Corolyn Faville Ober.

Manhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; online

. (page 8 of 12)
Online LibraryCorolyn Faville OberManhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; → online text (page 8 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

on the third floor. Here will be found goril-
las, baboons, and chimpanzees, arranged in
cases containing fac-similes of their native
haunts. The chimpanzee, " Mr. Crowley, " once
a prominent member of the Central Park
menagerie, has a conspicuous position.

The porpoise, dolphin, whale, opossum, and
kangaroo, are displayed in the wing of this
floor. Also a baby hippopotamus, and a rhi-
noceros, that were born in the park menagerie.

manhattan. 149

The Department of Fishes and Rep-
tiles includes casts of American food-fishes
received from the Fish Commissioner of the
United States.

A Collection of Butterflies and Moths
is placed in the desk-cases that are ranged
about the gallery of the new building. The
specimens are numerous, and many of them
very brilliant. Through the efforts of Mr. A.
M. Palmer, who is securing subscriptions for
the purpose, the Edwards entomological col-
lection will be donated to the Museum by the
citizens of New York.

The gallery of the old building is filled with
American birds; among them some particu-
larly fine groups are placed amid the trees and
nests peculiar to their tribes.

The Mineralogical Collection, on the
fourth floor, is now one of the most valuable
in the United States. It contains many fine
gems, also specimens of native metallic forms,
and exemplifications of the different systems of
crystallization, meteorites, etc. Conspicuous
in this department is the noted Tiffany collec-
tion of gems, the brilliancy and beauty of
which is superior to any collection in America.

The Geological Collection is rich with
material, principally illustrative of this country.

The Collection of Shells, which is near,


is composed of a great variety of beautiful and
interesting specimens, so arranged as to be
studied in connection with

The Paleontological Collection, con-
taining nearly seven thousand type and fig-
ured specimens, which is the richest and most
extensive assortment of American invertebrate
fossils in the world.

The Department of Ethnology and
Archeology. — In the upper story of the new
building, a large hall contains the tools and
implements of prehistoric man, as well as his
articles of adornment, and of religious worship.

Models and Prints of the Cliff Dwell-
ings, and old Pueblo ruins of the Verde Valley
in Arizona, from which very many of these
specimens were taken, form a part of this val-
uable collection. The States of Ohio, Arizona,
and Colorado, are rich with examples of these
curious structures, those of the latter State
being lined with pink gypsum. It is believed
that human beings will yet be found inhabit-
ing these caverns, but as yet only skulls and
other bones have been discovered. These
now are exhibited with the various relics from
this unknown civilization.

Antedating the cliff-dwellings, are the
mounds, usually covered with a growth of
trees, indicative of at least a thousand years


abandonment. Many of the mound-works
evidently were designed as citadels of defence,
or watch-towers in war, others as places of
burial for the dead, or temples of worship. As
they usually resemble animals very closely in
form, they are regarded as symbolizing the
totems, or beasts that bore a religious signifi-
cance to the tribes. Totemism appears in
every land where tribes have been in exist-
ence, as, for instance, the wild ass of Issachar,
the lion of Judah, etc. -

One of the most remarkable of these works,
the " Great Serpent" of Ohio, is situated on a
hill in Adams County. The distended jaws,
holding an oval one hundred and sixty feet in
length, and eighty feet in width, seem to indi-
cate that the creature is represented in the act
of swallowing an Q%%. The mound terminates
in a triple coil at the tail, the whole body
extending over about seven hundred feet of

The implements and ornaments found in the
mounds, usually are composed of stone, and,
with the exception of the flint-spears and
arrowheads, are wrought with skill and care.
Some of the ornaments are of copper, but al-
ways in its native state, and w^ith the specks of
silver found only in the copper of the Lake Su-
perior region. Almost every mound contains


pottery, generally coarse and crude, but some-
times graceful in form and highly ornamental.
Internal com-merce is indicated by masses of
galena, calc-spar, quartz-crystals, mica, marine
shells, and other materials brought from dis-
tant localities. There is also proof that the
lead mines near Lexington, Kentucky, as well
as the oil wells in Canada and Pennsylvania,
were worked by the inhabitants of these queer
dwelling-places. No tablets or inscriptions of
any kind having been found, it is supposed that
the mound-builders had no written language ;
and no bones have been discovered to indicate
the domestication of animals.

The prehistoric remains, so abundant in Ari-
zona, appear to be related to the civilization of
Mexico, and the semi-civilized Indian tribes
now found there, possibly are descendants of
these ancient folk; but the mound-builders
and cliff-dwellers were quite different from
the nomadic Indians who occupied the coun-
try at the time of the advent of Europeans.

Among the relics contained in the Museum
collection are specimens of stone, shell, pot-
tery, pipes (that compelled the smoker to lie
on his back in order to prevent the burning
material from escaping), bones, materials used
in the construction of the dwellings, articles
of apparel, cords, weapons, and many other

MA Nil A TTAN, 153

novel and highly instructive souvenirs of an
almost mystical past.

The Library and Reading Room, now
containing twenty-three thousand volumes,
and with a capacity for fifty thousand more,
occupies a portion of the floor just indicated.
Study rooms for the use of students also are
provided in this part of the building, the aim
of the institution being to establish a post-
graduate university of natural science, that
shall be as complete in all of its appointments
as any similar institution in London or Paris.

From the cariage-road, the lake, the ramble,
and the belvedere, — -a stone look-out tower,
erected on the highest knoll in the park, — are
the first objects of interest after leaving the

The Receiving-Reservoir of the Cro-
TON Water Works next comes into view, at
the right of the drive. This receptacle has a
capacity of one hundred million gallons. The
retaining-reservoir, a little further north, holds
one billion and thirty million gallons. The
water supply of the city is drawn from the
Croton River, a stream in Westchester County,
and from a number of lakes in the vicinity of
its sources.

The Equestrian vStatue of General
Simon Bolivar, on an elevation at the left,

1 5 4 MA NHA T TA N.

was a gift from the government and people of
Venezuela. This work was executed by R.
De la Cora.

The Drive now leads through the wild
beauty of woody hills and rocky slopes at the
north of the park, until the second station is
reached, — formerly known as Mount St. Vin-
cent, but now called McGowan's Pass Tavern.
From the porch of this attractive restaurant
the eye rests, in the summer season, on bril-
liant flower-beds filled with the choicest plants.
Far beyond are spread the waters of the East
and Harlem Rivers, in which the islands, and
the buildings on them, easily may be identified.
A more charming spot hardly can be imagined
for the nuns who, according to tradition, lived
here previous to the Revolution.



Historical Sites. — McGowan's Pass, for-
merly a circuitous portion of the old Boston
Road, and now a park-highway in front of the
tavern, was the scene of an attack by the
British, at the time of the retreat of Putnam's
column to Harlem Heights. A successful
resistance was made by Silliman, with the aid
of Alexander Hamilton, who, with his cannon,
had guarded the rear of the column during
the whole of its dangerous march from
Bleecker Street, the British extending their
lines from this point to the Hudson and
East Rivers just after the American army had
passed. Remains of the extensive breastworks,
subsequently erected by the British, are still
visible near the elevation on which the tavern
stands; and at the north, on a low bluff, once
called Fort Fish, an old cannon, a mortar, and
a shell, are still preserved as relics of this time.

The Block House. — This fortification, to
which visitors must be directed by a park-
policeman, was built by the Americans, but




was afterward improved and occupied by the
English during Revolutionary times. Another
tradition clinofs to the flagf-staff on the summit.
It is popularly called "Old Hickory," because


General Jackson, who bore that soubriquet, is
said to have once been its owner.

The vista from this point is exceptionally
fine. At the north and west the Palisades,
the Bloomingdale Asylum, the private man-
sions overlooking the Hudson, the lofty and
winding elevated railroad, the ornamental
stairways and battlements that constitute the
first improvements of Morningside Park,
Mount Morris Park, and further on Fort Wash-
ington, — the strongest breastwork thrown up
by the Americans during the Revolution, —
are the various objects of interest presented.


The site of the camp-fires of various regi-
ments at different times in possession here, is
a little to the left of this fort.

After leaving the tavern the phaeton passes
over the east drive, which for some distance
possesses no objects of special interest, except
the entrance to the reservoir, — a sort of gate-
house built of granite, — and

The Statue of Alexander Hamilton. —
This work by Charles Conradts, was presented
to the city in 1880, by the son of the illustrious
statesman. A monument to Hamilton once
was erected in Weehawken, the place where
he fought the duel with Burr ; but the locality
became the scene of such frequent duels, that
the gentleman who raised the tribute caused
it to be broken into fragments. Another fine
statue of this celebrated individual was placed
in the Stock Exchange in Wall Street, but the
falling in of the roof, at the time of the great
fire of 1835, crushed it to atoms.

The Obelisk. — East of the drive and oppo-
site the Metropolitan Museum of Art, stands a
relic that antedates the birth of Christ by fif-
teen centuries. This monolith, which was
gazed upon by Moses, was one of two erected
for the Temple of On by Thutmes the Third,
of Egypt, as a thank-offering for his victories.
The hieroglyphic inscriptions mostly are com-

158 MA NHA T TA N.

memorative of that great monarch, although
the names and titles of Ramses the Second,
and of Usorkon the First, also appear. The
obelisk was presented to the city in 1877, by
the late Khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, the
expense of its removal, one hundred thousand
dollars, having been borne by William H.
Vanderbilt. The site from which it eventu-
ally was taken was near Alexandria, it having
been placed there before the Caesarium, in
the time of Augustus Caesar. Its companion
now stands in London.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. —
In November 1869, at a public meeting held
in the Academy of Music, a committee com-
posed of fifty gentlemen, was formed to draft a
plan of organization, for the purpose of found-
ing an institute, the object of which should be
the art culture of the people of N.ew York
City. In 1870 the Legislature granted this
committee, which was then increased to over
twice the original number, a charter " for the
purpose of establishing a museum and library
of art; of encouraging and developing the
study of the fine arts ; of the application of art
to manufactures and to practical life; of ad-
vancing the general knowledge of kindred
subjects; and to that end, of furnishing popu-
lar instruction and recreation." The Museum


is controlled by a Board of Trustees, elected by
the members of the corporation, who are such
for life. The officers, elected annually by the
corporation, are ex-officio members of the
Board of Trustees, as are also the president of
the Department of Public Parks, the comptrol-
ler of the city of New York, and the president
of the National Academy of Design.

The growth of this institution has no paral-
lel, even in countries where such effort is
entirely supported by government ; and, as a
natural consequence, the current expenses
continually increase. The trustees have spared
neither their personal means, nor their time, to
meet the constantly increasing demand, but it
has now become so heavy that they are asking
the city to assume the entire financial respon-
sibility of the annual outlay, while they in
return will open the Museum to the public, free
of charge at all times, and devote their means
to the enlargement and perfection of the col-

As at the present time the Park Department
furnishes accommodations for the Museum, and
contributes funds for its maintainment, the
trustees admit the general public on Wednes-
days, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from
10 A.M. until one half-hour before sunset; on
Sundays, from i p.m. until the same hour, and


on Tuesday and Saturday evening's, from 8
until 10 o'clock; besides this, art students and
public school teachers and scholars are allowed
special privileges. On the remaining days an
admission fee of twenty-five cents is charged.

The technical art schools for designing-,
modelling-, carving, free-hand and mechanical
drawing, that are established in connection
with the work of the Museum, add g-reatly to
the earning capacity of this class of American

The Blodgett collection of pictures, the first
acquisition of any importance, was exhibited
in a rented house in Fifth Avenue, near 53d
Street. After the presentation of an archaeo-
logical collection, consisting of over thirty
thousand objects, gathered from the Island of
Cyprus by General Di Cesnola, then United
States Consul, the Museum was removed to a
more extensive mansion in 14th Street. The
present building has been occupied since 1880,
at which time it was formally opened by the
President of the United States. Like the
Museum of Natural History, a series of build-
ings is intended, two of which are completed,
and a third is in process of construction.
These now standing are of red brick with
granite facings, but the architectural design is
hard to classify, not being quite definitely the


Gothic or Renaissance that they appear to

Ancient Sculpture. — The entrance hall is
filled with casts of the greatest art productions
of Greece and Rome. Here also are fragments
of the bronze crabs that supported the obelisk
in Alexandria. They are dated the eighteenth
year of Augustus Caesar.

The Hall of Glass, Laces, Ancient
Pottery, and Musical Instruments. — The
large apartment at the left contains a varied
assortment of rare specimens, in which the
history of glass is w^onder fully illustrated.
Exquisite laces are displayed in swinging
standards, and curious musical instruments
invite the attention of those who are interested
in the mechanics of sound.

The Hall of Modern Sculpture, which
is beyond the one just mentioned, contains, in
a not very large assortment, the following
beautiful pieces of statuary. Near the door is
a life-size bronze figure of Napoleon the First,
idealized by Canova's graceful touch. The
majestic forms of Cleopatra, Semiramis, and
Medea, by W. W. Story, are placed in line at
the right of the hall, and near them are ; " Cal-
ifornia" (represented as a woman of exquisite
proportions), by Hiram Powers, and a beauti-
ful group, " Latona and her Children, Apollo


and Diana," by Reinhart. A cast of Antoine
Louis Barye's " Lion and Serpent," the original
of whicli stands in the Garden of the Tuileries
at Paris, is an acquisition which was presented
to the United States by the French govern-
ment in 1890. Thorwaldsen, Gibson, Lord
Ronald Gower, and other equally noted artists,
also are represented ; and vases, a great variety
of busts, the Poe Memorial (presented by the
artists of New York), reproductions, and plas-
ter studies, add their attractions to this part of
the establishment.

The Hall of Architectural Casts, in
the interior of the building, is filled with a
remarkably valuable collection, including mod-
els of ancient temples, modern cathedrals, for-
eign structures, and casts of every variety of
detail work. A large painting by Hans Makart,
called "Diana's Hunting Party," which hangs
on the western wall, illustrates the high tones
of the Dusseldorf School. On the eastern wall
is a painting by Constant, a pupil of Cabanel's,
representing "Justinian in Council."

The Old Western Galleries, that are
approached by a staircase leading from the
Hall of Statuary, consist of two apartments in
which the paintings of modern masters are dis-
played. These are owned by the Museum, the
most noticeable treasures among them being;


"Woodland and Cattle," by Auguste
Bonheur, an exquisite picture portraying a
quiet phase of animal life. The sunlit land-
scape represents the woods of Fontainebleau.

"Thusnelda at the Triumphal Entry
OF Germanicus into Rome," by Piloty. —
Although this picture is defective in its
schemes of color, it is a fine piece of stage-
grouping, in which barbaric figures, strange
animals, trophies, and Italians, make up the
glories of a Roman holiday.

Baron Alexander von Humboldt. — This
interesting portrait of the great savant at the
age of eighty-nine, was painted, according to
his wish, with Chimborazo for the background,
by Julius Schrader.

"Friedland, 1807," by Meissonier. — The
sentiment expressed iji this painting is partic-
ularly fine. Napoleon at the height of his
glory, — an inspiration to his soldiers, who are
ready to lay down their lives at his feet, — was
the intention of the artist. To quote from an
eminent critic ; " A painter has perhaps never
represented a composition in which the leader
reposes in the sympathy of his troops so like
a soul in a body." The work is executed
with that fidelity to detail which has seemed
possible to Meissonier alone, and also with
a devotion to the subject which has made


of this picture the masterpiece of a great

"A Spanish Lady," by Fortuny, is one of
the most important specimens of the work of
that artist.

"The Horse Fair," by Rosa Bonheur. —
This celebrated chef-d'oeuvre of the distin-
guished artist, which represents a group of
foreign draught horses in precipitate action,
was presented to the museum by Cornelius
Vanderbilt. It is gratifying to know that this
magnificent representation of animal life is
permanently placed where it may be seen by
multitudes of people. Mile. Bonheur's latest
painting, " The Last of the American Indians,"
will be of special interest to the American

"The Defence of Champigny," by De-
taille, one of the finest works the gallery con-
tains, depicts most graphically, the harrowing
scenes incident to a siege. The officer in the
centre of the picture is General Faron.

Memorials of Washington, Lafayette,
AND Franklin. — This important collection is
displayed in an apartment which is situated at
the head of the middle stairway, beyond the
galleries just described.

The New Western Galleries that open
from the room devoted to memorials, contain


the paintings bequeathed to the Museum by
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe.

A Portrait of Miss Wolfe, by Cabanel,
attracts immediate attention by the grace of
posture and air of distinguished elegance that
characterized this sensitive, high-bred lady.
The subtle power of the artist especially be-
trays itself in the modelling and posture of the
hands, that express in their cultured gesture
the extreme refinement manifested in our se-
lect American types.

"Repose in Egypt," by Ludwig Knaus. —
This painting represents the Holy Family,
visited in the night-time by a gambolling
bevy of cherubs (who resemble cupids more
nearly). Although Joseph appears to be in a
state of religious exaltation, nothing in the
picture suggests the source of his inspiration.
The Virgin is a simple rustic, and the angels
all possess the faces belonging to the agreeable
low life that the artist usually portrays. An-
other specimen of Knaus in this collection is
much more characteristic of that original

"The Shulamite Woman," by Cabanel, is
enlivened with every device of pictorial fancy,
and the theme is extremely attractive, but
profound thought or spirited manipulation are


"A Religious Procession in Brittany,"
by Jules Breton, represents " The Grand Par-
don," which is supposed by the simple-hearted
Brittany peasants to occur once a year for their
benefit. The composition is crowded, but the
figures are skilfully generalized. " The Peas-
ant Girl," a smaller example of Breton, is a
single-figure study which is very successful.

"The Night Patrol at Smyrna," by
Decamps, one of the best examples of that
artist, is magnificent in its expression of light
and heat, animal motion, and superb horse-

"Crusaders Before Jerusalem," by Kaul-
bach, a repetition of a fresco in the Museum
at Berlin, is an allegorical pageant, painted
with great power.

"The Massacre of the Mamelukes," by
Bida, "The Storm," by Cot, and "The Last
Token," by Max, are noticeable features of this
broadly representative collection, which is fur-
ther enriched with examples of Bonheur,
Bouguereau, Gerome, Meissonier, Diaz, Mun-
kacsy, Schreyer, Troy on, Verboeckhoven,
Vibert, and many other equally noted artists.

Gallery Q, which is next to the Wolfe
galleries, is filled with gems, objects wrought
in gold and silver, (many of them being Egyp-
tian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Greek or Roman),


miniatures, fans of the most delicate manu-
facture, and exceedingly fine tapestries.

A Gallery of Drawing, in which an al-
cove is devoted to water-color paintings, and
another gallery which displays fac-similes of
gold and silver plate, are at the left of Gallery
Q, and lead directly to

The New Eastern Gallery O. — This
apartment contains the paintings by the old
masters, that were presented to the Museum
by Henry G. Marquand, the different schools
being represented by the following artists ;

The Dutch School. — Rembrandt, the un-
rivalled master of chiaroscuro, whose vigor of
style and truthful presentation render his
works invaluable. The " Portrait of a Man with
a Black Hat " is considered to be the most excel-
lent of the four examples that the gallery con-
tains of this artist. Teniers, the celebrated
painter of interiors, Leyden, whose engravings
on copper gave him rank with Durer, and
Marc Antonio, Jan Van Eyck, Franz Hals,
Hoogstraaten, and Jensen, are among the other
names that appear on the catalogue.

The Spanish School. — Velazquez, the
head of this school, of whom Ruskin has said;
" Everything Velazquez does may be taken as
absolutely right by the student." Among the
specimens executed by this artist is one of the


celebrated Don Baltasar portraits. Zurbaran,
a court painter for Philip the Fourth, is the
only compatriot of Velazquez here represented.
Spanish art, which was an outgrowth of the
Italian, achieved its greatest triumphs in the
seventeenth century.

The Italian School, — always dominantly
ideal in method, and generally in subject. —
Leonardo da Vinci, who in drawing from life
gained a freedom unknown to other draughts-
men, and who was the first painter to recog-
nize light and shade as equally important with
the elements of color and line, Masaccio, who
rendered the Brancacci Chapel famous almost
beyond rivalry, and Moroni, who was second
only to Titian as a portrait painter.

The Flemish School. — Peter Paul Rubens,
whose brush produced more paintings than any
other artist, Antony Van Dyck, a pupil of
Rubens, and afterward " Painter to his Maj-
esty," Charles the First of England. The
famous portrait of the Duke of Richmond and
Lenox is in this collection.

The French School. — In this Prud'hon,
who was instructor to Empress Marie Louise,
only is represented.

The English School. — Turner, whose
" Saltash" is here exhibited, John Constable,

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12

Online LibraryCorolyn Faville OberManhattan: historic and artistic; a six day tour of New York city; → online text (page 8 of 12)