When students go back to school or college this fall, they will be on a quest to acquire knowledge. Learning can improve an individual’s life opening the door to new opportunities. The new knowledge that is acquired can even change the world. Throughout our lives we never stop learning, for we learn something new each day. When R.H. Ives Gammell, who was a renowned American muralist, painted a mural at the Main Newark Public Library, called, “Apollo at The Fountain of Knowledge,” he painted men, women and a young boy all searching for knowledge. There are nine muses who hold the waters of The Fountain of Knowledge. Gammell used the symbol of water in his mural, for water is an important element that sustains life. Without water, humanity cannot survive.
R.H. Ives Gammell was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1893 to wealthy and highly educated family. He was home schooled till the age of 12 and then attended Groton School. Growing up, he spent the summers with his family traveling to Europe. At other times, he stayed with his family at their estate in Newport. His upbringing certainly influenced his art. As a young man, he studied art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and he also studied art in Paris. He left school in Paris to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I.
When Gammell returned from the war, he dedicated himself solely to creating fine art. He painted murals for private homes and for public buildings. He also traveled to Europe and North Africa to learn more about art. In addition to creating murals, he also painted portraits. He became an art teacher who influenced his students to follow in his footsteps. He published several books about art: Twilight of Painting, The Shoptalk of Edgar Degas and The Boston Painters.
When Gammell died in 1981, he left the world a legacy. The Library of Congress and The Boston Public Library have murals created by Gammell on their walls. The mural, “Apollo at The Fountain of Knowledge,” created by Gammmell, was first unveiled to the public on May 18th 1929 at the Main Newark Public Library. Can you imagine how fascinated the public must have been when they saw this masterpiece? Still today people gaze at this remarkable work of art, even if they are in a hurry.