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 Page 10 

THE MAY 2011  



By Carlton Hendricks


16 pages - 16,521 words - 33 photo pages

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Harvard Square and  University grounds

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Leavitt & Peirce 

Tobacco Shop

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Basketball Hall of
Fame, Springfield MA

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Harvard University Sports Trophies at Murr Center

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Yale Univ. Trophy Room
at Payne Whitney Gym

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Museum of 
Fine Arts Boston





I saw what must be the best grouping of the white marmorean flock anywhere in America....That is the white marble works that were produced by American expatriates in Italy, Florence mainly, in the early 19th century. Basically in America...if you wanted to be a sculptor back then, everyone went to Italy to learn how.....It was remarkable to see that many works by the masters of that genera. I saw works by William Wetmore Story, Randolph Rogers, Horatio Greenough, and Harriet Hosmer. As I recall, Greenough was the leader of the genera and was from Boston...as was Story and Hosmer...If you understand American sculpture you'll raise your eyebrows when you see all those works in one place. Withstanding gravestone cutters and ship carvers, this was the very beginning of sculpture in the United States. There was one room where three of those  big white marble works dotted the floor surrounded by huge masterwork paintings in period Victorian gold frames hung tight together as many as could fit...on maroon fabric covered walls 15 foot tall....I wish I could show you the photo I took. It was an epicenter of American art....maybe the best room in the whole museum ...Boston sculpture...but from Italy...Italian Boston.... Bostalian...I admit it takes some exposure to really appreciate them...But so does most antiquity. I believe many of the subjects of these white works were steeped in classical literature and Roman Greco mythology...therefore to even begin to understand much MFA_Sculp_Bk_Red_Circle.jpg (555453 bytes)less appreciate them usually one would need to be well read in the classics....which I'm not. I don't believe it's creative in the sense of originality, but the quality of the modeling is very impressive and  as I see it sculpture was getting ready for the next phase later the 19th century. I've had the book American Figurative Sculpture of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in my art reference library about 20 years so I was familiar with the collection going in.



As for non white marmorean sculpture three works stood out...There was a table top edition of the Indian Hunter by John Quincy Adams Ward...Ward studied under Henry Kirk Brown, uncle of Henry Kirk Bush Brown who sculpted IndianHunter CentralParkText.jpg (229569 bytes) one of the matching 1880 baseball players seen on the left of my standing title on my home page and others, the one with his hands up catching a ball. The heroic sized Indian Hunter is in Central Park New York City...I believe I saw the small version for sale once. The one in the MFA had unusual metal retainers each side to prevent it's moving, which were well designed and visually unobtrusive. 


Outside the gallery and by a window near the men's room was a heroic sized bronze, probably 9 foot tall with the base, by Frederick MacMonnies called Bacchante and Infant Faun...of...what else, a nymph holding a baby...MacMonnies was one of the biggest of that useless genera....good execution, good casting...It seemed like kind of an odd location by the window and all but  probably the MFA has to use every inch of space...anyway. UV rays wouldn't hurt bronze and marble....And besides it does liven up any neighborhood.



I was surprised to see "The Puritan" by Augustus Saint-Gaudens 1848 1907, I had never seen the table top version. The Puritan is one of the most striking sculptures I've ever seen...It's striking and it's kind'a creepy...and as good as Saint-Guadens was it's no accident. The message seems to be Pilgrims and people that carry bibles are stern and scary...The work depicts Samuel Chapin who was deacon of a church of some kind in Springfield MA in the mid 1600's. In 1881 a descendent of Samuel Chapin, a Mr. Chester W. Chapin, a railroad tycoon and congressman from Massachusetts, commissioned Saint-Gardens to create a statue of his ancestor for a public monument in Springfield MA. Apparently the figure was popular and other copies of varying size were made.


From what I read about Samuel Chapin it appears his church was a second or off-shoot of "John Eliot's congregation at Roxbury", being Roxbury MA. Today Roxbury is a dissolved municipality and current neighborhood of Boston. From what I cull about John Eliot he was a true man of God, and naturally I would extend that to someone he would send out to start a new church. By all that and that no photograph of Samuel Chapin would have been available from the 1600's. I speculate Saint-Gaudens used artistic license to depict a man of the cloth as rigid, scary looking, and on his way to a flogging. Basically it looks like a really good Halloween getup. Maybe Chester was half tanked and gave the thumbs up when Saint-Gaudens showed it to him.



Once again MFA won't let me show you the picture I took but I did take one of the heroic outdoor edition in Philadelphia in 2007 you can see at bottom middle the page in this link. By the way, next to it on the left is a poor photo of Cyrus Dallin's Medicine Man I took. Which is sibling to the MFA's "Appeal to the Great Spirit" by Dallin which sits directly in front of the MFA's main entrance. Medicine Man was out in the middle of nowhere deep in Philadelphia's Fairmont Park.....I accidentally happened upon it one day while driving around looking for Fredric Remington's "Cowboy"....I knew beforehand Appeal to the Great Spirit was somewhere on the grounds of the MFA but I was a little surprised to see it so prominently placed, almost like a representative of the institution. 




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