Art has long been an important offering in the curriculum at Notre Dame. “Drawing and painting have been always favorite studies at Notre Dame, and improvements will be made to render these studies more attractive during the coming year [1870-1871]. Casts, busts, and valuable paintings will be procured for the use of the drawing class, directed by Prof. C.A.B. Von Weller and Bro. Albert” [University catalog, 1869-1870, page 71].
Art class posed outside with their paintings and drawings, c1860s-1870s
Notre Dame has also been able to attract notable artists to the faculty, such as Luigi Gregori, Rev. Anthony Lauck, CSC, and Ivan Mestrovic, whose works continue to adorn campus.
Rev. Anthony Lauck teaching an Art Sculpture Class in a studio in the Main Building, Spring Semester 1953
Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh and Ivan Mestrovic in an Art Studio, c1960s
Notre Dame also has a long history of collecting art since the 1800s. In 1917, University President Rev. John Cavanaugh, CSC, obtained 136 paintings from Monseigneur Marois of Quebec. Charles Wightman added another 108 masterpieces and became benefactor of the Wightman Memorial Gallery, housed in the University Library (now Bond Hall).
In 1932, the University hired Dr. Maurice H. Goldblatt as director of the Art Gallery. He was a prominent authority on identifying originals from forgeries by examining chemical compositions of the paints and by using such tools as ultraviolet rays, x-rays, spectographs, and lightoscopes. He worked on many high-profile international cases, including forgeries of the Mona Lisa.
Dr. Maurice Goldblatt, Director of the Wightman Art Collection, beside the fireplace of Francisco Borgia II in the Frederick H. Wickett Memorial Collection, c1933
The Snite Museum of Art was dedicated in 1980. Notre Dame continues to collect and preserve important works and host traveling exhibits, including student work. As such, the Snite Museum of Art is a valuable resource to the University and to the broader community.