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a handbook to the library building 
its mural decorations and its 
collections :::::: 

39 Illustrations 



association publications 



copyright 1916, 1920, 1921, 1930 

boston public library employees 

benefit association 

Copyright notice: In addition to the general copyright which 
covers the text and illustrations, the engravings of the Sargent 
paintings on pages 39 to 61 are from "Association Prints," 
copyright 1916, 1919 by the Boston Public Library Employees 
Benefit Association, these prints being made from the original 
paintings, copyright, 1916, 1919, by the Trustees of the Public 
Library of the City of Boston. 



The Institution 

Founded in 1852, first opened to the public in 1854, 
the Boston Public Library is the oldest free municipal 
library in any American city in fact, in any city in the 
world. It received its first large gift from Joshua Bates, 
a London banker, born in Weymouth, Mass., and its first 
building, in Boylston Street, on the site now occupied by 
the Colonial Building, was opened in 1858, when the 
Library contained seventy thousand volumes, aside from 
pamphlets. In 1895, it was removed to its present loca- 
tion in Copley Square, and now possesses over one and 
a half million volumes, of which three-fourths are in the 
Central Library and one-fourth in the Branch Libraries 
and Reading Rooms in various parts of the City. It 
annually lends two and one-half million volumes for use 
at home; its working force consists of nearly five hun- 
dred persons; and its total annual expenditure considera- 
bly exceeds a million dollars, of which a small per cent 
is derived from the income of its trust funds, the rest 
being appropriated by the City Government. The con- 
trol of the Library is vested in an unpaid board of five 
Trustees, appointed by the Mayor. 

The Building 

The Library building, elevated upon a platform on the 
west side of Copley Square, is constructed of granite 
from Milford, Massachusetts; it is two hundred and 
twenty-five feet long, two hundred and twenty-seven feet 

deep, and seventy feet high, from sidewalk to cornice; an 
annex on Blagden Street, opened in 1918, adds sixty- 
eight feet to the depth of the building. Along the front 
of the building, at the edge of the sidewalk, are low 
granite posts, the larger of which bear heraldic eagles. 

The architects of the Library, designed in the style 
of the Italian Renaissance, were McKim, Mead & White, 
of New York; most of the actual design is the work of 
Mr. Charles Follen McKim. 

A heavy lower story, in effect a high basement, sup- 
ports an upper story lighted by lofty arched windows, 
and completed by a rich cornice, ornamented with lions' 
heads and dolphins. The roof, of red tiles, is finished 
above by an ornate copper cresting which softens the 
sky line. Beneath the great window arches are tablets 
inscribed with the world's foremost names. Immediately 
above the central entrance are the significant words, 
free to all. Each of the three facades bears a bold in- 
scription, just below the cornice. That on the front of 
the building runs: the public library of the city of 


Boylston Street inscription is: the commonwealth re- 
OF order and liberty. The inscription on the Blagden 
Street side reads: mdccclii. founded through the 
munificence and public spirit of citizens. 

The Exterior Sculpture 

On the platform in front of the Library, set into mas- 
sive granite pedestals, are two heroic seated figures in 
bronze, the work of the Boston sculptor, Bela L. Pratt, 
that at the left representing Science, that at the right 
Art. On the pedestals are carved the names of the world's 
most eminent scientists and artists. 

The head of Minerva on the keystone of the central 
entrance arch is the work of Augustus St. Gaudens and 

"science," before the main entrance 


Domingo Mora. Above, under the great central win- 
dows, are three carved seals upon backgrounds of foliage, 
all of them sculptured by St. Gaudens; from left to right, 
the seals are those of the Commonwealth, of the Library, 
and of the City of Boston. The seal of the Library has 
two nude boys, bearing great torches, as supporters; the 
Latin motto above signifies "The Light of all Citizens." 
The thirty-three granite medallions in the spandrels of 
the window arches on the three facades contain the pic- 
turesque marks or trade devices of early printers, carved 
by Mr. Mora. 

The Vestibule 

The vestibule is of unpolished Tennessee marble; in 
a niche at the left is a heroic bronze statue of Sir Harry 
Vane, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 
1636, the work of Frederick MacMonnies. The building 
is entered from the vestibule through three noble door- 
ways, copied from the entrance of the Erechtheum at 
Athens; the double bronze doors which they enclose were 
designed by Daniel Chester French. Each door contains 
a graceful allegorical figure, in low relief; above are 
garlands, enclosing the names of the figures; below each 
figure is an appropriate quotation. On the left-hand 
doors are the figures of Music and Poetry; on those in 
the centre, Knowledge and Wisdom; on the right-hand 
doors, Truth and Romance. 

The Entrance Hall 

This low hall is Roman in design, with vaults and 
arches covered with mosaic, and supported by massive 
pillars of Iowa sandstone. The mosaic ceiling over the 
centre aisle shows a vine-covered trellis; at each side, in 
the penetrations of the arches and the pendentives of the 
small domes, are thirty names which have given fame 
to Boston; in the most prominent positions, at either 

side of the central aisle, the names are those of Haw- 
thorne, Peirce (Benjamin Peirce, the mathematician), 
Adams, Franklin, Emerson, and Longfellow. The floor, 
of Georgia marble, is inlaid in brass with the signs of 
the zodiac, the seal of the Library, the great dates in its 
history, and the names of eight of its early benefactors. 
Corridors open at each side of the Entrance Hall, 
leading on the right to the Open Shelf Room, the In- 
formation Office, the Newspaper Room, Periodical Room 
and the Interior Court. Through the Court are reached 
the Patent Room, files of bound newspapers, and the 
Statistical Department. The corridor at the left leads 
to the Coat Room, the Elevator, the Catalogue Depart- 
ment, Ordering Department, and again to the Court. 
Public telephone booths are near the Elevator, at the 
left of the stairway. 

Rooms at the Right of the Entrance Hall 

The Information Office is prepared to answer all sorts 
of inquiries with the least possible delay; in this room 
are directories and telephone books of Boston and vicinity 
and of many other cities; time-tables, guide-books, maps 
and a few books of general reference. Connected with 
the Information Office is the Open Shelf Room, contain- 
ing a selected collection of popular books (except fic- 
tion) for home use. In summer books may be borrowed 
from this room to be read in the Court. 

The Newspaper Room contains the current newspapers, 
more than three hundred in number, received by the 
Library from all parts of the world, the subscriptions 
paid chiefly from the income of the fund of fifty thou- 
sand dollars given for the purpose by the late William 
C. Todd, of Atkinson, N. H. 

In the two rooms devoted to Periodicals will be found 
the current numbers of between thirteen and fourteen 
hundred periodicals in various languages, and also some 
twenty-five thousand bound volumes of magazines, with 







I I 





indexes for aid in their use. In addition to these, about 
two hundred and fifty periodicals are received and filed 
in other departments of the Library. 

Rooms at the Left of the Entrance Hall 

The rooms at the left are not open to the public, except 
the Coat Room, for the care of umbrellas and wraps 
during the winter and in stormy weather. 

The Catalogue Department cares for all details of plac- 
ing the books on the shelves and of preparing the cards 
for the various card catalogues; it also issues special 
catalogues and reading-lists based on the resources of 
the Library. 

The Ordering Department has charge of all matters 
connected with the acquisition of books, by purchase, 
gift, or exchange. 

The Interior Court 

Perhaps the finest architectural feature of the Library 
is the interior court, with walls of grayish-yellow brick, 
and a vaulted arcade of white marble on the ground 
floor; this arcade, of graceful proportions, is an almost 
exact copy of the famous one in the Palazzo della Can- 
celleria in Rome, one of the most perfect creations of the 
early Renaissance. About the arcade are set broad oak 
benches, much used by readers in warm weather. The 
court has a grassplot in the centre, enclosing a square 
marble basin lined with mosaic, and a fountain. In the 
granite walls of the arcade are four memorials in bronze: 
a bust of General Francis A. Walker, once a Trustee of 
the Library, by Richard E. Brooks; a medallion por- 
trait of Robert C. Billings, one of the Library's greatest 
benefactors, by Augustus St. Gaudens; a tablet in mem- 
ory of Thomas Sergeant Perry, who "enriched this 
Library by his wise counsel and his rare learning during 
half a century"; and a tablet to commemorate the em- 
ployees of the Library who served in the World War. 


The Main Stairway 

From the Entrance Hall opens the main stairway, lead- 
ing to the principal floor of the Library, a structure of 
rare beauty and dignity. The walls are of yellow Siena 
marble, richly veined, which was specially quarried for 
the Library; the steps are of French Echaillon marble, 
ivory-gray, and full of fossil shells; the floor of the half- 
way landing is inlaid with red Numidian marble. The 
ceiling is of plaster, richly panelled; from it depends a 
spherical chandelier of cut glass. The door on the land- 
ing opens on a balcony affording an attractive view of the 
interior court, which is, however, best seen from the 
arcade which surrounds it. 

The great lions, at the turn of the stairs, carved from 
blocks of the precious Siena marble, are the work of 
Louis St. Gaudens; each is a memorial to the officers and 
men of a Massachusetts regiment in the Civil War 
the Second Regiment on the right, the Twentieth on the 
left, as one mounts the stairs. It will be noted that these 
lions are not treated conventionally, but that each is an 
individual. The inscriptions on the pedestals contain 
lists of the battles in which the two regiments were en- 

The Puvis de Chavannes Decorations 

The upper part of the walls of the staircase and that 
of the main corridor of the second floor at its head are 
filled with a series of mural decorations by Pierre 
Cecile Puvis de Chavannes, the acknowledged master of 
modern French mural painting. All were painted in his 
studio in France and shipped to this country, to be 
affixed to the walls of a room which the artist never 
saw; the work was done with the help of architectural 
models and samples of marble, and harmonizes per- 
fectly with its setting. 

The paintings in the eight arched panels above the 
stairway symbolize the important branches of litera- 





ture and learning, in com- 
positions of great beauty and 
dignity. As one faces the 
windows, the left-hand wall 
(that shown in the illustration 
opposite) is occupied by rep- 
resentations of Philosophy. 
Astronomy, and History; the 
right-hand wall by the three 
great types of Poetry, Epic, 
Dramatic and Pastoral; the 
rear wall, beside the windows, 
by Chemistry on the left, and 
Physics on the right. 

The panel devoted to Phi- 
losophy shows Plato talking 
with one of his disciples in 
a beautiful Athenian land- 
scape, perhaps the Academy, with a noble Ionic colon- 
nade at the left, and in the background, above a grove, 
the Acropolis, with the gleaming Parthenon; other 
students of Philosophy are grouped about the colonnade. 

Astronomy is typified by two Chaldean shepherds, 
earliest observers of the heavens; a woman looks out 
upon them from a tent at the left of the picture. 

The third panel on the left shows the Muse of History 
standing above the partly buried ruins of a Doric temple, 
conjuring it to yield up its secrets; beside her is the 
Genius of Learning, with book and torch. 

In the panel at the left of the windows, illustrating 
Chemistry, a fairy stands in a rocky niche, watching three 
winged spirits as they heat fragments of ore in a retort. 

In that to the right, devoted to Physics, two female 
figures, symbolizing Good and Bad News respectively, 
float in the air with their hands upon the wires of the 
telegraph, magical carrier of happy and sorrowful tid- 

The three panels devoted to Poetry show, at the left, 


Virgil in an idyllic landscape, visiting his bee-hives, 
while two of the shepherds of his Eclogues idle at a dis- 
tance; in the centre, scroll in hand, Aeschylus seated on 
a cliff overlooking the sea, with his hero Prometheus in 
the background, chained to a great rock, where the 
Oceanides circle round to comfort him for the pain 
caused by the vulture which tears at his vitals; at the 
right, blind Homer sitting by the roadside, greeted with 
gifts of laurel by two dignified female figures typifying 
his great poems, the martial Iliad with helmet and spear, 
the gentler Odyssey with an oar to suggest her wan- 

The central composition, on the east wall of the corri- 
dor at the head of the stairs, is entitled "The Muses of 
Inspiration hail the Spirit, the Messenger of Light"; it 
represents the Nine Muses of Greek mythology, in a 
beautiful grove of laurel and olive which slopes to the 
sea, rising to meet and welcome the Genius of Enlighten- 
ment, who appears in the centre of the painting, above 
the doorway. At each side of the doorway is a grave, 
seated figure, that on the left typifying Study, that on 
the right Contemplation. 

The Main Corridor 

Across the second floor of the Library, at the head of 
the stairs, runs a beautiful corridor, floored with Istrian 
marble, with patterns of yellow Verona in which many 
large fossil shells may be seen. On one side is a grace- 
ful Corinthian arcade of Siena marble, above the stair- 
case; on the other, the largest of the Puvis de Chavannes 
decorations, and the central entrance to Bates Hall, the 
main reading-room, reached through an exquisite little 
vestibule of Echaillon marble, enclosed on three sides 
by ancient wrought iron gates brought from Italy. At 
the south end of the Corridor is the Pompeian Lobby 
and entrance to the Delivery Room; at the north end, 
the Venetian Lobby, with entrance to the Children's 




Bates Hall 

This noble reading room, named for the first great 
benefactor of the Library, is architecturally the most 
important room in the building; it has a rich barrel 
vault, with half-domes at the ends, and is two hundred 
and eighteen feet long, forty-two and a half feet wide 
and fifty feet high. The sandstone used in the walls is 
from Amherst, Ohio; the floor is of terrazzo, bordered 
by yellow Verona marble; the Hall is surrounded by 
oak bookcases; and the panelled vault is of plaster, 
elaborately moulded. Around the sides of the Hall 
are busts of great authors and eminent Bostonians; in 
the frieze are carved the names of the world's most 
illustrious thinkers and artists. Above the central 
entrance is a richly carved balcony of Indiana lime- 
stone. Near each end of the Hall, in the same wall 
as the balcony, is a highly ornate doorway of black 
Belgian and Alps green serpentine marble, with columns 
crowned by bronze Corinthian capitals; in the adjoin- 
ing bays are Renaissance mantels, of sandstone and 
red Verona marble. The wall is divided into panels 
by the great arches of the vault; those on the front 
of the building are filled with huge round-topped 

Bates Hall is the great study room of the Library. 
In the bookcases which line the walls and occupy both 
sides of the screens separating the main room from 
the apses, are contained some ten thousand volumes 
intended for ready reference; they have been selected 
from all fields of literature except those of the fine and 
industrial arts, and psychology and pedagogy, subjects 
which have their home in other departments of the 
institution. These books may be used without for- 
mality by all who come to the building. 

The tables accommodate three hundred readers; 
often, especially on Sunday afternoons, every seat is 
occupied. At the Centre Desk, opposite the main 


entrance to the Hall, general information is supplied 
and books are charged for home use. 

The Public Catalogue 

In the semi-circular enclosure at the south end of the 
Hall is the Public Card Catalogue which is the key 
to all the books in the Library, except fiction for 
general circulation and works relating to music. The 
cards are arranged in 3002 drawers, in a single alpha- 
bet, covering authors, subjects, and titles; from them 
are obtained the call-numbers, which are used in send- 
ing for books. The catalogue contains 3,000,000 cards, 
more or less, with approximately 40,000 new cards added 
yearly. An oil portrait by W. E. West, of Joshua Bates, 
for whom Bates Hall is named, hangs on the wall. 

The Delivery Room 

The southern door of the Main Corridor leads into 
the Delivery Room, where books are lent for home use, 
and returned by borrowers. This is a room of peculiar 
richness, in the style of the early Venetian Renaissance. 
The walls have a high oak wainscot, divided into panels 
by fluted pilasters; the heavy beams of the ceiling bear 
rich Renaissance ornaments in gilded lead; the door- 
ways have Corinthian columns of red or green Levanto 
marble, with bases and capitals of Rouge Antique, and 
entablatures in which these marbles are combined. The 
ornate mantel of polished Rouge Antique bears the date 
1852, that of the founding of the Library. The lamp 
brackets, of delicately wrought bronze, are of special 


In front of the windows is a portion of the ancient 
wooden railing before which, in the year 1607, some 
of the Pilgrim Fathers stood for trial in the Guild- 
hall of Boston, Lincolnshire, England. To the left of 
the window is the catalogue of fiction in the English 














The room fitly enshrines the work of the American 
artist, Edwin Austin Abbey, R.A., whose great frieze, 
the "Quest of the Holy 
Grail," occupies the upper 
part of the walls. The fol- 
lowing description of these 
paintings, which have made 
the room world-famous, is 
based on that written by the 
late Henry James: 

"The Quest and 

Achievement of the 

Holy Grail" * 

The Holy Grail was fabled 
to be the sacred vessel from 
which our Lord had drunk 
at the Last Supper, and 
into which Joseph of Ari- 
mathea had gathered the precious blood from His 
wounds. Its existence, its preservation, its miraculous 
virtues and properties, were a cherished popular belief 
in the early ages of European Christianity; and in the 
folk-lore whence the twelfth-century narrators drew their 
material, it was represented as guarded for centuries in 
the Castle of the Grail, where it awaited the coming of 
the perfect knight, who alone should be worthy to have 
knowledge of it; this perfect knight is introduced to us 
in the romances of the Arthurian cycle. 

Incomparable were the properties of the Grail, the 
enjoyment of a revelation of which conveyed, among 
other privileges, the ability to live, and to cause others 


* As it has proved impossible to make satisfactory arrangements 
with those who hold the copyright of the Abbey paintings (the 
only mural decorations in the Library of which the copyright is 
not controlled by the Trustees), it is unfortunately necessary to 
publish this description without illustrations. 


to live, indefinitely without food; this revelation was the 
proof and recompense of the highest knightly purity, 
so that the loftiest conceivable enterprise for the com- 
panions of the Round Table was to attain to the vision 
of the Holy Grail. The incarnation of this ideal 
knighthood in the form of the legend chosen by Mr. 
Abbey is that stainless Sir Galahad, with whom Tenny- 
son, in more than one great poem, has touched the 
imagination of all readers. 

It must be noted, however, that Mr. Abbey has 
made a new synthesis of the Grail material. There 
exist many separate romances devoted to the Quest 
of the Grail, in some of which Galahad is the hero, 
in a larger number Perceval (German, Parzival ) , in 
still others Gawain or Lancelot. There is no single 
accepted version of the story, no fixed order in which 
the incidents occur. Mr. Abbey has taken certain epi- 
sodes of the story of Galahad, has added to them 
others drawn from the story of Perceval, and has 
arranged them somewhat with a view to the require- 
ments of his space in the Delivery Room. In most 
versions of the story, the visit to the Castle of the 
Maidens precedes the first visit to the Grail Castle; but 
the order has no special significance. The numbers used 
in the description below correspond to those beneath 
the lower right-hand corner of each panel. 

I. The Vision 

The child Galahad, the descendant through his mother 
of Joseph of Arimathea, is visited, among the nuns who 
bring him up, by a dove bearing a golden censer and 
an angel carrying the Grail, the presence of which 
operates as sustenance to the infant. 

From the hands of the holy women the predestined 
boy passed into those of the subtle Gurnemanz, who 
instructed him in the knowledge of the things of the 
world, and in the duties and functions of the ideal 


knight. But before leaving the nuns he performed his 
nightly vigil, watching alone till dawn in the church. 

II. The Oath of Knighthood 

The ordeal of the vigil terminates in his departure. 
Clothed in red, he is girt for going forth, while the 
nuns bring to him Sir Lancelot really his father, 
though unrecognized who fastens on one of his spurs, 
and Sir Bors, who attaches the other. 

III. The Round Table 

The artist here deals with the Arthurian Round Table 
of the curious fable of the Seat Perilous "perilous 
for good and evil" in which no man has yet sat with 
safety, not even the fashioner himself, but in which, 
standing vacant while it awaits a blameless occupant, 
the young Sir Galahad, knighted by Arthur, has sworn 
a vow to be worthy to take his place. The Companions 
of the Order are seated in Arthur's hall, and every chair, 
save this one, is occupied. Suddenly the doors and 
windows close mysteriously, the hall is flooded with 
light, and Sir Galahad, robed in red (the color em- 
blematic of purity), is led in by Joseph of Arimathea, 
an old man clothed in white, who, according to the 
romance, has subsisted for centuries by the possession 
of the supreme relic. The hall is filled with a host of 
angels, one of whom withdraws the mantle by which the 
Seat Perilous has been covered; above it becomes visible 
the legend, "This is the Seat of Galahad." King Arthur 
rises from his canopied throne, and bows himself in the 
presence of a mystery; the knights recognize one purer 
than themselves, and greet him by lifting on high the 
cross-shaped hilts of their swords. 

IV. The Departure 

The knights are about to go forth on their search 
for the Holy Grail, now formally instituted by King 


Arthur. They have heard Mass and are receiving the 
episcopal benediction, Sir Galahad, as always, in red. 
Throughout this series he is the "bright boy-knight" of 
Tennyson, though not, as that poet represents him, 
"white-armored": his device is a red cross on a white 

V. The Castle of The Grail * 

Amfortas, the "Fisher King" of the legends, to whom 
Joseph had entrusted the Grail, has been wounded, 
centuries past, in the cause of unlawful love, and now 
lies under a spell, with all the inmates of the Castle of 
the Grail, into which the artist here introduces us. The 
aged King rests on a bier in the centre of a massive 
hall, surrounded by his court; all are spiritually dead 
and, although the Grail often appears in the midst of 
them, they cannot see it. From this strange perpetua- 
tion of ineffectual life none of them can be liberated by 
death until the most blameless knight shall at last arrive. 
It will not be sufficient, however, that he simply pene- 
trate into the castle; to the operation of the remedy is 
attached that condition which recurs so often in primitive 
romance, the asking of a Question on which everything 
depends. Sir Galahad has reached his goal, but his 
single slight taint of imperfection, begotten of the too 
worldly teachings of Gurnemanz, defeats his beneficent 
action. As the procession of the Grail passes before 
the visitor, he tries to fathom its meaning. He sees the 
bearer of the Grail, the damsel with the head in a 
golden dish (the prototype of whom was, perhaps, 
Salome bearing the head of John the Baptist on a 
charger), the two knights with seven-branched candle- 
sticks and the knight holding aloft the Bleeding Spear, 
with which Longinus had pierced the side of Christ. 
The duty resting upon Galahad is to ask what these 
things denote, but, with the presumption of one who 

* Includes elements drawn from the story of Perceval. 


supposes himself to have imbibed all knowledge, he 
refrains, considering that he is competent to guess. But 
he pays for his silence, inasmuch as it forfeits for him 
the glory of redeeming from this paralysis of centuries 
the old monarch and his hollow-eyed Court, forever 
dying, yet never dead, whom he leaves folded in their 
dreadful doom. On his second visit, many years later, 
he is better inspired. (See XI, below.) 

VI. The Loathly Damsel * 

It is the morning after his visit to the Castle of the 
Grail. Awakening in the chamber to which he had 
been led the previous night, Sir Galahad found the 
castle deserted. Issuing forth, he saw his horse saddled 
and the drawbridge down. Thinking to find in the 
forest the inmates of the castle, he rode forth, but the 
drawbridge closed suddenly behind him, a wail of 
despair moaned across it, and voices mocked him for 
having failed to ask the effectual Question. 

He fares forward and presently meets three damsels; 
the first, the Loathly Damsel, is riding upon a pale 
mule with a golden bridle. This lady, once beautiful, 
is now noble still in form, but hideous in feature; she 
wears a red cloak and a hood about her head, for she 
is bald; in her arms is the head of a dead king, en- 
circled with a golden crown. The second lady is riding 
in the manner of an esquire. The third is on her feet, 
dressed as a stripling, and in her hand is a scourge with 
which she drives the two animals. These damsels 
are under the spell of the Castle of the Grail. They 
assail Sir Galahad with curses for having failed on the 
previous day to ask the Question, which would not 
only have delivered them and the inmates of the castle, 
but would have restored peace and plenty to the 
land. Instead, he must endure many sorrows and ad- 
ventures and many years must pass before he shall 

* From the story of Perceval. 


return to the Castle of the Grail, where, having through 
all ordeals remained sinless, he will finally ask the 
Question which shall redeem the sin-stricken land. 

VII. The Seven Sins 

Sir Galahad is here seen at the gate of the Castle of 
the Maidens, where the seven knights of Darkness, the 
seven Deadly Sins, have imprisoned a great company 
of maidens, the Virtues, in order to keep them from 
all contact with man. It is Sir Galahad's mission to 
overcome Sin and redeem the world by setting free 
the Virtues, and he accordingly fights the seven knights 
till he overcomes them. 

VIII. The Key to the Castle 

Having passed the outer gate, Sir Galahad encounters 
a monk, who blesses him and delivers up to him the 
great key of the Castle. 

IX. The Castle of The Maidens 

Sir Galahad's entry into the Castle is here shown. 
The imprisoned maidens have long been expecting him, 
for it had been prophesied that the perfect knight would 
come to deliver them. They welcome him with shy 
delight, putting out their hands to be kissed; behind 
him lies his white shield bearing the red cross painted 
with his own blood by Josephes, son of Joseph of 
Arimathea. Having accomplished this mission, Sir 
Galahad passed on to other deeds. 

X. Blanchefleur 

In the course of his journeyings, Galahad met his 
old teacher Gurnemanz, now dying. Gurnemanz bade 
him wed his early love Blanchefleur as a step toward 
the achievement of the Grail. On their wedding morn- 
ing, however, a vision warned him that he must remain 


a virgin knight, and we see him here bidding farewell 
*o Blanchefleur that he may continue the Quest of the 
Koly Grail. A new-born knowledge has unsealed Sir 
Galahad's eyes, but with this knowledge is begotten the 
strength to overcome, and to renounce every human 

XI. The Death of Amfortas * 

Having passed through many adventures, Sir Gala- 
had at last returned to the Castle of the Grail. The 
procession once more passed before him, and this time, 
grown wise by experience and suffering, he asked the 
Question, and thereby healed Amfortas, cleansing him 
from sin, and allowing the old king to die. As he 
gratefully breathes his last in the arms of Galahad, an 
Angel bears away the Grail from the castle, not to be 
seen again until the day when Sir Galahad achieves it 
at Sarras, the Saracen city to which Joseph had first 
carried the precious vessel. 

XII. Galahad The Deliverer f 

Sir Galahad, having now accomplished his great task, 
is guided by the spirit of the Grail toward the goal 
which shall end his labors. Borne upon a white charger 
and followed by the blessings of the people, whom 
he has freed from the spell, he is seen passing from 
the land of Amfortas, where peace and plenty once 
more reign. 

XIII. Solomon's Ship 

Sir Galahad is here in Solomon's Ship, which he has 
found waiting to carry him across the seas to Sarras. 
The Grail, borne by an Angel, guides the ship. Sir 
Bors and Sir Perceval accompany him. Having sinned 
once, they can never see the Grail themselves, yet, 

* Includes elements of the Perceval story, t From the story of 


having persevered faithfully in the Quest, they have 
acquired the right to follow Sir Galahad and witness 
his achievement. Resting upon a cushion in the stern 
of the ship are three spindles made from the "'Tree of 
Life" one snow-white, one green, one blood-red. 
According to an old legend, Eve, when driven from 
the Garden of Eden, carried with her the branch 
which she had plucked from the "Tree of Life." The 
branch, when planted, grew to be a tree, with branches 
and leaves white, in token that Eve was a virgin when 
she planted it. When Cain was begotten, the tree 
turned green; and afterward, when Cain slew Abel, 
the tree turned red. 

XIV. The City of Sarras 

The city of Sarras, with the red-cross shield of Gala- 
had, its king, and the sword which he had drawn from 
a block of marble, soon after arriving at Arthur's court. 

XV. The Golden Tree 

Upon a hill at Sarras, Sir Galahad made a Sacred 
Place and built a Golden Tree. Morning and evening 
he repaired thither, and from day to day he beautified 
the tree. Finally it is complete, and Joseph of Arima- 
thea, with a company of red-winged seraphs, appears 
with the Grail, now at last uncovered. As Sir Galahad 
gazes upon it, crown, sceptre, and royal robe fall from 
him; he no longer needs them. Having beheld the 
source of all life and knowledge and power, the spirit 
of Galahad had achieved its end in life, and won release 
from the narrow confines of his body. The Grail 
itself was borne heavenward, never again to be seen 
on earth. 

Registration Department and Tube Room 

Opening from the west side of the Delivery Room are 
the Registration Department, where borrowers' cards 



are issued; and the Tube Room, from which pneumatic 
tubes lead to the book-stacks. Call-slips presented at 
the Delivery Desk are sent through the tubes to any of 
the seven floors, and the books desired are carried from 
the shelves on small cars over the "book railway" to 
automatic elevators which deliver the cars and the books 
at the Tube Room. 

Director's Office and Trustees' Room 

The corridor by the Registration Desk leads to the 
Director's Office, through a lobby in which is kept a 
portion of the Library's collection of manuscripts. 
Above the Registration Department, and reached through 
the Director's Office, is the Trustees' Room, with rich 
panelling and furniture of the Empire period, and a 
delicately carved Renaissance mantel, all brought from 
France. In this room hang Copley's great painting, 
"Charles the First demanding the Surrender of the Five 
Members in the House of Commons," which was pre- 
sented to the Library by a group of citizens in 1859; 
and a number of portraits. 

The lobby of the Trustees' Room contains the valu- 
able collection of autographs bequeathed to the Library 
by Mellen Chamberlain, Librarian from 1878 to 1890. 


Outside the entrance to the Delivery Room, at the 
end of the Main Corridor, is the Pompeian Lobby, 
decorated by Mr. Elmer E. Garnsey, of New York. 
The gay decoration, of Roman type, is painted directly 
on the plaster. In this Lobby is a shell-shaped drinking 
fountain of Echaillon marble; beside it is a counter at 
which photographs, post-cards and handbooks of the 
Library may be purchased. 

At the opposite end of the Main Corridor is the 
Venetian Lobby, with painted decorations by Mr. 


Joseph Lindon Smith, of Boston. Over the door of the 
Children's Room is a sculptured block brought from 
Venice, displaying the Lion of St. Mark supporting an 
open book with the motto of that city. At either side 
of this slab, which dates from the sixteenth century, 
are the figures of two nude boys upholding heavy gar- 
lands. In the recess, above the window, is a painting 
representing the allegorical marriage of Venice, a young 
woman, and the Adriatic, typified by a youth with a 
trident at his feet. Behind, blessing the union, kneels 
St. Theodore, the first patron of Venice, with the croc- 
odile which he is said to have slain. In the niches are 
two lists of names those of the most illustrious doges 
of Venice, and those of her greatest painters. In the 
pedentives of the dome over the central portion of 
the Lobby are the names of eleven Italian cities, once 
subject to Venice; while in the dome at the right, over 
the staircase landing, are the names of the eastern pos- 
sessions of the Queen of the Adriatic. The peacock 
above symbolizes immortality. This Lobby, like the 
Pompeian Lobby described above, is lighted by an 
elaborate lantern of gilded bronze. 

The decorations of these two lobbies are the only 
examples of true mural painting in the Library. All 
the other decorations were painted on canvas, and ap- 
plied to the walls and ceilings after completion. 

At the left of the door to the Children's Room 
stands a statue in marble of a "Child and Swan," by 
Leopoldo Ansiglione, given by Miss Mary F. Bartlett. 
On the wall of the landing opposite, at the foot of the 
Sargent Stairway, is placed a reproduction in bronze 
of the Declaration of Independence, given by Governor 
Alvan T. Fuller. 

The Children's Room 

At the north end of the Main Corridor opens the 
Children's Room, which is surrounded by low cases con- 

















taining books for little folks. On the side walls hang 
the original paintings by Howard Pyle, used as illus- 
trations to Woodrow Wilson's "George Washington." 

The Teachers' Reference Room 

Off the Children's Room, to the left, is a room 
beautifully finished in dark oak, containing reference 
books for the use of teachers and school-children. In 
the upper part of the cases, protected by chains, is an 
impressive collection of old books, the library of Presi- 
dent John Adams, bequeathed by him in 1826 to the 
town of Quincy, and now deposited here in trust. 

In this room are hung framed autographed copies of 
"America," by S. F. Smith, and the "Battle Hymn of 
the Republic," by Julia Ward Howe, signed by their 

On the ceiling is a decoration, ; 'The Triumph of 
Time," by John Elliott, placed here in 1901. 

"The Triumph of Time" 

The painting contains thirteen winged figures. The 
twelve female figures represent Hours, and the one male 
figure, Time. The Christian Centuries are typified by 
twenty horses, arranged in five rows, of four each; in 
each row the two centre horses are side by side, and 
between these and the outer horses are two of the 
winged figures representing Hours. On either side of 
the car in which is the figure of Time are the Hours 
of Life and Death. Seen from before the door of the 
Children's Room, the design begins in the neighborhood 
of the nearer left-hand corner, and describes a semi- 
circle, with a downward sweep over a groundwork 
of clouds, back to the left again, to a point about two- 
thirds across the canvas; it culminates in a disk, the 
sun, before which are the leading horse and the figure 
typifying the present Hour. In the nearer right-hand 


corner is a crescent moon with the full disk faintly 
showing. The shades of gray in which the decoration 
is painted lend to it something of the dignity of sculp- 
ture. One can trace in the horses the artist's conception 
of the spirit of successive centuries; note especially the 
eighteenth, with its nervous forward spring. 

Lecture Hall 

To the rear of the Teachers' Reference Room is the 
Lecture Hall, which is reached by a separate entrance 
from Boylston Street; it is used for courses of free 
lectures held on Sunday afternoons and Thursday 
evenings, and for various other meetings and classes, 
all open to the public. The Hall seats about five 
hundred persons, and has a commodious stage, and 
complete equipment for the projection of lantern slides 
and moving pictures. On the south wall of the Hall 
hangs a painting by D. Fernandez y Gonzalez, a Spanish 
artist, representing St. Justa and St. Rufina, patron 
saints of Seville, in the prison where they suffered 
martyrdom in the year 287. 

Sargent Hall 

Turning to the left on going out of the Children's 
Room, one ascends to the upper floor of the Library by 
an enclosed stairway of gray sandstone, adorned only 
by handrails of Alps green marble on either side. From 
the landing half-way up, a door opens on the balcony 
overlooking Bates Hall. 

The corridor of the upper, or Special Libraries Floor, 
is popularly called Sargent Hall, for the eminent 
American painter, John Singer Sargent, r.a., who so 
unstintingly devoted his genius to its decoration. It 
is eighty-four feet long, twenty-three feet wide, and 
twenty-six feet high, with a vaulted ceiling lighted from 




This long, narrow room, its height greater than its 
width, has been made glorious by the mural decorations 
of Mr. Sargent, who re- 
ceived the commission for 
this work in 1890; it repre- 
sents about thirty years of 
thought and labor and is one 
of the few records in the 
world of the progressive de- 
velopment of an artist, en- 
gaged upon a single theme. 
These decorations will al- 
ways remain a constant ex- 
pression of the life-work of 
one of the greatest painters 
of modern times. The in- 
completeness of the series 
of panels will always be a 
cause for regret. The follow- 
ing description of Mr. Sargent's work is based upon 
comment written by Mr. Sylvester Baxter in an earlier 
edition of the Handbook. 


Judaism and Christianity 

The subject chosen by the artist is conceived as the 
development of religious thought from paganism through 
Judaism to Christianity. The work as it stands was 
placed in position in four instalments: the paintings at 
the North end of the Hall in 1895, the South end wall 
in 1903, the niches and vaulting at the South end and 
the lunettes along the side walls in 1916, and the two 
panels over the staircase in 1919. 

Not only the paintings, but all the decorations of the 
Hall, are the work of Mr. Sargent. He modelled the 
relief of dolphins* above the door of the Treasure 

*The repeated use of the dolphin in the decoration of the Li- 
brary is symbolic of the intimate relation of Boston to the sea. 


Room; the great frames over the stairs are his work; 
even the electric fixtures were designed by him. All 
the splendid plastic decoration of the vaulting is the 
product of his hand and brain; he personally modelled 
the symbolic reliefs which are the chief ornaments of the 
ceiling; he selected all the mouldings and other elements 
which make up the gorgeous whole, and on which 
depend so largely the unity and architectural beauty 
of the room. Even more significant is the manner in 
which Mr. Sargent worked out the color harmony 
of the Hall; each element in the great composition 
subtly contributes its part to the large effect, so that 
the eye finds satisfaction wherever it falls. The gold of 
the vaulting binds the whole into a unity, and fuses the 
work of thirty years into a single act; this unity is 
further aided by the grayish-blue used as a ground 
color, which is constantly introduced for relief in con- 
junction with the gold of the architectural decoration. 

This is not the place in which to attempt an estimate 
of the beauty or the artistic importance of the Sargent 
paintings. Their harmony and variety of color, their 
boldness and power of design, their combination of 
subtle intellectual quality with unfailing artistic propri- 
ety are obvious to any beholder; no one can visit 'this 
room and not know that he is in the presence of the 
product of genius, handling a great subject greatly. 

It is more to the point to draw the visitor's attention 
to the unusual and daring methods taken by the artist 
to produce his effects, especially to the constant inter- 
change of painting and sculpture. This is nowhere more 
striking than in the majestic figure of Moses, standing 
immovable in high relief in the centre of the Frieze of the 
Prophets. The use of sculpture here gives to the figure 
a monumental quality as the representative of the Hebrew 
religion at the moment when it took on its essential 
character. In the portion of the vaulting devoted to the 
pagan divinities, the employment of modelling merely 


serves to give weight and emphasis to the design, and 
to enrich the decorative quality of the work; its effect 
is especially marked 
in the great serpent 
about the neck of 
the Goddess Neith. 

At the south end 
of the Hall, the 
plastic art was used 
to good purpose in 
the modelling of the 
faces of the three 
Persons of the Trin- 
ity, which are all 
cast from a single 
mould. The great 
Crucifix here cor- 
responds as a salient 
feature to the Moses 
of the opposite end, 
gaining a similar 
emphasis and power 
from its high relief. 

Modelling is else- 
where used with fine 
decorative effect; 
perhaps this is no- 
where more marked 

than in the candlesticks of Our Lady of Sorrows, where 
an actual perspective is obtained by the use of relief. It 
is interesting to note that the relief is always employed 
for a purpose, and never except where the end justifies 
it; in the Fall of Gog and Magog, for example, the 
sword is painted, not modelled; had it been modelled, 
it might have appeared to be falling out of the picture. 



The sequence of paintings begins at the north end 
of the Hall the end farthest from the head of the 
stairs. Its content may be analyzed as follows: 


At the North End of the Hall 

Ceiling: Pagan religions of countries surrounding Palestine. 

Lunette: Children of Israel, oppressed by pagan neighbors, ex- 
pressing their dependence on the True God. 

Frieze: The Hebrew Prophets, typifying the progress of the Jews 
in religious thought, with final expectation of the Messiah. 

In the Eastern Lunettes 

Left: The downfall of paganism, as preached by Hebrew prophets. 
Centre: The Hebrew ideal the chosen people protected by Je- 
hovah, through its observance of the Law. 
Right: The Messianic era, foretold by Hebrew prophets. 


At the South End of the Hall 

Lunette: Doctrine of the Trinity. 

Frieze and Crucifix: Doctrine of the Redemption. 

Ceiling and Niches: Doctrine of the Incarnation. 

In the Western Lunettes 
Left: Heaven. Centre: The Judgment. Right: Hell. 


On the East Wall 
Left panel: The Synagogue. Right panel: The Church. 

The decoration of the north end comprises three sec- 
tions, the narrow strip of vaulting in the last bay of the 
Hall, the lunette on the end wall, and the frieze below 
both lunette and vault. 

The lunette represents the Children of Israel beneath 
the yoke of their oppressors, on the left the Egyptian 
Pharaoh, on the right the King of Assyria, their arms 
uplifted to strike with sword and scourge. The Isra- 
elites are typified by twelve nude figures; some crouch, 
despairing, under the yoke of Assyria; the hand of 
Pharaoh grasps the hair of those in the centre; but 
already a number raise their hands in supplication to 



Jehovah, and in the background can be seen the flames 
of the sacrifice rising to the True God. Above, the 
wings of the Seraphim screen the face of the All Holy, 
upon which no man may look; only His mighty arms 
may be seen, stretched forth to stay the oppressors. 
Prostrate victims beneath the feet of both Assyrian and 
Egyptian represent the other nations that were con- 
quered by them, while behind each are figures sym- 
bolizing the national deities. Upon the gold ground 
of the rib which separates the lunette from the ceiling 
are inscribed the following passages from Psalm 106: 
"They forgat God their saviour, which had done great 
things in Egypt, and they served idols, which were a 
snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and 
their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, 
even the blood of their sons and their daughters, unto 
the idols of Canaan. Therefore was the wrath of the 
Lord kindled against his people, and he gave them 




into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them 
ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, 
and they were brought into subjection under their hand. 
Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard 
their cry, and he remembered for them his covenant." 
These passages constitute a link between the paintings 
of the vaulting and those of the lunettes, and are a com- 
mentary upon them. 

On the vaulting are represented the pagan divinities, 
the strange gods whom the Children of Israel went after 
when they turned from Jehovah. Underlying all, her 
feet touching the cornice upon one side, her hands upon 
the other, is the gigantic shadowy form of the Egyptian 
oddess Nut, mother of the Universe. Her body is the 
Firmament, whose stars shine on her swarthy breast. 
Her collar is a golden zodiac, its gem the disk of the sun, 

whose rays end in hand opened 
to shed bounty upon the earth. 
About her neck coils the ser- 
pent of the sun-myth, with its 
symbolism of the eternal con- 
flict between summer and win- 
ter: on one side Adonis, 
typifying the warmth of spring, 
discharges an arrow into the 
throat of the defiant serpent; 
on the other, the archer and his 
beloved Astarte are crushed in 
the serpent's folds, which con- 
ceal the zodiacal signs of the 
winter months. 

The central figure on the left 
of the arch is Moloch, god of 
material things, a hideous 
monster with the sun between 
the horns of his bull's head, 



and outstretched hands clutch- 
ing his infant victims. Below 
him stand the sombre figures 
of the Egyptian trinity Osiris 
(in the centre), Isis and Horus. 
At their feet the hawk of the 
soul hovers over an Egyptian 
mummy; just above the cornice 
is the symbol of the winged 

On the right, opposite, is the 
soulless figure of Astarte, the 
Phoenician goddess of sensu- 
ality. Veiled in blue, she 
stands upon the crescent moon, 
between slender columns; be- 
hind her is the tree of life, 
whose pine cones project on 
either side. Within her veil 
six enticing female figures 
wave their arms in rhythmic 
dance, while two of her victims are gnawed by monsters. 

The third division of this portion of the work is the 
Frieze of the Prophets, with Moses as the central figure 
holding the tablets brought down from Sinai; thus 
is symbolized the foundation of the religion of Israel 
upon the structure of the Law. The prophets in their 
order from left to right are: Zephaniah, Joel, Obadiah, 
Hosea, Amos, Nahum, Ezekiel, Daniel, Elijah, Moses, 
Joshua, Jeremiah, Jonah, Isaiah, Habakkuk, Micah, 
Haggai, Malachi, Zechariah; the last three have out- 
stretched arms, and faces expectant of the Messiah. 

The portion of the decoration in corresponding posi- 
tion at the opposite end of the hall sets forth the Dogma 
of the Redemption, and to this lead up the three Judaic 
lunettes on the east wall, above the staircase. Of these 
the subjects are: in the centre, "The Law"; on the left, 



"The Fall of Gog and Magog"; and on the right, "The 
Messianic Era". The three lunettes on the west wall, 
opposite, set forth the development of the Christian con- 
cepts of 'The Judgment," in the centre, with "Hell" on 
the right, and on the left, 'The Passing of Souls into 

In their turbulent, terrible, and chaotic qualities both 
the "Hell" and the 
"Gog and Magog" 
agree in spirit with 
the work in the ad- 
jacent Old-Testament 
end dealing with 
primitive beliefs 
grounded in fear. In fall of goc and magog 

the other four paintings beauty and concord dominate. 
In "The Law," Israel is seen under the mantle of Jehovah, 
fulfilling the mission of his race in giving himself up to 
the study of the divine law laid down for the guidance 
of the Chosen People. Inscribed in Hebrew below the 
arch are the words of the Jewish ritual spoken before the 
recitation of the Commandments, a portion of which 

appears upon the 
scroll of the Law. 

The lunette on the 
left, "The Fall of 
Gog and Magog," 
pictures the final mo- 
ment when all things 
the messianic era earthly shall perish 

and the universe shall come to an end. Altar, temple, 
chariot and horses, victor's palm and bloody sword fall 
tumbling through space, along with Saturn and a blazing 
comet; the two figures suggest Mars and Mercury. 

In contrast with this, at the other end of the wall, 
we see dawning "The Messianic Era." The race, 
purified and perfected of soul, under the leadership of 











a lad, the Son of Man, enters into a new paradise, the 
gates of which are swung open by beautiful youths. 
Upon the scroll is lettered in Hebrew the prophecy of 
Isaiah, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is 
given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders; 
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The 
Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of 

Peace." Other proph- 
ecies of Isaiah are in- 
dicated by the wolf 
and the lamb, the 
child and the lion, 
the pomegranate, the 
fig and the vine. 

hell At the south end 

of the hall is set forth the Dogma of the Redemption, 
with the related theme of the Incarnation. Just as the 
figure of Moses, with the Law as the central fact of the 
religion of the Jews, forms the focal point in the first 
decoration, so here the Crucifix, bearing the figure of 
the Redeemer who satisfied the Law and brought a new 
dispensation, takes a similar central position. 

In the lunette 
above, seated in state 
upon a magnificent 
throne, are three 

colossal figures, the f\ Ji \ V 

Persons of the Trini- 
ty. That the three 
are one is made man- heaven 

ifest by the exact similarity of the faces and by the 
fact that one vast garment envelops and unites them. 
This cope of red has an orphrey of gold which runs 
through the picture like a ribbon, winding about the 
Persons of the Trinity and inscribed with the word 
Sanctus, meaning Holy, continually repeated. The 
heads of the Trinity wear each a different form of 



crown, while each figure raises the right hand in bene- 
diction in the Eastern manner; the central Person 
bears in his left hand the orb of dominion. 

On the cross is the figure of the dying Christ, with 
Adam and Eve, typifying humanity, kneeling on either 
side. They are bound closely to the body of Christ, 
since all are of one flesh, and each holds a chalice to 
receive the Precious Blood. About the feet of Adam 
is entangled the Serpent of Temptation. Above the 
cross there is inscribed in Latin, "The sins of the world 
have been forgiven." At the foot of the cross the 
Saviour is symbolized by the pelican feeding its young 
with its own blood, while around the lunette doves 
typify the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. 

On the cornice that separates the frieze from the lunette 
is a Latin inscription,* which may be rendered, "I, God 

* Following, with the substitution of redimo for judico, an in- 
scription in the Cathedral of Cefalu, Sicily (A.D. 1148). 


in the flesh, man's maker and redeemer, myself made 
man, redeem both body and soul." 

In the frieze of the Angels which flanks the Crucifix 
on both sides, we have a balance for the frieze of the 
Prophets opposite. These angels, whose faces are of 
singular beauty, bear the instruments of the Passion: 
the sponge, the reed, the nails, the spear, the hammer 
and pincers, the pillar, the scourge, the crown of thorns, 
the ladder. The two angels 
upholding the cross bear, 
wrought on their garments, 
the conventionalized symbols 
of the Eucharist, wheat and 

In the niche on the east wall 
is portrayed the Handmaid of 
the Lord, the blessed Virgin 
Mary with her Divine Child. 
The Virgin is just rising from 
her throne; the Child in her 
arms raises his hand in bene- 
diction. Two angels above 
uphold a crown bearing the 
Dove; about them winds a 
scroll upon which in Latin are 
inscribed the traditional titles: 
Vessel of the Spirit, Chosen 
Vessel, Inclosed Garden, Tower 
of David, Tower of Ivory. 

Opposite, on the west wall, ***" 
Our Lady of Sorrows is repre- THE handmaid of the lord 
sented as a statue above an altar behind a screen of 
lighted candles. The figure, which has an elaborate silver 
crown and halo, and is vested in a cope, stiff with em- 
broidery, stands upon the crescent moon. The seven 
swords thrust into the heart of the Virgin typify the 
Seven Sorrows. 


Upon the vault between these two niches are repre- 
sented the events in the life of Christ and of the Blessed 
Virgin, collectively called the Fifteen Mysteries, medita- 
tion upon which is practised in the recital of the Rosary. 
The Mysteries are divided into three groups: the 
Joyful Mysteries, centering about the birth of Christ; 
the Sorrowful Mysteries, centered in His death; and 

the Glorious Mysteries, 
including the Resurrec- 
tion, the Ascension, and 
the Assumption of the 
Blessed Virgin. 

Above the Madonna 
and Child are the five 
Joyful Mysteries. The 
first in the group, "The 
Annunciation," fills the 
central rectangular pan- 
el. The Angel Gabriel 
appears to the Virgin 
who, kneeling before 
God's messenger, re- 
ceives in humility the 
marvelous tidings. Upon 
a decorative scroll ap- 
pear the words of the 
angelic salutation, 
"Hail, thou that art 
highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou 
among women," and the reply, "Behold the handmaid 
of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." The 
Virgin appears to have been reading Isaiah's prophecy 
of the birth of Christ. In the oblong panel to the left 
we have "The Visitation," the meeting of Mary and her 
cousin Elizabeth. The panel below depicts "The Na- 
tivity"; Mary and John the Baptist adore the new-born 
Infant, flanked by two angels bearing the crown of 





thorns and the nails. In the small panel above is de- 
picted "The Presentation," at the moment when Simeon 
takes the Child in his arms. In the panel on the right 
is represented "The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple." 

Opposite, on the west side of the arch, are depicted 
the five Sorrowful Mysteries. In the small panel at the 
top is the first of the series, "The Agony in the Garden." 
In the panel on the right is shown 'The Scourging," 
while that on the left presents "The Crowning with 
Thorns." The small panel below is occupied by 'The 
Carrying of the Cross." 
These four compositions 
lead up to the central sub- 
ject, "The Crucifixion and 
Death of Our Lord." 

In the centre of the arch 
are the medallion and sur- 
rounding reliefs which rep- 
resent the five Glorious Mys- 
teries. To the left of the 
medallion, below, is shown 
"The Resurrection," and to 
the right, above, "The As- 
cension;" in the remaining quarters are shown "The 
Descent of the Holy Ghost" (lower right-hand), and 
"The Assumption of the Virgin" (upper left-hand). The 
great article of the medallion is filled by the relief 
depicting "The Coronation of the Virgin," the interpre- 
tation of the inscription within the rim being, "Hail, 
Queen of Heaven! Come, my chosen one, and I will 
set thee on my throne." 

In the spaces outside the panels are subordinate figures 
and designs. Surrounding the central relief are the em- 
blems of the Evangelists, Matthew and Luke at the left, 
John and Mark at the right. Above the Madonna and 
Child are Eve, and the Mother of God; in similar po- 
sitions above Our Lady of Sorrows are Adam, and the 



Good Shepherd. In the little circular frames directly 
over the Madonnas are the head of John the Baptist at 
the left, and the handkerchief of Veronica at the right. 

On the vaulting between the two long walls appear 
in relief various conventional symbols, in two series. 
Beginning at the northeast corner of the vaulting, above 
"The Fall of Gog and Magog," and going from left to 
right around the hall, the first series, at the junctions 
of the vaulting ribs with the frames of the skylights, 
consists of the Scroll of the Law and the Seven-Branched 
Candlestick, the Head of Burnt Offering, the Instruments 

of Music, the Tabernacle of 
the Eucharist, the Victor's 
Crown and Palms, and the 
Eucharistic Chalice. The 
second series, the medallions 
in the penetrations of the in- 
tersecting vaults, comprises 
p the Head of the Scape-goat 
with the Instruments of 
the Sacrifice, the Ark of 
the Covenant, the Seven- 
Branched Candlestick, the 
Peacocks of Immortality, 
the Petrine Tiara and Keys, and the Monogram of Sal- 
vation. The symbols on the east are Jewish, those on 
the west Christian, in origin. 

In the central lunette on the west wall, "The 
Judgment" balances The Law" opposite, the angel 
holding before him the great scales in which are weighed 
the souls of the dead, called forth from the opening 
graves by the sound of the trumpet. From the scales 
the condemned are thrust down by demons into hell-fire, 
while the souls of just men made perfect are received 
into the arms of angels. This conception of the weigh- 
ing of souls is of Egyptian origin, and figures also in 
Greek religious thought. 



The two companion lunettes on this wall continue 
the central composition. In the "Hell" is seen a Satanic 
monster swimming in a sea of flame and devouring the 
multitude of lost souls. The handling suggests in- 
terminability, tempestuous with evil a unity of dis- 
cordance. No painting in the entire series shows more 
power or greater technical mastery than this. 

In contrast, the composition on the left expresses the 
divine harmony which attends the entrance of the blessed 
into the heavenly kingdom. The movement begun in the 
central lunette is here continued. The celestial choir is 
symbolized by the three groups of singing angels with 
their harps; around them, weaving itself in and out, 
winds the endless chain of the redeemed. 

The latest additions to Mr. Sargent's work are the two 
panels in the architectural frames over the staircase, put 
in place in the autumn of 1919. These are mediaeval 
in their point of view, and are entitled respectively 
"Church" and "Synagogue." 

As will be seen from the analysis on page 48 the 
sequence of paintings shows the steady progress in the 
development of religious thought from pagan through 
Jewish and Christian channels, well into the Middle 
Ages; there is careful balance between the Hebraic and 
Christian conceptions, point by point, as far as possible. 

The new panels continue this balance, from the stand- 
point of mediaeval Christianity. The Hebrew faith, 
which Mr. Sargent has sympathetically shown as the 
great forerunner of Christianity, was regarded by medi- 
aeval churchmen as having forfeited its high place 
through its failure to recognize the claim of Christ as the 
expected Messiah, and was accordingly represented as 
blind and dethroned; the Church itself was naturally 
depicted as having succeeded to both the vision and the 
leadership lost by the Jewish religion. This view was 
expressed in the art of the Middle Ages by the opposi- 
tion of two figures, the Synagogue, sightless and fallen; 


the Church, outlooking and triumphant. This phase of 
religious thought Mr. Sargent, still preserving his bal- 
ance, has embodied in these panels. 

It is interesting to note that in mediaeval art, the 
figure of the Church is commonly at the left, the Syna- 
gogue at the right; the positions are here transposed, in 
order to bring the Synagogue at the Hebrew end, and the 

Church at the Chris- 
tian end of the Hall. 

Following out 
these conceptions, 
and preserving a 
wonderful color- 
harmony between 
the two panels and 
the other work at 
the related ends of 
the Hall, Mr. Sar- 
gent has represent- 
ed the Synagogue 
as a gray-haired 
woman of massive 
frame, seated in an 
attitude of despair 
upon the worn and 
broken step of a 
temple, above a mo- 
saic pavement; her 
eyes are blindfold- 
ed, the crown is 
falling from her 
head, her powerful arms clutch to her breast a broken 
sceptre and the Tables of the Law. About her, filling 
much of the frame, are the folds of a great curtain, the 
decoration of which consists of conventionalized Sera- 
phim the same winged shapes which shroud the face 
of Jehovah in the lunette at the north end of the Hall. 



The picture presents the loss of dignity and of empire 
through loss of vision, which was the mediaeval view 
of the fate of the Jewish religion. 

The other panel presents the mediaeval Church, as con- 
ceived by herself. Upon a great throne sits a powerful 
female figure, stiff, solid, statuesque, with mystic gaze 
fixed on space; her dress is that of a nun. The elbows 
of the figure rest on the arms of the throne; in the right 
hand is the Euchar- 
istic chalice, in the 
left, a monstrance; 
across the hands 
lies a veil. Between 
the knees of the 
Church, with arms 
resting limply upon 
them, is the figure 
of the dead Christ, 
with wounds in 
hands and feet, and 
wearing the crown 
of thorns; the figure 
is largely covered 
by the folds of the 
Church's robe. On 
the sides of the 
throne, typifying the 
foundation of the 
Christian faith upon 
Hebrew prophecy, 
are inscribed the 
names Isaiah, 
Jeremiah. Daniel, and Ezekiel 
of the Church are grouped the symbols of the four 
Evangelists: Mark, Matthew, John, and Luke. 

The death of Mr. Sargent in 1925 left the decoration 
of the gallery incomplete and a large panel over the 
stairway is blank. 



; while about the head 

Treasure Room 

In the middle of the west side of Sargent Hall, steps 
lead up to the Treasure Room. This room, of beautiful 
proportions, contains the Library's rarest books, includ- 
ing such notable examples as the first five folios of 
Shakespeare and the Bay Psalm Book, the earliest book 
printed in the American Colonies, known to be extant. 

The Music Library 

The door at the north end of Sargent Hall, beneath 
the "Frieze of the Prophets," leads to the Allen A. Brown 
Music Library. This contains the valuable collection of 
works of music and allied subjects given in 1894 by 
Mr. Brown, and supplemented by the large number of 
similar books gathered by the Library. In this room 
stands an interesting old piano made by Benjamin Cre- 
hore, of Milton, about the year 1800. 

Special Collections 

From the north end of the Music Room one enters the 
Special Collections Division, in which are preserved the 
literary treasures of the Library. These consist largely 
of special collections given to the Library from time 
to time, each representative of the tastes of its donor. 
Among these collections should be mentioned the Bar- 
ton Library of Shakespeareana and other Elizabethan 
books; the collection of Spanish and Portuguese books 
made by the late George Ticknor, a Trustee of the 
Library, in writing his History of Spanish Literature; 
the Brown Dramatic Collection, consisting of books on 
the history of the theatre given by the late Allen A. 
Brown, donor of the Music Collection; the Galatea 
Collection of books by and about women, the gift of the 
late Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson; the Prince 
Library, bequeathed to the Old South Church by its 
pastor in 1758, and deposited here for safe-keeping; 
the Artz Collection in commemoration of Henry Wads- 


worth Longfellow, consisting of American and English 
authors; the Twentieth Regiment Collection, books re- 
lating chiefly to the Civil War but containing many of 
later wars of the United States; the Browning Collection 
of books by and relating to Robert Browning and Eliza- 
beth Barrett Browning; the Bowditch Library of books 
on mathematics and astronomy; and the Library's fine 
collection of maps including many of Boston. 

Exhibition Room 

From the opposite end of Sargent Hall one enters 
a series of rooms occupied by the Divisions of Fine 
Arts and Technology. The first of these, the Exhibi- 
tion Room, is used for the display of books and pictures 
from the collections of the Library. The exhibitions, 
which are frequently changed, usually illustrate some 
current topic. In the corners of the room, on standards, 
are lithographic copies of famous paintings published 
by the Arundel Society of London. 

Fine Arts Department 

Beyond the Exhibition Room is a corridor occupied 
by the Library's collection of photographs, contained 
in cases. On the wall, over the entrance, hang the two 
portraits of Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the most illus- 
trious native of Boston. One of these is attributed to 
Jean Baptiste Greuze; the other, the work of Joseph 
Sifrede Duplessis, is generally regarded as the most 
satisfactory portrait of the great American. Through 
this corridor are reached the reading-rooms devoted to 
Fine Arts and technological books. The Fine Arts 
Reading Room, across the rear of the building, is a 
gallery of fine proportions, specially suited to the use 
of students of art. 


Other Departments 

At the rear of this floor, in the Annex recently built 
on Blagden Street, are situated the Printing and Bind- 
ing Departments of the Library: in these departments 
are done all the printing needed by the institution, and 
the binding of about 40,000 volumes annually. 

Other rooms in the building, of no special interest 
to the sightseer, are the Statistical Department, in the 
rear of the second floor, devoted to works in the fields 
of economics, finance, and statistics, and to Government 
Documents of all sorts; the Branch Department, in 
which the interchange of books between the Central 
Library and its branches is carried on; the rooms de- 
voted to newspaper files and patents; and the book- 
stacks, occupying six floors on the south and west 
sides of the court, and containing more than nine 
hundred thousand volumes.