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University of Pennsylvania
Fairman Rogers by Joseph DeCamp (c. 1880s).

Fairman Rogers (1833-1900) was an American civil engineer, educator, and philanthropist, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rogers graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1853, and taught civil engineering there from 1855 to 1871. He was one of four professors who founded its Department of Mines, Arts and Manufacturers (1855), and he served as a University Trustee (1871-86). As an undergraduate, he was a founding member of its Zeta Psi Fraternity, Sigma Chapter (1850).

Rogers served in the Union Cavalry during the American Civil War. As a volunteer officer in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, he completed an 1862 survey of the Potomac River.

He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the Academy of Natural Sciences, and a charter member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was the author of Terrestrial Magnetism and the Magnetism of Iron Ships (1877, revised 1883).

Furness and Eakins

As chairman of the Building Committee for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Rogers ran the 1871 design competition for the museum-and-art-school's new building, which was won by the young firm of Furness & Hewitt. His sister, Helen Kate, was married to the Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness, brother of the PAFA-commission-winning architect Frank Furness.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
A May Morning in the Park (1879-80) by Thomas Eakins.

Rogers served as chairman of PAFA's Committee on Instruction (1878-83), recruited the controversial artist Thomas Eakins back to teach at the school, and commissioned an important painting from him. Rogers was an avid coaching enthusiast, founder of the Philadelphia Coaching Club, and author of what is still the definitive guide to the sport, A Manual of Coaching (Philadelphia: 1900). Eakins combined Rogers's love of science with his love of coaching in A May Morning in the Park (1879-80) -- also known as The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand -- the first painting in history to demonstrate precisely how horses move based on systematic photographic analysis. It shows Rogers, his wife, and friends driving through Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. In 1882, he promoted Eakins to director of PAFA's art school.

In 1883, Rogers invited the animal-locomotion photographer Eadweard Muybridge to lecture at PAFA. This led to Muybridge's moving from California to Philadelphia, and continuing his research at the University of Pennsylvania's Veterinary School.

Frank Furness designed "Fairholme" (1874-75, now altered), Rogers's summer cottage in Newport, Rhode Island. Rogers had a country house in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, and a Philadelphia townhouse on Rittenhouse Square, that Furness later altered for Alexander J. Cassatt.

Horace Howard Furness wrote a biographical memoir of his brother-in-law: F. R. [Fairman Rogers] 1833-1900 (Philadelphia: privately printed, 1903). A March 2007 exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania, Equus Unbound: Fairman Rogers and the Age of the Horse, highlighted materials from his papers.

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