December 10, 2010
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00:00:13Paintings and sculptures are meant to be monuments, are meant to be
00:00:18memory devices, sort of, for us - ways of us remembering those people
00:00:23that came before us, those events that shape the history of their
00:00:27lives and our lives, and when you think about that, you know, I think
00:00:32we often think of those just in terms of monuments, but historic
00:00:35paintings are just as much monuments.
00:00:37This is, this was done, commissioned, very shortly after Abraham
00:00:44Lincoln was assassinated.
00:00:46It is by Thomas D. Jones, who again, is an Ohio artist.
00:00:52He was not born in Ohio.
00:00:53He was actually born in Oneida, New York, but came here has a child
00:00:57and, I take that back, he came here, I think, as a young man.
00:01:02His family moved here when he was a young man,
00:01:05and actually lived over in Licking County.
00:01:07I live in Licking County, so I think it's kind of neat, in the Welch
00:01:09Hills area just outside of Granville.
00:01:12Jones is really an interesting figure.
00:01:17He had a really, kind of, hard time getting much training, a lot of
00:01:20being self-taught but also trying to get connected to stone masons,
00:01:26to people doing work in sculpture, so that he could learn, he
00:01:29eventually opens a studio in Cincinnati.
00:01:32Jones is a very entrepreneurial figure.
00:01:35He kind of early on figured out that his niche
00:01:38was bust sculptures of historic figures.
00:01:41This is, this is the topping of this monument, this is the
00:01:44Lincoln-Vicksburg Monument, and topping that is
00:01:47this oversized bust of Lincoln.
00:01:50Now he had already done one bust of Lincoln, and he also did a bust
00:01:53of a famous Ohio public figure called Salmon Chase,
00:01:57Salmon P. Chase.
00:01:59So he got this idea, he would make the original bust out of, you
00:02:02know, some kind of stone, and then he would create replicas in
00:02:06plaster, which he would sell for five bucks.
00:02:10And at one point, he swore that he had sold more than 200 replicas of
00:02:16the Chase bust in plaster in Columbus alone.
00:02:20He had sold over 200 in this one city.
00:02:23So he had this little business going about getting replicas out so
00:02:25everybody could have their own little piece of history.
00:02:28But the main thing he would do would be these beautiful busts, mostly
00:02:33in different kinds of marble.
00:02:36This was commissioned very shortly after Lincoln's assassination.
00:02:42There was- some writers think that this was Jones' idea himself, and
00:02:49he sort of pushed it with the legislature.
00:02:52There is other, sort of historical evidence that actually the
00:02:56legislature wanted to do this, and they commissioned it, and there
00:02:59was a competition, and Jones sort of wins that competition.
00:03:03Now you might say, "I get the whole bit about Lincoln, but what's all
00:03:06this in the middle?" So what is all this Vicksburg stuff here?
00:03:10So if you remember your history of the Civil War, the Battle of
00:03:13Vicksburg was a critical battle on the western front of the Civil
00:03:18War, and it was in the western front that most of the
00:03:24Ohio battalions served.
00:03:27And so Vicksburg had a lot of Ohio soldiers in it, and the Vicksburg
00:03:31battle was critical in the turning of the war in 1863, and in
00:03:38controlling the Mississippi.
00:03:39This is where we get control, the Union gets control, of the
00:03:42Mississippi and is able to move, you know,
00:03:45materials and men much easier.
00:03:48Below you have, now you'll see this in a lot of monuments, historic
00:03:52monuments, you'll see them in a lot of funiary monuments, where you
00:03:55have a quote that's supposed to sort of
00:03:57embody the idea of the monument.
00:04:00This quote comes from Lincoln's second inaugural, and for those of
00:04:06you who can't read it, it says, "Care for him who shall have borne
00:04:09the battle and for his widow and his orphans." And then above, you've
00:04:13got, you know, the major players of the Vicksburg, the Battle of
00:04:17Vicksburg, and you've got the, Grant leading the way, you've got
00:04:22Sherman in there.
00:04:23So all Ohio, and Grant, this, actually, Vicksburg was the battle that
00:04:26really pushed Grant's reputation, again, Ohio connection, and Grant
00:04:32will, of course, become the President after the war.
00:04:37And so this is the repositioning of Grant as well.
00:04:40Now, monuments have histories, and I think this is very interesting.
00:04:46Styles change, tastes change, and sometimes, you know, people come
00:04:50and they go "Oh, this looks very tired," or
00:04:52"I don't like this painting anymore.
00:04:54This isn't the point of view that we want to have anymore." And so
00:04:58you'll see in any historical site, that paintings and
00:05:00works of art come and go.
00:05:02This monument, which was greatly heralded, it was unveiled in I think
00:05:07January of 1871, big unveiling, and whenever we have a new work of
00:05:12art, you know, have a big unveiling ceremony for it, and it was one
00:05:16of the last major pieces, actually, before I tell you, this
00:05:19dismantling, one of the last major pieces that Jones did.
00:05:22Jones died in the 1880s.
00:05:24He sort of has an unraveling after this, he is not able to keep up
00:05:28with the work he was doing, and at one point is sort of, you know,
00:05:32runs off to Texas and vanishes for a while, but this is one of his
00:05:36last great, I think, the height of his career.
00:05:39You're seeing the very best of Mr. Jones' work.
00:05:44So, at some point, they decided took it down.
00:05:49Like, somebody came through and said, "Ok, we really like the bust of
00:05:52Lincoln, but who cares about Vicksburg, that was a long time ago, and
00:05:55you know, we're trying to heal our wounds, and it doesn't seem like
00:05:58we need to be rubbing everybody's face in the fact that the Union won
00:06:01Vicksburg," you know, things like that, and they took it apart, and
00:06:05it wasn't until the restoration of the Statehouse that they brought
00:06:09the pieces back together, so the Vicksburg piece was sort of still
00:06:13around, but it was kind of shoved off in another corner, and the bust
00:06:17of Lincoln was somewhere else, and they brought it back together so
00:06:19you're seeing it the way it was intended to be seen, the way it was
00:06:22conceptualized, by the artists, except for one piece.
00:06:26When they took it apart, they moved it around,
00:06:28they lost the granite base.
00:06:30So what you see the base is a new base that was produced so that it
00:06:34could be put back up in the Statehouse.
00:06:36It's got the same scale, though, of the original bust.
00:06:40But you can see that, you know, it's just extraordinary, the
00:06:44craftsmanship of 19th century sculpture, where,
00:06:50look at these figures.
00:06:52I mean, look at the way in which the stone takes on the feeling of
00:06:56cloth, and the animation of those figures
00:06:59as he tries to capture this moment.
00:07:02And the other thing that you do in sculpture like this is you're
00:07:05trying to create a sense of stage space, and, it's really hard to
00:07:09see, but, you'll never be able to see this in the little clip that
00:07:11they'll show you, but it will give you an excuse to come to your
00:07:14Statehouse and visit, but you will see that they actually have horses
00:07:18that were clearly supposed to be in the background, so they are
00:07:21barely carved out in relief, and then the figures of the soldiers are
00:07:26in almost completely three-dimensional relief,
00:07:29so you've got this idea of space.
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