Friday, December 29, 2006

George Washington: OMOM Essay 6

Several sculptures in Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan have elements that recall Ancient Greece and Rome. In the Washington at Nassau and Wall Streets it's the fasces, that bundle of rods behind Washington. (And yes, I think the choice not to include the traditional axe for cutting off malefactors' heads was the right one.) "About the Sculpture" discusses the effect of such elements and the popularity of the Neoclassical style in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Historians such as Joseph Ellis and David McCullough don't just tell what happened - they involve their readers by showing the options available in a given period and why people chose one over the other. In "About the Subject" I try to use that approach to present Washington's 1789 inauguration as his contemporaries might have perceived it. The Sidebar is W. Irving's vivid description of the difficulties facing Washington as he took office for the first time.
For a photo of the whole sculpture from the front, see the essay on Washington on the Forgotten Delights site, which also includes substantial excerpts from Washington Irving's biography of George Washington.

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