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Meaning in Marble: Civil War Monuments and American Identity An Online Professional Development Seminar.

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Presentation on theme: "Meaning in Marble: Civil War Monuments and American Identity An Online Professional Development Seminar."— Presentation transcript:

1 Meaning in Marble: Civil War Monuments and American Identity An Online Professional Development Seminar

2 GOALS  To show how public monuments shaped the memory of the Civil War and how that memory changed over time  To suggest ways to “read” Civil War monuments so that you can use them in your teaching

3 FROM THE FORUM Challenges, Issues, Questions  How public monuments shaped the memory and meaning of the Civil War  How Civil War monuments reflect values and issues  How to “read” or interpret monuments

4 Kirk Savage Professor of Art History University of Pittsburgh Art of the United States Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (2009) Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth- Century America (1998) Awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize McINTIRE DEPT. OF ARTART HISTORYSTUDIO ARTGRADUATE PROGRAMEVENTS WelcomeWelcome · About the Program · Admissions · Calendar · Courses · Faculty & StaffAbout the ProgramAdmissionsCalendarCoursesFaculty & Staff

5 John Quincy Adams Ward, The Freedman, 1863. Bronze statuette (20” tall). Questions for students: 1.Put your own body into the statue’s pose. What does it feel like? How does this help you understand what the figure is doing? 2.What are some important details, or props (e.g. manacle, broken chain, tree stump, clothing) and what do they tell us about the implied narrative? 3.How is the body represented? 4.What is he looking at and why? 5.Facial expression: responses tend to be subjective. Focus on what you can see plainly: mouth opened or closed, brow furrowed or not, etc. 6.Using all these clues, can you piece together a narrative, a story line? 7.What is the significance of this one man’s story? Is it supposed to be representative of a larger national story or dilemma? How is it a “parable” (Howells’s term)?

6 Martin Milmore, Soldiers & Sailors Monument, Boston Common, 1877 Questions for students: Monuments are assemblages of many elements: inscriptions, symbols, sculptural figures, relief sculpture, architecture. Therefore, questions quickly multiply. Here are a few: 1.Where is it located and why? 2.Who do you think would have the resources and the authority to erect such a monument? 3.What is its overall scale? Which elements are meant to be seen close up and which from afar? Why? 4.How do the sculptural elements (figures, reliefs) contribute to the monument’s meaning or “lesson”? In this case, how does the combination of “allegorical” sculpture and “realistic” sculpture create meaning? 5.How do the inscriptions contribute to its meaning? In what voice are these inscriptions speaking, and for whom? (For example, are the words quotations from actual people? Are there inscriptions in Latin? Etc.) 6.Do the words and the images do different things? Focus on different topics or offer different messages? Why?

7 James Batterson, Monument to Gen. William Jenkins Worth, 1857, Madison Square, New York. Worth was a celebrated officer in the Mexican-American War and is buried beneath the monument.


9 Monument commemorating the Battle of Wyoming, 1778, Wyoming, Pennsylvania. Dedicated 1833, completed 1843. The patriot dead are buried inside the vault and are named on tablets on the exterior, with officers named separately from privates.

10 Howells, “Question of Monuments” 1865 Had anything come of the aesthetic sensation immediately following the war, and the spirit of martial pride with which it was so largely mixed, we should probably have had a much greater standing-army in bronze and marble than would have been needed for the suppression of any future rebellion. An excitement, a tumult, not a tendency of our civilization, would thus have been perpetuated, to misrepresent us and our age to posterity; for we are not a military people…. The idea of our war seems to have interpreted itself to us all as faith in the justice of our cause, and in our immutable destiny, as God’s agents, to give freedom to mankind; and the ideas of our peace are gratitude and exultant industry Somehow, we imagine, these ideas should be represented in every memorial work of the time, though we should be sorry to have this done by the dreary means of conventional allegory….

11 Howells: A sublime parable, like Ward’s statue of the Freedman, is the full expression of one idea that should be commemorated, and would better celebrate the great deeds of our soldiers than bas-reliefs of battles, and statues of captains, and groups of privates, or many scantily-draped, improper figures, happily called Liberties. John Quincy Adams Ward, The Freedman, 1863, Bronze statuette (20” tall).

12 Martin Milmore, Soldiers & Sailors Monument, Boston Common, 1877

13 Wendell Phillips, 1879: This otherwise perfect column has one defect – the one I have noticed in every city and town monument raised since the war. For anything these marble records tell, the war might have been like that of 1812, for “free trade and sailors' rights” or for a North- eastern boundary. You search in vain through through them all for the broken chain or the negro soldier. Milmore had one better than his fellows, for he gives us in one bas- relief, the stern and earnest face of J.B. Smith, a suggestion welcome and honorable. He should have done more. Perhaps some time it can be mended, and a broken chain and negro form tell what really saved the Union. Perhaps, though, as the Greeks built the monuments commemorating the civil wars of wood, that they might soon crumble, leaving no angry trace of the quarrel, so our artists thought best to blot and raze almost everything that told of the bitter issue in the rebellion. My thought is, if enduring monuments are erected at all, they should tell the truth. Let green sods cover the battle-fields, unless you put there the records of the whole truth.

14 J.B. Smith Return from the War, Bas-relief on Boston Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

15 Mills County, Texas

16 Mt. Vernon, New York

17 Pasadena, California

18 Gettysburg Monument

19 Century Magazine, September 1895: It is probably within the fact to say that there are not four pieces of good sculpture on the battlefield of Gettysburg….There are a few unobtrusive pieces of natural rock which fittingly express willing sacrifice or unyielding valor; but for the most part that beautiful field – the chosen valley for the nation's salvation – has become for lack of coordination in plan and good taste in execution an unsightly collection of tombstones.

20 Henry Hornbostel, architect, Allegheny County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1910

21 Allegheny County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, Auditorium.

22 Haverhill, Massachusetts; built1868; dedicated July 4, 1869; moved 1999 Submitted by Kathleen Dacey

23 Haverhill, Massachusetts, 1868, 1869 Base contains names of 187 Haverhill veterans who died during the War. Submitted by Kathleen Dacey Inscription 1861 1865 “In grateful tribute to the memory of those who, on land and sea, died so that the republic might live. This monument was erected A.D.1869.”

24 Haverhill, Massachusetts Submitted by Kathleen Dacey

25 Monument Square, Troy, New York Submitted by Robert Naeher Monument Square, created in 1891 when a statue of Columbia was erected atop the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in the triangular area formed by the intersection of Broadway, River and Second streets, became a new focal point of developmentColumbia

26 Hertford, North Carolina Erected 1910

27 Hertford, North Carolina Erected 1910

28 Hertford, North Carolina Erected 1912

29 Hertford, North Carolina Erected 1912

30 Literature on collective memory and monuments The field has become so vast that not even academic specialists can keep track of it anymore. I have written a couple of shorter pieces for general audiences that are available online: “The Past in the Present: The Life of Memorials” (1999) “History, Memory, and Monuments: An Overview of the Scholarly Literature on Commemoration” (2006) A few classics include: Civil War: David Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Belknap Press, 2001). WWI: Jay Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (Cambridge, 1995). Holocaust: James E. Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (Yale, 1993).

31 Final Slide. Thank You

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