Images of Hamilton: William Rimmer Statue in Boston

Visitors to Boston may have noticed a unique Hamilton statute on Commonwealth Avenue, between Arlington Street and Berkeley Street.  The statue, erected in 1865 was the first to appear on Commonwealth Avenue.  According to the iWalked Boston audio tour guide, the it is also the only stone structure on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.  The statue was funded by Thomas Lee and designed by Dr. William Rimmer, who had a fascinating background as a physician and a sculptor.

Public Art Boston offers this description of the statue:

This sculpture by William Rimmer shows Hamilton with cloth draped over his Colonial-era outfit. The heavy folds of drapery bring to mind depictions of Greek and Roman leaders in ancient statuary. Through this anachronistic touch, Rimmer evoked the first democratic-style governments in ancient Greece, thereby emphasizing Hamilton’s formative role in the newly emerging American democracy. Interestingly, Rimmer was a physician before devoting himself to art. He did not use a model to create the statue, but instead employed his unique knowledge of human anatomy to chisel Hamilton’s body from a block of granite. Due to Rimmer’s unusual technique, this sculpture is particularly fragile and difficult to maintain.

 

Rimmer’s design was extremely controversial during his time, and

Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People states:

“Rimmer had a theory, ahead of his time, of working impressionistically without models.  Though contemporary criticism was violently averse, the statue was admired by Hamilton’s own family for its graceful and somewhat aloof pose, characteristic of its subject.”

An 1895 issue of the New England Magazine describing Boston’s statues states:

“A curious work is the granite statue of Alexander Hamilton by Dr. William Rimmer, in Commonwealth Avenue.  It stands on a high and massive granite pedestal; and it was given to the city in 1865 by Thomas Lee, who also gave the Esther Monument.  There is little or no modeling, except about the head, and the appearance of the figure suggests a snow image which is partially melted.”

Take a look for yourself the next time you’re in Boston!

Images of Hamilton: Hamilton Statue in Central Park

If you’ve visited Central Park, you may have come across a very handsome statue of Alexander Hamilton.  The statue is located between 82nd and 83rd streets on the East Side of the park.  The statue was donated by Hamilton’s son, John C. Hamilton to the park in 1880.  The Hamilton statue was sculpted by Carl H. Conrads, an American sculptor best known for his work commemorating the Civil War.  Conrads served in the Union Army during the Civil War and designed statues that you can find in West Point and San Francisco.

hampark

The 1880 statue actually replaces an earlier Hamilton statue that was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1835 and had stood on the floor of the original New York Stock Exchange building.  According to Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City:

“A valiant attempt was made to rescue a 15-foot statue of Alexander Hamilton from the floor of the exchange, but just as the statute reached the doorway, the roof collapsed, destroying it.  The statue, by Robert Ball Hughes, was the first marble statue created in the United States and had been installed only eight months earlier.  Though it took 45 years, the statue was ultimately replaced by Hamilton’s youngest son, John C. Hamilton, and it stands in Central Park behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This statue in the park is remarkable in that it is made entirely of granite– not the easiest stone to carve–and it has long been thought that John C. Hamilton commissioned the work out of this durable stone so that no matter what calamities might befall Central Park his father’s statute would endure.”

The original statue is pictured here, in an image from the New York Public Library.

On November 22, 1880 Chauncey Mitchell Depew made a public address to commemorate the unveiling of the statue at Central Park.  Some excerpts are below:

“Precocious intellects in all ages of the world have flashed with meteoric splendor; and for a brief space amazed mankind; but he only whose full equipped mind knew no youth and never failed in the full maturity of its powers was Alexander Hamilton. ”

….

“…Hamilton, at eighteen, was hailed by the whole country as the peer of the Adamses and of Jay.  But when the multitude, smarting under wrongs and fired by the eloquence of their champion, sought riotous vengeance upon their enemies, he stayed the angry mob while the President of his College escaped, and offered to lead in defence of property and the majesty of the law.  Popular passion never swayed his judgment; personal ambition, or the applause of the hour, never moved or deterred him.”

“Hamilton forged the links and welded the chain which binds the Union.  He saw the dangers of Secession, and pointed out the remedy against it in the implied powers of the Constitution.”

“Upon the boundless sea of experiment without chart of compass, he invented both.  He smote the sources of revenue with such skill and power, that from the barren rocks flowed the streams which filled the Treasury and the Sinking Fund, and the exhausted land was fertilized by its own productiveness.  Out of chaos he developed perfected schemes which have stood every strain and met every emergency in our national life.”

For the full text of Depew’s remarks, see here.

Images of Hamilton: A New Home for Hamilton Portrait

Earlier, I wrote a post about John Trumbull’s images of Hamilton .   Today, we got some exciting news about one of Trumbull’s most iconic Hamilton portraits!  Credit Suisse, the owner of the portrait,  announced that it will be gifted to two institutions: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  This split ownership arrangement will allow the painting to be seen by audiences in two very different parts of the country.  Credit Suisse had put the painting on view at public institutions for short periods of time, but it decided that the painting should be permanently accessible to the public.  The painting was acquired by Credit Suisse as part of its takeover of another investment bank, DLJ.  The painting had been part of DLJ’s corporate art collection.

CEO Brady Dougan stated:  “Donating this well-known and highly regarded 1792 portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull to both Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art ensures that the widest possible American and international audiences can enjoy and study this historic piece of fine art for perpetuity”

The New York Times description of the portrait’s history states:

The painting’s history is very much a New York story. In 1791 five New York merchants representing the Chamber of Commerce commissioned Trumbull to paint a full-length portrait of Hamilton, President Washington’s secretary of the Treasury.

For Trumbull the assignment was trickier than it seemed. He and his subject were friends, and Hamilton was vocal in wishing his portrait to appear “unconnected with any incident of my political life.” But the men who commissioned the painting wanted it to hang in a public building. How then could Trumbull please his clients, who said they envisioned a work stately enough to be on public view, and the sitter, who shunned anything remotely official?

Taking his inspiration from European Grand Manner portraiture, the artist posed Hamilton standing, one hand on a table that is empty except for an ink stand and papers, devoid of any political references. In the background is an archway on one side and an architectural column on the other, along with a chair with a robe causally thrown over it.

Hamilton’s warm expression reflects the artist’s obvious affection for his subject. Trumbull called Hamilton’s fatal duel with Aaron Burr in 1804, “the unhappy event which deprived the United States of two of their most distinguished citizens.”

Hamil-Swag: Pop Culture Meets Art Meets Awesome- “American Iconomics”

Check out these super creative renditions of currency with inspiration drawn from the worlds of film, art, and popular culture.  These images were created by artists Akira Beard and James Charles as part of a 2011 show at the Shooting Gallery in San Francisco entitled: American Iconomics.   Some of these awesome pieces are still on sale, for $600 a piece.  You should check out the full collection of images here– you’ll find Andrew Jackson as Ronald McDonald, Ulysses S. Grant as Mr. T, and other awesome iconic images.

Here are my favorite Hamilton images from the show.

Willy Wonka (coincidentally one of my favorite movies)- Hamilton as Wonka and a very distinguished Oompa Loompa

Star Wars– Yoda and Princess Leia

Akira Beard and James Charles : James Charles

Akira Beard and James Charles : James Charles

Van Gogh

Johnny Cash

Akira Beard and James Charles : James Charles

Note: all images were taken from the Shooting Gallery American Iconomics site.

Hamilton in DC

Writing this from the clouds: in an airplane flying from DC to LA!  I love technology!

If you’ve explored DC, you may have noticed that Hamilton is conspicuously absent in terms of memorials, statues, and public art from the city he had a huge role in making the capital.  While Jefferson’s influence can be felt throughout the city, Hamilton has been relegated to a much smaller role.  However, if you are looking for Hamilton stuff in DC- check out these places.

The first, located outside the Treasury Building, is by James Earle Fraser, who received the commission in 1917.  The 10 foot statue was erected in its current location in 1923.  I think it’s a really well-preserved, gorgeous statute.  The statue stands on a 9 foot base

If you’re in the Rotunda, you’ll notice this statue.  It was made by Horatio Stone, a prominent sculptor/doctor in the mid-1800s whose sculptures can be seen throughout Washington.

Alexander Hamilton

And, I’ve resolved that I’ll finally eat here next time I’m in DC!  The Hamilton is a restaurant/music venue located near Metro Center.  And, according to the Washington Post, the food’s pretty good.  Gotta love Hamilton in his own Hamil-swag.

Images of Hamilton: Alexander Hamilton Memorial Statue in Chicago

If you’ve visited Chicago, you may have noticed a gilded statue of Alexander Hamilton in Lincoln Park.

The sculpture was commissioned by Chicago heiress Kate Sturgis Buckingham and designed by British sculptor John Angel.    Kate was the daughter of Ebenezer Buckingham, who made his fortune in grain elevators.   She never married and devoted her time to philanthropy and public art projects for the city, including the famous Buckingham Fountain.

Time Magazine stated in a 1951 article that Buckingham had “two consuming interests: art and Alexander Hamilton.”  Buckingham considered Hamilton “one of the least appreciated great Americans.”  She felt that “Hamilton had secured the nation’s financial future, making it possible for her own family to make a fortune.”   Prior to her death, Hamilton commissioned the statue from Angel and envisioned a massive setting.  She commissioned artist Eliel Saarinen to design a massive, 80 foot column to go behind the statue.  However, this proposal was not well-received and the setting was never completed.

Saarinen’s proposal (courtesy of Flickr user Chernobyl.Skies):

Buckingham died in 1937 before the statue was completed, but she left $1 million in her will to the Art Institute specifically to create and maintain the Hamilton Memorial.  The Art Institute trustees were not particularly keen to complete the work according to Buckingham’s vision, and Buckingham’s trustees eventually had to take them to court in 1951 to have the statue and setting completed.  The court ordered the completion of the monument by 1953, and the Art Institute commissioned Samuel A. Marx to create the setting.  

Original memorial with setting created by Marx (from the Art Institute of Chicago):

The statue stood like this for 40 years, but then engineering studies revealed design flaws in the setting.  The setting was demolished in 1993, and the statue has stood in its current form since then.  If you go to Lincoln Park today, this is what you’ll see:

Hamilton Statue in Chicago

For a more detailed description of the history of the Chicago memorial from an architectural point of view, see Andrew Raimist’s blog, Architectural Ruminations.  And for more images of Hamilton, check out the AHA Society’s Hamilton desk calendar.

Images of Hamilton: John Trumbull

[Note: I am certainly no art historian, but I very much appreciate images of Hamilton as you can tell by my Facebook group: Alexander Hamilton: The Hotness Never Dies.  I’m going to use this series to focus on a few of the painters and sculptors who depicted Hamilton, and show some of the images of Hamilton I think do him the most justice.]

The Sierra Star recently published a piece on John Trumbull entitled “A Revolutionary Painter.”   Trumbull was an active participant in the revolution, and a military comrade of Hamilton.  He briefly served as an aide to Washington, and was involved in politics as he pursued his artistic career.  Trumbull produced some of the most iconic images of the Revolution and the Early Republic.  Trumbull painted several pictures of Hamilton, and featured him prominently in his group paintings of the Constitutional Convention and the Revolutionary War. 

Interestingly, Trumbull dined with both Hamilton and Burr on July 4, 1804.   In his autobiography, Trumbull recollected the event:

“On the 4th of July, I dined with the Society of the Cincinnati, my old military comrades, and then met, among others Gen. Hamilton and Col. Burr.  The singularity of their manner was observed by all, but few had any suspicion of the cause. Burr, contrary to his wont, was silent, gloomy, sour ; while Hamilton entered with glee into all the gaiety of a convivial party, and even sang an old military song.  A few days only passed, when the wonder was solved by that unhappy event which deprived the United States of two of their most distinguished citizens.”

Trumbull had planned to pursue his career in Boston, but found that the market for his services was too crowded by other artists.  He instead returned to New York, and was commissioned by the city government to paint whole length portraits of Jay and Hamilton.  Trumbull states that he created the portrait using the bust created by Ceracchi (and later bought by Jefferson to display in Monticello) as inspiration for those portraits.

This was painted in 1805, the year after Hamilton’s death, and Trumbull used various accumulated drawings as its basis.  This portrait is the basis for the design of the Ten Dollar bill. 

By John Trumbull, 1805. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC 

(The best bill!  Image found here)

This 1792 portrait has Hamilton standing at his desk “an inkwell with quill at hand-the heroic pose of a writer and thinker at the pinnacle of his career.”

This 1832 portrait was copied from an original that Trumbull had painted in Washington in 1792. 

From the Yale University Art Gallery eCatalogue

Trumbull is an interesting historical figure in his own right.  If you’re interested in reading more about him, I suggest looking at his Autobiography or John Trumbull : a brief sketch of his life, to which is added a catalogue of his works (1901) by John Ferguson Weir.