Where is the Original George Ade Portrait?

The portrait of George Ade presently hanging in the chapter library is not the painting of George Ade ‘1887 that many brothers remembered from their days at Delta Delta.
Ade Portrait by Robert Grafton 1911

George Ade portrait painted by Robert Grafton in 1911. (Prior to restoration)

Original Ade Portrait Painted in 1911

The original 50 ½”H x 32 ¼”W oil on canvas portrait of George Ade was painted by well-regarded regional artist Robert Grafton in 1911 and was on display in the Sig house from 1913 to 2004.

After residing in the Sig house for 91 years the Ade portrait was in very poor condition. The lack of air conditioning in the house meant the painting was subjected to fluctuating temperatures and humidity that led to significant deterioration of the portrait.

Portraits Appraised

In November 2003 the House Corporation had the Ade portrait appraised and a restoration plan proposed. The Ade painting’s replacement value was assessed at $50,000 and it was noted that without immediate conservation it would continue to deteriorate.

At the same time the portraits of Bennett Taylor ‘1889 and Clarence Bivens ‘1892 that also resided in the library were appraised and examined.  Both portraits were painted by Lafayette area artist George Wilstach in 1945. Their appraised value was $7500 each and they also required minor restoration and cleaning.

Portrait Restoration Undertaken

All three paintings were sent to the Intermuseum Conservation Association in Cleveland, OH, where they were repaired, cleaned and reframed. The estimated cost to perform this work was $9500.  A “Restore George, Bivvy and Uncle Ben” portrait restoration campaign led by Phil Steele ’77 was undertaken and $12,500 was raised from contributions from 178 alumni.  This work provided for the long-term stability and preservation of the paintings. The restored paintings were returned to Delta Delta in June 2004.

Ade portrait at Ross Ade stadium

Restored Ade portrait on display at Ross Ade Stadium.

Ade Portrait Moved to Ross Ade Stadium

Upon the complete restoration of the 1911 Ade portrait, it was deemed too valuable to hang in the chapter house.  Under the guidance of Jim Vruggink, Delta Delta’s Faculty Advisor, arrangements were made to loan the portrait to Purdue.  The full-length Ade portrait is now on display at Ross Ade Stadium with some of his original books and a detailed description of Ade’s contributions to Purdue and Sigma Chi.

A duplicate painting of the original was made in 2004 and hung in the library where the original portrait had resided.  In 2007 a new portrait of George Ade was commissioned and is on display with those of Bivens, Taylor, Keith Krach ‘79, Gerald Hines’46 and Bruce Harreld ’72 in the chapter library.

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