By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,428)
The public is invited to attend a discussion of the well-known piece of public art – Our Lady of Victories – located on Monument Square. The discussion is set for Friday, June 7th at 5:30 pm at the Square. Because the statute is part of Portland’s Public Art Collection, this statute is to be featured in the on-going series – Art in Our Front Yard hosted by the Portland Public Art Committee. PPAC member Jere Dewaters will lead the discussion of the statute.
In the late nineteenth century, erecting civic monuments in memory of hkistorikc events and people became a popular custom. Located in Monument Square in the heart of downtown, Our Lady of Victories commemorates the Portland soldiers who fought and died in the American Civil War. In 1873 seven years after the devastation of the Great Fire, an association was formed under the leadership of Brevet Brigadier General John Marshall Brown to erect a monument in honor of the 5,000 lives the city lost to the Civil War, fully on-sixth of its population.
The sculpture commission was awarded to Franklin Simmons, one of the 19th century’s leading sculptors and a Maine native, who cast the sclpture in his studio in Italy. Simmons had created the Longfellow bronze memorial , situated in Portland’s Longfellow Square, a few years earlier. The commission for the granite pedestaland smaller bronze installations wentto the distingjuished New York architect, Richard Morris Hunt, who also designed the base for the Statute of Liberty. The total cost of the statute was nearlyh $36,000, of which $20,000 went to Simmons.
The central fgjure, a fourteen foot-high bronze, femaile Victory, is a symbol of unity. Victory is holding a sword wrapped in a flag in her right hand and a branch of maple leaves in her left hand. She wears a crown of leaves and is dressed in classical garb. She stands atop Hunt’s Doric-inspired pedestal of granite adorned on either side b a group of bronze figures, one representing the army and the other the navy. On the North side three army figures stand in front offix flags. The general in the center, Brigadier General Francis L. Vinton of Fort Preble, Maine, wears a hat and a long jacket and carries a sword.
There’s more to this long press release issued by the city, but just come to the discussion on Friday, June 7th!