Category: Sculpture

  • The Noble Quartet—The Complete Group

    John Massey Rhind, Andrew Carnegie’s favorite sculptor, decorated the Carnegie Institute building with bronzes representing the Noble Quartet—science, art, music, and literature—to which the Institute was dedicated. At street level, each member of the quartet is represented by a portrait of one of its famous representatives. Above each statue, on the roof, is an allegorical group of female figures representing the abstract ideal. We have seen the pictures of the statues before, but since old Pa Pitt just recently took pictures of the allegorical groups, he thought it might be interesting to see everything together at once.

    Science

    Galileo

    Galileo.

    Science group
    Science from a different angle

    Art

    Michelangelo

    Michelangelo.

    Art group
    Art from a different angle

    Music

    Bach

    Bach.

    Music group
    Detail of central figure
    Music

    Literature

    Shakespeare
    Literature group
    Literature from a different angle
  • Prospect School, Mount Washington

    Prospect School

    The firm of James T. Steen & Sons gave us many prominent buildings. The elder James died in 1923, but the firm flourished under his son Marion M. Steen, whose particular specialty was schools. Here is one of his finest works, built in 1931 with additions in 1937. The school closed in 2006, but it was converted to loft apartments without losing any of the glorious Art Deco decorations and reliefs.

    Main entrance

    Old Pa Pitt seldom does this, but because there are eighteen pictures in this article, he will avoid weighing down the front page of the site by placing the rest of them below the metaphorical fold.

    (more…)
  • Regina Coeli Church and School, Manchester

    Regina Coeli church and school, Manchester

    Now the New Zion Baptist Church in what may be Pittsburgh’s only clot of three different Baptist churches in the same spot, this former Italian parish church is a good example of the modernist interpretation of Gothic that was popular briefly after the Second World War. The fine reliefs are in a style that filters medieval religious art through a slightly Art Deco lens.

    Regina Coeli
    Regina Coeli
    Crucifix

    There seems to have been an inscription over the skull and crossbones (representing conquered Death), but it is no longer legible.

    School relief

    Sinite parvulos, et nolite eos prohibere ad me venire: talium est enim regnum caelorum. (Matt. 19:14.)

    Regina Coeli Church and School
  • Daniel O’Neill Monument, Allegheny Cemetery

    This article on the Daniel O’Neill monument appears at Father Pitt’s Pittsburgh Cemeteries, but he thought his regular readers here might also enjoy seeing the portrait of an important figure in Pittsburgh’s literary history.

    Close-up of the face on the Daniel O’Neill portrait statue

    An editor’s work is never done. Here is Daniel O’Neill, owner and editor of the Dispatch, still at work 145 years after his death in 1877. Though he died at the young age of 47, he had already built the Dispatch into Pittsburgh’s most respected newspaper, a position it held until the great newspaper massacre of the early 1920s, when paper shortages and rising costs forced hundreds or thousands of papers across the country out of business. Before that there had been at least a dozen English dailies in Pittsburgh, not to mention three in German and several in other languages.

    From the hill opposite

    The monument itself is a harmoniously eclectic mix of styles in the Victorian manner: classical elements dominate, but Mr. O’Neill’s desk rests on an Egyptian pedestal.

    From the front
    Daniel O’Neill hard at work
    The full statue
    Inscription on the monument
    Face, three-quarters view
  • Telamones and Other Ornaments on the Park Building

    Telamon on the Park Building

    A “telamon” is a male human figure used as an architectural support. Most architectural references regard the term as interchangeable with “atlas” (of which the plural is “atlantes”), but some working architects seem to have distinguished the two, “telamones” being youthful, beardless figures, and “atlantes” being older bearded figures with pronounced or exaggerated musculature, like the atlantes on the Kaufmann’s clock. At any rate, the 1896 Park Building, which is our oldest standing skyscraper (if we don’t count the seven-storey Consetoga Building as a skyscraper), has thirty of these figures supporting the elaborate cornice. The sculptor seems not to be known, which is a pity, because these are exceptionally fine work. The architect was George B. Post, who also designed the New York Stock Exchange and the Wisconsin state capitol, among many other notable buildings.

    Telamones
    Cornice

    One of these fellows has lost his head, which you might do, too, if you had to hold up a cornice like that for 126 years.

    Garlanded window
    Telamon
    Park Building

    At some point in the middle twentieth century it seemed like a good idea to someone to fill in the shaft of the building with modernistic columns of windows. It was not a good idea.

  • Do You Know This Face?

    If you are a Pittsburgher, you have probably seen it many times, but you may not have paid it much attention.

    It belongs to one of the atlantes—Atlas figures—on the Kaufmann’s clock.

  • Goofy Gargoyle, Grumpy Gargoyle

    Two gargoyle faces on St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oakland.

  • Robin

    Robin on the Marshall monument

    Resting on the Marshall monument in the Allegheny Cemetery. That happy smile is probably the bird panting: it was a hot day.

  • Pulpit of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

    Pulpit

    This elaborate Gothic pulpit is equipped with a traditional sounding board to deflect the sound out into the congregation. It is also equipped with a microphone, which has become a much more tenacious tradition. An Episcopal church would sooner give up the Thirty-Nine Articles than the microphone. It is an interesting fact of history that no one ever heard anything until electrical amplification was invented.

  • World War I Memorial, West End Park

    Eagle
    War memorial

    West End Park is far off the beaten track, and few people outside its own neighborhood (which is technically Elliott, though it belongs at least as much to the West End) ever visit, or even know it exists. But it has one of our best war memorials by one of our best sculptors and one of our best architects.

    The sculptor was Frank Vittor, who was already developing the streamlined style that would make him one of Pittsburgh’s two favorite sculptors (the other being Giuseppe Moretti). The architect was William Perry, whose most famous work is St. Bernard’s in Mount Lebanon, a church more magnificent than many cathedrals. Their collaboration produced a striking monument, simple but rich. Unfortunately some restoration has left it with two radically different colors of stone and concrete, which is not how it was meant to look, as we see in this picture from twenty-two years ago:

    Memorial in 2000

    That picture shows us that the memorial has also lost some sort of bronze ornament on the bottom half of the shaft: we can see the shadow of what seems to have been a shield with double-headed axe set in a bronze band.

    Cherubim and shields