Connecticut's Monuments: an essay
Artists & Sculptors
Purpose of Monuments || Monument Designs || Suppliers & Materials || Dedication Ceremonies || Conclusion
In addition to the architects, modelers, and stonecutters employed by Batterson and Smith, a variety of other artists and artisans contributed to the aesthetic character of Connecticut's civic Civil War monuments. Smaller supply firms, such as Phillips, Maslen, McGovern, and Fox-Becker, all employed stonecutters and designers, although the designers may have been free-lance artists serving several clients. The significance of the artistic input of these men is difficult to quantify.
Yet several independent artists are known to have had great impact. The team of Robert W. Hill (1828-1909), architect, and George E. Bissell (1839-1920), sculptor, created the imaginative and imposing WINCHESTER SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Crown Street, Winsted in Winchester. The architect designed a medieval keep of granite to support the sculptor's standard-bearer in the unusual stance of arm akimbo. Both architect and sculptor were Connecticut men. Hill practiced for his lifetime in Waterbury, designing several state armories and the Litchfield County Courthouse as well as SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Woodbury, while Bissell studied abroad before returning to Poughkeepsie, New York, where he sculpted a variety of works, including the reflective soldier for UNION MONUMENT, Colchester. 45
The team that successfully made its way through New Haven's long selection process for SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, East Rock Park, consisted of two New Yorkers, John M. Moffit (1837-1887) and Alexander Doyle (1857-1922). An Englishman by birth, Moffit came to America in his youth. He designed the figures that represent the four ages of man at the entrance to Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, in a forecast of the five East Rock Park allegorical bronzes. Doyle was born in Steubenville, Ohio, but as a boy went to live with his family in Italy, remaining there 12 years and studying sculpture in Florence and Rome. Both men brought the European tradition of ideal and symbolic figures to their work and to New Haven. 46
In contrast, Melzar Hunt Mosman (1846-1926) of Chicopee, Massachusetts, the creator of SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Bridgeport, and SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Union Park, Middletown, 47 was the grandson of a blacksmith and son of a foundry worker. Ames Sword and Bronze Company of Chicopee, where the father, Silas Mosman, Jr., worked, adjusted from casting cannon for the Civil War to casting bronze figures for Civil War monuments and other purposes. Returning to the shop after Civil War duty, Melzar soon (1867) took the opportunity to travel in Europe and while there worked in a Paris foundry. He brought back skills as both a sculptor and founder, in 1884 establishing his own independent shop.
Mosman's most prestigious work was casting a variety of pieces for Augustus Saint Gaudens; his largest commission was a colossal 8-ton equestrian statue of General Ulysses S. Grant for Lincoln Park, Chicago. He also cast the west doors of the U.S. House of Representatives in l903-l905, matching the east doors cast by his father in 1863.
Circumstances surrounding the choice of sculptor Solon Hannibal Borglum (1868-1922) for MONUMENT TO SOLDIERS IN UNKNOWN GRAVES, Danbury, are unknown. 48 The military pose of the soldier with rifle held in the funerary position of muzzle down and to the rear is unique in Connecticut. Solon H. Borglum was a brother of the famous Gutzon Borglum, renowned for his work at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. The skill and artistic merit displayed in MONUMENT TO SOLDIERS IN UNKNOWN GRAVES is consistent with the artist's national prominence. Mainly known for work in the American Western genre, Solon H. Borglum won awards at world fairs and had his pieces exhibited in major museums.
| 45 [back] For further details on the career of Hill, see WINCHESTER SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Crown Street, Winsted in Winchester. For Bissell, see SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Waterbury.
46 [back] For more on the careers of Moffit and Doyle, see SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, East Rock Park, New Haven.
47 [back] See entry for these two monuments for further details on the life of Mosman.
48 [back] See entry for this monument for further details on the life of Solon H. Borglum.