Transcribing Nature

Sarah Nutting's art class, 1890

Dr. Charles Blanchard’s eloquent, undated address to a graduating art class demonstrates Wheaton College’s commitment to artistic endeavor solidly grounded in the principles of the Christian faith.

“Young ladies of the class graduating in art: I have been requested by your principal and yourselves to preside on this occasion, and to hand to you these testimonials of your patience, industry and ability in your chosen profession. It is with pleasure that I comply with your request. The artist is the transcriber of nature. In sculpture, graphic representation and colors, she reproduces the forms of beauty which in the heaven above and on the earth below God has provided for the enjoyment of his rational creatures. The artist, if her aim be lofty, her ambition pure from the taint of selfishness, is one of the world’s most highly honored workers. The names of Praxetiles, Zeuxis, Raphael, Angelo, Da Vinci, Rubens and Andora will, through all the ages to come, as through the ages past and in the living present, stand aside the names of those men who in military life or in council halls or in the sacred desks have been honored servants of God and honest workers among men. For you also there is a place not, perhaps, so prominent, but certainly as worthy in this great field of human life. That you will faithfully perform your appointed duty we have we have reason to hope from the manner in which you have for these years past walked before us, and handing to you as I do the diplomas of the institution, testifying your completion of the course which you have pursued, I do so with gladness and hope and wishes for your highest prosperity and widest usefulness.”

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