Boston Public LibraryPaintings and Fine Arts Collection at the Boston Public Library / Mural Cycles at the Central Library in Copley Square
Dogma of the Redemption; Trinity and Crucifix, Frieze of Angels
- Dogma of the Redemption; Trinity and Crucifix, Frieze of Angels
- Title (uniform):
Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925. Triumph of religion
At the top of this large half-moon lunette, three crowned figures representing the Holy Trinity share a single red robe, the trim of which bears the Latin word Sanctus, or "Holy," in repeated gild relief. At center in high plaster relief is the figure of Christ on the cross, flanked by Adam at left and Eve at right. At the base of the cross sits a pelican, considered the sacrificial bird in medieval depictions for its tendency to pluck its own skin in order to provide food for its young when no other nourishment was available. Running along the bottom of the lunette is the Frieze of Angels, figures in primary tones holding symbols of the Passion of Christ, including the spear, pincers, hammer, nails, pillar, scourge, reed, sponge, and crown of thorns.
- Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925
- Boston Public Library
- Lanzel, Sheryl
Boston Public Library
- Collection (local):
Mural Cycles at the Central Library in Copley Square
- Sargent Gallery Murals: Triumph of Religion by John Singer Sargent
Adam (Biblical figure)
Eve (Biblical figure)
- 1 painting : mural, oil on canvas
Copyright (c) Sheryl Lanzel
All rights reserved.
- Notes (date):
A contract dated January 18, 1893 officially commissioned John Singer Sargent to undertake work on the Boston Public Library Murals. Canvases were completed in Sargent's studios in Morgan Hall, England and London, England and shipped over to Boston and adhered to the library walls in four installations occurring in 1895, 1903, 1916, and 1919.
- Notes (object):
The artist used "raised relief" elements - including wood, Lincrusta-Walton, metal, papier-mâché, glass, and plaster to help emboss and illuminate the figures in natural light. "Trinity and Crucifix" measures approximately 132.5 x 265.5 inches; "Frieze of Angels" measures approximately 84 x 265.5 inches.
- Notes (historical):
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was born in Florence, Italy to an American family. He was educated at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and spent most of his life living and working in England. The artist maintained close ties to Boston and painted the Boston Public Library murals concurrently with murals at the nearby Museum of Fine Arts. Known for his aptitude as a portrait painter, Sargent was commissioned to capture many famous faces of his day. The library murals - arguably his most ambitious works - represented an opportunity to solidify his reputation as a master. He was not a highly religious man, but remained fascinated by religious imagery and iconography. "Triumph of Religion" represented an opportunity for the mid-career artist to take on a truly ambitious theme and celebrate his study of religious visual history. His mural cycle was left incomplete, perhaps slowed by the artist's personal loss with the death of his niece in World War I, as well as by criticism received from members of the public who found his representations offensive.
Title from information in: Wick, Peter A. "A handbook to the art and architecture of the Boston Public Library" and Sargent, John Singer, "A sequence of mural decoration executed between 1895 and 1916.".
Abstract from information in: Sargent, John Singer, "A sequence of mural decoration executed between 1895 and 1916." and Promey, Sally M., "John Singer Sargent's Triumph of Religion at the Boston Public Library."
- Accession #: