Summer Solstice in New York

SUMMER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION

MORNING SUN

June 17 @ 4:30 am

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

Purchase tickets>>

The Consort’s special guests will be the renowned 32-voice choir Florida Singing Sons. My Consort colleagues will include Paul McCandless, oboe, English horn, and bass clarinet; Eugene Friesen, cello; Jeff Holmes, piano; and Tim Brumfield on the Cathedral’s Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ.

The Consort will premiere new music along with traditional pieces, and will collaborate with the choir in music ranging from Bulgarian chant to the work of Eric Whitacre and the sublime nocturnes of Morten Lauridsen.

This is the first time, in all the years of our Summer and Winter Solstice Celebrations, that we will have a choir. Florida Singing Sons (FSS) has been responsible for the musical education of over 1,000 students across South Florida. FSS students dedicate themselves to a rigorous music education program that results in university level musicianship skills and life-changing personal growth and development. The choir tours the United States and internationally on an annual basis, and has a vested interest in cultivating arts-aware youth to be the leaders of tomorrow.

“Morning Sun,” the theme for this year’s Summer Solstice Celebration, is also the title of the new Living Music album MORNING SUN: Adventures with Oboe – Paul McCandless with the Paul Winter Consort, an anthology of Paul’s greatest recordings with the Consort over the past 45 years. The concert will feature Paul on oboe, English horn, and bass clarinet in this salute to his new album, and in honor of his 70th birthday.

Details:

Saturday, June 17, 2017 4:30am

Cathedral of St. John the Divine 1047 Amsterdam at 112th St, Manhattan

$50 Preferred General Admission $40 General Admission

solsticeconcert.com or 866 811 4111

Purchase tickets>>

“Our music begins in total darkness, and proceeds in a continuous journey, with musicians surrounding the audience. Gradually, as the great stained-glass windows slowly illuminate, the light joins the sound to carry us into the dawn.” — Paul Winter

The concert will be followed by a free tea and coffee reception in the nave of the Cathedral, to which all are invited.

Posted in Current Events | Leave a comment

The Sunsinger Connection

Sunsinger Fall ColorsAt the Sunsinger circle one Saturday morning last fall, I encountered a fellow hiker and his wife photographing the Sunsinger. I stopped to chat, asking him if it was their first visit to The Park. It was not, but they had been away for almost twenty years. His studies and career lead him and his wife to other states.

He shared that his father had been a Mathematics Professor at the University of Illinois. He, himself, an undergraduate product of UIUC, now taught computer science and engineering at the university level. He continued that his childhood home, at least until the mid 1960’s, is now the ‘back side’ of Krannert Center. He remarked the great changes in his ‘old neighborhood’ since his childhood and college years.

We talked about the timelessness of The Park. He and his wife noted the many positive changes around The Park – improvements of recent years. Sunsinger on ground 6 17 07The couple remarked they hadn’t remembered The Sunsinger to be ‘so green.’ I filled them in on his 2007 repatination that had, at least temporarily, removed the rust corrosion eating away at him, but had left The Sunsinger notably glowing teal green. We shared a laugh. He then proceeded to tell me about his friend’s CD entitled “The Sunsinger” whose cover art featured a photo of our beloved monumental statue.
Sunsinger 5 22 08 StitchedI admitted that I was not familiar with the artist or his work. We parted ways. But, they had planted a new research seed – Paul Winter, “The Sunsinger.”

Who is Paul Winter?

Why did he feature our Sunsinger on his CD cover? What is his connection to our Park? This hiker knew him, but how? These are the kinds of questions that drive this research blogger….

1983 CD Sunsinger - Paul Winter on right

1983 CD Sunsinger – Paul Winter on right

First, the CD “Sunsinger”, released in 1983, and was readily obtained through an on-line reseller. Both Urbana and Champaign libraries held most of Paul Winter’s CD’s that provided a thorough introduction to his music.

“Best described as what has become New Age and/or World music, the Paul Winter Consort offered a new, jazz inspired music that quickly found a large audience. The Consort offered a blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, with Native American, South American and African influences.” on line source

A subsequent Google search revealed that Paul Winter, composer and musician, holds multiple Grammy awards.  An undergraduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, Mr. Winter launched a successful musical career before graduation that continues to date. The Paul Winter Consort founded in 1967, features Paul Winter, as lead saxophonist. The Sunsinger, released in 1983, won critical acclaim. Success continued with multiple Grammy Awards in subsequent years. He is an artist in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in New York City. He regularly performs there, most recently, giving sold out concerts in December of his annual Winter Solstice Concert.

The most recent Winter Solstice concert held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the December 15, 16 and 17th, 2016, included current consort members, Eugene Friesen, cello, Paul Mccandleuss, oboe, Paul Sullivan, keyboard, Eliot Wadopian, , Jamey Hadded, drums, Tim Broomfield, organ and Scott Sloan on Sun-gongs. The Consort was joined by vocalists, Gary Brooker and Theresa Thomson along with dance group, Forces of Nature.

Not only does the 1983 CD jacket feature a photo of the Allerton Sunsinger, but a printed descriptive identifies him as a ‘replica’ of the Sunsinger that stands in Stockholm, Sweden. The only information to add here is that the Allerton Sunsinger is not exactly a replica. It can be argued that every cast is a replica, but lifetime castings of the Sunsinger by the artist, Carl Milles makes the Sunsinger more than a replica. The Allerton Sunsinger is inscribed by the artist himself.

Paul Winter provided generous reply to the queries posed to him about his connection to our Sunsinger. Mr. Winter came to Robert Allerton Park to participate in a Tai Chi conference held at the House in 1983. (qi is very good in the Park) He came to the Park, only for the conference, and was unfamiliar with the history or offerings of the House and its accompanying Park. The first morning after arriving the night before, Paul headed out for an early morning jog before the conference started. He followed the main road through the Park and began to climb upwards. After several turns the road turned right “on a long straightaway.” (still the same today) Paul Winter explained:

Sunsinger 4 13 2008 4 photos stitched“I thought I saw in the distance a man suspended in the air, who also seemed to be moving. At first I thought it must be an apparition, or that I was hallucinating. But as I came closer, I saw that he wasn’t actually moving, that it was my own up and down motion that had made it seem so. Finally, I realized it was a statue, with the base obscured by the mist. It was like a revelation.”

Paul continued about the Sunsinger.

“I fell in love with the Sun Singer. I had never been so smitten with a sculpture. And it inspired the album, which was made then that summer of ’83 .”Sunsinger at Sunset 9 28

Later in 1985, Paul visited the original Sunsinger in Stockholm, Sweden. He added that the Sunsinger at Allerton Park seems so much bigger and impressive than its Stockholm twin.

Paul referred to the Allerton Sunsinger as “majestic.” Many, if not everyone, agree. As Paul experienced, after a series of curves the road opens to a long straightaway, at the end of which, opens to an expansive plaza where the Sunsinger stands at its center. Depending upon the season, the sun position, the sky, the fog……. the view is always changing. Every ‘concert’ is different, even though the songs are the same.

Paul Winter performs an annual Winter Solstice Concert (Concerts) each December. 2016 was the 38th year of his Winter Solstice concerts at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The Paul Winter Consort was one of the pioneer performance artists of what is now considered New Age music. In 1983, it was just a newly inspired unnamed genre. In that year, Paul’s revelation from his close encounter with Allerton Park’s Sunsinger would inspire him to write and release the CD titled “The Sunsinger” which would lead to a long career that continues today. His concert performance within the Cathedral along with a light show, dancers and other performers must be an amazing experience. The Winter Solstice concerts have become so much of a New York City December tradition that the shows sell out each performance.

IMG_2205What could possibly compare to the Cathedral of St John the Divine as concert hall? Could a return to the Sunsinger for a Summer Solstice concert overlooking the meadow compare to a cathedral? Robert considered the Woodlands were the most important element of his estate which covers many thousand acres. Sunsinger 12 10 06

Within that woodland, Robert created aesthetic oasis to nourish the appreciation of nature. When the Sunsinger arrived in giant size, the Allertons had the financial resources to purchase a farm for its majestic perch. The Sunsinger became the far end of the formal garden axis, stretching from the formal landscaped garden, through the Sunken Garden to the Centaur and finally to the Sunsinger. Even on foot by the trail, the Sunsinger is invisible from the intersection. The hiker must climb some elevation before the Sunsinger clearly comes into view.Sunsinger Base Rear w Jet Trail 10 8 06

The Cathedral of St John the Divine is an amazing space. A chorus can be invited to perform a 30 minute concert, depending upon the schedule of services. Besides being an important historic site for New York City, the Cathedral is an active church. IMG_2226It is open for paid visit and included on the New York City tourist pass. IMG_2231An additional paid tour, offered only a few times each week, takes visitors into the upper balconies, into the inner attics of the arches below, and finally out to the roof.

IMG_2219

Yet, in spite of St John the Divine’s stained glass and acoustic echoes within its chambers, our cathedral of Allerton Park rivals anything man made. Can a return visit to Allerton Park inspire Paul Winter to perform in our cathedral? Summer Solstice: a Return to the Sunsinger – Paul Winter – June, 2018?IMG_2209
IMG_2509

Posted in Park and the Palace | Leave a comment

Watercolor Vignette – Groundskeeper at work

During Robert and John Gregg Allerton’s tenure at their Monticello, Illinois estate dubbed “The Farms,” they employed a full time staff of ten that included cook, housekeeper, driver/butler and groundskeepers. Some of the staff were married couples or relatives. Some of the workers resided at the Allerton estate. There are bedrooms on the third floor of the House for single workers. Most of them were House workers. The Gatekeepers House and the two gate houses were residences of full-time caretakers. Since Robert and John resided only part-time at The Farms, mostly from April to November (planting until harvest), the task of overseeing The Farms from December until March fell to Robert’s trusted employees. They were a dedicated team.

So This is How the Hedges get a Haircut!

So This is How the Hedges get a Haircut!

In a transcribed interview of John Gregg Allerton, he speaks about the workers seeming to melt away when the couple emerged from the House. The same is true today. The gardens are groomed, the paths are swept clear, the pebble walks are raked, the meadow is mown, the tall arborvitae spikes are trimmed – and few visitors see this work happen. The wedding guests this weekend didn’t know that by 7:00 AM that morning, crews were sprucing up and setting up. The same is true for yesterday’s ceremony in the Fu Dog Garden, that crews worked early to make the land and plantscape the perfect backdrop for a magical moment.

Isn’t this the magical part about Allerton Park?

Next time you visit the Park, examine all the details that make up this backdrop. Notice the espalier Trees of Life in the brick garden. Do you know the significance of the Tree of Life? Notice the elements that make the Allerton garden an architectural garden. Notice the crunch of the pebbles intended to require a slower step. Notice the symmetry. The line of the formal gardens extends to the Centaur, but the hard-surface walk ends at the Sunken Garden. The hard-surface walk extends from the House to and through the formal gardens to the Sunken Garden. Access to the pond for wheeled vehicles is best using the wooden platform viewing overlook.

When Robert and John Gregg Allerton left Monticello for Kauai, Robert was 60 years old. John Gregg, his junior, by some twenty years. When the couple moved to the island, Robert actually worked – for the first time. He was no longer a gentleman farmer. He worked alongside John and the work crew in creating new landscaped gardens using the Hawaiian land and plantscapes.

The experience of entering the Kuaui Allerton Tropical Garden is strikingly the same as that of entering Robert Allerton Park. Magical. Majestic. Mysterious. Memorable memories. Meaningful moments. Mind blowing. Merrymaking.

For a moment suspended in time, please visit The Park, soon. And IF you see the Park staff, tell them thanks for making the Park such a beautiful place. In light of the current State budget, we are lucky to still have the Park!

 

Posted in Allertonia | Comments Off on Watercolor Vignette – Groundskeeper at work

Applause for the Shooting Stars of the Flower Show

And Now for the Star of the Wildflower Show – 

IMG_8869

Location: Lost Garden Parking Lot;

Plank Boardwalk over historically muddy place - McDonald Family Trail (Red)

Plank Boardwalk over historically muddy place – McDonald Family Trail (Red)The MacDonald Family Trail (Red) to the Sangamon River overlook 

The MacDonald Family Trail (Red) to the Sangamon River overlook

The Spring wildflowers have been spectacular. And blooming since early March, too. This past weekend held vestiges of the previous blooming wave. IMG_3667

A few trout lilies remained, although their mottled leaves dominated the floor. The Dutchmen’s Breeches (in the Poppy family) have also faded.

Red Trillium

Red Trillium

Red Trillium are fully opened. Mayapple already sport waxy discs at the bifurcation. IMG_3732With warm temperatures predicted this week, the Jacks in the Pulpit will be in full riot. Bluebells (a member of the Borage family), Purple and Pink Phlox, and Pink Wild Geranium splash pastels amidst the verdant forest floor. Blue-eyed Mary, a snapdragon, line the Blue/Red trail.

But this year, like last year, the Shooting Star stole the show. IMG_8849On Friday, April 14, only two early blooms were counted. IMG_8991On early afternoon Saturday, while the rain still glistened on the stalk, the bloom was on. It was a true Georgia O’Keefe moment. IMG_8984By Sunday afternoon, the slope from Pussy Toe Hill / Lesser Promontory Slope on the Red Trail was engulfed in Shooting Stars. By Monday, the wind over the course of two days was beginning to take its toll on the delicate blooms. It’s a wonder the single stalk that seems to shoot from the earth can support the sheer weight of so many full blooms.IMG_9017 A 15 mile per hour gusty wind shook the blooming chandeliers. At the height of this tall stalk bursts forth, out and down a cascade of flowers – each one, seeming to erupt. By Tuesday, the peak of Shooting Stars was a past event. Just have to wait another 52 weeks for the next show.

After this wildflower interruption, it will be time to return to eBird. It will be time to look up for the birds, while keeping an eye on the trail and road ahead.

Posted in Hikes and Likes | Comments Off on Applause for the Shooting Stars of the Flower Show

Long Walk Through the Park

Today was a long walk day. Twelve of the 22 kilometers passed through the Park. Three of these twelve kilometers traveled the red and blue trails accessed via the Lost Garden Trailhead and now the McDonald Family Trail. IMG_3744The plank boardwalk passage over the previous mud barrier allows discovery of this natural bog. Continuing upward on the red trail, the trail eventually opens to a promontory over the Sangamon River. Following the crest of the hill south along the ridge and then carefully down the slope, Pussy Toes, Spring Beauties, Trout Lilies, Dutchmen Breeches, Bellwort,

BellWort

BellWort

Phlox and Bluebells provide a spectacular backdrop. The Shooting Stars have not yet bloomed in force.

Slopes of the lesser promontory over the Sangamon River. Shooting Stars are poised, ready to burst into bloom. Last year, April 20 was the peak bloom. We may be about the same this year.

Slopes of the lesser promontory over the Sangamon River. Shooting Stars are poised, ready to burst into bloom. Last year, April 20 was the peak bloom. We may be about the same this year.

 

Shooting Star

Shooting Star

Only two Shooting Stars were noted open today.

Trout Lily and distinctive liver mottled leaves

Trout Lily and distinctive liver mottled leaves

Last years peak Shooting Star bloom occurred around April 20th. This year is on par with last. The trails are too delightful to take note of the birds above. The wildflowers are putting on quite a show. Following the red trail northward, a second promontory, taller than the first, now has a dedicated bench.

Just installed today, April 14, 2017. Wayland's overlook up the trail from Pussy Toe Hill.

Just installed today, April 14, 2017. Wayland’s overlook up the trail from Pussy Toe Hill.

Wayland Eheart’s favorite view. “Wayland’s Spot.” This week, Wayland’s view will offer an abundance of flowers – especially Shooting Stars.

Continuing North on the Red trail until it crosses with the Blue Trail back to the Trailhead, Blue-eyed Mary line this trail. They are in full bloom now.

Blue-eyed Mary (Red/Blue trail)

Blue-eyed Mary (Red/Blue trail)

Jack in the Pulpit

Jack in the Pulpit

Transformation into a Jack in the Pulpit

Transformation into a Jack in the Pulpit

Only one fully formed Jack in the Pulpit was identified. Several leaf heads are ready to curl and transform into “Jacks.”

By next week, the Jacks in the Pulpit will be plentiful. The Green Trail is the best trail for Jacks in the Pulpit.

May Apple are now bifurcating. Clumps of Wild Ginger and

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Bloodroot compete for ground space.

Posted in Hikes and Likes | Comments Off on Long Walk Through the Park

Watercolor Vignettes – A Birding Year at Allerton Park

We are now in the fourth month of A Birding Year at Allerton. Anyone can join at anytime by ‘buying’ a free ticket through Event Brite. Allerton paid events and entries are now done through this on line app. The Event Brite app navigates easily to purchase tickets and make paid reservations to special events. The site also serves as a bulletin board to announce upcoming events.The app allows updates to those who purchased tickets. In this case the free ticket to A Birding Year at Allerton also provides a kind of subscription for information about current bird sightings and recommended places within the Park where one has the best opportunity to observe these birds. The Spring birds began to arrive early this year. Nuthatches and chickadees arrive at the tale end of winter. Bluebirds and cardinals arrive north about the same time. This year they were plentiful in thickets along the roadways.

Last week’s cover photo on the April 6, 2017, edition of the local newspaper featured a mature bald eagle. Great shot! The sheer size of a bald eagle never ceases to amaze and awe. The commentary quoted Allerton Natural Areas Director that bald eagle sightings at the Park are becoming increasingly common.

A benefit of participating in the Birding Year is the reporting database sponsored by Cornell University. The site eBird.org requires subscription (free) and participants are asked to report bird sightings. Allerton Park is one of the listed locations, so reporting bird sightings as participants in the Birding Year is a relatively easy process on on line. If the birders reporting sightings are correct, the database will statistically demonstrate migration patterns. While walking or driving through the Park many birds can be identified with regularity. Participants are asked to report these birds repeatedly – every time. Not just the first time a bird is observed. The information is useful in determining territory. Consistency of reporting is a real problem. When Bird Sightings are secondary to the primary purpose for being in the Park is exercise and meditation, consistency of reporting become a problem. Although a bald eagle sighting will definitely bring one out of the ‘zone.’

PILEATED WOODPECKER - very large, distintive goofy call

PILEATED WOODPECKER – very large. has distintive goofy call

During the winter barrenness the Pileated Woodpecker is a striking figure in flight and when on the tree. Tufted Titmouse  can be confused for a duller female cardinal.

TUFTED TITMOUSE says "Pwe-e-e-t" in an upwards song.

TUFTED TITMOUSE says “Pwe-e-e-t” in an upwards song.

The Tufted Titmouse is smaller, the front torso is off white that becomes salmon under the wings. The tuft is less obvious than a cardinal’s. Event Bright news reports the arrival of Spring Warblers and kinglets. The now flooded floodplains offer many kinds of migrating ducks – wood ducks. Even pelicans have been sighted near Lodge Park. 

Last week, however, came the ultimate bird disrespect! On the walk home a vulture shrouded his roadkill protectively to prevent the intruder’s theft. Eventually the vulture yielded to the intruders path and perched in the tree above. But, before he could retrieve his squirrel, a park worker came along, stopped and scooped up the vulture’s prize for disposal.

Do I look like I WANT your roadkill? Vulture shrouding his prize.

Do I look like I WANT your roadkill?
Vulture shrouding his prize.

What are the possible morals to this event: ‘You get what you get.’ ‘What goes around, comes around.’ You snooze you lose, Too Bad for the Vulture.’ Hmmmm. That will be a good thought rat hole to pursue on this morning’s walk. 

Posted in Hikes and Likes | Comments Off on Watercolor Vignettes – A Birding Year at Allerton Park

Watercolor Vignette – Park Groundskeepers / The Allerton Trails Half Marathon

The seasonal Park groundskeepers have returned to work. The mowing season kicked off early for everyone! The Groundskeepers are the seemingly invisible forces who manicure the landscape. during Robert’s tenure on his estate, now public park, the groundskeepers melted away when he took his daily stroll through the grounds. Invited guests, likewise, were not to be intruded upon by groundskeeping tasks. Even today, the groundskeepers strive to perform impeccable grooming to the grounds, while respecting the peace of the strolling visitor. During the week, mowers rachet, trimmers purr and leaf blowers protest as Park workers accomplish their tasks. The end result, by Friday, the Park magically waits, poised and ready to enchant the multitudes who stroll through the gardens, who play frisbee and sunbathe on the meadow slopes, who witness weddings and all who make lasting memories of their time in the Park.

Park Groundskeeper on the Job

Park Groundskeeper on the Job

On another note, The Park played host on March 31st and April 1st to the Allerton Trails Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K running races. Despite the heavy rains of the week, the usual muddy spots on the course had been remedied by recent trail upgrades and maintenance, overseen by the Natural Areas staff and workers. Park groundskeepers helped in the work of setting up and taking down the course.

Reis Desantis, age 21, took first place in the half-marathon (13.1 miles) with a time of 1 hour, 22 minutes and 56 seconds for a split pace of 6 minutes and 20 seconds. Alex Goodlad, age 23, earned first place in the Male overall 10K race with a time of 39 minutes 18 seconds for a split pace in the 6.2 mile race of of 6 minutes 20 seconds (on pace for 10K at least with the winning half-marathoner). Winning overall Women’s in the 10K with a time of 47 minutes 24 seconds was 40 year old Jennifer Dominick. Full results can be found on-line. The Second Wind Running Club hosts the on-line results.

Good job to all the runners who competed and to all the Park workers and volunteers who made this annual event happen.

Posted in Current Events | Comments Off on Watercolor Vignette – Park Groundskeepers / The Allerton Trails Half Marathon

Watercolor Vignette – A Walk in the Park

fullsizeoutput_1512

Snow covered Hepatica

IMG_8645

Snow Trillium under snow

The Park is awash in colors and textures. Wildflowers bloom abundantly throughout the Park. The wildflower season began early this year owing to the unseasonably warm temperatures in late February. On March 12th, Hepatica and Snow Trillium bloomed on the south facing slopes only to be covered in a three inch snowfall a few days later. After that snowfall, temperatures fell below zero over the course of the next three days. Despite the rough start to the season, the wildflowers are out in full force. Now is the time to ‘get your boots on and start hiking the Park.’

Dutchmen's Breeches in Bloom

Dutchmen’s Breeches in Bloom

Posted in Hikes and Likes | Comments Off on Watercolor Vignette – A Walk in the Park

Denicheur d’Oursons – The Snatcher of Baby Bears

IMG_7156From the details of a published catalogue La Main et le Multiple, Emmanuel Fremiet, French animal sculptor cast only two of the life-sized bronze statues entitled Denicheur d’Oursons. IMG_8726Translated into English, the title means the snatcher of baby bears from the nest. Denicheur derives from the verb denicher which means to pluck from the nest. Denicheur means one who snatches from the nest.

Fremiet submitted the plaster model to the Salon of 1885 with the title Ours et homme de l’age de pierre (Bear and Stone Age Man). The group was renamed Denicheur d’Oursons when Fremiet cast the first bronze for the Paris zoo. The plaster model neither returned to Lille nor recovered. It is this second casting of Denicheur d’Oursons that stands in Allerton Park today. Fremiet executed smaller versions in terra cotta of a bear in combat with men.

IMG_8730The bronze is clearly signed by the artist, boldly on the lower front. The foundry mark is also clearly stamped on the lower reverse side – Lesblancs-Barbedianne.

LeBlanc-Barbedienne Strike of foundry. Catalogue does not indicate foundry.

LeBlanc-Barbedienne Strike of foundry. Catalogue does not indicate foundry.

The bronze group was neither dated nor numbered, but at the turn of the century and before, it was uncommon for works to be dated or numbered.

The Allerton Denicheur traveled in the 1980 Tour – The Romantics to Rodin.

Posted in Park and the Palace | Comments Off on Denicheur d’Oursons – The Snatcher of Baby Bears

The Gorilla Carrying-Off a Woman

img_6541The Fremiet group entitled Gorille Enlevant une Femme, translated Gorilla Carrying-off a woman, and commonly referred to locally at The Gorilla, made its spectacular debut at the Salon of 1887. IMG_7119Fremiet’s previous version in 1859 titled Gorilla carrying-off a Negro woman, Gorille enlevant une Negresse was refused by the Salon’s jury. It was made of plaster. Although this predecessor was refused by the jury, it was nevertheless installed in a private gallery and garnered much attention. It was later destroyed in a violent strike by Belgian workers. Fremiet cast only one of this previous Gorilla in bronze. The final, more refined and better balance group of the Gorilla was submitted in plaster to the Salon of 1887 where it won the esteemed prize of Medal of Honor.

1910 - Biez - public domaine - HathiTrust.org - Plaster Model of Gorilla 1889 Salon - Medaille d'Honneur (Grand Prize - Medal of Honor) this Plaster model is in the permanent collection of the Musee de Nantes

1910 – Biez – public domaine – HathiTrust.org – Plaster Model of Gorilla 1889 Salon – Medaille d’Honneur (Grand Prize – Medal of Honor)
this Plaster model is in the permanent collection of the Musee de Nantes

This plaster group is now held at the Art Museum of Nantes, France. The Allerton Park bronze Gorilla Carrying-off a woman may be the only casting in bronze executed in this monumental size.

Gorilla Signature. Serpent climbs beneath.

Fremiet Signature. Serpent climbs beneath.

Fremiet signed the front base. Note the serpent climbing ominously beneath the signature. The foundry strike is on the reverse base.

Foundry strike on base of Gorilla. By 1900, Fremiet had moved production to the foundry Barbedienne. Although Fremiet used both in some early works.

Foundry strike on base of Gorilla. By 1900, Fremiet had moved production to the foundry Barbedienne. Although Fremiet used both foundries over time

 

Following the success of the Gorilla at the 1887 Salon, Fremiet offered a large production of the Gorilla. This reduction was produced in an unknown quantity. One such reduced replica was gifted to the Art Museum of Melbourne, Australia, by Fremiet. Fremiet had been commissioned to produce a casting of his monumental Jeanne d’Arc statue for the newly established museum, complete with gold gilting. Unable to procure gold for the massive piece, Fremiet included the reduced Gorilla as compensation for his incomplete work. In the 1980, The Romantics to Rodin tour, Mr. and Mrs. Morris Rosenberg, of Memphis, TN loaned their bronze reduction of Gorilla enlevant une femme.

Fremiet appealed without success to the French government multiple times to commission a bronze cast of the Gorilla group to accompany the Bear installed at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Fremiet conceived of the Gorilla and Bear to be a complimentary pair examining the same subject of hunter and prey. IMG_8664Fremiet interchanged the Bear and Gorilla in his works. IMG_71562016-12-1-bear-and-man-struggleHe portrayed the animal combatants locked in struggle with a man or woman. IMG_8695Both bear and gorilla assume man-like positions in combat. The male Gorilla carries off  a swooning, female hunter, who struggles and pushes against him. He has been wounded himself, but both will live. As for the bear group, the mother bear has suffered an undoubtedly mortal wound. Her cub hangs lifeless from the belt of a dying male hunter. All three face death. The juxtaposition of the male to female, along with the struggle creates a palpable tension in three dimension.

Fremiet included the detail of the ridged palate of the Bear's opened mouth

Fremiet included the detail of the ridged palate of the Bear’s opened mouth

Fremiet’s tenure at the National History Museum where he had access to skeletons, animal subjects and prehistoric artifacts is evident in he details he incorporated in his pieces. IMG_6809

As the only bronze casting of the Gorilla group, the Allerton Gorilla takes on added significance and value. While both the Bear and Gorilla have significance as notable monumental sized works of art by an accomplished animalier, in the art world scarcity significantly impacts value. By provenance of signature as a lifetime cast of the artist, the value is again significantly increased. The Allerton Bear is the second of two casts. The Gorilla may be the only one. Both are museum worthy works of art, but are on public display in a particularly accessible, if not vulnerable, manner.

Unlike the museum setting, these bronze works can be touched to feel the texture created by Fremiet’s chisel. They can be stroked to feel the smooth coldness of the metal. Your fingertips can explore smooth slopes or hard, defined edges. The intensity of the powerful struggle erupts in such close proximity in the woodland setting.

Posted in Park and the Palace | Comments Off on The Gorilla Carrying-Off a Woman