The sculpure of Bacchante and Infant Faun with its ring of sparkling, splashing water add a refreshing, lively note to the Boston Public Library Courtyard in summer.
She is one of my favorite photo subjects. Every angle offers a new challenge to capture the vivaciousness of this work of art with my camera. The architecture of the courtyard creates a perfect backdrop and, in the photo above, an arched frame.
Here is the only photo I could find of the original artwork in place in the Courtyard in 1896. (From the Boston Public Library collection.) It was on display for just two weeks in November of that year.
The original statue, given to the library by the architect Charles Follen McKim, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The notes on it in their collection include this information.
"After a great storm of public protest stirred by temperance unions, clergy, and other angry Bostonians against the statue's "drunken indecency," McKim withdrew the gift and then offered "Bacchante" to the Metropolitan in May 1897. The Board of Trustees enthusiastically accepted it, and the bronze was displayed for many years in the Museum's Great Hall..."
The statue on display in the BPL Courtyard today is a casting made in 1993 from a second bronze in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts.
How barren the courtyard looks in this 1927 photo. It lacks the statue, furniture, and people we find there today. (From the Boston Public Library collection.)
While Bacchante's dance upset Bostonians, Emerson College students were allowed to perform the Butterfly Dance in the courtyard in 1926.
Don't forget, this year's free Concerts in the Courtyard continue through August 29th.
Do you have an Amazon Gift Certificate to use? Or do you need to buy one for a gift? Remember to click over to Amazon from here to support this site!
Words: Penny Cherubino
Photography: © 2014 Penny Cherubino with historic photos from the Boston Public Library Collection used under this creative commons license.