This architect's drawing was reproduced in the April 23, 1912 Union and Advertiser, announcing that "Mrs. James S. Watson Gives Magnificent Art Gallery to Rochesterians as a Memorial to Her Son, James G. Averell."
A Renaissance "Jewelbox"
The Gallery's architecture was influenced by the early Italian Renaissance, with some features adapted from the church of S. Francesco in Rimini, Italy, which had been redesigned by Leon Battista Alberti for the Malatesta family in 1450.
Designed by John Gade (husband of Emily Sibley Watson's niece) of Foster and Gade of New York, the Gallery's 1913 building is very similar to the Morgan Library in New York, which was designed by McKim, Mead & White between 1902 and 1906.
Honoring Memory and the Arts
The architectural details connect the building's twin functions: an art museum that is also a memorial to the life of Emily Sibley Watson's son James G. Averell.
On the lower facade, memorial lamps and laurel wreaths enclosing the initials "JGA" attest to the building's memorial function. Above, portrait medallions of Raphael, Michelangelo, Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci as well as bas-reliefs representing Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Music speak of the building's dedication to art.