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Boardman Robinson’s History of Commerce

April 20, 2011 - June 15, 2011

The second floor will featured The History of Commerce, a 10-panel mural by the internationally renowned Boardman Robinson. The mural was commissioned in 1929 by businessman Edgar J. Kaufmann, perhaps best known for his Pennsylvania home, Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece built in 1936.

Soon after completing the mural, Robinson moved to Colorado Springs and served as the director of the prestigious Broadmoor Art Academy, and its successor, the Fine Arts Center School, from 1930-1947.

The panels – each measuring 8’ x 15’ – were originally displayed at the Kaufmann’s department store in downtown Pittsburgh; this will be the first time all 10 panels have been displayed together in decades.

Here’s how Time Magazine described the murals in a Nov. 25, 1929, article: “Beginning with an animated commercial squabble between the Persians and the Arabs, they progress to Carthaginians in the Mediterranean striking a crafty bargain with the Egyptians. Venetians in the Levant when bartering was done with benefit of clergy so that polite thieving was sanctified. Subsequently they show the Portuguese in India, the Dutch in the Baltic, and the English in China, slave traders and clipper ships in the 19th Century U. S. The last is a generalized scene of modern industry— liners in a harbor, airplanes in the air, tall buildings rearing in the background, a sweating structural steel crew. Each unit is related to the whole by composition and color.

“There are no pretty girls, no idealization, no gold leaf.”