Study for the Astor Library, New York

Artist: Alexander Jackson Davis (American, New York 1803–1892 West Orange, New Jersey)

Date: 1843

Medium: Watercolor, ink and graphite

Dimensions: Sheet: 20 3/4 x 14 1/2 in. (52.7 x 36.8 cm)

Classifications: Drawings, Ornament & Architecture

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1924

Accession Number: 24.66.419


This striking design for the Astor Library restates Davis' theme of powerful piers and multistoried "Davisean" windows, while the leaning books in the building's pediment show the architect at his most fanciful. Behind the facade was a large rotunda, a circular reading room, which took its inspiration from the Antique Pantheon, but possibly by way of the Radcliffe Library at Oxford or Thomas Jefferson's invention for the library of the University of Virginia.