Art/ Collection/ Art Object

John Insley Blair

Artist:
Olin Levi Warner (American, West Suffield, Connecticut 1844–1896 New York)
Date:
1883, cast 1897–98
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
23 3/4 x 18 x 12 in. (60.3 x 45.7 x 30.5 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of National Sculpture Society, 1898
Accession Number:
98.9.4
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
John Insley Blair (1802–1899) was an American financier and railroad developer who served as director of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad system from its inception in 1852 until his death. He was deeply involved in western expansion, building miles upon miles of railroad track and developing sites for more than one hundred towns. Warner was commissioned in 1883 to model a portrait of Blair to be placed in Blair Hall at Grinnell College in Iowa. The likeness is one of the sculptor’s most successful in the sure modeling, rich textural variation, and powerful evocation of character. The artist faithfully recorded Blair’s physical traits: balding forehead, large-lobed ears, narrow-set eyes, and weathered skin. This bust was one of eleven works by Warner given to the museum by the National Sculpture Society after the sculptor’s untimely death in 1896; the bronzes were cast by Tiffany and Company from his original plasters.
Signature: [right side]: O. L. WARNER FECIT / 1883

Inscription: [back]: COPYRIGHT-1883 BY / O.L. WARNER.

Marking: [foundry mark, back, near edge of jacket]: TIFFANY & CO
Commissioned by the National Sculpture Society, New York, for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1897–1898
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