Monday, July 11, 2016

When Great Artistic Plans Go Awry

Pity poor Horatio Greenough.  We learned of his work at Middlebury College Art Museum. He is best known (now) for his artistic essays, but he was once a great(ish) sculptor.  His most famous piece graced the East Facade of the Capital for almost 100 years.

Hear is a picture of Abraham Lincoln's 1861 inauguration.  Greenough's statue is circled in red.

But - times change.  And by the 1950's the theme of the statue - the white settler "overcoming" the natives was understood to be pretty racist.  So, after witnessing a hundred years of President's being sworn in in front of it, it was removed and placed in storage somewhere in the basement of the Capital.

Bad enough, delegated to the bowels of the capital.  But in 1976, while work was going on it was removed.  To where it was going is generally thought to be unknown.  What isn't unknown is that it was "accidentally" dropped and smashed.

We learned of this by looking at the only part remaining, the Dog, at the art museum.
The Dog
In scale, with Ed looking at the information.
It is understandable the statue was removed from the capital, as the image picture of the full statue shows below.  Although pretty "All American" at the time, hideously racist now.  But "accidentally" dropping it from a great height seems a bit much.
Racist sure, but also oddly Curcifix-y 
His other "famous" statue was subject to immediate (as opposed to delayed) ridicule.  I will post the Wikipedia details after the picture of Washington's Statue.

The U.S. Congress commissioned Greenough to create a statue of Washington for display in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. When the marble statue arrived in Washington, DC in 1841, however, it immediately generated controversy and criticism. Many found the sight of a half-naked Washington offensive, even comical. The statue was relocated to the east lawn of the Capitol in 1843. Disapproval continued and some joked that Washington was desperately reaching for his clothes,[4] then on exhibit at the Patent Office several blocks to the north. In 1908, the statue was brought back indoors when Congress transferred it to the Smithsonian Castle, where it remained until 1964. It was then moved to the new Museum of History and Technology (now theNational Museum of American History). The marble statue has been exhibited on the second floor of the museum since that time.
Worse, I believe, was the latin expression he carved on to the statue which translates (some might say "brags") ...
The rear base of the statue features a Latin inscription, which reads:
The translation is: "Horatio Greenough made this image as a great example of freedom, and will not survive without freedom itself."

No comments: