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Mew Handbook 


^oston Riblicjl 

and its 

M\iraJ Decorations 


Association Publications 





of the 











Copyright notice: In addition to the general copyright which covers 
the text and illustrations, the engravings of the Sargent paintings on pages 
59 to 87 are from Association Prints, copyright 191 6, by the Boston 
Public Library Employees Benefit Association, the Prints being made from 
the original paintings, Copyright, 19 16, by the Trustees of the Boston Pub- 
lic Library. 










The Library building, elevated upon a granite plat- 
form to command Copley square, is constructed of gray 
Milford (Massachusetts) granite. It is 225 feet long, 
227 feet wide, and 70 feet high. It was occupied in 
1895 an d has cost about $2,750,000, exclusive of the 
land which was given in part by the State. 

The architects of the building, which is designed 
in the Classic Renaissance style, were McKim, Mead 
and White. 

A heavy lower story supports an upper story, lightened 
by high arched windows. The red tiled roof is topped 
by a copper cresting which softens the sky line. In the 
spandrels of the window arches are the marks or trade 
devices of early printers and book-sellers, carved in 
the granite, the work of Domingo Mora. Beneath the 
windows are tablets giving the names of the world's 
foremost men in all lines of activity. 

Above the doorway, the seals, sculptured by Augustus 
St. Gaudens, from designs by Kenyan Cox, are, from 
left to right : those of the State of Massachusetts, of the 
Library, and of the City of Boston. Over the central 
door is seen a head of Minerva by St. Gaudens. The 
statues of Art and Science in front of the building are 
the work of Bela L. Pratt. 


The vestibule is of unpolished Tennessee marble, and 
contains a bronze, heroic size statue of Sir Harry Vane, 
Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636, 
which is the work of Frederick MacMonnies. The 


bronze doors, by Daniel C. French, representing Music, 
Poetry, Knowledge, Wisdom, Truth, and Romance, 
open into the 


This hall is Roman in design. The vaulted ceiling 
with its arches is supported by heavy pillars of Iowa 
sandstone. The ceiling is of mosaic with trellises on 
the vault, while in the penetrations and pendentives of 
the domes, which are on either side, are inscribed the 
names of eminent Bostonians. The floor, of Georgia 
marble, is inlaid in brass with the signs of the Zodiac, 
and the names of benefactors of the Library. 


To the Left of the Staircase are the Coat Room; 
Elevator; and Entrance to the Courtyard and the Cata- 
logue and Ordering Departments. 

To the Right are the Public Stenographer's Room, 
the Newspaper and the Periodical Rooms and the 
Entrance to the Courtyard. Across the Courtyard are 
the Public Toilet Rooms, Bound Newspaper and Patent 
Rooms, and the Statistical Department. 

The Newspaper Room is supported in part by the 
William C. Todd fund of $50,000, and contains three 
hundred and ten current newspapers from all parts of the 

The Periodical Room contains about fourteen hundred 
current periodicals and also bound files of periodicals. 

The Courtyard, open to the sky, with a basin and 
fountain set in a grass plot, is surrounded by granite and 
grayish yellow brick walls. On three sides is a vaulted 
arcade suggestive of the Palazzo Cancellaria in Rome. 


Music. Poetry. 

Bronze doors by Daniel C. French, 

Entrance Hall. 

The floor is of brick, bordered with Georgia and Tucka- 
hoe, New York, marble." Two memorials here are a 
bust of General Francis A. Walker, once a Trustee of 
the Library, by ^Richard E. Brooks, and a medallion 
portrait by St. Gaudens of Robert Charles Billings, who 
gave the largest single gift in money ever received by the 


This staircase has walls of rich Siena marble, with 
steps of French Echaillan marble. The floor of the 
first landing is inlaid with Numidian marble, while the 
pedestals at this point support two marble lions, sculp- 
tured by Louis St. Gaudens. These memorials are gifts 
of the Second and Twenty-second Regiments Massachu- 
setts Volunteer Tnfantrv. 

The panels in the staircase walls and those of the 
corridor on the 

contain the mural decoration, 


Puvis de Chavannes. 
W A Description of his composition 
By the Artist. 



L'honneur m'ayant ete confie de decorer l'escalier de 
la Bibliotheque de Boston, j'ai cherche a representee sous 
une forme emblematique, l'ensemble des richesses in- 
tellectuelles reunies dans ce beau monument. Cet en- 
semble me parait resume dans la composition ayant pour 




Les autres compositions, qui sont le developpement 
de celle-ci, correspondent aux quatre grandes manifes- 
tations de l'esprit humain : 


Sur le mur de droite en entrant dans l'escalier, ap- 
paraissent en trois panneaux : 
i. La Poesie des Champs. Virgile. 

2. La Poesie Dramatique. Eschyle et les Oceanides 

3. La Poesie Epique. Homere couronne par l'lliade 
et l'Odyssee. 

Sur le mur de gauche: 

1. L'Histoire accompagnee d'un Genie portant un 
flambeau evoque le Passe. 

2. L'Astronomie. Les Bergers Chaldeens observent 
les astres et decouvrent la loi des nombres. 

3. La Philosophie. Platon resumant dans une parole 
celebre l'eternel antagonisme entre TEsprit et la Ma- 

"L'Homme est une plante du ciel non de la terre." 



The Main Staircase. 


Having been intrusted with the honour of decorat- 
ing the staircase of the Boston Library, I have sought 
to represent under a symbolic form and in a single view 
the intellectual treasures collected in this beautiful build- 
ing. The whole seems to me summed up in the com- 
position entitled 




Out of this composition others have developed which 
answer to the four great expressions of the human 


On the righthand wall of the staircase as you enter 
appear in three panels : 

1. Pastoral Poetry. Virgil. 

2. Dramatic Poetry. ^Eschylus and the Oceanides. 

3. Epic Poetry. Homer crowned by the Iliad and 

On the lefthand wall : 

1. History attended by a Spirit bearing a torch calls 
up the Past. 

2. Astronomy. The Chaldean Shepherds observe the 
stars and discover the law of numbers. 

3. Philosophy. Plato sums up in an immortal phrase 
the eternal conflict between Spirit and Matter. 

"Man is a plant of heavenly not () t earthly growth." 


Sur le mur du fond, a droite et a gauche des fene- 
tres : 

A gauche: La Chimie (minerale, organique, vegetale) : 
Une mysterieuse transformation s'elabore sous la bagu- 
ette magique parmi des genies attentifs. 
A droite: La Physique: Agent merveilleux de l'Elec- 
tricite, le Verbe sillonne l'espace, portant avec la 
rapidite de l'eclair la bonne et la mauvaise nouvelle. 


On the end wall to the right and left of the win- 
dows : 

To the left: Chemistry (mineral, organic, vegetable): 
A process of mysterious change evolves itself under the 
magic wand of a fairy surrounded by watching spirits. 
To the right: Physics: By the wondrous agency of Elec- 
tricity, Speech flashes through Space and swift as 
lightning bears tidings of good and evil. 



' flr 

4\ 4 


' H.yfl^. 

Portion of the decoration by Puvis de Cha: amies. 


The corridor is tiled with Istrian and Verona marble. 
The door in the centre of the corridor is the entrance to 


In the passageway, on either side are beautiful Ven- 
etian iron gates. Bates Hall, the main reading-room of 
the Library, named in honor of its first great benefactor, 
is finished in Amherst, Ohio, sandstone, and is 218 feet 
long, 42 feet wide and 50 feet high. The ceiling, vaulted 
and panelled, semi-domed at the ends, is painted in deli- 
cate tones of ivory and blue. The busts around the sides 
are those of prominent Americans, and cut in the 
frieze between the arches on a level with the cornices 
are the names of some of the world's greatest men. 
The oak bookcases on the walls and the screens that 
divide the main hall from the apses contain 8,000 books 
of reference. Over the centre door, the richly carved 
balcony of Indiana limestone is suggestive of that in 
the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The doorways at 
either end have green, serpentine Corinthian , columns, 
with bronze caps and entablatures of Belgian black 
marble. The Central Desk is a department of infor- 
mation, supervision of the delivery of books in this 
hall, and the charging of books for home use, if desired 
by readers. 

The Public Catalogue is in the apse at the right-hand 
end of the hall. Here on cards, in drawers, arranged 
by author, and subject, in one alphabet, are listed all 
books in the Library, except works on music and fiction. 
From these cards is obtained the call number of a book 
desired, which, placed on the slips provided on the 


tables and handed in at the proper desk, secures the 
book desired. 

Returning to the corridor and turning to the left, an 
alcove is reached, which contains a drinking fountain. 
The Pompeian wall decorations are by Elmer E. Garn- 
sey. The doorway leads to the 


Here books are loaned for home use and returned by 
borrowers. This room is finished in oak, with a richly 
ornamented beamed ceiling, and a high wainscoting, of 
large panels, divided by fluted pilasters. The floor is 
tiled with Istrian and Verona marble. The doorways 
have columns of red and green Levanfo, with bases of 
rouge antique and entablatures of both these marbles. 
The mantel is also of highly polished rouge antique. 
The frieze is that of 


By Edwin Austin Abbey, R. A. 
An outline of this Version of the Legend, 
By Henry James. 


Statrcase Corridor, {Second Floor). 






The Holy ( irail was fabled to be the sacred vessel 
from which our Lord had eaten at the Last Supper, 
and into which (having purchased it from Pontius 
Pilate), Joseph of Arimathea had gathered the divine 
blood of His wounds. Its existence, its preservation, 
its miraculous virtues and properties were a cherished 
popular belief in the early ages of European Christian- 
ity ; and in the folk-lore from which the twelfth-century 
narrators, Walter Mapes in England, Chretien de Troyes 
in France, and Wolfram von Eschenbach in Germany, 
drew their material, it was represented as guarded for 
ages in the Castle of the Grail by the descendants of 
the "rich man," to whom the body of Jesus had been 
surrendered, 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, so largely devoted to 
the adventures of the various candidates for this most 
exalted of rewards. Incomparable were the properties 
of the Grail, the enjoyment of a revelation of which con- 
veyed, among many privileges, the ability to live, and to 
cause others to live, indefinitely without food, as well 
as the achievement of universal knowledge, and of in- 
vulnerability in battle. 

This revelation was the proof and recompense of the 
highest knightly purity, the perfection constituting its 
possessor the type of the knightly character ; so that the 
highest conceivable emprise for the Companions of the 
Round Table was to attain to such a consecration to 


Cause the transcendent vessel to be made manifest to 
them. The incarnation of the ideal knighthood in the 
group here exhibited is that stainless Sir Galahad, with 
whom on different lines Tennyson has touched Hie 
imagination of all readers. 

No. i. 

The child Galahad, the descendant, by 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 passes into those of the subtle 
Gurnemanz, who instructs 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 has 
performed his nightly vigil has watched alone, till 
dawn, in the church. 

No. 2. 

This 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, who fastens on one of his 
spurs, and Sir Bors, who attaches the other. 

No. 3. 

The Arthurian Round Table and the curious fable of 
the Seat Perilous are here dealt with : the Seat Perilous 
"perilous for good and ill" in which no man has 
yet sat with safety, not even the fashioner himself, but 
into which, standing vacant while it awaits only a blame- 
less occupant, the young Sir Galahad, knighted by Arthur, 
has sworn a vow to be worthy to take his place. The 






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Companions of the Order are seated in Arthur's hall, 
and every chair, save one, is filled. Sudden 1 ) - the doors 
and windows close of themselves, the place becomes suf- 
fused with light, and Sir Galahad, robed in red (the 
color emblematic of purity), is led in by an old man 
clothed in white, Joseph of Arimathea, who, according to 
one of the most artless features of the romance, has 
subsisted for centuries by the possession of the supreme 
relic. The young knight is thus installed in safety in the 
Seat Perilous, above which becomes visible the legend, 
"This is the seat of Galahad." 

No. 4. 

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 always in red. 
Throughout this series he is the "bright boy-knight" 
of Tennyson, though not, as that poet represents him, 

No. 5. 

Amfortas, the Fisher King, King of the Grail, as 
the legend has it, having been wounded several centuries 
before for taking up arms in the cause of unlawful love, 
lies under a spell, with all the inmates of the Castle of the 
Grail, into which the artist here introduces us. They are 
spiritually dead, and although the Grail often appears 
in their very midst, they cannot see it. From this strange 
perpetuation of ineffectual life they can none of them, 
women or men, priests, or soldiers, or courtiers, be lib- 
erated by death until the most blameless knight shall at 


last arrive. It will not be sufficient, however, that he 
simply penetrate 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 at the very goal his single slight taint of imperfec- 
tion, begotten of the too worldly teaching of Gurne- 
manz, defeats his beneficent action. Before him passes 
the procession of the Grail, moving between the great 
fires and the trance-smitten king, and gazing at it he 
tries to arrive, in his mind, at an interpretation of what 
it means. He sees the bearer of the Grail, the damsel 
with the Golden Dish (the prototype of whom was 
Herodias bearing the head of John the Baptist on a 
charger), the two knights with the Seven-branched 
Candle-stick, the knight holding aloft the Bleeding Spear. 
The duty resting upon him is to ask what these things 
denote, but, with the presumption of one who supposes 
himself to have imbibed all knowledge, he forbears, con- 
sidering 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 and 
never dead, whom he leaves folded in their dreadful 
doom. On his second visit, many years later, he is bet- 
ter inspired. 

No. 6. 

It is the morning after his visit to the Castle of the 
Grail. Awakening in the chamber to which he had been 
lea the previous night, Sir Galahad finds the castle de- 
serted. Issuing forth, he sees his horse saddled and the 
drawbridge down. Thinking to find in the forest the 


inmates of the castle, he rides forth, but the drawbridge 
closes suddenly behind him ; a wail of despair follows 
him, and voices mock 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 in form 
and features, is now noble still in form, but hideous in 
feature, and she wears a red cloak, and a hood about 
her head, for she is bald ; and in her arms is the head of 
a dead king, encircled with a gold 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 riders. These 
damsels are under the spell of the Castle of the Grail. 
Against her will, a magic power is used by the Loathly 
Damsel to tempt and destroy knights and kings. She, 
with her two companions, must continue to wander, do- 
ing deeds of wickedness, until the sinless Virgin Knight 
shall come to the castle and ask concerning the wonders 
he sees there. They now assail Sir Galahad with re- 
proaches, cursing him for having failed on the previous 
day to ask the Question, which not only would have 
delivered them and the inmates of the castle, but would 
have restored peace and plenty to the land. The earth 
now must remain barren, and Sir Galahad, wandering 
forth again, is followed by the curses of the peasantry, 
while war rages throughout the land. He must encounter 
many adventures, suffer many sorrows, and many years 
must pass before he returns once more to the Castle of 
the Grail, where, having through all ordeals remained 
sinless, he will finally ask the Question which shall re- 
deem the sin-stricken land. 


No. 7. 

Sir Galahad is here seen arriving 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. 

No. 8. 

Having passed the outer gate of the castle, Sir Gala- 
had encounters a monk who blesses him and delivers up 
to him the keys of the castle. 

No. 9. 

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 de- 
light, putting out their hands to be kissed. Having ac- 
complished this mission, Sir Galahad passes on to other 

No. 10. 

Sir Galahad has become wedded to Blancheneur, but, 
sacrificing his earthly love, he leaves her that he may 
continue the Quest. The wounded and sin-stricken Am- 
fortas can be healed only by a Virgin Knight, and only 
a Virgin Knight may achieve the Quest. A new-born 
knowledge has unsealed Sir Galahad's eyes, but with 


this knowledge is begotten the strength to overcome, 
and, renouncing finally every human desire, he resumes 
the Quest. 

No. ii. 

Having passed through many adventures, Sir Gala- 
had has here returned to the Castle of the Grail. The 
procession of the Grail has once more passed before him, 
and this time, grown wise by knowledge and suffering, 
he asks the Question, and thereby heals Amfortas, 
cleanses him from sin, and allows the old king to die. 
The Angel bears away the Grail from the castle, and 
it is not seen again until the day when Sir Galahad 
achieves it at Sarras. Having now accomplished his 
great task, he is guided by the spirit of the Grail toward 
the goal which shall crown his labors the achievement 
of the Grail. He is directed toward the sea, to Solomon's 
Ship, which will bear him to Sarras, where he will be 
crowned king, and where the Grail itself will finally 
appear to him. 

No. 12. 

Sir Galahad, borne upon a white charger, and followed 
by the blessings of the people, is seen passing from the 
land, where peace and plenty once more reign. 

No. 13. 

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


faithfully in the Quest, they have acquired the right to 
accompany 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. When Eve was driven from 
the Garden of Eden, she 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. 

No. 14. 

The City of Sarras. 

No. 15. 

Sir Galahad is now King of Sarras, and upon a hill 
he makes a Sacred Place and builds a Golden Tree. 
Morning and evening he repairs thither, and from day to 
day he beautifies the tree, and, finally, when it is com- 
plete, Joseph of Arimathea (with a company of angels) 
appears with the Grail. As Sir Galahad gazes upon it, 
crown, sceptre, and robe fall from him. He no longer 
needs them. He thanks God for having let him see that 
which tongue may not describe, nor heart think. Hav- 
ing now beheld that which is the source of all life and 
knowledge and power, his spirit can no longer remain 
in the narrow confines of his body. The Grail itself is 
borne heavenward, and is never again seen on earth. 


The Tube Room opens in the west wall, and the 
desks at either side are for the delivery and return of 
home-use books. Call slips are sent from this room by 
pneumatic tubes to the Book Stacks, from which books 
are forwarded by small cars. 

The Book Stacks are back of this room and occupy 
six floors. They are not open to the public. 

The entrance at the further end of the room leads to 
the Registration Department where borrowers' cards 
are issued. 

The Librarian's Room is also reached by this entrance. 

The Trustees' Room occupies the mezzanine story 
above the Registration Department and Tube Room. 
Returning to the corridor and crossing to the other side, 
there will be found a lobby decorated by Joseph Lindon 
Smith. The decoration depicts Venice at the height of 
her glory. 

The staircase on one side of the lobby leads to the 
Special Libraries and Fine Arts Department. The 
doorway from this Lobby leads to the Children's Room. 
Here books suitable for children are arranged on open 
shelves, and they may select a book and read it here 
or have it charged for home use. 

The Teachers' Reference Room leads from this room. 
( )n the upper shelves reposes the Library of President 
John Adams. The ceiling decoration is 

A Ceiling Decoration in the Children's Reference Library 


John Elliott. 



The painting contains thirteen winged figures. The 
twelve female figures represent the Hours, and the one 
male figure, Time. The Christian Centuries are typi- 
fied 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 
winged female 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 neigh- 
borhood of the nearer left hand corner, and describes 
a semi-circle, with a downward sweep over an effect of 
clouds, back to the left again, to a point about two-thirds 
across the canvas, and culminates in a disk, the sun, 
before which are the leading horse and the figure typi- 
fying the Twentieth Century. In the nearer right hand 
corner is a crescent moon with a full disk faintly show- 
ing. The decoration is divided in the centre by a beam, 
but notwithstanding this division, the composition is 

To< the rear of this room is an entrance to the Lecture 
Hall, public access to which is from Boylston street 
only. A series of public lectures is given here yearly. 

Returning again to the corridor and ascending the 
staircase, at the left the first landing opens on to the 
balcony over the centre door of Bates Hall. At the 
head of this staircase is Sargent Hall. The wainscotting 
is of Amherst sandstone and the floor is of Yorkshire 
sandstone, similar to the walls and treads of the stair- 
case leading to it. The decorations on the walls and 
ceiling are 














































% -' 



A Sequence of Mural Decorations 



By Sylvester Baxter. 

Note by the author: In the following interpretation the 
second and third parts were written originally for periodical 
publications, and were later selected by the Library manage- 
ment for the information of visitors. To bring the work down 
to the present moment the first, fourth and fifth parts have 
been written especially for this handbook by request of the 
Association issuing it. 

Boston, November, 1916. 



The decoration of the upper staircase hall of the 
Special Libraries floor, now stands all but complete ; 
the intention and magnitude of the task are made clear. 
As the scheme has taken final shape under the gradual 
clelevopment of the controlling motive, it has involved 
material departures from what was originally proposed. 

The shape of the hall long, lofty and rather nar- 
row suggests one of those superbly decorated chapels 
not uncommonly a feature in some Old World cathe- 
dral, convent or palace. To realize this semblance at its 
best Mr. Sargent has somewhat modified the room in 
its architectural elements. The richness of the two 
highly decorated end-divisions had given the entirely 
undecorated space between them an effect of bareness. 
This space has now been adequately treated after de- 
velopments designed to emphasize the architectural 
units by carrying the lines of the pilasters up through 
the barrel-arched ceiling the ribs thus formed accentu- 
ating the existing bays, and with the added ornament 
correspondingly accenting the penetrations and the 
lunettes. This change was made necessary by an im- 
portant change in the scheme of decoration. The inten- 
tion had been to unite the end sections decoratively by 
a treatment of the long east wall only. But further study 
of the problem led to the conclusion that the decoration 
of the ceiling was of greater importance. These six 
lunettes in the ceiling have furnished the mural ground 
for the additional decorations. With the abounding 
employment of gilded relief-ornament in the ceiling we 


now have an effect of magnificence, a large splendor of 
unified design ; the sense of unity which comes with a 
vast composition made up of manifold and complex 
elements whose every detail is the work of one master- 
hand. In thus carrying out his scheme in every part, 
Mr. Sargent has recognized the importance of architec- 
tural detail as an essential of monumental decoration 
and has consequently designed and modelled all the 

His enthusiasm for this part of the work, so largely 
plastic in nature, in the doing of which he found the 
fresh delight that comes with a change in lines of re- 
search is manifest in the infinite care bestowed upon 
the designing and modelling of every detail, whether 
free or conventionalized. The gold ornament thus de- 
signed, in contrast with the soft cool grays that bespeak 
the fundamental quality of the walls and ceiling, sets 
off the mural paintings with a richly harmonious setting. 

The motives of these six lunettes of which three are 
Hebrew and three Christian together with those of 
the east-wall decorations yet to come, adequately tie 
together the themes of the great compositions at the ends, 
respectively representing the Jewish and the Christian 
faiths. These new lunette-paintings depict certain be- 
liefs of Judaism and of Christianity. Yet to come are 
the paintings to occupy the three vacant spaces on the 
east wall, above the staircase. The scheme for this part 
of the great composition has materially modified the 
original proposition for it. The early arrangement for 
the decoration of this room contemplated only the paint- 
ings at the two ends. But the first part was received 
with such enthusiasm that friends of the Library raised 
by subscription an additional amount for the decora- 


tion of the east wall. The idea then was a panoramic 
composition, extending through the three panels and de- 
voted to a sublime phase of the New Testament, perhaps 
"The Sermon on the Mount." In developing his theme, 
however, Mr. Sargent reached the conclusion that the 
hall was too narrow to allow a painting of such length 
to show to advantage. Each panel of the three will 
therefore be separately treated. The middle panel will 
be a large composition; the two side subjects will com- 
bine a mural and an architectural treatment. It may 
be noted that, while the traditional, the symbolistic, 
treatment has necessarily controlled the development of 
the whole decorative scheme up to this point, in this 
painting, in all likelihood, we shall witness a gracious 
flowering of it all in a less rigid development. 

The two adjacent decorations will represent respec- 
tively the Jewish synagogue and the Christian church. 
The personification of the synagogue and the church will 
be enshrined in the architecturally treated panels at the 
ends, already a feature. 

While the scheme still lacks these completing elements 
on the long wall, the general effect, as with any organism 
that has readied the threshold of maturity, is now one of 
unity, of wholeness. For the first time the visitor sees 
the work as one coherent entity filling the entire space, 
in place of the expanse of bare walls and ceiling that 
had separated the decorated ends, which until now had 
made an unavoidably fragmentary impression. Though 
still incomplete, the present effect is one of completion. 

One now appreciates in what abundant measure the 
artist has here given of himself to what has been purely 
a labor of love ; indeed, we have here a unique posses- 


sion for the Boston public, and even for the entire 
American people. 

The impression of unity made by these decorations 
is enhanced by the pains taken to maintain the 
balance that belongs with a continuous architectural 
scheme. The two shrine-like frames on the east wall, 
for instance, are complemented on the opposite side 
by the large book-cases that impart to the room the 
distinctive library note; these have now been made 
less conspicuous by setting them back into the wall. 
The middle panel on the east wall, to be occupied by 
* the central feature of the whole scheme, is balanced 
by the entrance to the Allen A. Brown Music Library. 
For the time-being the vacant shrine-like frames 
above the staircase are filled with drapery that over- 
comes the unfinished look which otherwise would 
appear. These frames bring down to the lower wall 
the note of dark blue which occurs in the decorations 
above and in the ceiling ornament. This blue is an 
instance of how much a color depends upon relation- 
ship to other colors ; by itself it seems rather leaden than 
blue, but association with gold ornament brings out 
the blue quality most impressively, imparting to the 
mural decorations a spaciousness of infinite depth 
and latent luminosity. 

The prevailing tones in the color-scheme of the 
hall are the soft cool grays of masonry, deepening* to 
this blue tranquility; and again, as in the Puvis de 
Chavannes paintings of the staircase below, empha- 
sized in the mural quality of the figures but with 
this marked difference : while in the Puvis de 
Chavannes decorations the effect is characteristically 
obtained in silhoutte, thus masterfully indicating 

both the flatness and the mural texture of the surface, 
here on the other hand, in quite another way and 
with equal felicity, Mr. Sargent achieves the mural 
impression through a plastic rendering. This differ- 
ence in method is quite as it should be in this con- 
nection, being the more adapted to the basic con- 
ditions - - the architectural elements possessing a 
distinctive salience, as in the arches at the recessed 
ends, and in the rich relief of the ornament. Hence 
a plastic development seems specifically called for 
here and Mr. Sargent has fittingly made his task that 
of both architect and sculptor, as well as painter. 

A dominantly plastic character, therefore, pervades 
the whole scheme. Beginning with the figure of 
Moses in polychrome relief, complemented in the 
great Crucifix opposite, and from these initial notes 
running through the entire work - - varying from the 
simulation of plastic effects in the painting Of flat 
surfaces to actual modelling in low relief the 
plastic, and the chromatic associate and blend so con- 
summately that the beholder finds it impossible to 
distinguish between them. Particularly notable is 
this in the six lunettes of the side walls. 

Together with the prevailing tones aforementioned, 
masses of reds and greens enter into the dominant 
chords ; gold is lavishly used for accent, as well as 
in the conventional ornamentation of architecture 
and in the frames of the panels. Again in the figures 
the mural ground of soft cool grays often blends into 
warmer tones deepening in the shadows to a golden 




(At the North End of the Hall.) 

(Copyright 1895 by Harper & Bros.) 

The first impression received is that of a decorative 
composition of extraordinary magnificence. One is clear- 
ly impressed at a glance by the main idea, and is also 
made to feel the underlying immensity, the vast mystery 
behind it which slowly unfolds its meanings, its com- 
ponent elements revealing themselves as in a gradual dis- 
solution of veil after veil beneath the calm gaze and the 
contemplative mind. While Mr. Sargent in this work 
has duly respected the traditions of his craft, he has 
utilized with masterly strength all the resources which 
it has placed at his command and which he could make 
available, and he has not hesitated to play the inno- 
vator. This, however, with no seeking for novel effects, 
no striving to produce strange sensations, but with the 
sincere purpose of finding the best possible expression 
of his ideas. In this we have the stamp of genius; the 
daring to be original, with the spontaneous manifesta- 
tion that follows an impulse guided by secure control 
of inherent strength, and not the seeking for originality. 
This work furnishes the first example on a great scale 
of a truly modern interpretation of such a theme ; the 
artistic employment of all the means which scientific in- 
vestigations have placed at the disposal of the worker 
in the wonderful fruits of archaeological and historical 
research. It is notable even as a scholarly achievement, 


and one receives a profound impression of the intellec- 
tual quality of the artist, who, for the painting of this 
series, is said to have accumulated a remarkable library 
of religious and archaeological lore. Yet the impression 
is not that which such efforts are so apt to make that 
of literary or scientific thought learnedly elaborated and 
illy disguised under a pictorial integument. It is pri- 
marily artistic; the natural expression of ideas in form 
and color, as the musical composer expresses himself in 
tone. This work, indeed, appeals to the vision in a way 
strikingly like that in which a grand symphonic work 
appeals to the ear. 

The present decorations have for their theme the con- 
fusion which fell upon the children of Israel whenever 
they turned from the worship of Jehovah to that of the 
false gods of heathen nations. The story is concisely 
embodied in the passages from the 106th Psalm, in- 
scribed upon the gold ground of the rib that separates 
the lunette from the ceiling, beginning, "They forgat God 
their saviour." The composition in the lunette repre- 
sents the children of Israel beneath the yoke of their op- 
pressors, into whose hands the Lord had delivered them. 
On the left stands the Egyptian Pharaoh, on the right 
the Assyrian king, both monarchs with arms uplifted 
to strike with scourge and sword. The Israelites, naked 
in their slavery, bow in despairing submission, their 
central figure lifts his arms in appealing prayer for de- 
liverance, and behind the yoke a multitude of supplicating 
hands are raised in agonized imploration to the Lord, to 
whom his repentant people are making burnt-offering 
upon the altar. He has heard their prayer ; flaming sera- 
phim fly before the face of the Lord, and supply a superb 
decorative motive with the crimson of their wings which 


alone symbolize their presence. His face is invisible, 
but His mighty arms reach down from the cloud and 
stay the hands of the oppressors. 

There is a feeling of tremendous, of irresistible power 
in these arms of Jehovah, themselves cloudlike, vague, 
and mysterious. But the upraised arm of the Assyrian 
king is clutched with a tremendous viselike grasp, while 
the hand of the Lord is simply laid upon that of Pharaoh. 
The differentiation of the Egyptian from the Assyrian 
oppression is notable; the Assyrian type, which repre- 
sents the Philistines, is brutal, muscular, gnarled, and 
knotty in development, as if symbolizing the tyranny of 
sheer force; the Egyptian is graceful, lithe, supple, and 
clean-cut consciously and malignantly cruel. Behind 
th^ Assyrian king stands a protecting genius a figure 
such as is found upon Assyrian reliefs, with the body of 
a man and the head of a vulture, holding in one hand 
a bow, and in the other two arrows. Beside this figure 
is the Assyrian lion, with two ravens attacking a pros- 
trate corpse. These things graphically symbolize the As- 
syrian cultus. Among the deities attending the Egyptian 
monarch is one with a lion's head and wings of black 
and gold. The Egyptian side is more conventionalized 
in drawing, while the modelling of the Assyrians is 
realistic in expression. Prostrate victims beneath the 
feet of both Assyrians and Egyptians represent the 
other nations that were oppressed by them. The As- 
syrian ravens are balanced on the Egyptian side by vul- 
tures preying upon the dead. 

In the ceiling are represented the pagan deities, the 
strange gods whom the children of Israel went after 
when they turned from Jehovah. This is a cosmic 
conception of wonderful grandeur. Underlying all the 


figures that populate the ceiling is the gigantic, dark, and 
shadowy form of the great goddess Neith, the mother of 
the universe, the goddess whose temple at Sais, in Lower 
Egypt, was once the centre of wisdom for Greece, whose 
foremost men in the early days before learning was 
established in that land came hither for their training, 
and upon whose veiled image was the inscription: "I 
am all that was, that is, and that is to be, and my veil 
has been lifted by no man." The feet of Neith touch 
the cornice on one side, her uplifted hands that of the 
other, and her over-arching figure constitutes the firma- 
ment, whose stars are seen through the ring of the zodiac, 
which forms a collar for the goddess. The face of Neith 
is sublimely calm, majestic, and inscrutable. The serpent 
or dragon of the old Oriental sun myth serves as a neck- 
lace for the goddess. Here, with beautiful symbolism, is 
depicted the eternal conflict between summer and winter 
in the figure from which was developed the idea of Ad- 
onis the archer who for one half the year slays the 
dragon and for the other half is slain by the dragon. 
The bright and beautiful figure of the archer, loosely 
wrapped in the red mantle that represents warmth and 
life, stands releasing from his bow the golden arrows 
that penetrate the serpent's folds, obscuring in the con- 
flict the six winter months of the zodiac. Then again 
the archer is seen lying limp and lifeless in the folds of 
the serpent, his red mantle fallen from his nude form, 
his bow lying unstrung and useless across his breast. 
The zodiac is Egyptian in character, and slender con- 
ventional figures separate the signs of the months. 

In the zodiac the sun stands above the head of Moloch, 
whose figure is the central feature on the left of the 
ceiling arch, as is that of Astarte on the right. The 


sun belongs to Moloch, and its rays, penetrating to the 
depths of the darkness below, form one of the most 
striking elements in the decorative effect of Mr. Sargent's 
work. At the end of each ray is a hand, the Egyptian 
symbol representing the bestowing and blessing qualities 
of the sun's rays as they reach down to the earth. 

Moloch is the god of riches and of material things. 
The hideous monster, tawny and lurid in hue, with the 
head of a horned beast, is seated soulless, insensitive, 
implacable, unyielding. He has four arms ; two are 
uplifted, with a dagger in one and a ball-like object in 
the other, as if to symbolize brute force and evil to man. 
His other arms hold writhing human victims. He is 
attended by five raging lions, the sun's rays passing 
through the lower ones. 

Below Moloch are three dusky Egyptian deities, Isis, 
Osiris, and Horus. At their feet lies a conventionalized 
mummy, with a hawk as a symbol of the soul. 

Gold and lust, greed and sensuality, Moloch and As- 
tarte these represent the two great powers of evil. 
The figure of Astarte, the Phoenician goddess, is an ex- 
quisitely beautiful conception. The idea of the figure 
was suggested by a polychromatic statue recently exca- 
vated at Athens, but classic materials gave no hint for 
the expression which Mr. Sargent has embodied with 
such remarkable success. Like Moloch, she is also soul- 
less, but not insensitive. She is the quintessence of the 
senses ; her delicate ethereal beauty, fraught with evil, 
though unconscious of it and careless of it, seems re- 
sponsive to every appeal from her worshippers. She 
is draped in a vaporous veil of delicious blue ; as the 
moon goddess she stands upon the crescent, and a python 
writhes at her feet. Within this veil, which may be re- 


garded as symbolizing the illusion of the senses, are 
seen at the feet of the goddess two of her victims one 
with a vulture tearing at his heart, and the other writh- 
ing in the grasp of a chimera. At the head of Astarte, 
on either side groups of three graceful female figures 
wave their arms in enticingly voluptuous rhythm in hom- 
age to the goddess. 

The third great division of the work is the frieze of 
the Prophets. This symbolizes the foundation of the re- 
ligion of Israel upon the structure of the law. Moses is 
the central figure, and in his priestly robes and. symbols 
is treated conventionally to typify the authority upon 
which the faith is based. Moses, with the tablets of the 
Commandments, is modelled in strong relief ; the other 
Prophets are painted on a plane surface, but in their 
grouping and modelling have a noble plastic feeling. 
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. 

This frieze has a character much like that of a Greek 
chorus interpreting and supporting the movement of a 
great drama. On the left from the spectator are the 
prophets of despair, predicting woe to Israel and the 
fall of the Temple; on the right are the prophets of 
hope, looking for the coming of the Messiah. There 
is a beautiful significance in the fact that in the group 
of the despairing there is a hopeful figure, and in the 
group of the hopeful a grieving figure. It will be in- 
teresting to learn that the artist's favorite figure in this 
frieze is Hosea, the young Prophet in white who stands 
fourth from the left. 

We have seen that in the figure of Moses, Mr. Sar- 

















r T 






























i i 


gent has combined the art of the sculptor with that of 
the painter. This, moreover, characterizes the entire 
work, which is full of parts modelled in low relief, with 
a remarkable enhancement of effect. Mr. Abbey, in 
whose studio, at Fairfield, Mr. Sargent has painted these 
decorations beside the Holy Grail frieze of the former, 
tells how Mr. Sargent first tried the effect of modelling 
on the helmet of Pharaoh, and met with such success 
that he continued it until he had treated the zodiac, the 
sun's rays, the serpent, the lions of Moloch, and various 
other parts in the same way. From the same source we 
also learn that the entire wonderful conception of Astarte 
was painted and finished at one sitting. 

The work has a thoroughly mural quality. This is 
largely conferred by its pervading plastic character, and 
in the values of stone suggested by the background of 
the frieze and by the tawny earthen hue of the figures of 
the Israelites. 

From Harper's Weekly, June I, 1895. 


(At the South End of the Hall.) 

The subject of the portion before us is 'The Dogma 
of the Redemption." Related to this the theme of 'The 
Madonna" completes this section. 

While the new part offers so strong a contrast to the 
old, it is evident at a glance that the design has been 
most carefully studied with reference to its pendant, 
balancing it completely and decoratively, as well as sub- 


jectively bringing itself into unity therewith. Against 
the frieze of the Prophets we have the frieze of the 
Angels constructively supporting, and perhaps, like the 
former, subjectively completing, the great theme of 
which it is an integral part. The effect is one of ex- 
ceeding simplicity, of majestic solemnity pervaded by 
lofty harmonies of undertone and aspects of beauty 
graciously pure in their melodic serenity. In character 
the work is markedly Byzantine as in its combination 
of broad, flat surfaces with low-relief treatment of form 
and ornament, in its lavish use of gold, in the simplicity 
of special relations, in the juxtaposition of large and 
small figures in the same field, in the rigid formalism, and 
in the style of ornamentation and symbolic character. 
The selection of the Byzantine form is appropriate as 
representing the earliest development of Christianity in 
art. There is little to be studied out by the spectator. 
The elements of Christian dogma and its symbolism, are 
familiar and are here set forth with such lucidity that 
the significance of the work plainly declares itself. 

The artist has subjected himself to limitations com- 
paratively narrow, in contrast to the ample freedom with 
which he treated the first portion of his work; a free- 
dom which his theme naturally allowed, and even in- 
vited, in its exposition of the development of the re- 
ligion of the Chosen People as the substructure of Chris- 
tianity, from its matrix in a chaos of conflicting and 
primordial beliefs. By nature of the case, the limita- 
tions are as circumscribed here as there the freedom 
was practically unbounded. In confining himself within 
conventional limitations the artist expresses his gifts in 
a manner quite other than the ways we have known 
as his. Like the procedure of the musical com- 


poser when he works in set forms, as in the 
fugue, there the painter's individuality asserts itself 
distinctly, though within bounds definitely set by a host 
of predecessors, just as in wider and relatively un- 
trammeled ways it finds expression in the tone-picture. 
The artistic solution of a technical problem has a great 
fascination. So it is interesting to observe how the 
painter has here given himself distinctive utterance. 

In color quality 'The Redemption" is correspondingly 
subdued ; restrained in its range of simple dominant 
chords of dull blues, dull reds and mellow gold rich 
and delicately soft as ancient tapestry all quite other 
than the gleamings, the flashings, the coruscations of the 
opposite wall where the gamut runs from ethereal azure 
down to tempestuous darkness. The efYect is that of the 
ancient chorals, in splendid solemnity elaborated from a 
few simple notes. 

The theme of the Redemption, as a Christian dogma, 
is here developed in a way that at first glance might 
seem the art of a master as early as the style. There 
is, however, inevitably a profound difference. Sargent 
has saturated himself thoroughly with the art of Byzan- 
tium ; his work here is that of one who has brought him- 
self closely into sympathy with, and comprehension of, 
its most intrinsic qualities. One therefore receives much 
the same impression as when standing in the presence 
of one of the ancient works before the high altar, and 
under the mosaic vaulting of St. Mark's in Venice, for 
instance. But no living painter can put away his mo- 
dernity. Though he may assimilate the feeling of the 
ancient art he cannot approach his subject in the spirit 
of the masters of by-gone centuries their simple faith, 
their sublime confidence in its reality, their direct and 


perhaps naive interpretations. It is not desirable that 
he should. He has his own task to work out in his own 
way, and the spirit of his own century must in some fash- 
ion infuse itself therein if it is to be vital creation and 
not an echo of the past. 

Just as the figure of Moses and the Law, as the 
central fact in the religion of the Jews, forms the focal 
point in the first decoration, so here the Crucifix, as 
the central fact in Christian dogma and symbolism, per- 
forms a like office. It balances the Moses, also, as a 
part of the composition. It will be noted how the Cruci- 
fix likewise is placed partly in the lunette and partly in 
the frieze. It is also the portion that is executed most 
saliently in relief, and like the Moses it gives emphasis 
to the mural quality of the design by the grayish tone 
of stone, in the figures of the dead Christ and of Adam 
and Eve. In the faces of the Persons of the Trinity the 
same tone of stone appears. These three faces are also 
in relief. The Cross is of Byzantine design, richly gilded 
and ornamented. On it is the dead Christ, with the fig- 
ures of Adam and Eve kneeling on either side. This 
idea, the association of Adam and Eve with the Crucifix, 
is something original with Sargent, although in design 
so completely in the antique manner as to look as if 
adapted from medieval art. It is the body of Christ that 
is represented, rather than the spirit. Adam and Eve 
typify Humanity to be redeemed. They are bound close- 
ly to the body of Christ, in significance of the fact that 
all are of one flesh, both Redeemer and subjects for re- 
demption, as potentially they are one in spirit. Adam 
and Eve each hold up a chalice .and receive for their 
redemption the blood that flows from the wounds of the 
Saviour. Adam has a most unprepossessing countenance 


and was intentionally so depicted, to indicate that Hu- 
manity, degraded from its high estate of primal inno- 
cence, stood much in need of redemption. On the other 
hand the beauty of Eve may likewise tell how Hu- 
manity is worthy of redemption and bears in its nature 
the possibilities of higher things. A pervading quality 
of the work is the impassiveness that marks alike 
the faces of the Saviour, of Adam and Eve, and 
of the Persons of the Trinity. While this is a mark 
of the style of the decoration meanings in the period 
of symbolic art being conveyed by forms and symbols 
rather than by individual expression this impassive- 
ness may perhaps also be regarded as significant, in the 
case of the primal pair, of unconsciousness of the great 
change impending in the state of Humanity ; in Christ, 
of the passage through death as precedent to redemption ; 
and in the Persons of the Trinity, as the superconscious- 
ness that transcends earthly things. Above the arms of 
the Cross is the inscription : "Remissa Sunt Peccata 
Mundi" (The sins of the world have been remitted). 

Above, seated on a splendidly decorated throne, are 
three colossal figures, the Persons of the Trinity. That 
the Three are one and the same is made manifest by the 
exact similarity of Their faces the low reliefs having 
been cast in one mold and also by the fact that one 
vast garment envelops and unites Them just as Adam 
and Eve are bound with the body of Christ in a trinity 
of the flesh. This enveloping mantle is a cloak of red 
with a hem of gold which runs through the picture like 
a ribbon and winds about each Person of the Trinity, 
and is inscribed with the word "Sanctus" continually 
repeated, meaning "Holy, Holy, Holy." The heads of 
the Trinity are crowned, each with a different form of 


crown, significant of the three different attributes of 
divinity. Each figure of the Trinity raises the right 
hand in benediction, making the sign of the Cross as 
in the Greek Church. Radiating around the Crucifix 
and on the outer limits of the composition are the Seven 
Gifts of the Holy Spirit, represented according to tra- 
dition by doves with the cruciform nimbus. 

At the foot of the Cross, and forming in golden or- 
namentation an integral part of its design, is a special 
symbol of the Church, in the shape of the Pelican feed- 
ing its young. This symbol is based upon an ancient er- 
ror in natural history. The fact that the Pelican has 
a crimson spot at the end of its long bill caused the early 
naturalists to believe that it fed its young with its own 
blood ; what they really observed was this bird in the 
act o<f preening its feathers. It therefore became the act 
of loving sacrifice. 

Another symbol that is here joined with the Crucifix 
is the Serpent. It lies at the foot of the Cross and the 
feet of Adam are entangled in its folds ; man dragged 
down by the weight of evil the evil of man that brought 
suffering to the Saviour. Both Adam and Eve are in 
constrained postures, in a rigidity that belongs to Byzan- 
tine art. The figure of Christ is similarly treated, rather 
than with the plastic flexibility, expressive of both death 
and suffering that, in later art, characterizes the figure 
of the Cross. 

In the frieze of the Angels we have the bearers of 
the Instruments of the Passion. These eight Angels 
flank the Crucifix. They individually have no special 
significance, the impersonal aspect of Byzantine art being 
maintained here as elsewhere in the scheme. But col- 
lectively they form a group of exquisite beauty. In 


these charming faces there appears a quality reminiscent 
of the tenderness of Botticelli, blended with something 
of the English type, and finally impressed with a gra- 
ciousness that is all the artist's own a graciousness that 
in contrasting fashion, as soulless there as here it is soul- 
ful, found embodiment in the marvellous Astarte of the 
first decoration. The Instruments of the Passion are the 
spear, the pincers, the hammer, the nails, the pillar, the 
scourge, the reed, the sponge, and the crown of thorns. 
The two Angels upholding the Cross also bear, wrought 
in their garments, the symbols of the Sacrament the 
wheat and the vine that, representing the bread and 
wine, stand for the Body and the Blood of Christ. The 
number of the Angels, eight, symbolizes Regeneration. 
An explanation by an old writer tells us that the whole 
creation having been completed in seven periods, the 
number next following may well signify the new crea- 
tion. Redemption is contingent upon the suffering rep- 
resented by the Instruments of the Passion. The Angels 
themselves may be regarded as representing the Court of 
Heaven and are clad in costumes similar to those worn 
by angels in Byzantine art. In this frieze we find very 
palpably the breath of modernity, the living spirit, that 
the artist has given to his work the vital spark of the 
creative impulse that animates form, color, conventional 
design and traditional symbol and in the terms of an age 
long past speaks with sympathetic understanding to us 
of to-day. 

Decoratively this frieze of the Angels completes the 
design as it fulfills the idea that inspires it. Its beauty 
finds culmination here, in the strong perpendicular lines 
of the figures that strengthen the composition at the 
base and support the central element out of which the 


whole is developed. While retaining the same Byzantine 
character that consistently inheres in every part, the rig- 
idity that elsewhere with full intent inclines to stiffness 
is here modulated with the delicate beauty that reveals 
divinity in human shape, while it lifts mankind to the 
divine. Portions of the two Angels nearest the Crucifix 
are modelled in relief, notably the hands and arms, and 
parts of the drapery and ornament. Much of this work 
in relief is hardly in evidence as such, when seen from 
below, but it enhances the effect of the design, which, 
as a decoration, is to be regarded as both painting and 

On the cornice that separates the frieze from the 
lunette are inscribed the words : "Factus Homo, Factor 
Hominis, Factique Redemptor. Corporeus Redimo Cor- 
pora Corda Deus." 

This inscription is taken from the inscription accom- 
panying the colossal mosaic figure of the Saviour in 
Benediction that decorates the semidome of the apse in 
the famous Cathedral of Cefalu in Sicily. The artist, 
however, made a change of one word with reference to 
its present purpose, by substituting for "judico" in the 
original the term "redimo" as more fitting to his own 
work. The Cathedral of Cefalu, specially studied by 
Sargent with reference to this decoration, is one of the 
most interesting and beautiful in Sicily. It was founded 
in 1 131 by King Roger, who, in danger of shipwreck 
while returning to Sicily from Calabria, vowed to erect 
a church wherever he was permitted to land. In its de- 
tails it is a mixture of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and 

From The Boston Herald, Feb. 17, 1903. 


Ancilla Domini or Madoxxa and Child. 
By Jo Jin S. Sargent. 



(In the Niches and the Connecting Strip of Ceiling at 

the South End) 

The two side-niches and the strip of ceiling enclos- 
ing the Christian end are devoted to a series of paint- 
ings representing the theme of the Madonna. Beside 
the important representations of the Virgin in the 
niches the "Ancilla Domini" and the "Mater Dolo- 
rosa" are the fifteen related subjects imposed by tra- 
dition setting forth what are known as the Mysteries 
of the Rosary. This portion of the work makes a 
more sympathetic appeal than that allowed by the 
severely rigid formalism of the Byzantine character of 
the adjacent composition; the influences here govern- 
ing the treatment are those of Medieval and Renais- 
sance periods, as appropriate to the circumstance that 
these dogmas are of rather later origin than that rep- 
resented in the preceding work. The impression of 
unity, however, made by the agreement in design and 
in the general color-scheme, is so masterful that the 
effect is more that of progressive development than of 
contrast, the whole new part making a rich framework 
for the older composition at the end of the hall. The 
three groups respectively devoted to the three mys- 
teries logically derive themselves from the two dis- 
tinctive phases in the life of the Holy Virgin ; divine 
maternity, as figured in the "Ancilla Domini," the 


Madonna and Child ; and the exaltation of soul 
through suffering that come from the greatest of all 
losses, as borne by the "Mater Dolorosa," the Madon- 
na of Sorrows. 

The use of the Rosary as an aid to meditation in 
worship became universal among Roman Catholics 
not long after its first employment by St. Dominic de 
Guzman in the thirteenth century. To use beads for 
assisting concentration of thought while in prayer is 
indeed an ancient practice, far antedating the Christian 
religion. For instance, this was an ancient Jewish 
custom. The first known employment of beads, strung 
together, in Christian worship is held to have orig- 
inated with St. Bridget of Ireland, who, for the con- 
venience of her nuns, strung together as many beads 
as there w r ere Pater-nosters to be recited. From the 
British Isles the custom spread throughout Europe. 
The beads of the Rosary, however, are quite different ; 
according to tradition the practice was revealed in a 
vision to St. Dominic by the Holy Virgin herself. It 
is related that in the Rosary St. Dominic found his 
most powerful aid in his seven years' labors for the 
conversion of the Albigenses of southern France, a 
dissenting- sect that by some centuries antedated the 
rise of modern Protestantism under Martin Luther. 
The Albigenses were of kindred derivation with va- 
rious sects in Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, and France in 
the twelfth century all originating in doctrines that 
early found root in branches of the Eastern Church. 
Three groups of paintings represent the mysteries 
of the Rosary ; the five Joyful Mysteries, the five Sor- 
rowful Mysteries, and the five Glorious Mysteries. 
Figures of Ancilla Domini, the Madonna and Child, 


and Mater Dolorosa, the Madonna of Sorrows, oc- 
cupy the two niches in the side of the arch. Relating 
themselves to these paintings, on either side, are six 
panels, large and small, all connected in richly mod- 
elled and heavily gilded frames, representing respec- 
tively the Joyful Mysteries and the Sorrowful Mysteries. 
These serve to join the two conceptions of the Madonna 
below with the magnificent plastic group of the low- 
relief gold medallion in the center of the ceiling which 
depicts the five Glorious Mysteries, culminating in the 
Coronation of the Virgin. 

In all this may be traced a profound symbolism : the 
two aspects of mortal life, the joy and the sorrow of 
existence here perfectly balanced and each supremely 
manifest in earthly expression rising to blend them- 
selves in the sublime ecstacy of a divine apotheosis : 
the fruition of joy and sorrow in determining the 
growth of the soul. 

Beside these panels and reliefs the space in the arch 
of the ceiling in the interval between the two groups 
of panels, and subordinated to them in treatment, is 
filled with various figures and symbolic designs, to- 
gether with looped scrolls inscribed with Latin texts. 

Now that the great subject embraced in the two 
compositions the Christian Dogma and the Theme 
of the Virgin stands complete, it reveals itself as a 
work of overpowering splendor : comparable to some 
superb choral, resonant with a superb blending of 
color symphonic in its emotional appeal, and beneath 
it all a vast serenity. The essential soul of music, it 
would seem, here attains chromatic utterance. 

The two Madonnas will certainly take their place 
with Mr. Sargent's greatest creations : ideal types of 


woman, feminine graciousness here achieves its spiri- 
tual quintessence both in bliss and in sorrow. These 
conceptions of womanhood stand at the othe.' extreme 
of the scale from the purely sensuous type of the mag- 
ical Astarte at the opposite end of the hall a being 
soulless, earth-bound, and illusory as a phantom of 
vanishing mist. Both Madonnas are full-length fig- 
ures. On the east wall is the Ancilla Domini (or 
Madonna and Child) ; on the west, the Madonna of 
Sorrows (Mater Dolorosa, Sorrowing Mother). From 
the former are derived the five Joyful Mysteries ; frum 
the latter, the five Sorrowful Mysteries. 

This representation of the Madonna and Child, 
remarkable and unusual though it is, has its precedents. 
The peculiar, but very beautiful, way in which the 
Virgin Mother is holding her divine child seems to 
have been suggested by the celebrated statue in 
Padua, the Donatello Madonna, and this in turn might 
have been derived from the Byzantine treatment of 
the subject, as indicated in the "Mother of God," to 
be seen in the space just above, to the right. 

The representation is transcendantly spiritual : the 
divine child's first gesture is that of blessing the 
world; the Virgin's face indicates a state beyond mor- 
tal consciousness ; the Holy Mother is fulfilling the 
divine mandate and has made herself the passive in- 
strument of the great miracle. The Virgin seems to 
be both presenting and receiving the Godhead, a my- 
stical conception that accords with the apellations on 
the scrolls surrounding her : " Vas spirituale vas 
electionis hortus inclusus turris davidica turris 
eburnea." (Vessel of the spirit vessel of election- 
closed garden tower of David tower of ivory. ) 

[6 4 ] 

Mater Dolorosa or Madonna of Sorrows. 
By John S, Sargent, 

These scrolls proceed from the two angels above, 
bearing a splendid crown, modeled in relief. Within 
the crown is a dove, signifying the Holy Spirit. 

The Madonna of Sorrows opposite is a noble 
example of the Spanish manner. The figure stands 
behind a screen of lighted candles and is borne upon 
the crescent moon. Here the Virgin Mother has suf- 
fered the greatest of woes in the loss of her Divine Son. 
Vet she is now the Queen of Heaven, crowned, and 
with eyes all-seeing, keenly conscious of her grief in 
all its intensity, yet bearing it with fortitude so abso- 
lute as to make its pangs as desirable to the soul as 
joy. The seven swords, thrust into her heart, repre- 
sent the Seven Sorrows. It is a statuesque figure, 
majestic in its marble pallor. The strong perpendicu- 
lar lines of the candles, waxen white, the metallic 
gleam of the swords, modeled in relief, the silvery 
sheen of the halo that amplifies the glory of the crown, 
the queenly robes so richly wrought, combine to make 
this an impressively decorative effect. 

Above the Madonna and Child the panels devoted 
to the five Joyful Mysteries, beginning with the large 
central painting- of the Annunciation, make the prin- 
cipal features of the east side of the vault. 

The first in the group, "The Annunciation," occupies 
the large rectangular panel, about which are the four 
others in smaller panels. In 'The Annunciation" the 
Archangel Gabriel appears to the Virgin who, kneel- 
ing before God's messenger, receives in submissive 
humility the marvellous tidings. Upon a decorative 
scroll entwined about the palm-branch that the angel 
holds are the words: "Ave gratia plena, dominus te- 
cum, benedicta tn in mulieribus. Ecce ancilla domini ; 


fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum." (Hail, thou that 
art highly favored, the Lord is with thee : blessed art 
thou among women. Behold the handmaid of the 
Lord ; be it unto me according to thy word.) As us- 
ual in old pictures of this subject the Virgin appears 
to have been reading at the moment from the open 
book laid upon a lectern just behind her the prophecy 
contained in these words : "Ecce virgo concipiet et 
pariet filium et nomen ejus vocabitur Emmanuel." 
(Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring 
forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.) 

In the oblong panel on the left we have the second 
Joyful Mystery, 'The Visitation.''' Tnis depicts 
Mary saluting Elizabeth, her cousin, wife of Zachary, 
living in a hill-country city of Judea. It is the mo- 
ment when Elizabeth, hearing the salutation of Mary, 
and the infant leaping in her womb, was filled with 
the Holy Ghost and cried out with a loud voice, say- 
ing: 'Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is 
the fruit of thy womb." 

The panel below depicts the third Joyful Mystery, 

'The Nativity." Here the Holy Virgin is the center 

of a group of four, all adoring the new-born Infant 

Saviour : Mary, St. John the Baptist and the two 

angels holding the crown of thorns and the nails. 

The fourth Joyful Mystery, in the small panel 
above depicts "The Presentation," showing how, after 
the days of Mary's purification according to the law of 
Moses, she carried the Infant Jesus to Jerusalem to 
present Him to the Lord. Here the Virgin Mother is 
handing her divine child to Simeon in the Temple, and 
his words, "Now let Thy servant depart in peace," 
are indicated by the "Nunc dimittis" on the scroll. 


The Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary 
By John S. Sargent, 

In the panel on the right is represented the fifth 
Joyful Mystery. "The Finding of Our Lord in the 
Temple," as narrated in the second chapter of St. 
Luke. When the boy Jesus was twelve years old, his 
parents took Him up to Jerusalem according to the 
custom of the feast, and, unknown to them, the Child 
remained behind. And after three days they found 
Him in the temple discussing with the doctors. The 
moment here shown is that when the grieved mother 
asks: "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? 
Behold, thy father and I have sought Thee, sorrowing. 
And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me. 
Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's busi- 

Opposite, on the west side of the arch, the Five 
Sorrowful Mysteries occupy the corresponding panels, 
deriving themselves from the Madonna of Sorrows. 
The serial arrangement of this group varies from that 
opposite in order to meet the relative importance of 
the subjects, the large central panel being occupied by 
the last, instead of the first, of the sorrowful myster- 

In the small panel at the top is the first of the series, 
'The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden." Weary 
and overcome with grief, the human side of His being 
is here ascendant. The Saviour, a solitary figure, 
foresees the great trial at hand. Alive to the weak- 
ness of His followers and the treachery of one of them, 
He throws Himself despondently down and for the 
moment the human side of His being gives itself up 
to His woe. The agonizing moment finds expression 
in the tensely clasped hands as strongly as in the 


bowed head, pillowed on the hard stone where He has 
cast Himself down. 

The second Mystery, 'The Scourging," is pictured 
in the panel on the right, in which we behold the 
Christ bound to a pillar. 

The corresponding panel on the left shows the third 
Mystery, "The Crowning with Thorns." Robed in 
purple and jeeringly derided as King of the Jews, the 
Saviour meekly, but with the calm of innate majesty, 
submits to the rude mockery of the Roman soldiery. 
"And they struck His head with a reed; and they did 
spit on Him. And bending their knees they adored 

The fourth Sorrowful Mystery, 'The Carrying of 
the Cross," occupies, the small panel below. "And 
bearing His own cross He went forth to that place 
which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha." 

In these four depictions each panel has but a single 
figure, in contrast with the rich composition that rep- 
resents the last of the group : 'The Crucifixion and 
Death of our Lord." In the twelve figures that fill the 
large panel we have the impression of a vast multitude 
of beholders beyond the visible scene. The Saviour 
is nailed to the cross ; at his feet a sorrowing group : 
the four Marys and St. John the Evangelist. In the 
center foreground is Mary Magdalen, overcome with 
grief, her bared back turned towards the spectator, 
her hair streaming and golden. Above, the Saviour is 
surrounded by adoring angels ; one holds the chalice to 
receive the blood streaming from the wound in His side. 

Integrally these aspects of the Rosary are joined to 
the large golden medallion with its surrounding reliefs 
that fills the apex of the arch a work that repre- 

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. 

By John S. Sargent. 

sents the last of the three groups : the five Glorious 
Mysteries. . Here, both in culmination of the whole 
scheme of decoration at this end of the hall, and as a 
medium most fitting the wonder and glory of the sub- 
ject, Mr. Sargent has completely entered the domain 
of the plastic. The treatment is medieval and gothic. 

The first of the five Glorious Mysteries is "The 
Resurrection." Of this moment St. Mark writes : 
"He is risen; He is not here!" In the relief to the 
left of the medallion, constituting a quarter of the 
encircling border, we have the figure of the Christ, 
His face alight with the wonder and the glory of His 
awakening; in His right hand a staff, His left arm 
extended as if groping His way out of the tomb. 

In the opposite relief we have the Second Glorious 
Mystery : "The Ascension of our Lord into Heaven." 
Here we see the Christ our Lord in the moment of 
ascending His head lifted high and thrown back 
as He floats upward. At His feet are the heads of 
four cherubs. 

The relief on the further side, the south side, depicts 
the third Glorious Mystery : 'The Descent of the 
Holv Ghost." Here the Dove, symbolizing the Holy 
Spirit, descends from Lleaven and brings inspiration 
to the Disciples of Christ, who go forth into the world 
preaching" the Word, as tongues of fire have descended 
upon them. 

The fourth and the fifth reliefs deal with the Virgin. 
The fourth depicting "The Assumption," is the one near- 
est the beholder as he stands out in the hall. 

The relief representing the fifth Glorious Mystery. 
"The Coronation of the Virgin," fills the great circle of 
the medallion. The Virgin kneels before the Holy 


Trinity, the figures of which place the crown upon her 
head. This representation is known as "the Italian 
Trinity." It resembles in general character that of the 
Byzantine Godhead in "The Dogma of the Redemption.'' 
the scheme of which here finds culminating expression. 
There is this marked exception, however ; While the 
two outer figures are again practically identical the Son 
having come to stand in parity with the Father the 
Holy Ghost is here symbolized by the Dove, which, with 
the ends of his wings, touches the lips of the two other 
persons of the Trinity. The words in the medallion 
are "Ave regina coeli. veni electa mea et ponam te in 
thronum meum." (Hail, Queen of Heaven. Come, my 
chosen one, and I will set thee on my throne.) 

There remain to be mentioned the figures and designs 
in the spaces outside the panels. These are quite sub- 
ordinate to the panel paintings. In the upper corners 
are the emblems of the four evangelists : Saints Matthew, 
Mark, Luke and John. Above the "Ancilla Domini." 
on the left, is the figure of Eve, on the right, the already 
noted Byzantine representation of 'The Mother of God." 
Over the latter are the ( ireek letters common in connec- 
tion with the Byzantine representation of the subject, 
being the initials of the Greek equivalent for the title. 
In like relations to the Madonna of Sorrows, opposite, 
are the figures of Adam and of "The Good Shepherd." 
The Eve, shown in the moment of Temptation, may be 
taken to represent woman unregenerate ; the "Mother 
of God," the perfection of womanhood. A noteworthy 
detail of the Temptation is the serpent, the sketch for 
which was made from a sculptured prehistoric serpent 
from Central America, in the British Museum. The 
Adam painfully toiling in contrast with "The Good 


Shepherd," may be regarded as holding corresponding 
relations to manhood; the unregenerate state, and that of 
spiritual perfection. 


The subjects of the paintings in the three lunetteb 
on the east side of the hall deal with Judaism; the three 
opposite, with Christianity. The three Jewish subjects 
are : in the center, "The Law" ; flanked on the left by 
"Gog and Magog" ; on the right, by "The Messianic 
Era". The three on the west wall, devoted to Christian- 
ity, are, in the center, 'The Judgment" ; flanked on the 
right by "Hell" and on the left by "The Passing of Souls 
into Heaven." 

In their turbulent, terrible and chaotic qualities, both 
the "Hell" and the "Gog and Magog" agree in spirit 
with the work in the adjacent Old Testament end deal- 
ing with fear-grounded primitive faiths ; in fidelity to 
their subjects they are quite properly discordant and in- 
coherent in motive; a veritable anarchy of elements. In 
fearfulness the "Hell" exceeds. But, after all, its grew- 
some quality depicting what for most of us today is in 
its literal significance, an outworn belief, though in 
former centuries a horrible reality touches us but re- 
motely, in what might be termed an academic interest. 
On the other hand the "Gog and Magog" comes very 
close to us just now, with its awesome symbolism, so sug- 
gestive of the unspeakable horrors of Europe in these 
tragic years. 


In the four other paintings beauty and concord domin- 
ate. The two remaining Jewish subjects, in particular, 
have qualities that make them supremely appealing, and 
one of them has a surpassing loveliness, a graciousness. 
an intimacy of charm. The central painting "The Law : " 
endows a striking simplicity of motive with the loftiest 
sublimity. Of all the subjects, this is the most plastic in 
treatment. Indeed, it frankly simulates a sculptured 
group, and this is wrought into a noble unity. Israel, 
under the mantle of Jehovah, is fulfilling the mission of 
his race in yielding himself to the exclusive study of the 
Law : the Divine Law as laid down for the guidance and 
conduct of the Chosen People, an aim to be followed 
with a singleness of purpose as were it the sole calling 
of the race through the ages. Surrounding these two 
figures a body-guard of cherubims with swords drawn 
maintains the absolute isolation of Israel while devoted 
to his task. 

In connection with the scroll held by two of the 
cherubim attention should first be directed to the Hebrew 
inscription above, following the line of the arch. The 
words are those which the Jewish ritual requires shall 
be spoken before the recitation of the Ten command- 
ments : "Praised be the Lord forever. Praised art Thou, 
O Lord, our God, Ruler of the Universe, who hast 
chosen the children of Isreal from amongst all peoples, 
and hast given us the Law. Praised art thou, O Lord, 
Giver of the Law !" Thereupon the scroll, held in the 
reader's hands, is lifted and the side inscribed with the 
Ten Commandments is turned towards the congregation, 
the reader beginning with the recitation of the words 
which here appear written upon the back of the scroll : 
"This is the law which Moses set before the children 


















H ^ 



i i 




of Israel at the command of the Lord." He then turns 
the scroll back and reads the Commandments, the first 
words of which may be seen on the upper part of the 
scroll across the left arm of Jehovah, His right hand 
holding- the last part, still rolled : "I am the Lord 
thy God. Thou shalt have none other gods before me." 
Here, at the very beginning of Israel's instruction, we 
have the monotheistic declaration upon which Judaism is 

The use of the common Arab mantle for draping the 
gigantic figure of Jehovah is singularly effective. The 
mantle, although open as it shrouds the head of 
the Supreme Being, yet veils the face impenetrably with 
its mystical shadow. The Lord God has given His com- 
mandments unto man, but man may never look upon 
the face of the Lord. "You will enter the Light, but 
you will never touch the Flame,'' is the thought that 
comes in this presence. 

The conception here is of the sublimest : the face 
actually neither veiled nor hidden, yet the nature of God 
passeth all understanding ; man must know, must know 
absolutely, that God is, His presence manifest in all his 
works. Yet the mystery of divinity, omnipotent and 
omnipresent, is beyond penetration. With all its awe- 
some sublimity, one gains from this figure of the Al- 
mighty a confident sense of its paternal relationship : 
tender in its loving protection. 

Israel, depicted as receiving divine instruction, is 
wholly absorbed in his task; in a strikingly oriental 
posture, yet of a grace as pure and lovely as anything 
classic can be, he is conscious only of the lesson be- 
fore him the action of the hands that of counting, 


something that comes instinctively with concentra- 

"Gog and Magog," the subject of the lunette on the 
left, pictures the final conflict which according to the 
Jewish legend, accompanies the universal cataclysm 
when all things earthly perish and the universe comes 
to an end. In ominous portance a comet blazing 
down from above, also a dead planet, tell that all 
things material are involved in the general doom. 
Broken temples tumble into the abyss ; from some al- 
tar falls a smoking tripod, its inversion signifying the 
end of mortal life as mankind perishes in the battle, 
indicated by the two young warriors struggling in 
mortal combat, the dagger of one thrust into the heart 
of the other. After them fall steeds and chariots ; 
against the comet's flame a vulture swoops down. 
Nations are destroying each other. 

In idyllic contrast with this scene of universal dis- 
aster is the loveliness of its pendant at the other end 
of the wall, "The Messianic Era," which here we see 
in its dawning. The race, purified and perfected of 
soul in its awakening after the world's destruction, 
enters into a new Eden where a pristine simplicity 
achieves its consummation in the beauty, harmony 
and lasting joy of a Golden Age. The scheme is again 
dominantly sculpturesque. Here, in a glorious com- 
position made up of three plastic groups, we have the 
Messianic idea : the Hebrew Messiah, as prophesied, 
leading his people to the new paradise. The Messiah 
is here a lad at the beginning of adolescence : the Son 
of Man. At the threshold of the new Eden he like- 
wise stands also at the threshold of perfected man- 
hood ; his face informed and illuminate with the con- 


sciousness, that very moment awakened, of the won- 
der, the glory and the infinite splendor of the new life 
opening before him. 

"When all mankind is perfected, 

Equal in full-blown powers then, not till then, 

I say, begins man's general infancy. 

* * * * 

But when full roused, each giant limb awake, 
Each sinew strung, the great heart pulsing fast, 
He shall start up and stand on his own earth, 
Then shall his being date, thus wholly roused, 
What he achieves shall be set down to him. 
When all the race is perfected alike 
As man, that is ; all tended to mankind, 
And man produced, all has its end thus far: 
But in completed man begins anew 
A tendency towards God." 

BROWNING, "Paracelsus." 

The figure of the Messiah in its slender nudity is the 
perfection of boyish beauty. I lis face is ecstatic with 
the moment of awakening into the new life ; filled with 
delighted amazement at the wonder and the glory of 
what he beholds. He is leading his people by the 
hand ; they cling to him for guidance ; their advance 
is dream-like; though clinging to their inspired boy- 
embodiment of the prophet race that leads humanity 
into the light they have not yet entered upon the 
threshold. But, the moment at hand, their eyes are 
just unclosing. Have trustful affection and confidence 
in guidance, the elder following the younger, ever 


been more beautifully expressed than by the way in 
which the clasping hands of the father and mother 
cling to the boy who has become their leader? 

Above the central group, looping through the leaf- 
age, a golden scroll bears in Hebrew the prophecy 
of Isaiah predicting the coming of the Messiah : 
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given : 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder : and 
his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The 
Mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of 
Peace." Other prophecies of Isaiah are indicated in 
this painting by the wolf and the lamb, and the child 
and the lion. 

Flanking this central group are two groups com- 
prising four nude angels that are opening the gates 
of gold the long-closed gates of the new paradise. 
At last has come the great moment that they have 
been awaiting through the ages. Their figures are 
ideals of manhood ; a superb graciousness alike bodily 
and spiritual. 

The decorative richness of this lunette gives it 
distinction as an uncommon blending of a pictorial 
with a plastic motive the former contributing a 
splendor of adornment, as of golden jewels gleaming 
with multi-colored gems. A luxuriance of foliage is 
laden with ripe fruit; pomegranates, symbol of hu- 
man fertility, grapes and gourds, figs, oranges and 
apples. The composition is developed from seven ma- 
jor figures that of the little child being subordinate 
and accessory, alike in rank with the animal figures 
in the foreground. 

The lunettes on the west wall, devoted to three 
Christian subjects, represent "The Judgment," "Hell," 

[8 4 ] 

and "The Passing of Souls into Heaven." As already 
noted, it should be borne in mind that the develop- 
ment of these themes follows traditional lines accord- 
ing to tenets held through the centuries, and without 
regard to modern conceptions. 

The central lunette represents "The Judgment" in a 
composition which, like the picture opposite, is essen- 
tially plastic in quality. As in "The Law," the 
plastic intent is emphasized by the depiction of a 
sculpturesque group, integral, in its major elements, 
with a base of rock. The elements here are more 
complex, and the plastic quality that expresses the 
mural derives itself from a suggestion ot metal as 
well as of stone the figures of Evil, in hues of bale- 
ful green, as well as the metallic accessories, having 
that effect. In the adjacent lunette, depicting Hell, 
the same tone of baleful green recurs in the monstrous 
Satanic figure, forming an element of unity in the two 
related subjects. 

In the middle lunette the Angel of Judgment holds 
before him the great scales in which are weighed the 
resurrected mortals re-embodied from the remains 
cast up from opening graves the dead awakened by 
the sound of the trumpets blown by three angels in 
the group fill the extreme foreground. 

"Such the dire terror, when the great Archangel 

Shakes the creation ; 
Tears the strong pillars of the vault of Heaven, 
Breaks up old marble, the repose of princes, 
Sees the graves open, and the bones arising, 

Flames all around them." 
* * * * 


"Hopeless immortals ! How they scream and shiver, 
While devils push them to the pit wide-yawning, 
Hideous and gloomy, to receive them headlong 

Down to the centre ' 

ISAAC WATTS, "The Day of Judgment." 

Below the Angel of Judgment, in the center, a 
demon lifts out of the cadaverous mass a doomed 
mortal, just resuming bodily shape, but still sleeping 
the long sleep of the dead. Out of the scales on 
the right another demon drags the body of a con- 
demned man to be thrust down by a companion dem- 
on, with the point of his fork, into the hell-hre that 
flames up beyond and below. On the left are two 
angels of divine love ; one receiving out of the scales 
the nude form of a youth just weighed, the other 
holding in waiting the halo of spiritual weal about to 
be placed above his head. 

Unlike the Judaic subjects the two companion lun- 
ettes are in continuity with the central picture, thus 
forming in effect one panoramic composition. In the 
two extremes the difference is that between discord 
and harmony. The representation of Hell, though 
holding fast to medieval concepts, is distinctive and 
individually characteristic as already noted in re- 
gard to other portions of the series for its modifica- 
tion through modern resources and technique. No 
one of these three subjects could have been conceived 
and expressed in this shape in the days when the 
conceptions arose. 

The "Hell", although filling the same decorative pur- 
pose as the opposite lunette in bringing out into the 
room the sensuous and emotional effect of the composi- 




tion at the end, has a coherence lacking in the "Gog 
and Magog." With the grewsomeness, the terrific 
horror, of a medieval depiction, it also combines a quality 
that seems derived from the Far East a grotesqueness, 
a quality in rendering, akin to the Chinese and Japan- 
ese as in the Satanic monster swimming in a sea 
blended of flame and an endless mass of the eternally 
damned; a multitude of lost souls, writhing in torment; 
types innumerable of evil doers, seized by the armful 
and devoured with insatiable greed. Then, too, the con- 
ventionalizing of the hell-flames to make a splendid 
golden background just as the Japanese or Chinese 
conventionalize fire or water here dispels the reproach 
of literalness that might characterize a merely medieval 
development; a reproach here also averted by the main- 
tainance of the mural quality in the essentially plastic 
rendering of the sea of doomed souls, whose unceasing 
tides flow forever on, impelled by a fate as unrelenting 
as that which animates the action of Greek tragedy. So 
here we see an extraordinary fusing of medieval, oriental 
and classic concepts. The masterly handling of this vast 
plastic mass conveys a sense of interminability, tempes- 
tuous with evil, jammed, huddled a unity of discor- 
dance each individual part distinctly characterized, 
integrated, having its definite place in the scheme. Though 
animate with action, it is not the vividness of agitated 
motion, but that sense of movement conveyed by the 
treatment which we know as sculpturesque : something 
that comes with perceiving a complexity of movements, 
each action individually suspended for its own given 
moment in a way that unifies each and all to an expres- 
sion of totality in action developed out of that which at 
the same time is manifestly immobile. With all its re- 


pugnance of subject this amazing decoration will amply 
repay study in its details purely for its extraordinary 
expression of the plastic, manifest in the superbly ade- 
quate modelling of every individual part, an intricately 
accurate foreshortening fitting it definitely into its place. 

In contrast with the foregoing, the third part of this 
one of the two trilogies is ineffably tranquilizing. The 
''Passing of Souls to Heaven" expresses the divine 
harmony that attends the entrance of the Blessed into 
the Kingdom. Of all the decorations this is the most 
distinctively rythmic in motive. Here the plastic quality 
is conveyed by an effect comparable with that of a 
marble frieze peopled with figures in gracious contin- 
uity, as of some unceasing and ever varying melody. 
One might here be looking upon such a frieze through 
a great arched opening in the wall or as upon a vision 
out into limitless space. 

The movement begun in the central lunette with the 
resurrection of the righteous is here continued. Again 
an endless progression out of the grave: One feels that 
this stream of the spirits of just beings made perfect 
flows on forever and ever. The decorative development 
is beautifully simple ; the distinctively vertical elements 
formed by the celestial choir of three groups of singing 
angels with their harps. Weaving itself in and out 
around each pair of singing angels is this endless chain 
of human souls, blissfully dreamful of awaiting joys 
but not yet fully awakened to the consciousness that is 
to come upon entrance into the Kingdom. Ideally beau- 
tiful are these figures of the redeemed, physical perfec- 
tion manifesting spiritual attainment ; hand joined to 
hand, or figures clasped in loving embrace, the beauty 
of movement, the charm of curving line, the graciousness 


of action, the unity of all elements significant of the 
fundamental Christian concept of the Oneness with God 
which is the end and aim of striving in the faith, all 
this finds here consummate expression. 

In the formal ornament there is a great diversity of 
pattern. The conventionalized dolphin, originally 
adopted for the seal of the Library by its architects as 
appropriate to a monumental feature of a maritime city, 
has here been introduced in the bronze brackets for 
electric lamps designed by Mr. Sargent, and also in the 
running ornament of one of the bays in the ceiling. 

The architectural enrichment through the use of var- 
ious symbolic insignia is notable. On the Hebrew side, 
above the middle lunette are the Ark of the Convenant, 
and the Ox's head as the Burnt Offering. In the medal- 
lion above the "Gog and Magog" are the Sacrificial Goat, 
and the Seven-Branched Candle-stick. Above 'The 
Messianic Era" again appears the Seven-Branched 
Candle-Stick (but here of different design and occupy- 
ing the medallion) and above that a group of musical 

On the Christian side, in the medallion above 'The 
Judgment'' are the Triple Crown and the crossed Keys 
of St. Peter ; above that, the Crown and Palms of 
Martyrdom. In corresponding positions above the 
"Passing into Heaven" are respectively the Byzantine 
design of two peacocks drinking from a vase, symbol- 
izing the change from life to immortality, and the 
Tabernacle of the Eucharist with the Wafer. Above 
the "Hell," the medallion is occupied by the familiar 


design containing in a glory the sacred letters, "I.H.S." 
Above this is the Chalice of the Eucharist. 

Those who may remember the long expanse of rather 
blank and featureless vaulting overhead will now see all 
its structural possibilities brought out and accentuated by 
enrichment, in a way that might go far to solve the 
problem of uniting the two ends of the hall even without 
the help of the six lunettes. 

Few, who first know the work as completed, can 
fully appreciate the infinite pains taken by Mr. Sargent 
in bringing the architectural ornamentation of the room 
to an effectiveness that would provide a dignified setting 
of the paintings. All the individual motives were 
modelled by his own hands, and for the work of con- 
tinuous pattern he has made careful selection. Mr. 
Sargent brought over a large architectural model which 
he himself made in England showing complete the 
scheme of ornamentation. This work has been admira- 
bly carried out to scale by local artisans under the con- 
stant and experienced supervision of Mr. Thomas A. 
Fox, the architect, whose firm, Fox & Gale, has here in 
Boston been connected from the start with the building 
of the Library. Mr. Fox's advice and assistance have 
proved fairly invaluable in countless ways and has been 
correspondingly appreciated by Mr. Sargent. 

Mr. Sargent himself modelled the medallions and the 
decorative motives at the intersections of the penetra- 
tions. All this elaboration of excellence might be thought 
to be lost upon the spectator. But, as in perfect orches- 
tration in which every nicety of shading and tone con- 
tributes to a complete enjoyment of the result, so would 


it be in this case were the ornamental features, though 
in detail seemingly not in evidence, carelessly installed. 
A sense of something imperfect or wanting would be 
conveyed were such care not taken. 


The Fine Arts Department is reached by the entrance 
at the south end of the hall. The first room is an ex- 
hibition room, which connects with the department proper. 
Besides the large collection of books on the Fine and 
Useful Arts, this department has facilities for copying 
and photographing. There is an extensive collection of 
photographs of architecture, sculpture and painting; 
lantern slides ; etc. Special assistance is offered to 
classes for study and work. 


The Brown Music Room is situated off the centre of 
the hall, reached by a low flight of steps. This collec- 
tion of musical works is a gift from Allen A. Brown. 


The Special Libraries are at the north end of the hall 
and contain gift collections restricted to use in a special 
reading room. Among the collections are the Barton 
(Shakespeariana) ; Ticknor (Spanish and Portuguese) ; 
Prince (Early Americana) ; Brown (Dramatic books) ; 
Bowditch (Mathematical) ; and the Galatea (Books 
about women). 



Founded in 1852, the Library is a pioneer of public 
libraries, supported by general taxation, and the largest 
of its class in the world. Opened on Mason street in 
1854, it occupied a new building on Boylston Street in 
1858 and removed to the present building in 1895. 

The Library system consists of the Central Library in 
Copley Square, 14 Principal Branch Libraries and 10 
reading rooms. There are 332 employees. The Library 
operates its own Binding and Printing Departments. 

Between the Library and its branches (principal and 
minor), there is a daily exchange of books and cards 
which obviates the necessity of borrowers coming to 
the Central Library. 

Books are deposited or delivered in 155 public ami 
parochial schools, 138 institutions and 62 fire companies. 

Cards allowing use of books for two weeks are issued 
to residents of Boston. For reading and reference the 
Library is open to all without formality. 

The Central Library contains over 850,000 volumes, 
the total number of volumes in the whole system being 
1,135,779. The Library Department is governed by an 
unpaid Board of Trustees, rive in number, appointed by 
the Mayor. 

*For further reading consult The Boston Public Library: a history, by 
Horace G. Wadlin, and the Workings of the Boston Public Library, by 
Josiah H. Benton. 


Abbey's Holy Grail 

and other Library decorations reproduced in 

Masterpieces of American Art, reproduced in 
rich sepia tone, some in color. For twenty-one 
years a hall-mark of good taste in pictures. 

THE OATH OF KNIGHTHOOD From Abbey's Holy Grail 

The Holy Grail and other Library decorations 
are on exhibition and sale at the studio of the pub- 
lishers, Curtis & Cameron, opposite the Library. 

The Grail is fully illustrated in the Copley 
Print Illustrated Catalogue ( practically a Hand- 
book of American Art.) 8ent upon receipt of 25 
cents: stamps preferred. 

Above picture copyright by K. A. Abbey from a Copley Print Copyright 6y 

CURTIS & CAMERON, Pierce Building, opp. Public Library, BOSTON 


E. L. Grimes Co., c^sH@i& Printers, Boston.