Christopher Columbus (Vittori)
|Year||1920, renovated 1955|
|Type||Bronze bust on granite pedestal and granite base|
|Dimensions||344 cm × 200 cm × 190 cm (135.5 in × 80 in × 76 in)|
|Location||Indiana Statehouse, Indianapolis|
|Owner||State of Indiana Department of Administration|
Christopher Columbus is a public artwork by Italian artist Enrico Vittori and located on the grounds of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. The sculpted bronze bust of Christopher Columbus sits atop a pedestal that has relief carvings on its front, left and right sides. The sculpture is installed in the southwest corner of the Indiana Statehouse lawn and was presented in 1920 as a gift from Italian immigrant communities in Indiana.
The bust of explorer Christopher Columbus is cast in bronze. He wears a period costume, and his hair falls at approximately chin length. His facial expression is unsmiling, his chin is raised slightly and his eyes gaze off to his left. On the sculpture's proper left, below his left shoulder, the artist's name is inscribed as E. VITTORI. The bust of Columbus measures approximately 39 inches (99 cm) by 23 inches (58 cm) by 29 inches (74 cm); it stands on a granite pedestal measuring approximately 82 inches (210 cm) by 62 inches (160 cm) by 58 inches (150 cm) and a base that measures 14.5 inches (37 cm) by 80 inches (200 cm) by 76 inches (190 cm).
Below the bust is a granite pedestal with a plaque and relief carvings underneath. The carving on the front of the pedestal depicts a figure grouping with a man draped in fabric and wearing a crown of laurels standing in the center. His left arm is raised in the air and right hand rests in front of his waist. To the left and right of this man, three figures of Native Americans are featured, two of whom are kneeling before him; one on either side. The kneeling figure on Columbus's left is a man, while the two figures on his right are women, one of whom is standing just behind his right shoulder. The relief on the pedestal's proper right side depicts a seated woman with her right hand resting on her chest and left hand on a large anchor; her head is turned to her right. The relief on the pedestal's proper left side is a profile view of a seated woman resting her right elbow on a globe. Below the relief sculptures, the pedestal slopes outward to meet a two-stepped granite base.
The plaque on the pedestal's front states:
- CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
- BORN IN GENOA, ITALY 1451. DISCOVERED
- AMERICA OCTOBER 12, 1492. THIS LAND
- OF OPPORTUNITY AND FREEDOM WAS
- THUS PRESERVED FOR HUMANITY BY THE
- PERENNIAL GENIUS ABIDING IN THE
- ITALIAN RACE.
- REFURBISHED BY KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS 1956.
Metal lettering on the pedestal's back reads:
- ERECTED A.D. 1920
- BY THE ITALIANS
- OF INDIANAPOLIS KOKOMO
- LOGANSPORT RICHMOND
A plaque on the pedestal's back reads:
- THE COLUMBUS QUINCENTENARY JUBILEE
- COMMISSION OF INDIANA INC., IN BEHALF
- OF INDIANA'S ITALIAN-AMERICAN
- COMMUNITY DEDICATES THIS PLAQUE TO
- THE CELEBRATION OF THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE
- COLUMBUS DISCOVERY OF AMERICA
- MAY THE GENIUS ABIDING IN THE ITALIAN RACE ENCOURAGE TOLERANCE
- AND ACCEPTANCE OF ALL CULTURES AS
- AMERICA'S ULTIMATE CONTRIBUTION TO HUMANITY.
Christopher Columbus was created by Enrico (Harry) Vittori, an Italian artist who lived in Indianapolis. Vittori attended the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy, and traveled to Indianapolis in 1919 to work for an airplane company. The sculpture was presented to the state of Indiana in 1920 by members of Indiana's Italian community. It is the only monument at the Indiana Statehouse donated by immigrants, and it was intended by the Italians to be a tribute to America. The monument stood unchanged for 35 years. In 1955 the Knights of Columbus funded the cleaning of the bronze bust and the addition of new bronze lettering on the back of the pedestal. The sculpture was modified again in 1992 during the Columbus Quincentenary, which celebrated the 500th anniversary of Columbus's voyage to America. The Knights of Columbus installed a plaque bearing another statement about Christopher Columbus, bringing the total number of written statements on the pedestal to three.
Christopher Columbus was installed on the Indiana Statehouse lawn shortly after its completion and has not been moved or viewed in any other location. However, the initial proposal for the sculpture requested that the piece be erected in one of the Indianapolis parks, and the location of "University Square" was listed as a potential site for the monument.
Christopher Columbus was a gift from a group of Italian immigrants who lived in Indiana. It was commissioned with proceeds from a fundraising campaign led by Vincent A. LaPenta, a surgeon and scientist who presided over the executive committee of Italian Propaganda. Indiana Governor James P. Goodrich dedicated the sculpture on October 31, 1920. LaPenta spoke at the dedication ceremony and stated, "Columbus can be considered humanity's greatest benefactor."
The sculpture is owned by the State of Indiana, Department of Administration.
Christopher Columbus was cleaned in 1992. Surveyed in 1994 as part of the Save Outdoor Sculpture! project with an overall condition rated as "good", it was determined that the sculpture would benefit from conservation treatment. In particular, the piece suffered from metallic staining, erosion, green caulking on the pedestal, and bird guano.
- Greiff, Glory-June (2005). Remembrance, Faith & Fancy: Outdoor Public Sculpture in Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. p. 30 and 165. ISBN 0-87195-180-0.
- "Art Inventories Catalog: Christopher Columbus, (sculpture)". Smithsonian American Art Museum. 1994. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
- Divita, James J. (7 January 1994). “Christopher Columbus Monument, State House”. Marian College (Indianapolis).
- Unknown author (17 June 1919). “Indianapolis Italians to Offer City Monument to Christopher Columbus”. Indianapolis News (Indianapolis).
- "Tributes to Christopher Columbus in the United States". National Italian American Foundation. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
- "Public Art Locator: Christopher Columbus" (map). Public Art Indianapolis. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- Wilgus, Sue Ann (9 December 1993). “SOS! Survey Questionnaire”. National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property (Washington, D.C.).