Art History — Office Art with Interesting Backstories

Artwork from Sidley Austin, LLP

Some of us never get around to decorating our offices. For others, “decorating” means hanging up that free motivational calendar you received in the mail, or taping a family photo to the wall by your computer screen. This is not the case for David Rogers, Reference Librarian at Sidley Austin, LLP.

If you ever have a chance to visit David’s office, you will have an opportunity to admire pieces of art that are not only beautiful, but have interesting histories as well—from a valuable lithograph rescued from the trash, to a watercolor won in a grade school raffle, to a family heirloom with ties to Chicago.

Wreck of the Old 97
“Wreck of the Old 97,” by John McCrady.

“Wreck of the Old 97” is a lithograph by American artist John McCrady (1911-1968). It depicts a train that crashed in Virginia in 1903, while speeding to deliver the mail on time. David has found that, according to most auction sites, about 250 copies were created in 1946, and at least one copy recently sold for about $3,700. This lithograph has even been featured on Antiques Roadshow!

So where did David obtain his copy? An art auction or a charming antique store, perhaps? Not quite. A family member spotted the lithograph in a garbage bin outside of a building that was being renovated. Knowing that David is a fan of trains, the family member rescued the print from the trash and had it mounted and framed as a Christmas present.

Watercolor by Bill Baily
Watercolor of Mt. Hood, by Bill Baily

This watercolor of Mt. Hood is by Bill Baily, a well-known artist from Lake Oswego, Oregon. David won the watercolor at a raffle while he was still in grade school. David said, “I remember being too afraid to ask the neighbors to buy [raffle] tickets, so my Mom had to buy them all.” This strategy clearly paid off! The painting hung in his parents’ dining room for forty years or so, before finding a new home at Sidley Austin.

A family heirloom
Painting by Hubert Lewis

This painting by Hubert Lewis, David’s great-grandfather, also hangs in David’s office. In 1893, Lewis received an Honorable Mention at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Thank you David, for sharing your art with us!