Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Redfield Monument Sculpture Restored and Returned to Forman Park

Syracuse, NY. Redfield Monument and Forman Park from an old postcard.

Redfield Monument Sculpture Restored and Returned to Forman Park
by Samuel D. Gruber (photos by Samuel D. Gruber 2010)

Some of you may already have read Dick Case's recent column in the Post-Standard and online about the return of the Redfield Monument statues to Forman Park, and event that took place when winter was already upon us and was not otherwise significantly celebrated. The bronze sculpture representing the two figures of Lewis Redstone and Joshua Forman and the single seated figure of an Indian, possibly Hiawatha, were removed in 2007 for restoration by sculptor and restored Sharon BuMann, about whom I have written before. Redfield was an important early newspaper editor in Syracuse and Joshua Forman was a founder of Syracuse. Hiawatha was said to be a founder of the Iroquois Confederacy.

The Indian figure is represented in a dignified seated pose. He is nude, except for a cloth on his lap. One can see his pose as contemplative as he gazes west, or one can read it is passive, as he sits beneath the civilizing influence of Forman and Redfield whose robust clothed figures are set on a higher level and dominate the monument. They would have looked toward downtown Syracuse, though today they see little more than I-81. The architecture of the monument in simple, but accented by a notable Classical (civilized) cornice and pediment directly above the Indian's head. In this way European culture dominates and supersedes Native American traditions. If this is Hiawatha, his presence would be, or could be, a nod to the Iroquois federation as a foundation to American democracy, represented in part by freedom of the press, of which Redfield was Syracuse's outstanding 19th-century exemplar.

Syracuse, NY. Redfield monument by N. C. Hinsdale and Fidardo Landi.
To see more examples of Indians in Syracuse sculpture see my earlier blogpost.
Last year BuMann completed the restoration of the Kirkpatrick Monument in Washington Square Park, that also featured figures of local Indians.

The monument of Westerly blue granite was designed by architect N. C. Hinsdale was donated in 1906 by Mrs. W.H.H. Smith, the daughter of Redfield. The sculptures by an Italian artist Fidardo Landi (1866-1918) were unveiled in 1908. Mrs. Smith died the following year. A photograph of the work’s first model (which I have not seen) apparently shows an entirely different Indian figure sitting next to a standing Civil War soldier at the base. The Bronze was cast by Fonderia G. Vignali, and .Leland & Hall Company was the project contractor. 

Forman Park was first established in 1839 and was known as Forman Square. Redfield, a pioneer printer, was one of those who owned property adjacent to the park. Redfield and others donated land the comprised the park which at Redfield's suggestion was named Forman Park.

According to a biography of Redfield published in New York state men: biographic studies and character portraits, Volume 2, by Frederick Simon Hills (Argus Company, 1910), Redfield was:
"one of the pioneer newspaper men of Onondaga County, was born at Farmington. Conn., November 26. 1792, son of Pelig Redfield, a soldier in the army of General Washington. He learned the printer's trade with James D. Bemis, publisher of the Ontario, N. Y., "Repository." and after six years with Mr. Bemis he engaged in business for himself at Onondaga Valley, wl1ere. with the assistance of his former employer, he established the " Onondaga Register." Mr. Redfield was an active advocate of the then proposed Erie Canal, and when a change was made in its route favorable to Syracuse he removed to that place. His paper was consolidated with the Syracuse "Gazette," which had been established by John Durnfield in 1823. For the accommodation of the printing plant he erected a commodious building on the site of the first Onondaga Savmgs Bank building, and here for some years he also conducted a book store. Mr. Redfield retired from active business in 1842. He married Ann Maria, daughter of Thomas Tread well, member of the Continental Congress and of the first State Senate. Mr. Redfield died July 14, 1882."
Landi was born in Carrara, Italy and according to his New York Times obituary, by the age of twenty was already a professor of sculpture at the academy of Fine Art in Carrara (he also married the daughter of the school's Dean, who also served as mayor of Carrara). Landi came to America in 1900 and in addition to the Redfield Monument he created to sculpture fountain groups for the Guggenheim villa and many individual works before dying of pneumonia at age 51.

I am looking for information on N.C. Hinsdale. Please let me know if you know anything.

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