Drawing counted among the 25 departments with which the Leland Stanford Junior University opened its doors in 1891. In its second year the Department of Drawing became the Department of Drawing and Painting. Students consulting the “Annual Register” of that year encountered numerous references to the art of drawing, both as a useful skill that students should demonstrate and refine and as an aesthetic phenomenon to be cultivated and appreciated.
On applying to Stanford, prospective students were required to “present themselves for examination in ten [out of 26] subjects,” one of which was “freehand drawing.” The Department of Drawing understood the educational aim of its courses as imparting “the power to observe visible facts, skill to record them, intelligence to understand them, and esthetic sensibility to feel their significance and beauty.” Practical classes in still life and landscape were offered alongside others that were more theoretical in nature, such as the class listed as “Analytical study of the drawings of Dürer, Rembrandt, Titian, Raphael, Holbein, Turner, and contemporary masters.” Nor was drawing restricted to the department of that name. Engineers received instruction in different aspects of draftsmanship, such as “linear drawing and descriptive geometry.” Meanwhile, the Museum had begun building its collection of art and artifacts.
Bolton Coit Brown, born in 1864, was the first chairman of the Department of Drawing and Painting. In 1902, however, Brown was forced to resign because of his use of nude models posing in his advanced life-drawing class. Jane Stanford initially ordered segregation of the class by sex, then halted the use of nude models altogether.