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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!

It just so happens that the Edgar Allan Poe Monument in Baltimore is my favorite outdoor sculpture.  I used to live nearby and would often visit the sculpture, which is in a wide-open plaza outside the University of Baltimore Law School. Sculpted by Sir Moses Jacob Ezekiel, the statue was commissioned in 1911 but was not dedicated until 1921.  Why?

"The first model, finished in 1913, was destroyed in a custom house fire while en route to a foundry in Berlin; the second model, finished in May 1915, was broken in the artist's Rome studio by an earthquake; and finally a third sculpture was finished and ready for shipment by March 1916, but the Poe Memorial Association was afraid to ship it across the Atlantic during World War I. Although the artist died in 1917, it was not until the summer of 1921 that the sculpture finally reached Baltimore." (from the IAS record)

The statue was moved to its current location in 1983.  What I love most about this statue is the way Poe is leaning forward in his seat, his left hand raised as if signaling to us to "hold on" while he continues to listen to the Muses.  When I walk around the nearly life-size Poe, there is always something new to discover, whether in the carvings on the base or the folds in his coat.  To discover a very interesting story about the inscriptions on the base, visit the online record in the Inventory of American Sculpture.

--Nicole Semenchuk, Research and Scholars Center, American Art Museum

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, I was unaware of some of those details.

    Poor Mr. Fontaine! I can actually sympathize with him--that would have driven me crazy, too.