Sculptor Aitken Creates Life-Like Statue of the
Design Submitted in Competition for the Santa Clara
County Memorial Shows
the Late William McKinley in a Characteristic Attitude and Is Praised
Its Delicate Accuracy of Feature, Pose and Expression
SAN JOSE, Dec. 17.—Robert I. Aitken, the San Francisco
sculptor, has submitted a design, in competition, for the monument
to be erected in St. James Park by the citizens of Santa Clara County
in memory of William McKinley. The young artist’s work has created
a favorable impression with all who have seen the model.
Mr. Aitken prepared three pieces for
submission to the committee, and at the sculptor’s suggestion the
works were not sent to San Jose, as their size and delicate workmanship
made transportation dangerous. The committee, therefore, deemed
a visit to the sculptor’s studio advisable, and last week went to
San Francisco. It found, besides the design for the monument and
surroundings, a life-size portrait bust of the President, and a
miniature full figure. The portrait bust is so excellent that upon
its examination one of the committee gave an order to Mr. Aitken
for a bronze on the buyer’s personal account.
This portrait bust is a wonderfully
lifelike production. The well remembered features of the President
are molded in the clay with a faithfulness rarely seen in portrait
work of this character. In the model for the statue the same life
and expression are found. The face, while full of the quiet dignity
so characteristic of the man, bears a smile, or at least a well
defined suspicion of one, which lights it up and supplies that undefinable
quality known, for want of a better word, as vitality.
Design for the Monument.
The Aitken design provides
for a terrace of about three feet height [sic], on top of
which is to be laid a flooring of mosaic having the national coat
of arms and similar figures worked out in the colored marbles. Surrounding
the statue a granite seat or Grecian bench will rise about thirty
inches high. This circular bench is broken in front and rear, which
openings are approached by flights of four steps with scroll buttresses.
At the entrance the stone bench is to be finished with bronze eagles
“displayed,” the heraldic term signifying “with extended wings.”
In the center is to stand the pedestal
and bronze statue. The pedestal, four feet by three, is to be seven
feet in height. The sides, slightly concave, will have beveled corners
and will be lettered with suitable inscriptions. The granite of
the bench, pedestal and steps will be rough finished and cut in
severely classic lines.
In Lifelike Attitude.
Standing on the graceful
pedestal, the bronze, heroic-sized figure of President McKinley
is to rise eight feet in height. The model shows the President standing
erect with silk hat carried at his side, his Prince Albert buttoned
and overcoat unbuttoned and hanging in natural folds. His right
hand rests at his side. The pose is characteristic and the drawing
technically correct, the expression winning and gentle, just as
the great original’s was in life. There is an entire absence of
trickery in the composition, nothing in the direction of striving
after effects at the expense of truthfulness.
After the committee had viewed the
designs in San Francisco, it was decided to have Aitken send his
model to this city, which was done.
The people of Santa Clara County have
raised upward of $15,000 for the proposed memorials, and it is the
intention to proceed rapidly with the work.