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John Pierpoint Morgan Memorial

Artist:
Paul Manship (American, St. Paul, Minnesota 1885–1966 New York)
Date:
1915–20
Medium:
Limestone
Dimensions:
108 x 64 x 6 1/2 in. (274.3 x 162.6 x 16.5 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of the Trustees, 1920
Accession Number:
20.265
On view at Not on view
From 1871 until his death John Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) served the Metropolitan Museum as a founding trustee, vice president of the board, and, from 1904, president. This memorial consists of a central panel with a dedicatory inscription to Morgan. Surrounding this tablet are panels in high relief, which feature putti and a laurel wreath, winged griffins, male and female allegorical figures alluding to accomplishments in Morgan's life, and reclining figures playing lyres. In the panels on the left, Mercury personifies Commerce; a rigidly frontal, draped female holding a cornucopia represents Finance; and an astronomer alludes to Science. On the right, a partially draped female personifies Art and holds aloft examples of sculpture and architecture; a bearded philosopher with an open book represents Literature; and Archaeology is represented by a half-draped female displaying artifacts from the ancient world. Bordering the panels are ornamental carvings in low relief that include additional figures related to the personifications.


In 1970, during renovations to the Museum's front plaza and Great Hall, the memorial was moved from the northwest pier supporting the central dome to the south wall of the Fifth Avenue entrance vestibule, which necessitated removal of the tablet's original scrollwork pediment and concealment of the sides showing signs of the zodiac.

Inscription: Signed (lower left edge, obscured): [PAUL MANSHI]P/ [SCUL]PTOR
Inscribed and dated: (central tablet) ERECTED BY THE MUSEUM/ IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE/ OF THE SERVICES OF/ JOHN/ PIERPONT/ MORGAN/ FROM 1871 TO 1913/ AS TRUSTEE BENEFACTOR/ AND PRESIDENT/ HE WAS IN ALL RESPECTS/ A GREAT CITIZEN HE/ HELPED TO MAKE NEW YORK/ THE TRUE METROPOLIS/ OF AMERICA HIS INTEREST/ IN ART WAS LIFELONG/ HIS GENEROUS DEVOTION/ TO IT COMMANDED WORLD/ –WIDE APPRECIATION/ HIS MUNIFICENT GIFTS TO/ THE MUSEUM ARE AMONG/ ITS CHOICEST TREASURES/ VITA PLENA/ LABORIS/ MCMXX; (beneath respective figures on left side): COMMERCE/ FINANCE/ SCIENCE; (beneath respective figures on the right side): ART/ LITERATURE/ ARCHAEOLOGY
Trustees of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (commissioned in 1915; their gift to MMA)

Martin Birnbaum. Exhibition of Sculpture by Paul Manship. Exh. cat., Berlin Photographic Company. New York, 1916, p. 12.

"A Tablet Erected by the Trustees of the Museum in Memory of the Late J. Pierpont Morgan." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (December 1920), pp. 265–67, ill.

Edwin Murtha. Paul Manship. New York, 1957, pp. 14, 17, 20, 160–61, no. 122, pls. 21–24 (overall and details).

Albert TenEyck Gardner. American Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1965, p. 154.

Joan M. Marter in American Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Thayer Tolles. Vol. 2, A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born between 1865 and 1885. New York and New Haven, 2001, pp. 756–58, no. 380, ill.



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