Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Boston - Back Bay: Boston Public Library McKim Building - Sargent Gallery - Frieze of the Prophets and the Israelites Oppressed

Some cool photo gallery images:

Boston - Back Bay: Boston Public Library McKim Building - Sargent Gallery - Frieze of the Prophets and the Israelites Oppressed
photo gallery
Image by wallyg
The Sargent Gallery, a long high gallery located on the third floor of the Boston Public Library McKim Building, is named for the American painter John Singer Sargent, who spent years decorating its walls with the mural sequence, Triumph of Religion. The hall is 84-feet long, 23-feet wide, and 26-feet high, with vaulted ceiling, lighted from above. The mural was originally commissioned in 1890, and represents thirty years of labor completed in four installments--the paintings at the north end of the hall were completed in 1895, the south end wall in 1903, the niches and vaulting at the south end and the lunettes along the side wall in 1916, and the two panels over the staircase in 1919.

On the north wall, above the doorway to the Charlotte Cushman Room is the Frieze of the Prophets. The central figure is Moses holding the tablets brought down from Sinai. The 83-inch wide mural spans onto the west and east wall. On the west wall are Zephaniah, Joel, Obadiah, and Hosea. The north wall features, to the left of Moses, Amos Nahum, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Elijah; and to the right, Joshua, Jeremiah, Jonah, Isaih, and Habakkuk. On the east wall are Micah, Haggai, Malacchi, and Zechariah.

Above the frieze is the lunette, The Israelites Oppressed, or the Children of Israel. The pagan series is done in a blend of Egyptian and Assyrian styles combined with gilded Byzantine casts applied in relief to the surface. The representation of Israel is depicted beneath the yoke of its oppressors, represented by the Pharaoh and the Assyrian monarch. Above it, in the vaulting, on the left side is Pagan Gods, with Moloch, the god of material things on the left and Astarte, the goddess of sensuality, and the head of Neith on the right.

The Boston Public Library McKim Building, located on Boylston Street between Dartmouth and Exeter Streets, was built in 1895 by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White. Consisting of a three-story, monumental free-standing block in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace surrounding an open courtyard, McKim's design was one of the earliest successful examples of Renaissance Beaux-Arts Classicism in America, and set the precedent for grand scale urban libraries. In 1972, the Philip Johnson-designed late modernist wing was added to the Central Library location. The Boston Public Library system, established in 1848, was the country's first publicly supported municipal library, its first large library open to the public and its first to allow citizens to borrow books. There are currently twenty-six branches in the system.

In 2007, Boston Public Library was ranked #90 on the AIA 150 America's Favorite Architecture list.

Boston Public Library National Register #73000317 (1973)