Tuesday, August 7, 2018

New Insights About the Albert Woolson Statue by Dr. Avard Tennyson Fairbanks

In 2015 I wrote a blog post about the Bob Dylan-Albert Woolson connection. Young Bob was a Zimmerman then, but he lived just around the corner from the man who became the last surviving Civil War veteran before his passing. In that particular post I shared an anecdote by Don Dass (Bob Dylan Way committee) regarding how the neighborhood kids would parade past his house on Veterans Day (or it may have been his birthday or some other special occasion). Young Bob was undoubtedly one of these zealous marchers.

I learned all that because I'd become inquisitive about the statue of Albert Woolson that sits in front of the Duluth Depot where the Historical Society offices are as well as the Train Museum and the Duluth Art Institute.

That's not the new insight that prompted this post. What initially prompted this post was the discovery that there is a second statue honoring this Civil War veteran. It's located inside Duluth City Hall, a bust of Albert Woolson. To see it, walk through the first floor entrance and turn to your right. There is a dark underlit alcove there with the Woolson bust on a pedestal.

I discovered the bust while heading to a meeting of the Duluth Public Arts Commission last month. It was out of curiosity that I sauntered over to the alcove, thinking, "I wonder who this is." The plaque identifies it as the bust of Albert Woolson.

Though I failed to catch the name of the artist, I did proceed to learn the name of the artist who produced the life-sized sculpture of a seated Woolson in all his dignity. The artist was Dr. Avard Tennyson Fairbanks, a prolific 20th-century American sculptor with notable work in the U.S. Capitol, including one of Lincoln, as well as the capitols of Utah and Wyoming. This statue is a patinated bronze. (I did later learn that Dr. Fairbanks also did the bust in City Hall.)

The nearly ubiquitous Ram
is a Fairbanks design.
According to the Britannica, "Fairbank's numerous works include a bronze medal of courage presented to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill by Canadian Prime Minister William Mackenzie King, the monument to Lycurgus, the Lawgiver. in Sparta, and Rain, selected as one of the greatest U.S. sculptures for Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina." 

According to Wikipedia "Fairbanks studied at the Art Students League of New York beginning at age 13 and the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in the atelier of Jean Antoine Injalbert beginning at age 17. Fairbanks received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his master’s degree from the University of Washington. For three years Fairbanks studied on a Guggenheim Fellowship in Florence, Italy. He received his Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Michigan. He was also a professor of sculpture at the University of Michigan. His father was John B. Fairbanks, who was an artist and art professor. His mother, Lilly Annetta Huish, died about a year after he was born. she was a cousin of Orson Pratt Huish. Avard’s brother J. Leo Fairbanks was also an artist, and helped Fairbanks start sculpting as a teenager. Among Fairbanks’ children is Jonathan Leo Fairbanks, who was curator of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the early 1990s."

Possibly his most well-known artistic contribution was designing the Ram emblem for Dodge. I'll bet you didn't know that!

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Meantime art goes on all around you. Get into it.


Unknown said...

The sculptor Avard Tennyson Fairbanks also has a monument on the grounds of the North Dakota state capitol mall in Bismarck.



Thanks.Just a FYI !

Tom Stromme - resident of Bismarck (and regular reader of expectingrain.com.


Ed Newman said...

Thanks for the note. Yes, cool link.