The incredible murals of the Boston Public Library

I had read about Sargent’s murals and, in any case, public libraries always figure high on our ”must see” lists when we visit cities with significant history and culture. Having already been acquainted with the treasures inside and out of the MFA and having marveled at the city from high above, I expected the Library would be the best way to end a day full of wonders. I expected to be amazed by a couple of murals, chandeliers, marble staircases and, of course, an inviting reading room. But nothing – nothing – could have prepared me for this:

Not just a couple of murals but three whole galleries covered in art – by three different artists.

We found the Chavannes Gallery first: The Muses of Inspiration Hail the Spirit, the Messenger of Light by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes

“This cycle of allegorical murals by renowned French painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898) was completed in Paris and installed between 1895 and 1896. Subjects depicted include science, history, poetry and philosophy.”

Then came the Abbey Room and its murals: The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail by Edwin Austin Abbey

“Respected American illustrator Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) completed his first work in oil paint with this vibrant mural cycle, installed in the library in 1902. The murals follow the story of Sir Galahad on his quest for the Holy Grail.”

And, finally, the magnificent Sargent Gallery Murals: Triumph of Religion by John Singer Sargent

“American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) spent 29 years on this ambitious mural cycle, titled The Triumph of Religion. Painted in his studio in England and installed over four phases between 1895 and 1919, the panels interpret moments in the history of Paganism, Judaism and Christianity.”

For more information the Library and Murals, notably those by John Singer Sargent, please check The Boston Public Library website.

Visited on May 2nd, 2017 – and still in awe.

Philadelphia City Hall – The Building

Philadelphians are proud of their history and heritage, and one way to show it is by signing up as volunteer guides. Go to any site of historical or cultural interest and you can be sure to find a tour lead by a ranger or a knowledgeable docent.

Like the City Hall Interior tour we took, which includes a visit to the Tower for a panoramic view of the city. Actually, the tour starts outside, across from the Wanamaker Building, where John Wanamaker’s bronze statue commemorates him simply as ”Citizen”; then on to the inner courtyard before entering the vast City Hall – the largest municipal building in the world – and its seemingly endless corridors and offices.

See that small feature on top of the tower? This is a 27-ton, 37ft bronze statue of the city’s founder, William Penn. Created by Alexander Milne Calder, it is the tallest statue atop any building in the world.

Biggest, oldest, tallest… superlatives seem to characterize Philadelphia – and very suitably so, I might add.

Philadelphia
February 22nd, 2017

Another end, another new beginning

Until then, a few snapshots from the legendary, ultra chic Waldorf Astoria that closed on 28th February for renovation. Its new owners, a Chinese insurance company, intend to convert most of its rooms to luxury condominiums. While the exterior is entirely landmarked, this is not the case with some interior parts. Hopefully, all public spaces and their exquisite ArtDeco elements including the hotel’s extensive archive of photographs, menus and other historical paraphernalia will be preserved.

Waldorf Astoria
Park Avenue

June 5th, 2014

Through the ceiling

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Attending a briefing at the UN Trusteeship Council Chamber is a remarkable event but same could be said about the chamber itself, dressed floor-to-ceiling in carefully restored elements true to the original designs of Danish architect and designer Finn Juhl.

I think I would be forgiven for getting under the spell of these colourful, beautiful yet practical, retro-futuristic ceiling fixtures for a moment, before going back to work?

September 6th, 2016

The magnificent Chrysler lobby

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How is it to work here every weekday? Can staff still pose in admiration at the elegant art deco murals, marquetry and brass details? Surely there comes a time when the excitement of the first encounter fades, wielding to a seen-it-all-before blasé spirit. When the eye looks but forgets to see. I’m glad I don’t work in the Chrysler Building. Wish I will never have enough of this magnificent lobby.

August 30th, 2016

PS: Surprisingly little information can be found on the internet about the artist of the mural that covers the entire ceiling and upper parts of some walls – quite dissapointing given that, when created in 1930, it was considered the largest in the world.

After some research, this is all I could find:

Edward Trumbull, American (1884 – 1968)

Edward Trumbull was born in Michigan and raised in Connecticut. He attended the Art Students’ League of New York and studied in London under the noted muralist, Frank Brangwyn. Trumbull’s style as a muralist was traditional, and he was best known for his ease of bright and varied colors. A long time resident of Pittsburgh, Trumbull painted panels for the Heinz Administration Building in Pittsburgh and used “The Three Rivers” that converge at the city as the theme for the ceiling of the lobby of the Chrysler Building in New York. Two of his murals, located in the South Office building of the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex, are smaller versions of the murals he painted for buildings in Pittsburgh.