A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art
History of Early American Landscape Design

Difference between revisions of "Bunker Hill Monument"

[http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/casva/research-projects.html A Project of the National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts ]
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The committee subsequently changed course, opening a design competition in 1825 which attracted 50 entries. Although a [[column]] had been specified, a variety of alternative forms were submitted. [[Robert Mills]], an architect who had previously designed the [[Washington Monument (Baltimore)|Washington Monument]] in Baltimore, submitted plans for a [[column]] as well as an [[obelisk]], expressing his preference for the latter due to its “lofty character, great strength, and…fine surface for inscriptions.” <ref> Bryan, 2001, 204; Scott 1989, 133. </ref> Along with inscriptions, the monument was to be ornamented with numerous decorative devices &mdash; shields, stars, spears, and wreaths &mdash; which could be viewed from a series of platforms around the base and shaft of the [[obelisk]]. Horatio Greenough (1805-1852), a student at Harvard University who went on to become a noted sculptor, also submitted a design for an [[obelisk]]. In his memoirs, published in 1852, Greenough observed: “The [[obelisk]] has to my eye a singular aptitude in its form and character to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more.” <ref> Purcell, 2010, 201 </ref>
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The committee subsequently changed course, opening a design competition in 1825 which attracted 50 entries. Although a [[column]] had been specified, a variety of alternative forms were submitted. [[Robert Mills]], an architect who had previously designed the [[Washington Monument (Baltimore)|Washington Monument]] in Baltimore, submitted plans for a [[column]] as well as an [[obelisk]], expressing his preference for the latter due to its “lofty character, great strength, and…fine surface for inscriptions.” <ref> Bryan, 2001, 204; Scott 1989, 133. </ref> Along with inscriptions, the monument was to be ornamented with numerous decorative devices &mdash; shields, stars, spears, and wreaths &mdash; which could be viewed from a series of platforms around the base and shaft of the [[obelisk]]. Horatio Greenough (1805-1852), a student at Harvard University who went on to become a noted sculptor, also submitted a design for an [[obelisk]]. In his memoirs, published in 1852, Greenough observed: “The [[obelisk]] has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more.” <ref> Henry T. Tuckerman, ''A Memorial of Horatio Greenough, Consisting of a Memoir, Selections from His Writings, and Tributes to His Genius'' (New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1853), 82, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/RKMSEMCJ view on Zotero].</ref>
  
  
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==Texts==
 
==Texts==
* Greenough, Horatio, c. 1851
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* Greenough, Horatio, c. 1851, "The Washington Monument" in Tuckerman, 1853, 82, [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/RKMSEMCJ view on Zotero].</ref>
: 79"A national monument to Washington has been designed and is in process of construction A lithographic print of this design is before the public It represents an obelisk rising out of a low circular building whose exterior presents a Greek colonnade of the Doric order A fac simile of the endorsement of some of our most distinguished citizens recommends this design to their fellow countrymen I propose to examine the invention.
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: 82 "The [[obelisk]] has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more. For this reason it was that I designed an [[obelisk]] for Bunker Hill, and urged arguments that appeared to me unanswerable against a [[column]] standing alone.....
: "The prominent peculiarity of the design before us is the intermarriage of an Egyptian monument...with a Greek structure or one of Greek elements. I do not think it is in the power of art to effect such an amalgamation without corrupting and destroying the special beauties and characters of the two elements. The one, simple even to monotony, may be defined a gigantic expression of unity. The other, a combination of organized parts assembled for a common object. The very perfection of their forms, as exponents of so distinct characters, makes them protest against juxtaposition.
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: "The [[column]] used as a form of monument has two advantages. First, it is a beautiful object &mdash; confessedly so. Secondly, it requires no study or thought; the formula being ready made to our hands.  
 
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: "I object, as regards the first of these advantages, that the beauty of a [[column]], perfect as it is, is a relative beauty, and arises from its adaptation to the foundation on which it rests, and to the entablature which it is organized to sustain. The spread of the upper member of the capital calls for the entablature, cries aloud for it. The absence of that burden is expressive either of incompleteness, if the object be fresh and new, or of ruin if it bear the marks of age. The [[column]] is, therefore, essentially fractional &mdash; a capital defect in a monument, which should always be independent. I object to the second advantage as being one only to the ignorant and incapable. I hold the chief value of a monument to be this, that it affords opportunity for feeling, thought, and study, and that it not only occasions these in the architect, but also in the beholder."
 
 
: 80 "If the union of Egyptian mass and weight combination and harmony with Greek be heterodox, the order in which they are displayed here is even more strikingly in violation of propriety. The complex, subdivided, comparatively light Greek stucture, is placed as a basis, a foundation. The Egyptian mass of stone rises above it.
 
 
 
***********
 
arrangement is esta Stated That I must think palpable absurdity STI It is Demonstrated Those That May be urged us weaker and more slender columns to massive foundation veil Within them We had guessed Because esta Already a miracle alone sustain the weight Otherwise Could The pillars hide the strength of the structure Their Hence it as an architectural feature impertinence It is incumbent upon edifices first to be strong secondly to look strong We have read of a colossus with feet of brass of clay and the image is striking To an Egyptian architect sustained weight in appearance by Greek pillars That is not less so buildings in rising from the earth be broad and simple at Their foundations That They grow lighter not only in fact but in expression As They ascend is a principle established The laws of gravitation are at the root of esta The spire axiom it obeys The obelisk is ITS simplest expression waiving the impropriety of Doric colonnade basis for
 
 
 
: 80 " The pillars hide the strength of the structure hence their impertinence as an architectural feature It is incumbent upon edifices first to be strong secondly to look strong We have read of a colossus of brass with feet of clay and the image is striking. To an architect Egyptian weight sustained in appearance by Greek pillars is not less so That buildings in rising from the earth be broad and simple at their bases that they grow lighter not only in fact but in expression as they ascend is a principle established The laws of gravitation are at the root of this axiom. The spire obeys it. The obelisk is its simplest expression.
 
 
 
Waiving the impropriety of a Doric colonnade as a basis for an obelisk I object to that order for a circular structure. If the union of Egyptian mass and weight combination and harmony with Greek heterodox be the order in Which They are displayed here is even more strikingly in violation of propriety subdivided The complex structure is comparatively light Greek Placed as a basis for foundation The Egyptian mass of stone When it rises above arrangement is esta Stated That I must think palpable absurdity STI It is Demonstrated.People
 
  
 
==References==
 
==References==

Revision as of 19:51, March 10, 2015

The Bunker Hill Monument in Charleston, Massachusetts commemorates a pivotal early battle in the American war for independence. It is the first colossal obelisk erected in the United States. [1]


Overview

Alternate Names:

Site Dates: 1826-1842

Site Designer(s): Robert Mills; Horatio Greenough; Solomon Willard

Location:
View on Google Maps

History

The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775 on and around Breed’s Hill during the Siege of Boston. Nineteen years later, an 18-foot Tuscan pillar surmounted by a gilt urn was erected in memory of Dr. Joseph Warren (1741-1775), a hero of the battle, by the members of his Masonic Lodge. In 1823 a group of prominent Massachusetts citizens formed the Bunker Hill Monument Association for the purpose of creating a more ambitious memorial commensurate with the battle’s national importance. The Association envisioned “a simple, majestic, lofty, and permanent monument, which shall carry down to remote ages a testimony…to the heroic virtue and courage of those men who began and achieved the independence of their country.” [2] In order to protect the battlefield from encroaching development as the local population grew, the Association’s standing committee purchased 15 acres on the slope of Breed’s Hill and authorized Solomon Willard, a stone worker and builder, to draw the plan for a 221-foot column.


The committee subsequently changed course, opening a design competition in 1825 which attracted 50 entries. Although a column had been specified, a variety of alternative forms were submitted. Robert Mills, an architect who had previously designed the Washington Monument in Baltimore, submitted plans for a column as well as an obelisk, expressing his preference for the latter due to its “lofty character, great strength, and…fine surface for inscriptions.” [3] Along with inscriptions, the monument was to be ornamented with numerous decorative devices — shields, stars, spears, and wreaths — which could be viewed from a series of platforms around the base and shaft of the obelisk. Horatio Greenough (1805-1852), a student at Harvard University who went on to become a noted sculptor, also submitted a design for an obelisk. In his memoirs, published in 1852, Greenough observed: “The obelisk has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more.” [4]


Following extensive debate over the architectural form best suited to communicate the heroic, memorial, and patriotic themes of the monument, the committee determined that the obelisk was “most congenial to republican institutions.” [5] Willard received the commission to construct the monument, which he originally designed with an Egyptian Revival base. Lack of funds required simplification of Willard's design and the selling of most of the land purchased by the Association. Only the summit of the hill was preserved for the monument grounds. [6] Landscape improvements carried out between 1842 and 1847 included grading, planting trees and hedges, laying sidewalks, and installing iron fences. [7]


--Robyn Asleson

Images

Texts

  • Greenough, Horatio, c. 1851, "The Washington Monument" in Tuckerman, 1853, 82, view on Zotero.</ref>
82 "The obelisk has to my eye a singular aptitude, in its form and character, to call attention to a spot memorable in history. It says but one word, but it speaks loud. If I understand its voice, it says, Here! It says no more. For this reason it was that I designed an obelisk for Bunker Hill, and urged arguments that appeared to me unanswerable against a column standing alone.....
"The column used as a form of monument has two advantages. First, it is a beautiful object — confessedly so. Secondly, it requires no study or thought; the formula being ready made to our hands.
"I object, as regards the first of these advantages, that the beauty of a column, perfect as it is, is a relative beauty, and arises from its adaptation to the foundation on which it rests, and to the entablature which it is organized to sustain. The spread of the upper member of the capital calls for the entablature, cries aloud for it. The absence of that burden is expressive either of incompleteness, if the object be fresh and new, or of ruin if it bear the marks of age. The column is, therefore, essentially fractional — a capital defect in a monument, which should always be independent. I object to the second advantage as being one only to the ignorant and incapable. I hold the chief value of a monument to be this, that it affords opportunity for feeling, thought, and study, and that it not only occasions these in the architect, but also in the beholder."

References

Notes

  1. Zukowsky, 1976, 574
  2. Warren, 1877, 47; see also Purcell, 195-99.
  3. Bryan, 2001, 204; Scott 1989, 133.
  4. Henry T. Tuckerman, A Memorial of Horatio Greenough, Consisting of a Memoir, Selections from His Writings, and Tributes to His Genius (New York: G. P. Putnam & Co., 1853), 82, view on Zotero.
  5. Purcell, 2010, 199-200; see also Wright, 1953, 167-71
  6. Wheildon, 1865, 58-224; see also Willard, 1843
  7. Heitert, 2009, 38-39



References

http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects/sh85018010.html

Bunker Hill website (National Park Service): http://www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/bhm.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunker_Hill_Monument

Retrieved from "https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Bunker_Hill_Monument&oldid=7265"

History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "Bunker Hill Monument," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Bunker_Hill_Monument&oldid=7265 (accessed August 10, 2022).

A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

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