Josiah Quincy

Artist

Thomas Crawford (American 1813–1857)

Date

1845

Medium

Plaster

Dimensions

34 7/8 x 24 3/16 x 11 5/8 in. (88.6 x 61.5 x 29.6 cm) (integral base)

Description
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.
Inscription

Inscribed on reverse: HON. JOSIAH QUNICY. PREST HARVARD UNIVERSITY./1845 AETATIS 74″

Credit Line

Gift of Eliza Susan Quincy, daughter of the sitter, 1852

Object Number

UH19

Anacreon, Ode LXXII

Artist

Thomas Crawford (American 1813–1857)

Date

1842

Medium

Marble

Dimensions

26 3/8 x 26 3/8 x 3 3/16 in. (67 x 67 x 8.1 cm) (round)

Description

Free-standing, fully three-dimensional sculptures can remind us of stories from the past, whether they are political, religious, or strictly literary, but it is difficult to tell a story using a single figure or even a figural group. Instead, sculptors who wished to give a fuller narrative account usually turned to the relief format. Such was the case for the American neoclassicist Thomas Crawford when he sought to illustrate an ode by the Greek poet Anacreon about an artist and his muse that reads in part (and in translation):

With twenty chords my lyre is hung,

    And while I wake them all for thee,

Thou, O virgin, wild and young,

    Disport’st in airy levity.

Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.

Inscription

Inscribed on front, bottom: ANACREON. ODE LXXII; and below: T. CRAWFORD. FECT ROMA. 1842.

Credit Line

Gift of several subscribers, 1843 [George R. Lewis, Connecticut; William Minot, Jr., Boston; Mr. De Hone, South Carolina; Thomas Preston, Virginia]

Object Number

UH156

Adam and Eve

Artist

Thomas Crawford (American 1813–1857)

Date

1855

Medium

Marble

Dimensions

54 1/4 x 24 1/2 x 20 7/16 in. (137.8 x 62.2 x 51.9 cm)

Description

The Book of Genesis clearly states that Adam and Eve frolicked in the Garden of Eden unencumbered by clothing. They felt shame and the consequent need to cover themselves only after they had sinned: clothing itself thus became a symbol of original sin. With the Bible’s specificity on this point, artists from the Middle Ages into the nineteenth century felt free—indeed, were obligated—to depict Adam and Eve nude or, as here, nearly so.

In his beautiful and poignant retelling of the moment of the fall of Adam and Eve, the American neoclassicist Thomas Crawford contrasts the perfection of his subjects’ bodies with the highly charged facial expressions that are part of the consequences of their transgression. He also brilliantly uses their gestures and poses to unite them compositionally and to balance and support the weight of the marble. Notice, too, the suggestion of Eden given by the flower-strewn ground on which the figures stand, while at their feet is the forbidden—and bitten—fruit.

Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.

Inscription

Inscribed on reverse: T. CRAWFORD. / FECIT. / ROMA 1855.

Credit Line

Deposited by Emeline Austin (Mrs. William W.) Wadsworth, 1867

Object Number

UH16

Christian Pilgrim in Sight of Rome

Artist

Thomas Crawford (American 1813–1857)

Date

1847

Medium

Marble with bronze staff

Dimensions

Other: 95 x 34.5 x 28.9 cm (37 3/8 x 13 9/16 x 11 3/8 in.)

Description

One of the most talented American sculptors of his generation, Thomas Crawford moved from his native New York to Rome in 1835, where he studied with the preeminent Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. In 1844, the Athenæum purchased Crawford’s Orpheus and Cerberus through the subscription effort of friend and patron Charles Sumner and unveiled the marble statue in a specially constructed gallery. The sculpture’s phenomenal success won the artist instant and lasting fame, and patronage of his work remained particularly strong in Boston for the rest of his life.

This sculpture was commissioned by Bostonian Sarah Perkins Cleveland whose brother, Charles Callahan Perkins, was a member of the artistic community of Americans in Rome and a devoted patron of Crawford’s. The sculpture descended to her daughter who bequeathed it to the Athenæum; generations of her family had supported the Athenæum, beginning with the donor’s great-grandfather, James Perkins, who gave his mansion in Pearl Street to the Athenæum in 1822.

An allegory of faith, this small sculpture was perfectly suited in size and subject for the Victorian-era parlor. The young woman depicted here is a religious pilgrim, identifiable as such by the sea-shell on her cloak. (Like all good symbols, the shell has a number of meanings, one of which, due to its association with the fishermen-apostles of Christ, is pilgrimage.) Encouraged by the sculpture’s title, we are invited to imagine the setting: having undertaken a long journey in the name of faith, the young woman sees, for the first time and with a burst of emotion and inspiration, the city of Rome and, in the distance, the resplendent dome of St. Peter’s.

Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.

Inscription

Inscribed on rear base: “CRAWFORD FECt. ROMA 1847”

Credit Line

Gift of the heirs of Eliza Callahan Cleveland, 1914

Object Number

UH147