The Resource University of Virginia, (architectural drawings)

University of Virginia, (architectural drawings)

University of Virginia, 1821-1825.
University of Virginia
Inclusive dates
This group of documents consists of two pen and ink drawings of the campus of the University of Virginia, showing the Rotunda and the surrounding complex of buildings, and also includes an example of an engraving which was made from the drawings. The two drawings are by John Neilson, an Irish master builder and architect who worked for Jefferson at Monticello and at the University of Virginia. There are slight variations in the two drawings, the most obovious being the room arrangement in the area on either side of the Rotunda portico. A small hinged overlay survives on one of the drawings. This delicate arrangement allows inspection of the plan of the upper and lower floors of the Rotunda. In 1821, Jefferson sent one of the drawings to New York to be engraved by Peter Maverick (1780-1831). In 1824, a second edition, with slight corrections, was ordered. Jefferson is known to have purchased several of the two different editions between 1823 and 1825. The engraving included with the drawings is an example of the second edition of the Maverick prints
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Described
Biographical or historical data
John Neilson was born before 1775 in what is today Northern Ireland and became a naturalized citizen in 1804. Neilson was both a master builder and an architect, working for Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) on Monticello from 1804 to 1808 and for James Madison to execute modifications at Montpelier. Neilson was also architect for Gen. John Hartwell Cocke's home, "Bremo," in Fluvanna County. Neilson and James Dinsmore (ca. 1771-1830) were appointed the principal builders at the University of Virginia, collaborating on the Anatomical Hall (demolished) and the Rotunda. Neilson served as master carpenter for Pavilions IX and X. Neilson was also the principal draftsman for the construction of the University of Virginia. A skilled drawing of the Rotunda and flanking pavilions (ca. 1823, now in the collection of the University of Virginia Library) once believed to have been created by Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, Jefferson's granddaughter, is now attributed to Neilson.
Cataloging source
University of Virginia, (architectural drawings)
  • Located in the Library of Virginia General Architectural Files, Folder 19
  • CD # 17 and 20
  • The Library of Virginia
  • 43 x 51cm.
  • 47 x 53 cm.
  • 2 sheets
  • 1 sheet
Immediate source of acquisition
Donor information unavailable.
Other physical details
  • Pencil, pen and ink, and ink washes
  • Engraving
Terms governing use
All requests for reproduction of architectural drawings must be made through the Library of Virginia Photographic Services Department.

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
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