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Brought to you by The Developing Librarian team at Columbia University

Murals at Other Institutions

Self Portrait

Eugene Francis Savage, Self-Portait (1924) from the collection of the National Academy of Design, New York.

The Imagination That Directs the University's Spiritual and Intellectual Efforts

The Imagination that Directs the University's Spiritual and Intellectual Efforts, 1931. Mural by Eugene Francis Savage located in Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University.

Spirit of the Land Grant College

Spirit of the Land Grant College, 1961. Mural by Eugene Francis Savage located in Memorial Hall, Purdue Univeristy, Indiana.

Videbimus Lumen

Videbimus Lumen, 1934 by Eugene Francis Savage

Eugene Francis Savage was an American painter and sculptor (1883-1978).[1] The self-portrait shows the 41-year-old artist ten years before painting Videbimus Lumen, the Butler Library Mural. Savage was trained as an artist at the Corcoran School of Art and at the American Academy of Art in Rome after winning the Prix de Rome.[2] Savage was influenced by renaissance art during his three years in Rome illustrated by his choice of mediums – mural painting and sculpture- and also in his classical style. In 1923, Savage joined the faculty of the Yale University School of Art.

Several university libraries contain murals by Savage. The mural, The Imagination That Directs the University’s Spiritual and Intellectual Efforts, in Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University was painted in 1931 and was the first large-scale mural Savage painted for a university. The Yale Public art page states “Like his Latin American contemporaries Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, Savage created murals in the 1930s as powerful public statements, but his large-scale works contain not political but academic messages, commending settings like the libraries of Columbia and Yale to elite and studious audiences.”[3]

Videbimus Lumen was painted three years after the mural at Yale, but a full 27 years before Savage’s last university commission at Purdue University in Indiana.[4]  The Purdue mural, The Spirit of the Land Grant College, is very similar in style to the first two murals at Yale and Columbia. The grand, life-size figures dominate the composition painted in a classical style. All three murals contain a robed figure representing education. However, In subject matter and composition, The Spirit of the Land Grant College and Videbimus Lumen are much more alike than the Yale mural.


[1] Information about Eugene Francis Savage from Getty Vocabulary Program. Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)®. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust, Vocabulary Program, 1988. (7 July 2015)

[2] All biographical information on Savage from, Wageman, Virginia; Freshman, Paul, eds. (2004). Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design: 1826–1925 (1st ed.). Hudson Hills. pp. 492–493. ISBN 9781555950293. Retrieved 6 April 2014.

[3] "Public Art at Yale". Yale University. Retrieved 15 July 2015.

Murals at Other Institutions