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Jefferson Hall Tour Guide

Why Art?

Why was art taught at a Military and Engineering Academy?

“…while art instruction may not at first seem essential to a military education, at West Point the drawing course was a decidedly practical requirement for the young officers also being trained as engineers. […] As surveyors, map makers and even architects in some cases, the cadets graduating from West Point needed a firm background in drawing principles to accurately design their engineering plans.”

Weir, R. W. (1891) Catalogue of oil paintings and water colors by Robert W. Weir, N.A. : also his collection of engravings, etchings, illustrated books. New York: Fifth Avenue Art Galleries. (31)

  • 1802 – West Point Academy Formally Established

  • 1803 – First Professor of Drawing hired at West Point Academy

  • 1826 – Nicéphore Niépce takes the first surviving permanent photograph

  • 1888 – George Eastman markets the Kodak No. 1 box camera

  • 1907 – In France, the Lumière brothers introduce the autochrome color process

  • 1942 – Eastman Kodak develops the Kodacolor process for making color prints from color negatives

  • 1962 – West Point Academy entered the computer age

  • 1970s – West Point’s Mandatory Drawing Courses cease

  • 1975 – Steven Sasson, an engineer at Eastman Kodak, develops the first digital camera 

  • 1985 - Academy Leadership mandated that each cadet and faculty member should have personal networked computers

  • 1990s – Map drawing in West Point course EV203: Terrain Analysis ends

  • 2000 – Camera phone is introduced 

  • 2004 – Kodak ceases production of film cameras

  • 2006 - the Academy’s first class of cadets is issued laptops as their personal computers

“Computer mapping applications started to be taught by the late 1970s, and today’s instructors teach cadets to use ESRI’s ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS StoryMaps. Global Positioning System technology has also made field mapping much easier and is integrated into many pieces of equipment. Through classes and research projects, cadets gain exposure to the tools of the modern-day cartographer: digital mapping software, the Global Navigation Satellite System, high-resolution satellite and aerial imaging, geospatial analysis, and remote sensing.”


Harvard’s History of Photography Timeline:

West Point Association Of Graduates: WPAOG on Instagram: “It's #NationalDrawingDay ✏️! Drawing was one of the first subjects taught at the Academy. A Teacher of Drawing was hired in 1803. For…”

Who Remembers…? Teaching Tools at USMA. West Point Magazine. (Spring 2023)


2nd Floor Artwork

Bust of Major Genera George B. McClellan

Major General George B. McClellan (1826-1885, USMA 1846)

by John Quincy Adams Ward


Gift of Mr. H. E. Ketzler

3rd Floor Artwork

View from West Point

Reproduction of View from West Point by Victor de Grailly

circa 1840 Oil on panel

Victor de Grailly (1804-1889) was a French landscape painter who specialized in views of America; however, he never visited this country. Rather, he based his pieces in engravings by other artists. This piece is a reproduction of the original painting in the West Point Museum collection.

The subject is derived from an engraving by British landscape artist William Henry Bartlett, who toured the eastern United States in the 1830's.

Gift of Mr. Alexander Patrick Dyer, USMA 1954, and his wife Shirley


Cadet by Don Nice


Oil on canvas

Don Nice is a local Hudson Valley artist recognized for his oversize paintings of iconic American motifs and classic symbols of American culture, a genre known as Pop art. He served two years in the United States Army. This Painting of a Cadet wearing the First Captain's Uniform, while painted from life, is not meant to be a portrait of an individual. Instead, the artist intended to represent every Cadet through this painting.

He sought to capture the embodiment of what it means to be a Cadet - a figure that is, indeed, an enduring iconic symbol in American culture. Today, the context of this artwork is very different compared to when it was painted - in the midst of the Vietnam War. At that time, Americans were disillusioned by the long, drawn out war and the billions of dollars that had been spent fighting it.

In mid-1971, with the release of the Pentagon Papers, sentiment soured even further, leading Americans to question the accountability of their government and their military. Considered within this narrative, this painting would have been quite controversial at the time. A highly intricate framework for a seemingly straightforward painting, Mr. Nice adds yet another layer of complexity to the piece by referencing art historical techniques of some of the great masters of painting. On the breast plate of the Cadet, the artist has painted a self portrait as he was painting the artwork - a nod to the artistic tradition of integrating the real world with the pictorial and involving the viewer in the construction and meaning of the painting while also giving credit to the artist, himself.

Gift of the artist

William H.C. Bartlett

U.S.M.A. Class of 1828

Professor of Natural & Experimental Philosophy 1834 - 1871

by Robert Weir

“He was graduated in 1826 at the head of his class, having passed through the rigid course at West Point without any demerit marks.”

“He was sent abroad in 1840 to procure instruments for the astronomical observations at West Point, and he visited the principal observatories of the world.”


Bartlett graduated number 1 in a class of 41 members in 1826. (173)

After graduation he was appointed assistant professor of Engineering, then in 1827, he rose to the role of principal assistant professor. in 1834 he was assigned to the department of Natural and Experimental Philosophy as acting professor and he held that role until his appointment as full professor in 1836. (173)

Professor Bartlett went abroad to procure materials for West Point’s observatory in the summer of 1840, he traveled to various observatories and workshops throughout Europe to fulfill the task. (176)

William Bartlett was most recognized in his time for his textbooks on Acoustics, Optics, Astronomy, Mechanics, and Molecular Physics. They were used at many schools and colleges and were well known by his contemporaries. (181)

Holden, E. S. (Edward S. (1911) Biographical memoir of William H.C. Bartlett, 1804-1893 / by Edward S. Holden. City of Washington: National Academy of Sciences.

Painted by famous American painter and portraitist Robert Weir who taught drawing to William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler among many, many other cadets.

Weir, R. W. (1891) Catalogue of oil paintings and water colors by Robert W. Weir, N.A. : also his collection of engravings, etchings, illustrated books. New York: Fifth Avenue Art Galleries. (41-43)

Jacob W. Bailey


Professor of Chemistry 1838-1857

Artist Robert W. Weir

Bailey was a professor of Chemistry and Natural Sciences from 1834 (as an assistant professor) until his death in 1857. He completed extensive research about algae, specifically about minor diatomaceae, and Bailey was the first American to discover diatomaceae algae in fossil state. Professor Bailey is also cited as the pioneer of microscopic investigation into plant tissue containing crystals and detecting vegetable structures in the ashes of anthracite.

The artist of the portrait, Robert Weir, was a contemporary of Baily, a professor of Drawing, and a friend. Weir painted the portrait of Professor Baily you see here, and in 1858, Weir wrote the following poem, praising Bailey’s work:

Dear Bailey, you are rich indeed,

Your wealth lies all around.

Your library-superbly vast,

With the blue heav’n is bound,

Each tiny leaf presents a page,

Transmitting from remotest age,

Of teeming thought to thee,

And in the hidden lap of earth,

The mystery of seedling birth-

The secret germ you see,

And Flora for whose charms we sue,

She freely lifts her veil for you.


Ahrens, K. (1974) The Portraits by Robert W. Weir. The American art journal. 6 (1), 13–15.

Albert E. Church

Professor of Mathematics 1837-1878

Born 1808, Died 1878

Artist D. Huntington

While mathematics Professor at USMA, Church continued his own education. He earned his law degree from Yale in 1852 and served as Staff Judge Advocate at the academy.

Albert Church graduated first in the class of 1828 and was commissioned in the artillery. Thayer personally requested that Church remain at West Point to teach mathematics. In 1837, Church became professor of Mathematics at USMA, a position he held for fifty years, until his death in 1878.

As a professor, Church wrote four textbooks that were used by West Point cadets. The books covered topics of Calculus, Geometry, and Trigonometry.

Rickey, V. Frederick and Amy Shell-Gallasch. (2023). Mathematics Education at West Point: The First Hundred Years – Albert E. Church, Mathematics Professor, 1837-1878. Mathematical Association of America.

Edward Singleton Holden

Librarian 1902-1914

Born 1846, Died 1914

Edward Holden graduated from the USMA class of 1870 and was immediately appointed Instructor in Natural Philosophy until 1872, when he was reassigned as Instructor in Practical Military Engineering.

In 1873, Holden was appointed as Professor of Mathematics in the U.S. Navy and left West Point. In the Navy he also provided service as Astronomer in the U.S. Naval Observatory at Washington. All these achievements before he was 28 years old.

In 1881 Professor Holden accepted a civilian Directorship at the Washburn Observatory at the University of Wisconsin, formally resigning his commission in the navy. While at Washburn he was elected the Foreign Associate of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1884. In 1885 Professor Holden was appointed president of the University of California, Director of the Lick Observatory, and earned membership to the National Academy of Sciences.

In 1901, after much experience and many accolades, Professor Holden returned to West Point as the Librarian of the U. S. Military Academy. Professor Holden held the Librarian position with great success for the remainder of his life. He was buried with military honors at West Point Cemetery March 16, 1914.

Campbell, W. W. (1916) Edward Singleton Holden (1846-1914). Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 51 (14), 891–894.

As librarian it was said he “Labored unceasingly, within the means at his command, to make the library meet the legitimate needs of every instructor and every cadet.” (355).

4th Floor

Bust of Napoleon


Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817) Bust by Tracy Sugg

See 4th Floor tab for more information

5th Floor Artwork

Charles Davies

Professor of Mathematics


 Born 1797 - Died 1876

 Artist: H. P. Gray

Edward D. Mansfield provided the following description of Davies as a teacher and text writer, "With the exception of two or three intervals of civil and military service, he was practically a teacher; and whether at West Point for many years or in civil institutions, whether in the instruction of a class or writer of textbooks, or the author of various essays and treatises, he has made his mark on the educational system of this country probably quite as much, if not more, than any man in his generation. It was not merely the class teaching of thirty-two years to thousands of young men, who have gone forth to instruct again the millions of their countrymen, but it was also the producing of the best textbooks on the exact sciences, which have gone into the schools, academies, and colleges of our country, directing the studies, and enlightening the minds of millions of our rising youth. The books and writings of Professor Davies were not those of a brilliant genius. Neither the character of his mind nor the subjects upon which he wrote admitted that; but, with two or three exceptions, they were those simple, familiar textbooks which concentrate and crystallize the light of science."

Winfield Scott

Commanding General U.S. Army 1841 – 1861

Born June 13, 1786, Died May 29, 2866

Painted by James Wright, 1861

Portrait is cited by the Smithsonian here:

1841 – 1861 he was Commanding General of the U.S. Army and an important advisor to Abraham Lincoln among other Presidents.

Retired to West Point, NY

His remains can be found in the West point cemetery.

Lived through the War of 1812, the Mexican American War, and the Civil War.


Henry L. Kendrick

Professor of Chemistry, Minerology, & Geology 1857 - 1880

Born 1812, Died 1891

Artist: D. Huntington

Henry Kendrick graduated along with 55 other cadets in July of 1835. (20)

He was stationed as USMA to serve as the assistant professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology until 1847 when he was relieved from duty at the academy to serve in the war with Mexico. (21).

Captain Kendrick was engaged in the siege of Vera Cruz, the battle of Cerro Gordo, the skirmish of Amazoque and the Defense of Puebla among others from 1846 until 1847. After promotion, Major Kendrick then commanded multiple battalions from Kansas, to New Mexico from 1848 until 1857. (22)

His 11 years of experience as an assistant professor in Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology gave him knowledge that benefitted his frontier service and allowed him to take advantage of every natural opportunity. (24)

In 1857 Major Kendrick was re-appointed to the United States Military Academy as the full professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology. The appointment was made without his application or knowledge, but he was happy to accept the position. (27)

Just as his experiences as a cadet and assistant professor and informed his active-duty service, his experience in the field informed his professorship. His experiences “…kept him in touch and sympathy with many of our graduates long after their cadet lives had ceased. His stories and illustrations given to the cadet came back with fuller meaning to the graduate at his distant post.” (29)

Professor/ Major/ Department Head Kendrick chose to retire in 1880, but continued to be actively involved at west point until his death in 1891. (30-37)

Vincent, M. R. et al. (1892) Col. Henry L. Kendrick, U. S. A. Born, Lebanon, N. H., January 20th, 1811.  Died, New York, May 24th, 1891. New York: E. P. Dutton & company.

Thomas J. Rodman

Brigadier General, U.S.A.

Class of 1841, U.S.M.A.

Distinguished Inventor

Painted by Robert W. Weir

“The crowning act of his life was to have been the building of the immense arsenal and armory, commenced at Rock Island at his suggestion.” -Friday June 9, 1871 (The Late General Rodman, The New York Times)

“Invented prismatic and perforated-cake gunpowder, which burned evenly, providing controlled expansion rather than a sudden shock that might burst a gun barrel. He also invented a system of casting cannon around a hollow core cooled from inside, resulting in a stronger barrel as concentric layers of metal cooled and shrank one upon another.”

Encyclopedia Britannica

Although this portrait was painted after General Rodman’s passing, the artist’s main concern was with realism. Weir depicted General Rodman seemingly tapping his right index finger against the arm of his seat. The suggested movement and his open gaze create a connection between the viewer and the portrait.

Ahrens, K. (1974) The Portraits by Robert W. Weir. The American art journal. 6 (1), 13.

Described as one of America’s most innovative and productive ordinance experts (21), Rodman graduated 7th out of 52 cadets in 1841. He was appointed as Brevet at Allegheny Arsenal in Pittsburgh where he built the first bullet machine that produced by compression rather than casting molten led. He spent most of the Civil War commanding Watertown Arsenal in Massachusetts, and ended his career as commander of the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, where he died at the age of 54. (31)

Masich, Andrew K. (2015) Rodman’s Big Gun. Western Pennsylvania History. Winter 2015-16, 20-31.

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