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​Historic Knight Library: Art & Architecture

Guide to the art and architecture of the 1937 historic Knight Library, University of Oregon, Eugene.

HEADS, KNIGHT LIBRARY FRIEZE

Artists:   Edna Dunberg and Louise Utter Pritchard. Cast by Ernest Thomas Cast Stone Co., Portland. Medium: Cast stone. Location: exterior, north facade.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

Aristotle

Aristotle

John Locke

John Locke

Thucydides

Thucydides

Buddha

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

Michelangelo Buonarotti

Michelangelo Buonarotti

Ludwig von Beethoven

Ludwig von Beethoven

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri

Edna Dunberg was hired in 1935 with WPA funding to provide decorative elements for the new library, and she was assigned to the project to create the heads for the frieze planned for the library’s façade. Dunberg had already worked on campus art projects with funding from the Public Works of Art Project.

Dunberg began to experience severe back pains in February 1936 and was eventually diagnosed with a degenerative spinal disease. She was only 24 years old when she died on July 21,1936.  Louise Utter Pritchard, another WPA artist who had assisted Dunberg, completed work on the heads. The heads were selected by the library committee. They were sculpted in clay and plaster and sent to Portland to be cast into a crushed stone medium by Ernest Thomas Cast Stone Company.

Heads, east Knight Library frieze

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SOURCES

"Fifteen Heads to Decorate Libe Fresco; Models Being Cast by Edna Dunberg; Browsing Room Plans Discussed." Oregon Daily Emerald, February 14, 1936. Article notes that work started in December and that five heads had been cast to date.

Gabriel, Bob. "Faces on the Wall; From the '30s: The Tragic Tale of UO Student Edna Dunberg, Who Sculpted the Faces Shown Here." 

Edna Dunberg & Louise Utter Pritchard, 1936

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