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    St. Louis’s Frieze of Fame Essay

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    A somewhat notable idea has been carried out in the World’s Fair at St. Louis in the plan and construction of the Art Palace, a building in classic style, the work of the well-known architect, Cass Gilbert. He conceived the idea of enriching the upper portion of the walls of the permanent part of this million-dollar art palace by a broad sub-frieze consisting of panels and medallions, in the latter of which are served in relief the portraits of famous artists of ancient and modern times. These medallions are in limestone, the same material of which the permanent part of the Art Palace is constructed. The sculptors are George T. Brewster and Ottildo Piccirrilli, both of New York. Of course the countenances of many of the great artists so portrayed are familiar, yet the series as a whole will do much to preserve the remembrance of the work of these men for all time, as this beautiful Palace of Art will be visited not only by millions during the periods of the World’s Fair, but by generations to come, for it is constructed to last at least unitil one or two centuries have passed since the con summation of the Louisiana Purchase.


    Illustration by Phil May

    The full list of the twenty-two men included in these panels of fame is as follows: Phidias, Ictinus, Botticelli, Giotto, Michael Angelo, Raphael, Palladio, Leonardo da Vinci, Brunel leschi, Donatello, Titian, Della Robbia, Bramante, Durer, Holbein, Rembrandt, Rubens, Velasquez, Cellini, Richard M. Hunt, Augustus St. Gaudens, and John La Farge. There were great artists before Phidias, but it is to him that our own generation looks back for its inspiration, as though he were, indeed, the fountain-head of all ar tistic endeavor. Perhaps most of us have almost as reverential a feeling in an artistic sense for Michael Angelo and for Raphael as for the greatest of the sculptors of ancient Greece. Both of these men of genius of the Renaissance era, however, drew their inspiration largely from Greek sources, though their works were also expressive of the ideas of their own time. In art, as in everything else, each one has his own favorite. To one person this or that great master of the past seems pre-eminently great, while to another a genius of some different name stands higher in the scale of greatness. We cannot all like the same things in art, any more than in ordinary products-a very wise provision of nature. It would be a difficult task to make a list of twenty-two of the great men in the art world of the present and past which should be accepted as correct by every individual. But it seems to be the opinion that those who chose the twenty-two that should be so honored in the decoration of the Art Palace at St. Louis have, on the whole, chosen well.

    Perhaps the most comment will be occasioned by the choice of the late Richard N. Hunt, architect; Augustus St. Gaudens, sculptor; and John La Farge, painter, representing modern art in these decora tions. It is always hard for those of our own generation to judge of a man who stands high in public estimation, and to decide whether in his field of work he excels all others of the same guild. Certainly the genius of St. Gaudens and La Farge is sufficient to entitle them to the highest honor.

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    St. Louis’s Frieze of Fame Essay. (2017, Aug 14). Retrieved from

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