The Minute Man
The Minute Man, is an 1874 sculpture by Daniel Chester French located in Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Massachusetts. The statue was created, after extensive research by French, between 1871 and 1874. Originally intended to be made of stone, the medium was switched to bronze and The Minute Man was cast from cannons captured from the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. The statue was unveiled in 1875 for the centennial celebration of the battle of Battle of Concord to critical acclaim and continues to be praised by critics through the 2010s.
|Location||Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord, Massachusetts, United States|
|Designer||Daniel Chester French (sculptor)|
James Elliot Cabot (architect)
|Height||7 feet (2.1 m)|
In 1871, French was commissioned to create The Minute Man based on a small statue. The Minute Man was French's first full-size work; previously French had produced a bust of his father, Henry F. French, and one additional statue. Partly because he was a local, the monument committee, which included Ralph Waldo Emerson, only considered French for the commission.
French conducted research for The Minute Man by studying powder horns and buttons from the era. According to Harold Holzer because French was a good-looking man, "there would be a line of young women outside his studio ready to show him their alleged Colonial artifacts" to help him with his research. In 1873, his clay model of the statue was accepted by the statue committee. The same year the medium of the statue was changed from stone to bronze. The miniature version of the statue won a local art competition in September 1973, but the pose of the figure was "awkwardly stiff". The pose of The Minute Man was made more natural in the enlargement process by working with models. By September 1874, the statue was completed and a plaster version of the clay statue was sent to Ames Manufacturing Works. The statue was cast in bronze with metal from 10 captured Confederate cannons.
The Minute Man was unveiled in 1875 during the centennial celebration of the battle of Battle of Concord. In the audience during the unveiling were dignitaries such as Ulysses S. Grant and Ralph Waldo Emerson. French, however, left for Italy to further study sculpture in 1874 and was not in attendance. Steve Maas of the Boston Globe suggests that French avoided the celebration in case the statue was panned by contemporary critics. French's fears were unfounded and it was positively received by art critics and the public.
French was commissioned by the town of Concord in 1889 to rework The Minute Man for the USS Concord. The new statue, paid for by the United States Congress, was titled The Concord Minute Man of 1775.[note 1] The reworked statue cleaned up some imperfections in the face of the original statue and incorporated elements of Beaux-Arts. The movement of the new statue was made more fluid and natural. It was completed in 1890 and installed on the gunboat in 1891.
The statue is 7 feet tall and depicts a singular minuteman at the Battle of Concord. The farmer-turned-soldier is shown trading his plow for a flintlock long gun[note 2] and stepping forward toward the impending battle. The sleeves of his coat and shirt are rolled up; the minuteman's overcoat is draped over the plow. His face is alert while his eyes are transfixed on the battle that he is ready to march into.
The pose of the soldier has been compared to the pose of the Apollo Belvedere. Eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century art critics, such as Lorado Taft and H. C. Howard, have suggested that the pose was directly copped from the Roman sculpture. Howard in particular trivializes the sculpture as "little more than an Americanized rendition of the Apollo Belvedere". Modern scholarship, working with French's journals, disagrees that the pose is a copied while acknowledging that French used a variety of plaster casts of classical sculptures, including the Apollo Belvedere, as inspiration when creating The Minute Man.
The Minute Man sits on a stone pedestal designed by James Elliot Cabot. On the front, it is inscribed with the third and fourth verse of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Concord Hymn. Cabot's design is nearly identical to French's final pedestal design. Throughout the creation of Minute Man, French sketched and built a variety of potential pedestals.
Reception and legacyEdit
The Minute Man continued to be praised by critics and art historians throughout the 20th and 21st. Anna Seaton-Schmidt referred to the statue as "the most inspiring of our solder monuments" in her 1922 biography of French in The American Magazine of Art. Michael Richman calls it a "masterwork in nineteenth-century American sculpture". Chris Bergeron from the The MetroWest Daily News describes The Minute Man as "naturalistic detail imbued with an idealistic effect" Harold Holzer describes the statue as representative of French's style of "naturalism, a great feeling of humanity, and connection to the subject".
Louisa May Alcott commented on the lack of place for women in the unveiling ceremony of The Minute Man and their refusal to her and other women to wait for a male escort in her writings for the Woman's Journal. Subsequently, the statue was appropriated by Alcott and other suffragettes as a symbol of their struggle for voting rights. Because of this, there were regular pilgrimages to visit the statue by suffragettes in the 1880s.
The Minute Man appears on the seal of the United States National Guard. The Minute Man has been depicted on United States coins since it debuted. It appears on the obverse of the Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial half dollar which was minted in 1925. The statue also appears on the reverse of the 2000 Massachusetts state quarter next to an outline of the state.
- Eaton, Aurore. "Looking Back with Aurore Eaton: The Minute Man — Daniel Chester French's Patriotic Icon". UnionLeader.com. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- Tolles, Thayer (1999). "The Minute Man, 1771-1775". Selections from the American Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts and the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum. Springfield Library and Museums Association. pp. 223–225. ISBN 0-916746-18-6.
- Maas, Steve (April 5, 2019). "Concord sculptor left his mark on America". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on April 8, 2019. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
- Richman, Michael (1972). "The Early Public Sculpture of Daniel Chester French". American Art Journal. 4 (2): 97–115. doi:10.2307/1593936. ISSN 0002-7359. JSTOR 1593936.
- Kowalski, Philip J. (2007). "From Memory to Memorial: Representative Men in the Sculpture of Daniel Chester French". Journal of American Studies. 41 (1): 49–66. doi:10.1017/S002187580600274X. ISSN 0021-8758. JSTOR 27557919.
- Bergeron, Chris. "Icons of American sculpture at the Concord Museum". MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- Howard, H. C. (1906). "The Art of Daniel Chester French". Fine Arts Journal. 17 (9): 542–557. ISSN 2151-2760. JSTOR 42004755.
- Richman, Michael (1980). "Daniel Chester French and Henry Bacon: Public Sculpture in Collaboration, 1897-1908". American Art Journal. 12 (3): 47–64. doi:10.2307/1594234. ISSN 0002-7359. JSTOR 1594234.
- Richardson, Todd H. (2015). ""Another protest that shall be 'heard round the world'": The "Woman's Journal" and Women's Pilgrimages to Concord, Massachusetts". The Concord Saunterer. 23: 20–49. ISSN 1068-5359. JSTOR 44484697.
- Seaton-Schmidt, Anna (1922). "Daniel Chester French, Sculptor". The American Magazine of Art. 13 (1): 2–10. ISSN 2151-254X. JSTOR 23938986.
- Cox, Matthew (2019-04-05). "Critics Say Army Guard's New Recruiting Logo Driven by School Anti-Gun Policy". Military.com. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- "Massachusetts State Quarter". www.usmint.gov. U.S. Mint. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- Media related to Minuteman by Daniel Chester French at Wikimedia Commons