The Puritan (Springfield, Massachusetts)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Puritan

The Puritan is a bronze statue by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States, which became so popular it was reproduced for over 20 other cities, museums, universities, and private collectors around the world, and later became an official symbol of the city, emblazoned on its municipal flag.[1] Originally designed to be part of Stearns Square, since 1899 the statue has stood at the corner of Chestnut and State Street next to The Quadrangle.

History[edit]

A perspective sketch of Stearns Square by Stanford White, showing the statue's original placement along with the bench, trails, and Turtle Fountain. A tree now stands in its place at the original location.
Flag of the City of Springfield

In 1881, Chester W. Chapin, a railroad tycoon and congressman from Springfield, Massachusetts, commissioned[2] the renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a bronze likeness of his ancestor, Deacon Samuel Chapin (1595–1675), one of the early settlers of the City of Springfield.[3] By 1881, Springfield had become one of America's most innovative industrial and manufacturing centers, and was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States.

The sculpture, cast at the Bureau Brothers Foundry in Philadelphia,[4] was unveiled on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1887 in Stearns Square, between Bridge Street and Worthington Street - a collaboration between the artistic "dream team" of Stanford White (of the renowned architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White) and Saint-Gaudens - and featured numerous sculptural and landscape architectural details to enhance the sculpture. However in 1899 the statue was moved to Merrick Park, on the corner of Chestnut and State Streets next to the old city library, which would later become part of Springfield's Quadrangle cultural center. The statue has remained there ever since,[5] and contrary to the efforts that went into design of Stearns Square, even before its unveiling Saint-Gaudens had expressed interest in that particular site, with one writer for The Republican agreeing in 1886 that "a position on the city library grounds, on the contrary would exhibit the artist's intent to the best advantage."[6]

In 1983, the statue's location was briefly reconsidered as City Councilor Mary Hurley sought to restore it to its original location in the Stearns Square landscape. This move was initiated in part due to the restoration of the Turtle Fountain and other fixtures at that location, though the proposal lacked popular and political support. Then-mayoral candidate Richard Neal was among those public figures who opposed the move and the descendants of the Deacon Chapin also actively opposed it, citing that the statue had become a fixture of the Quadrangle's museums and that the original move to its current location was an effort to protect it from vandalism which had occurred in its short stay there prior to 1899.[7][8]

This impressive sculpture of The Deacon can today be found next to the palatial Springfield City Library that was constructed adjacent to the site in 1912. The base is inscribed: "1595 Anno Domini 1675, Deacon Samuel Chapin, One Of The Founders Of Springfield"

Likeness[edit]

From left to right: portraits of Chester W. Chapin, The Puritan, and John Brown

By the time of the statue's design, no authentic portraits of the Deacon Samuel Chapin were known to exist; officially the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site has maintained the model for the statue's face was that of the Deacon Chapin's descendant Chester W. Chapin,[9] and indeed when producing copies of his work, Saint-Gaudens would say he used Mr. Chapin's facial features as his original model.[10] However contemporary accounts also describe it as "no portrait of any Chapin, but a composite in the sculptor's mind of the family type".[11][12]

In 2014, Chicopee city historian Stephen Jendrysik submitted the theory that the figure's face was less a copy of the facial features of Chester Chapin, but rather a subtle tribute to abolitionist John Brown, a stalwart Calvinist who was a direct descendant of the Deacon Chapin himself.[13][14] A controversial figure whose actions escalated tensions between North and South before the start of the American Civil War, Frederick Douglass later eulogized Brown saying if he "did not end the war that ended slavery, he at least began the war that ended slavery".[14] In the 19th and early 20th centuries he remained an exceedingly infamous figure regarded by the public both as a martyr and a terrorist for his raid on Harpers Ferry in an attempt to start a slave revolt. Brown was also a historic figure in Springfield as it was there that Brown had first organized the militant underground railroad movement, the Subterranean Pass Way, and met with Douglass and Harriet Tubman among other influential abolitionist figures.[15][16]

The plaster bust of Chester W. Chapin, reportedly used as the model for the face of the statue.[17]

Indeed in his 2005 work, John Brown, Abolitionist, historian David S. Reynolds repeatedly describes Brown as "The Puritan", as in his own writing Brown repeatedly cited figures such as Jonathan Edwards and Oliver Cromwell as inspiration for his own actions.[18][19] During the Civil War, Puritan beliefs were held as an influence of the abolitionist movement, met with admiration by Northerners, and resentment by defenders of the South for their adherence to antinomianism, regarded as a philosophy of militant individualism to carry out warfare against institutions.[18] Indeed Congressman Samuel S. Cox, who opposed the war, went on to say that "[a]bolition is the offspring of Puritanism. Until Abolition arose, the Union was never seriously menaced; the Constitution was never endangered. Puritanism introduced the moral elements involved in slavery into politics".[20]

Saint-Gaudens, a known admirer of Brown, remains best known for his Civil War memorial works, including the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on the Boston Commons honoring the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first African-American regiment organized in the northern states during the Civil War. Upon the unveiling of the latter statue, he would write that the singing of John Brown's Body, a popular Union ballad, by those at the ceremony, reminded him of an emotional moment thirty years prior, when a corps of New England infantry marched past his office at that time singing the same tune.[21] While he never remarked the statue was a tribute to a second historical figure of the city's history, the facial features that appear on the original Springfield statue have been noted to bear a strong resemblance to Brown's, and in that regard may doubly serve as a memorial to Puritanism's influence in 17th-century New England, as well as in the Springfield's abolitionist movement during the Antebellum Period.[13][19]

Popularity[edit]

Clockwise from top to bottom, the likeness of the statue used to advertise a Boston hotel in the early 20th century, the statue in a 1921 trade magazine ad for a paper company, and a stained glass rendition of the statue in The Student Prince and Fort Restaurant, in downtown Springfield.

The statue was so popular with the public that Saint-Gaudens decided to produce smaller scale versions of this work under the title The Puritan. He correctly surmised that this would be an excellent source of addition income. Today more than 25 slightly altered copies of this work can be found in museums, art galleries, universities, and private collections around the world.[22] Prominent examples include copies displayed in gallery 222 of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts,[23], gallery 767 of New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art,[24] and in the east wing of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.[25]

The New England Society of Pennsylvanians asked Gaudens to make a replica of The Puritan for the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For the later commission Gaudens made some changes in the figure's dress and adjusted the facial characteristics to represent a New England type: "For the head in the original statue, I used as a model the head of Mr. Chapin himself, assuming that there would be some family resemblance with the Deacon, who was his direct ancestor. But Mr. Chapin's face is round and Gaelic in character, so in the Philadelphia work, I changed the features completely, giving them the long, New England type, besides altering the folds of the cloak in many respects, the legs, the left hand, and the Bible." The Puritan was originally placed on the South Plaza of City Hall but was relocated to its present site in Fairmount Park in 1920.[10]

Gallery[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Bach, Penny Balkin. Public Art in Philadelphia Temple University Press, 1992. Philadelphia PA.
  • Burt, Henry M. The First Century of the History of Springfield: the Official Records from 1636 to 1736, with an Historical Review and a Biographical Mention of the Founders, Volume I Henry M. Burt, 1898. Springfield MA. full text online
  • Dryfhout, John H. The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens University Press of New England, 1982. Lebanon NH.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, The. "Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History". Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. New York NY.
  • Tolles, Thayer. "Augustus Saint-Gaudens in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 66, no. 4 (Spring, 2009). New York NY.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "City of Springfield, MA Seal and Flag". eCode 360. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  2. ^ Dryfhout, p. 162.
  3. ^ Burt.
  4. ^ The Puritan, (sculpture). Siris-artinventories.si.edu. Retrieved on 2013-08-21.
  5. ^ Dryfhout, p. 162.
  6. ^ "The Statue of Dea Samual Chapin". Springfield Republican. Springfield, Mass. July 28, 1886. p. 5. Augustus St Gaudens, the sculptor of the Chapin statue, has ben in town looking at possible sites for his work. He disapproves wholly of Court square, but is favorably inclined toward the city library grounds...A position on the city library grounds, on the contrary, would exhibit the artist's intent to the best advantage
  7. ^ "Opinion -- Don't disturb The Puritan". Springfield Union. Springfield, Mass. October 1, 1983. p. 14.
  8. ^ Nelson, Nancy L. (November 23, 1987). "Deacon Chapin ignores 100th birthday party". Springfield Union-News. Springfield, Mass. p. 13.
  9. ^ Dryfhout, John H. (1982). "91 Chester W. Chapin (study for The Puritan), 1881". The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Trustees of the Saint-Gaudens Memorial. p. 116.
  10. ^ a b Bach
  11. ^ Gardner, Eugene Clarence (1905). Springfield Present and Prospective: The City of Homes. Pond & Campbell. p. 54. The statue is no portrait of any Chapin, but a composite in the sculptor's mind of the family type, and fitly given the ideal name, 'The Puritan'
  12. ^ "The Puritan; The Deacon Chapin Statue at Springfield, Mass". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee. November 15, 1887. p. 2. The face is a sort of composite–made up by a study of the family features of the Chapins
  13. ^ a b Jendrysik, Stephen (January 22, 2014). "Stephen Jendrysik: Is Augustus Saint-Gaudens' 'The Puritan' statue really John Brown in disguise?". The Republican. Springfield, Mass. Archived from the original on July 8, 2018. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Eighth Generation". The Chapin Book of Genealogical Data. II. Hartford, Conn.: Chapin Family Association. p. 1655.
  15. ^ Cowan, Wes (December 6, 2007). "Cowan's Auctions". Archived from the original on November 30, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
  16. ^ Taylor, Marian (2004). Harriet Tubman: Antislavery Activist (New ed.). Chelsea House Publishers. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-0-7910-8340-6.
  17. ^ Dryfhout, John H. (1982). "91 Chester W. Chapin (study for The Puritan), 1881". The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Trustees of the Saint-Gaudens Memorial. p. 116.
  18. ^ a b Reynolds, David S. "The Puritan". John Brown, Abolitionist. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing. p. 19.
  19. ^ a b Bezzant, Rhys S. (ed.). "The Abolitionism of Samuel Hopkins". The Global Edwards. Australian College of Theology. pp. 311–12.
  20. ^ Cox, Samuel Sullivan (1865). "&f=false Eight Years in Congress, from 1857-1865. New York: D. Appleton and Company. p. 287.
  21. ^ Stauffer, John; Soskis, Benjamin (2013). The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On. Oxford University Press. p. 317. In his reminiscences, Saint-Gaudens recalls a moment thirty years before, when the same song had moved him nearly as much as it had during the monument's unveiling. While apprenticing for a cameo cutter with an office on Broadway, he had watched 'New England volunteers' marching by, singing 'John Brown's Body.'
  22. ^ Tolles
  23. ^ "The Puritan". Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Archived from the original on December 4, 2018.
  24. ^ "The Puritan". The Met. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017.
  25. ^ "The Puritan". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Archived from the original on December 4, 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°06′11″N 72°35′07″W / 42.10306°N 72.58527°W / 42.10306; -72.58527