Eakins horsed around with Penn prof

Illustration by Bo Brown


Dear Benny,
When I was in the Towne Building recently, I noticed a portrait of Fairman Rogers. Is this the same guy immortalized in the Thomas Eakins painting “The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand”? The dates (and, of course, names and locale) seem plausible.
—Art History Geek

Dear David Brownlee Wannabe,
Indeed he is. Besides serving as a professor of civil engineering at Penn from 1855 to 1870, Fairman Rogers (C 1853), one of the original members of the National Academy of Sciences, was also a noted equestrian—he was one of the three founding donors to the School of Veterinary Medicine, and his 1899 work “A Manual of Coaching” was recently reprinted for horse enthusiasts.

The Eakins painting, which depicts Rogers driving a horse-drawn coach in Fairmount Park, is also the first painting to accurately depict the movement of the horses’ legs based on Eadweard Muybridge’s animal motion photographs. Eakins and Muybridge maintained a close correspondence during the 1870s, and in 1884, Provost William Pepper invited the Californian to continue his animal motion studies at Penn.

Dear Benny,
I keep getting phone calls asking for info about the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP)—the group that brings lots of Philadelphia kids to campus for fun and games in the summer. The callers have the wrong number, but I don’t know what the right number is. Can you track down this mystery?
—Sorry, Wrong Number

Dear Hung-Up,
I guess that if this number were in the phone book, you wouldn’t be asking me this question. It turns out it’s a good thing you did.

The Recreation Department has opted to take community summer sports camping in a different direction this year. Instead of offering NYSP camps, scholarships to attend the new PennKids camp (“Campus Buzz,” Current, Feb. 13) will be offered through churches, schools and community organizations in West and Southwest Philadelphia. Information about the scholarships will be distributed in mid-March. Anyone wishing more information should e-mail pennkids@pobox.upenn.edu; there is no phone number for information.

Originally published on February 27, 2003