Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Statue of Hamilton Revisited

Thanks to a recent comment from a good Friend of Robert Ball Hughes in England, I was able clarify why the Statue of Alexander Hamilton was wearing a toga in the woodblock images from 1835 and not in the plaster models. I knew why from my research but had forgotten to include the reason on the webpage.

The Statute of Hamilton, the first marble statue in America, was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1835 in New York. Since this was before the development of photography, the only images that we have are woodblock prints that were published in newspapers and magazines at the time.

Three plaster models of the statue survive in museums today but show Hamilton wearing contemporary clothing and not a toga. According to Wayne Craven, author of “Sculpture in America,” Ball Hughes added a Roman toga to his original conception to conceal a flaw that was revealed during the carving of the Carrara marble. That's one mystery solved, now for the next:

While revising the webpage account of the Statue of Hamilton, I investigated a copy of a contract for multiple casts that Fred Brown sent to me. From my research, I believe it may be the contract to cast additional copies of the plaster model for the famous Statue of Hamilton for the New York Merchants Exchange. You'll have to read the details on the Alexander Hamilton Statue webpage.

Final Thought:
I'm learning that every detail can be a valuable clue in research. As I reread the material I've accumulated so far, I keep finding new clues. Names, dates, and places that at first are not significant take on new importance when combined with information already known. In researching the document mentioned above, I discovered that Mrs. Ball Hughes enjoyed participating in parties given by the former Mayor of New York, Philip Hone. The Ball Hughes' apparently liked being part of New York's high society in the 1830's.