Source: San Francisco Call
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Sculptor Aitken Creates Life-Like Statue of the Martyred President”
City of publication: San Francisco, California
Date of publication: 18 December 1901
Volume number: 91
Issue number: 18
|“Sculptor Aitken Creates Life-Like Statue of the Martyred President.” San Francisco Call 18 Dec. 1901 v91n18: p. 2.|
|Robert Ingersoll Aitken; McKinley memorialization (Santa Clara County, CA); William McKinley (sculpture).|
|Robert Ingersoll Aitken; William McKinley.|
|The article (below) is accompanied on the same page by a photograph of a model of Aitken’s proposed monument. An unidentified illustration is also included.|
Sculptor Aitken Creates Life-Like Statue of the Martyred President
Design Submitted in Competition for the Santa Clara County Memorial
the Late William McKinley in a Characteristic Attitude and Is Praised for
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.