Decorative Sculpture at the Pan-American
The use of sculpture for decorative purposes in exposition architecture has increased from year to year since the great English exposition in 1853. There the buildings and grounds were entirely unadorned with sculpture, and the statuary was concentrated entirely in one of the buildings as a mere exhibit, where its effectiveness was lost. The Columbian Exposition at Chicago, in 1893, and the recent great world's fair at Paris marked splendid progress in the expansion of this idea. At the Pan-American Exposition, at Buffalo, the coming summer, the use of allegorical sculpture for the adornment of buildings and grounds will be on a more extensive scale than at any previous exposition.
The Buffalo exposition has been so planned as to bring the buildings of the main group into a most admirable composition about two great intersecting courts, the "Esplanade" and the “Court of Fountains." This gives a very imposing appearance, and also ministers to the comfort of the visitor, who can thus reach the principal buildings without becoming exhausted by long walks between different parts of the grounds. To be sure, there are some important buildings that do not face upon these courts, such as the Art Gallery and the New York State Building, which are charmingly ensconced among the trees of Delaware Park, and the State and Foreign buildings, which are in the southeastern part of the grounds, but readily accessible from that part of the transverse court called the “Esplanade." They have themselves been placed in an admirable composition about a central court. The Electric Tower divides the - Court of Fountains " from the “Plaza," so that the latter is really a continuation of the plain court. Upon the "Plaza" front the elaborately decorated buildings which form the entrance to the Midway and the Stadium, and the ornamental approach from the railway station called the Propylea.
The greatest effect in the way of sculptural adornment will be made in the two courts, the "Esplanade" and the "Court of Fountains," each as large as the main court at any previous exposition.
The main entrance to the grounds is from the south into Delaware Park through a boulevard named Lincoln Parkway. Near this entrance the white marble Albright Art Gallery is being constructed, but the time was found too short to complete the building for use as the exposition art building, and a temporary art gallery is being erected near by. Here also is the New York State Building. Further on are the "Approaches," and then a still wider space known as the “Fore Court," with terraces and balustrades like the Luxembourg Gardens. From here one passes to the "Triumphal Bridge," which ushers him into the midst of the exposition. The bridge will be a stately structure swung from four monumental piers, one hundred feet in height. Each pier will be surmounted by a sculptural group - a muscular youth on the back of a horse thirty feet in height, which rears above a mass of trophies indicative of feudalism, slavery, and subordination to tyrannical power, the whole expressing the triumphal struggle of the people of the United States to free themselves from the institutions of despotic ages and governments. These groups were modeled by Karl Bitter, the Director of Sculpture. The piers of the bridge were designed by Mr. John M. Carrere, chairman of the Board of Architects. Terminating the buttresses to the piers are four groups of trophies, typifying “Peace and Power," modeled by Mr. Augustus Lukenlan. The cables connecting the piers and running north and south carry enormous festoons, shields of polished copper, flags, and coats of aims of the various Pan-American countries. In the niches on the side of the bridge will be statues symbolical of Charity, Love of Truth, Patriotism, Liberty, etc. On each side of the bridge will be fountains composed of groups of rearing horses and figures clustered about a tall pole, from which a huge silken flag will float. The fountain on the east will typify the Atlantic Ocean, and that on the west the Pacific, with one base uniting the two. The sculpture in connection with these is by Philip Martiny. The water from these fountains gushes forth from the side of the bridge in a massive waterfall into the Mirror Lake, passing through the subterranean grotto which is to constitute one of the unusual features of the exposition. This grotto has been modeled after the famous Buttes de Chaumont at Paris, by Mr. Rudolf Ulrich, the landscape architect. There will be stalactites hanging from the vaulted roof, the walls will be formed of roots of trees over which water will trickle down, and the hidden phosphorescent light will add to the cavern-like effect.
The electric launches plying on the Grand Canal and the Mirror Lake will pass under the bridge through this grotto. Along the water-front of the “Esplanade," extending east and west from the bridge, will be white and colored pergolas with bright-colored awnings and climbing green vines. They will be used as open-air restaurants and will serve as attractive shelters, in contrast to the wide open space of the “Esplanade." Opposite the Triumphal Bridge, across the “Esplanade," is the "Fountain of Abundance," designed by Mr. Carrere. It is to be composed of myriads of bubbling jets and spillways in a perfect degringolade of water, and of sculptural bits surrounding a central group, composed especially to consummate the whole, by Mr. Philip Martiny. The subject of this group is that of the fountain - “Abundance." A dancing female figure tosses a garland of flowers to a circle of cherubs who are also dancing, hand in hand, and tossing fruits and flowers at her feet. There will be three fountain groups in each of the two basins at the extremities of the “Esplanade." The central fountain will be the sculptural note of each of the two subordinate fountains balancing it. On the west, in front of the Horticulture Building, the subject for the central fountain is -Nature," by Mr. George T. Brewster. A female figure emblematic of nature surmounts the group. At her feet are cherubs on clouds, and beneath them, seated upon a globe, figures of the four elements. The globe is supported on consoles terminating in figures symbolical of the four seasons ; and between them, and beneath, as if moving with the globe, are suspended the figures of the four winds. The whole stands in the water on a splayed plinth, decorated on each of its twelve sides with the signs of the zodiac. Of the two subordinate fountains, one is the "Fountain of Kronos," and the other the “Fountain of Ceres." In the “ Fountain of Kronos," F. Edwin Elwell portrays the god standing on the back of a turtle, suggesting the sluggishness of time, while its swift flight is represented by a vigorous forward movement in the outstretched body and winged arms. There is the suggestion of an aged countenance through the veil, which typifies the mystery of time. Around him in the water are figures of prehistoric animals. The “Fountain of Ceres " is also by Mr. Elwell. The goddess is represented as emerging from the earth in the early morning after her visit to leer daughter Proserpine, and she salutes the sun by presenting an ear of corn. Ceres has her foot on the head of an ox, that must toil to produce the fruits of nature. As she is goddess of both land and water plants, she is accompanied by strange half-horse, half-fish animals.
The large groups on the pedestal around the fountain suggest the same theme of nature according to Mr. Bitter's scheme. The first set of two balancing groups have for their subject mineral wealth; the second two, floral wealth; and the two front groups, toward the center of the "Esplanade," animal wealth. Charles H. Niehaus, Bela L. Pratt, and E. C. Potter are, respectively, the sculptors of these groups.
At the opposite end of the “Esplanade," near the Government buildings, Hercules, Prometheus, and other heroes of Greek mythology again greet the vision. The predominating idea of this end of the "Esplanade" is “ Man." This is the subject of the main fountain, by Charles Grafly. Man, the Mysterious, draped and half veiled, stands upon a pedestal borne by figures typifying the five senses, while under a huge lower basin outlined against cavernous shadows may be discerned through the dripping waters the writhing forms of the virtues struggling against the vices. The whole pile rises to a height of fifty-three feet. R. Hinton Perry is the sculptor of the minor fountains. Hercules, typifying physical force, is the subject of one of these, and he is portrayed just after lie has slain the seven-headed hydra and is receiving the thanks of a grateful people. In the other fountain, Prometheus, typifying intellectual power, is shown in the act of giving to mankind the fire that for their sake he has stolen from heaven. He is also imparting to them wisdom and knowledge. He carries a torch typifying enlightenment, and points heavenward, whence it came Hercules and Prometheus are selected for these groups as representing two types of the mythological benefactors and champions of mankind.
The sculpture in connection with the “ Court of Fountains" contains among others the following subjects: The main fountain, ”The Genius of Man," by far the largest and most imposing of all the fountains, composed of about seventeen figures and sea horses, and the two subordinate fountains, “ Human Intellect"and “Human Emotions." These are by 'Mr. Paul W. Bartlett, the author of the statue of Lafayette just presented by the school children of the United States to the French nation.
Charles L. Lopes is at work on two groups for this court, in concord with the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building and the Machinery Building, which front on this court. The subjects are “The Arts" and “The The Sciences." In the former, “Minerva," as patroness of the arts, occupies the main position of the group. Seated on a throne she holds in her left hand a staff. The right arm is resting on the sweeping curve of a classic chair. She is robed in Grecian draperies and her shield, on which is the head of Medusa, is beneath her sandaled feet. The emblems traditionally associated with the Goddess of Wisdom, the owl, serpent, laurel, and oak, are seen in the surroundings of the figure. “Sculpture" and “Painting" are represented in this group by one figure, that of a youth seated, his left hand holding a palette carelessly thrown across the lap of Athene. In his right hand he holds a small Victory, which he is studying. A young girl, representing “Lyric Poetry," holds in her right hand a lyre. The sciences are also portrayed by figures equally typical and representative. Other groups typical of “Agriculture" and “Manufacture " are by Mr. A. Phimister Proctor, while ranged along the sides of the main fountain will be placed single figures carefully selected from the studios of the American sculptors. Two subordinate groups in the head of the fountain, “The Birth of Venus " and “The The Birth of Athene," are by Mr. Tonetti and by Mrs. Tonetti, nee Mary Lawrence, who was the sculptress of the statue of Columbus in front of the Administration Building at the World's Fair at Chicago. Balustrades and decorative objects, vases of flowers and ornamental lamp posts, orange trees, and awning-covered seats will complete the furnishings of the “Court of Fountains," the jets of which will attain in many cases to a height of fifty feet.
In the sculpture designed for the Electric Tower there is a wide field for the expression of allegorical ideas. The tower as a whole represents the power of the elements. One phase of this power is the mysterious force of electricity, and happily this force can be taken as the predominating note of the composition. The topmost pinnacle of the tower will be occupied by a statue, by Herbert Adams, of the “Goddess of Light," which, executed in hammered brass, will be a dazzling object, whether reflecting the rays of the still by day or the artificial light produced at night by the current from the harnessed Niagara. Air. Bitter himself is working on some of the most important sculpture for this group. In the arrangement of the sculpture for the tower he has skillfully typified the power of the elements, the extent and force of the waters which have contributed so much to the upbuilding of the commercial resources that have made Buffalo and the Niagara frontier so prosperous. Much of the sculpture of the tower is used in the ornamentation of its beautiful and imposing colonnade. The sculptures – “Pan-American" - upon which Mr. Bitter is at work for the tower include a frieze, keys, and an escutcheon. Two pylons, “The Great Waters in the Days of the Indians," and “The Great Waters in the Days of the White Man," are by George Gray Barnard.
Philip Martiny is at work on four pylons representing the “Genius of Progress," with various attributes, shipping, railroads, etc. Other sculptures for the tower have the following subjects: “Four Rivers " (spandrels), by Adolph A. Weinman ; "The Six Lakes" (seated figures), Erie, Huron, Michigan, St. Clair. Ontario, Superior, by Carl E. Tefft, Henry Baerer, Philip Martiny,Ralph Goddard, and Louis A. Gudebrod; and a "Torch Bearer," by Philip Martiny.
The sculpture for the Ethnology Building includes four quadrigm, representing the white, black, red, and yellow races, by A. Phimister Proctor, and four tympana over the entrance, by H. A. MacNeil.
The sculpture for the Temple of Music is among the most pleasing of this remarkable collection. The Temple of Music is at the corner of the “Esplanade " and the “ Court of Fountains," and is of ornate architecture, both architecture and sculptural ornamentation carrying out in an exceptional degree the ideas connected with the building. One of the groups, all of which are the work of Isidore Konti, has for its subject "Religious Music," and represents St. Cecilia inspired by angels. In contrast to this is another group, "Lyric Music," illustrating the love-song inspired by Amor. Other groups illustrate gay music, dance music, and heroic music.
Mr. Macmonnies, Mr. French, and Mr. St. Gaudens are to be represented by numerous loan exhibits about the grounds. Many details are not given in this list, which at this date cannot be exhaustive.
The work of producing this vast amount of sculpture is engaging
the attention not only of some thirty-five famous sculptors, but of from fifty
to one hundred workmen besides, who are busy every day, near Mr. Bitter's studio,
in Hoboken, N. J., in building up the figures and making the groups in plaster
after the model in clay has been furnished by the sculptor. Usually the clay
model is some three feet in height, but sometimes it is smaller. After it is
cast in plaster it is covered with a system of fine pencilpoints for aid in
measuring in the making of the enlargement. A framework of wood and iron is
used as the foundation for each statue, and wire netting is utilized in the
making of wings and drapery. Between the model and the structure for the enlarged
figure hangs a swinging machine by which the measurements are carefully made,
so that the latter figure may have proportions exactly corresponding to those
of the model. Plaster of Paris mixed with excelsior is the material which gives
these beautiful figures the likeness of marble, and the expert workmen go over
them with their tools when the enlargement is completed, giving finish to the
The selection of Mr. Bitter as Director of Sculpture has proved a fortunate choice. The selection was made by the National Sculpture Society, to which the choice was delegated by the exposition management. Mr. Bitter's work at the Chicago World's Fair for the Administration and Manufactures and Liberal Arts buildings won him world-wide fame. The Astor Memorial gates of Trinity Church, New York, are by hire. He is the author of the group of ”Peace" on the west end of the New York Appellate Court House, at Twenty-fifth Street and Madison A venue, and the dramatic group " Combat" on the southwest end of the Dewey Arch ; he also exhibited two groups of “Children for a Fountain" at the Paris Exposition last year. The sculptors designated by the National Sculpture Society to aid Mr. Bitter in tile work of supervision were Messrs. Daniel C. French, J. Q. A. Ward, Herbert Adams, F. W. Ruckstuhl, and Charles Lamb. In conceiving and carrying out the plan adopted for the exposition sculpture, Mr. Bitter has shown a grasp of the possibilities afforded by tile occasion which marks him as possessing a high order of artistic and creative genius.
In the case of exposition sculpture, a great deal depends
in securing effectiveness on the arrangement adopted and the execution of various
details. A lack of artistic sense and good judgment in this part of the work
would spoil the productions of the sculptors' studies. Fortunately, this work
has been under the supervision of risen of such fine artistic taste and broad
architectural training as Mr. John M. Carrere, chairman of tile Board of Architects,
and his immediate representative on the exposition grounds, Mr. William W. Bosworth.
They have at all times had the hearty cooperation of the Director of Works,
Mr. Newcomb Carlton, while the director-general of the exposition, the Hon.
William I. Buchanan, has from the first bent his energies toward making the
sculptural work a great feature of the exposition, thus realizing a high artistic
ideal. As a result of all this, it is not too much to say that the creations
of these sculptors of the New World for the adornment of the buildings.and grounds
of this first exposition of all the Americas will win the distinction of being
the greatest achievements of the kind the age has seen.
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