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«Minnesota State Capitol: Overview of the Fine Art Minnesota State Capitol: Overview of the Fine Art An Overview of the Original Art in the Minnesota ...»

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Nicholas Magazine and for books, and decorating private homes. Not until 1892, at the request of Frank Millet, whom he had met during a stay, in Broadway, England, did he begin the large mural painting at the World's Columbian Exposition for which he became well known. The patriotism evident in his public commissions for state capitols and court houses took the form of triumphal, classicizing allegories. He continued to paint large murals for public and private commissions, including the Library of Congress and the Appellate Division Courthouse in New York, until his beaux-arts style was no longer in favor. He closed his studio in 1933, when Public Works of Art project muralists were using a less decorative style, harsher colors, and dissenting political themes. [Biography provided by the Smithsonian American Art Museum]

Conservation Notes:

Painting cleaned of surface dirt and old layer of varnish as part of the chamber restoration project in 1988.

Courtesy of David Oakes, Senate Media Services Minnesota: Granary of the World, c. 1905 Edwin Blashfield Oil on canvas, permanently fixed to wall Senate Chamber, South Wall Installed 1905

Description:

In the center, riding upon a cart drawn by oxen and filled with wheat and corn is a seated woman representing Minnesota. The right side of the lunette represents the role the state had as a preserver of the Union. Civil War soldiers hold battle flags in the foreground and a nurse with bandages along with the other figures are covered by the Spirit of Patriotism. The left side represents 1900 and extols Minnesota as a leader in agriculture and through our products a contributor to national prosperity. Flying above the figures is the Spirit of Agriculture. Each group of figures also represents changes through time. On the right side, in the background are figures of aging Civil War veterans to provide a contrast to the young men in the foreground who served forty years before in the Civil War. The seated male figure on the left corner of the mural, with hat in hand, is sitting on a turn-of-the-century tractor which also shows the changes in agriculture from oxen pulled wagons to mechanization.

Born in New York and groomed for a career in engineering, Edwin Howland Blashfield (1848studied at Boston Latin School, Harvard College, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While at MIT, his mother, an artist, sent some of his drawings to the French academic painter Jean Léon Gérôme, whose interest convinced Blashfield's father to allow his son to pursue a career in art. He studied in Paris with the French history and portrait painter Léon Bonnat from 1867 to 1870 and, interrupted by the Franco-Prussian war, from 1874 to 1880.

During the interregnum, he traveled in Europe and returned to New York, where he painted genre pictures. He settled in New York in 1881, producing paintings and illustrations for St.

Nicholas Magazine and for books, and decorating private homes. Not until 1892, at the request of Frank Millet, whom he had met during a stay, in Broadway, England, did he begin the large mural painting at the World's Columbian Exposition for which he became well known. The patriotism evident in his public commissions for state capitols and court houses took the form of triumphal, classicizing allegories. He continued to paint large murals for public and private commissions, including the Library of Congress and the Appellate Division Courthouse in New York, until his beaux-arts style was no longer in favor. He closed his studio in 1933, when Public Works of Art project muralists were using a less decorative style, harsher colors, and dissenting political themes. [Biography provided by the Smithsonian American Art Museum]

Conservation Notes:

Painting cleaned of surface dirt and old layer of varnish as part of the chamber restoration project in 1988.

Curatorial Notes:

Blashfield also paid homage to the Capitol’s architect, Cass Gilbert and the vice president of the Board of Capitol Commissioners, Channing Seabury by putting their profiles on the left edge of the canvas behind the curve of the leg of Agriculture.

West Grand Staircase The Sacred Flame (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) Lunettes Courtesy of David Oakes, Senate Media Services The Sacred Flame (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), c. 1903 Henry Oliver Walker Oil on canvas, permanently fixed to wall West Grand Staircase Installed 1905

Description (original by artist in letter to Channing Seabury):

The painting for the lunette over the entrance to the Senate Chamber has for its subject “The Progress of the Flame”.

The composition is an arrangement of three draped female figures. The central and most important one is that of a mature and thoughtful woman, seated, bearing in her outstretched right hand a blazing torch which she has lighted at a fire seen burning on the ground beside her. The fire is kept alive by an aged woman, half kneeling, who throws twigs upon it. The torch in the hand of the central figure is lighting a lamp held by a youthful, floating figure which appears to be passing onward to the left. The arrangement of the personages explains at a glance the idea of the painting –which is the transmission of a flame from the Past, by the Present, to the Future.

The flame may be “Civilization”, or “Thought”, or “Knowledge”, or even “Being” itself; perhaps the Sacred Flame of the Greeks and Romans. In fact, the central figure, called in this instance “The Present”, bows her head deep in emotion at the seriousness of her task.





The figures are placed among rocks, apparently in a high place, and above them are clouds;

below them, afar off, is a plain with towers, as of distant cities.

Henry Oliver Walker (1843 – 1929) was an American painter of figures and portraits best known for his mural decorations. His works include a series of paintings honoring various poets for the Library of Congress and decorations for public buildings such as the Appellate Court House in New York City, Bowdoin College in Maine, the Massachusetts State House, the Minnesota State Capitol, and the Court House in Newark, New Jersey.

[Biography provided by artfinding.com]

Conservation Notes:

Courtesy of House of Representatives Photographer Andrew Von Bank Lunettes, c. 1904 (six pieces) The Logger (above) Horticulture (not pictured) Huntress (not pictured) Pioneer (not pictured) Sowing (not pictured) Dairy (not pictured) Arthur Willett Oil on canvas, permanently fixed to wall West Grand Stair – Below skylight vault Installed 1904

Description:

Located at the base of the skylight vaults above the stairs are six lunettes. Each one represents or notes important industry and activities that helped create the state’s identity and success in the early 1900s. When looking at each one carefully, the viewer can see what activity is represented by what each figure is holding or other visual clues, like a train, a lighthouse, grain elevator, and the Capitol in the background.

Arthur Willett (1868-1951) was an English born artist who worked with Elmer Garnsey to execute the allegorical paintings of Minnesota’s economic activity and industries.

–  –  –

Civilization of the Northwest (Southwest Corner) Civilization of the Northwest (Northwest Corner) Civilization of the Northwest (Northeast Corner) Civilization of the Northwest (Southeast Corner) Courtesy of House of Representatives Photographer Andrew Von Bank Civilization of the Northwest, c. 1904 Edward Simmons Oil on canvas, permanently fixed to wall Rotunda, Southwest Corner Installed circa 1905

Description (original by artist):

Southwest Panel: The American Genius – a young man – is led by Wisdom and Hope, is scourging from the land, the Bear, (typifying savagery,) the Cougar, (cowardice), female figure, (sin,) and male figure, (stupidity). The woman bears the plant, Deadly Nightshade – the man, Stramonium – both evil plants.

Painter-writer Edward Emerson Simmons (1852-1931) was born in Concord, MA the son of Unitarian minister George Frederick Simmons and Mary Emerson Ripley. When his father died (ca. 1858), the family was left in poverty and Simmons was raised in Concord’s Old Manse by his mother, grandmother and Bible-toting grandfather. For years, Simmons liked to listen to his father’s cousin Ralph Waldo Emerson tell stories because he “rendered the commonplace sacred”. Throughout his staunch New England upbringing, the only solace Simmons found was through art, literature and song. After obtaining a degree from Harvard in 1874, he traveled alone to Cincinnati and met the famous teacher-painter Frank Duveneck, who convinced him to go to Europe and become a painter. Upon his return to Boston, Simmons studied at the Boston Institute of Technology with William Rimmer. Rimmer convinced Simmons to study at Boston’s Museum School with Frank Crowninshield. In 1878, he studied in Paris at the Academie Julian with C.R. Boulanger, J.J. Lefebvre and was inspired by a friendship with J.A.M. Whistler.

After winning an award at the Academie (1881), he painted in Concarneau and Pont Aven his La Blanchisseuse won an honorable mention at the Paris Salon (1882). In 1891, he was commissioned to construct a stained-glass window for Harvard and in 1893, Frank Millet chose Simmons to decorate the domes at the Manufacturer’s Building for the World’s Columbian Exposition. From that point on, Simmons devoted himself to murals of American life. Simmons remained a dedicated, inquisitive painter and spokesperson for artist’s rights until his death in Baltimore, MD in November 1931. [Biography provided by Pierce Galleries, Inc.]

Conservation Notes:

In 1985 all four murals had surface dirt removed, small tears were repaired along the edges and where paint loss was discovered, inpainting was completed.

Curatorial Notes:

This series of paintings were painted in Paris. In 1912, this mural’s canvas came loose from the plaster and fell to the 2nd floor Rotunda.

Courtesy of House of Representatives Photographer Andrew Von Bank Civilization of the Northwest, c. 1904 Edward Simmons Oil on canvas, permanently fixed to wall Rotunda, Northwest Corner Installed circa 1905

Description (original by artist):

Northwest Panel: The American Genius – a young man - is lifting a stone, bearing crystals and gold, thereby breaking the soil. Beside him stand the figures of Wisdom and Hope. One figure, typifying Fertility of the soil, bearing Maize and Poppies—another, the mother and child,-another strewing flowers – and the fields behind him, all carry the sense of advancing agriculture.

For biography on this artist see first page in this section.

Conservation Notes:

In 1985 all four murals had surface dirt removed, small tears were repaired along the edges and where paint loss was discovered, inpainting was completed.

Curatorial Notes:

This series of paintings were painted in Paris.

Courtesy of House of Representatives Photographer Andrew Von Bank Civilization of the Northwest, c. 1904 Edward Simmons Oil on canvas, permanently fixed to wall Rotunda, Northeast Corner Installed circa 1905

Description (original by artist):

Northeast Panel: The youth having now acquired wisdom, Minerva no longer appears, but he now wears her cloak and her shield rests against his knee. He is commanding the Four Winds to bear to the four corners of the earth, the products of the state—wheat, minerals, the fine arts, etc.

The figure bearing the torch typifies mental progress. Beside him, sits Hope, no longer leading but watching, and bearing jewels and flowers, indicating prosperity and wealth.

For biography on this artist see first page in this section.

Conservation Notes:

In 1985 all four murals had surface dirt removed, small tears were repaired along the edges and where paint loss was discovered, inpainting was completed.

Curatorial Notes:

This series of paintings were painted in Paris. In 1912, this mural’s canvas came loose from the plaster wall and tore in two pieces, landing on the 2nd floor Rotunda.

Courtesy of House of Representatives Photographer Andrew Von Bank Civilization of the Northwest, c. 1904 Edward Simmons Oil on canvas, permanently fixed to wall Rotunda, Southeast Corner Installed circa 1906



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