Bacchante and Infant Faun

Bacchante and Infant Faun

1894

sculptor

Frederick William MacMonnies

(American, 1863-1937)

Bronze

Overall: 86.4 x 25.4 cm (34 x 10 in.)

Anonymous Gift 1919.589

Location

Description

This sculpture is a smaller version of a three-quarter life-size bronze given by the artist to Charles McKim, the architect for the Boston Public Library who placed the statue in the fountain of the library's courtyard. Although the vast majority of Bostonians supported the statue, a small but powerful group denounced it as "debauched," "vice-ridden," and "treason to purity and sobriety and virtue, and Almighty God." The opponents included the Boston Brahmins—a group of Anglo-Saxon, Protestant elite—and various religious, temperance, and antivice organizations. Feeling threatened by the swell of immigrants and by the changing roles of women, these groups hoped that the library would offer an alternative to the saloons frequented by Boston's lower classes. But a statue of a nude woman reveling under the effects of wine from the Roman god Bacchus only devalued this bastion of civilization. Consequently, the Boston Art Commission rejected the statue in 1897. However, in 1992 Boston's Art and Humanities commissioner and the library trustees returned a version of the original to the courtyard without public protest.

See also
Type of artwork: 
Sculpture
Medium: 
Bronze
Credit line: 
Anonymous Gift

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