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New online gallery honors MCV leaders' portraits

June 26, 2017

As the Medical College of Virginia (MCV), a predecessor institution of Virgnia Commonwealth University, grew, students and faculty established a tradition in the 1920s of honoring long-time administrative officers and department heads with commissioned portraits. Physicians who were trained by a "chief" would commonly offer a portrait to commemorate 25 or 30 years of service to the college.

These honorifics, along with portraits of other luminaries -- deans, founders, and early supporters -- comprise a significant body of portraiture held by VCU Libraries. While most works are examples of period American studio oil work, conveying gravitas by framing the subject in formal dress, a handful of portraits reach into modernist composition and form.

While this tradition has largely been superseded by other honors for distinguished faculty, including endowed chairs, scholarships, and lectures, the MCV Campus Portrait Collection pays tribute to some of the university's most dedicated servants. For additional information and to view the portraits, please contact Tompkins-McCaw Library Special Collections and Archives.

Explore this biographical and portrait exhibit.

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