Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Francis Quirk and the Lehigh University Art Gallery

Lehigh University has a long history with art dating back to its first exhibit in 1865 when the institution was founded by businessman Asa Packer. For the first twenty years the school was free, but tuition was eventually instated due to financing challenges.While it seems odd now, the school did not become coeducational until the 1971-72 academic year.

The Lehigh University Art Department was established in 1926 and run by Garth Howland who studied Moravian Architecture and brought in guest artists as teachers during World War II.

In 1950, Quirk succeeded Howland and initially taught an art appreciation course. He also is listed that same year as Director of Exhibits and became Curator of the Collection in 1959. In addition to his work with the collection, he was also a professor of Fine Art. In 1957, he is listed as Chairman of the Department of Fine Arts. In 1962, he won the University's Lindbeck Award for distinguished teaching. He retired from the school in 1969.

Curator Francis J. Quirk with Ralf Wilson Lehigh University Alumni

Francis Quirk discussing a painting with philanthropist Ralph L. Wilson   Courtesy of a Lehigh University Photographic Collection

Quirk also worked to groom donors and build the collection. These include Ralph Wilson who would later give several important paintings including works by Warhol, Prendergast, Matisse, Marsden Hartley, Ellsworth Kelly, Glackens and others.

Portrait of Mrs. Edith King by Maurice Prendergast  Image Courtesy of Lehigh University Art Gallery


A Summer Rain by Charles Burchfield  Image Courtesy of Lehigh University Art Gallery
Nude Dressing Hair by William Glackens   Image Courtesy of Lehigh University Art Gallery


Like any University or Department thereof, the leader takes on what is there from the predecessor, molds it and then leaves it for the following leader to begin the remolding process anew. One thing is clear. And that is that Quirk left a fine foundation for those of them to build upon.

The Lehigh University Art Gallery (LUAG) was established in the 1980's by Professor Ricardo Viera and is the Teaching Museum at Lehigh University. LUAG maintains and develops the university’s world-class art collection, which now numbers over 13,000 objects, presenting exhibitions in seven galleries located throughout Lehigh’s three campuses. The collection and exhibition schedule is extensive.

More than twenty exhibitions a year introduce students and the community to current topics in art, architecture, history, science, and technology. The exhibition schedule is supplemented by lectures, films, workshops, and research opportunities in the teaching collection. The galleries occupy exhibition, storage, office and workshop space in several campus locations. The Main Gallery and Lower Gallery teaching collection exhibitions are in the Zoellner Arts Center. Other galleries are: DuBois Gallery, Maginnes Hall; the Gallery at Rauch Business Center; Girdler Student Gallery, University Center; and Siegel Gallery, Iacocca Hall on the Mountaintop Campus. The Muriel and Philip Berman Sculpture Gardens are located on Memorial Walkway, Mountaintop Campus, and Saucon Fields on the Murray H. Goodman Campus. The Ralph L. Wilson Study Gallery is located in Building J, Mountaintop Campus and available by appointment.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Francis Quirk and The Still Life

In our research on Francis Quirk we have found remarkably little in the still life genre. He does include plants, coffee cups and books in his portraits, but we have only found this one still life. A pastel that was auctioned in Maine late in 2016.

He does capture the reflections in the bowl nicely and, of course, the massive drapery.

Francis J. Quirk  Pastel Still Life, Quirk Painter. Quirk Artist
Pastel Still Life by Francis J. Quirk

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Francis Quirk Profiled as a Dynamo in 1951 Lehigh University Alumni Bulletin

Professor Francis Quirk Cover Story Lehigh Alumni Bulleting
Cover Model and Artist Francis Quirk is featured on the Lehigh Alumni Bulletin

The Smithsonian Institution graciously provided materials from their file on Francis Quirk. In it was a fascinating cover profile piece in the October 1951 issue of the Lehigh Alumni Bulletin. It describes Quirk and his impressive accomplishments in his first year at the school. Here are a few of his year one accomplishments.


  • Leading a Committee to create gallery space that delivered its recommendation report 24 hours after formation
  • Began an inventory of the art on Cam,pus
  • Getting the Gallery Space in Memorial Hall open
  • Starting an Art Loan Program
  • Accepting two significant painting donations from Ralph Wilson (this would be the beginning of a significant relationship)
  • Expanding the Art Curriculum
  • Innovating new schedules to increase use of the Art Studios
  • Implementing an Art Piece of the Week Program that highlights a student work of note with public display
  • Executing 6 paintings and 12 portraits
A campus observer describes him as a man  who can  "ride off in four directions at the same time and  get  to all  of them."

A quote about Quirk mentions his love of Maine and boats.
"People, next to Maine, boats, dogs, and children, are the most  exciting things on  earth-   except of   course,   Art."

To access the full document you can click here.



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Francis Quirk Image Library

We have accumulated images of all the known  oil paintings of Francis Quirk that we have been able to locate and placed them into a slideshare presentation. (The University of Notre Dame Snite Museum does not allow reproductions of their works to be shared. Thus their holding is not included.)

We know that there are many other works out there as a profile in the Lehigh University Alumni Magazine from 1951 mentions that he executed 6 canvases and over a dozen portraits in the previous year. You can visit the Image Library Presentation through this link.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Nautical or Maritime Watercolor Paintings by Francis Quirk

We had a rather extensive backlog of images of Francis J. Quirk's watercolors that we had not shared. These images come from works that were auctioned in Maine in September of 2016.

The watercolors vary in subject matter and style. The first two of Mary in the boatyard contain considerable detail.Others are less detailed with one executed in a cubist style. They were probably executed during his summers at Peterspen North, his home in the Kinney Shores area of Saco, Maine.

The painting with the boat passing the lighthouse appears to have similar coast to an oil painting that was recently auctioned in Maine. 

The final image is of a pencil sketch of a yacht race that he only began to fill in with paint. We included it as it showed his working method. 



Lobsterboat Painting, Maine Artist, Quiirk
Scraping the Lobste Boat Mary Maine Watercolor by Francis Quirk
Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Lobsterboat Maintenance Watercolor by Francis Quirk


Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Maritime Watercolor by Francis Quirk

Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Maritime Watercolor by Francis Quirk



Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Maritime Watercolor by Francis Quirk



Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Sailboat Watercolor Painting by Francis J. Quirk

Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Maritime Watercolor by Francis Quirk

Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Maritime Watercolor by Francis Quirk

Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Maritime Watercolor by Francis Quirk

Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Maritime Watercolor by Francis Quirk


Maine Artist Francis Quirk,  Maritime Painting
Pencil Sketch of Incomplete Sailboat Race Watercolor by Francis Quirk