All Around" (Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University, 2006).

Guide to the Window Medallions in the Martin Reading Room
The descriptions below, all by G. Owen Bonawit, refer to the window medallions in the Martin Reading Room, beginning to one's left as you enter the reading room, and proceeding clockwise around the room.

The color window medallions at either end of the room are numbers 2 and 3 (in the south alcove), and 17 and 18 (in the north alcove). The designs for these color medallions come from drawings by Charles Kreutzberger in Cathedrale du Puy-en-Valay, Fresque dans l'ancienne librairie du chapitre.

1. Rubaiyat, verse 17: "Think in this batter'd Caravanserai, whose portals are alternate night and day, how Sultan after Sultan with his pomp, abode his destined hour, and went his way." 
2. Music [color] 
3. Logic [color] 
4. The North Wind, from Norske Folkeventyr [Norwegian Folktales] of Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe 
5. "To hear the sea maid's music," from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II 
6. The Divine Huntress, Artemis [Diana] 
7. Brahma, the Creator 
8. Lao-Tze, Founder of the Chinese religion of Taoism 
9. "Man dies, nor is there hope in dust," from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam 
10. Charles Deering reading a book; inscribed: "Through Grand Canion Arkansas 10 March 1904 OLN" [left, below 9] 
11. Seal of the U.S. Naval Academy [right, below 9] 
12. Roland, fighting against the Saracens, about 778 A.D. 
13. Vishnu, the Preserver 
14. The Angel Gabriel, from the Annunciation 
15. "The Galoshes of Fortune," from Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales 
16. Genii in the Bottle, from The Arabian Nights 
17. Grammar. The figure in purple is Priscian, the celebrated grammarian of the fifth century, A.D. [color] 
18. Rhetoric [color]
19. Holy Grail from Morte d'Arthur


Busts & Statues

Among the busts and statues around the perimeter of the Martin Reading Room, looking from left to right (south to north) as you enter the room are:

  1. Apollo Belvedere
    Reproduction of the head of the famous 4th century B.C. Hellenistic statue uncovered in Pergamum and attributed to the sculptor Leochares.
  2. William Shakespeare
    Reproduction of an original bronze sculpture by Eugene Blot (1830-1899).
  3. Johann Wolfgang Goethe
    Bust by the German sculptor Christian Daniel Rauch (1777-1857).
  4. Thomas Carlyle
    Bust of the Scottish essayist by the English sculptor William Ordway Partridge (1861-1930).
  5. Unidentified
  6. Orrington Lunt
    Bust of the Northwestern University benefactor by the Danish Sculptor Johannes Gelert (1852-1923).
  7. L'Emir
    Bronze statue by Georges-Charles Coudray (active 1883-1903).
  8. Dying Gaul
    Reproduction of a Roman copy of a lost Greek original attributed to the sculptor Epigonos.
  9. Alfred, Lord Tennyson
    Reproduction of a bust by William Ordway Partridge (1852-1923), original in the Lyceum Theatre, London.
  10. Jonathan Swift
    Bust by the English sculptor Joseph Wilton (1722-1803).
  11. George Gordon, Lord Byron
    Reproduction of a bust by the English sculptor Edward Hodges Bailey (1788-1867).
  12. John Locke
    Bust by the English sculptor Henry Weekes (1807-1877).
  13. Apollo Belvedere
  14. Artemis of Versailles
    Reproduction of a Hellenistic sculpture of Diana the Huntress, original in the Louvre.