Thursday, August 9, 2012

Boston Public Library -- Copley Square

Boston Public Library, founded in 1848, was the country's first public lending library.  It has been in its present Copley Square location since 1895. 

Photos below are from the Abbey Room of the McKim Building (original building).  We stopped at the library for an hour or so while waiting for the campers to get back from their prep school tour.  I thought this room was particularly beautiful and, having enjoyed reading "The Once and Future King" by T.H. White to both boys when they were younger, was especially delighted once I found out the paintings illustrated scenes from the legend of King Arthur.  It was lovely to sit there and read for awhile:

The Abbey Room, paintings by Edwin Austin Abbey

Descriptions from Boston Public Library's website:

The Abbey Room
"Murals titled the "Quest of the Holy Grail," by American artist, Edwin Austin Abbey, grace the walls of the Abbey Room on the second floor of the McKim building. The murals are composed of a series of 15 panels featuring 150 life-sized figures illustrating the Arthurian legend. The room also features a beautiful fireplace of French rouge antiq
ue marble, dark oak wainscoting, and a beamed ceiling modeled after one in the library of the Doge's Palace in Venice." 


The Abbey Room

"Of particular interest to many visitors is the sumptuous Abbey Room, which may be entered from the south end of the Chavannes Gallery. The room’s dominating feature is the series of splendid and richly colored mural paintings The Quest of the Holy Grail by the American artist, Edwin Austin Abbey. The room, 64 feet long by 33 feet wide, is of luxurious beauty. The ceiling is remarkable for its heavy ornamental rafters.
The heavy marble doorways leading into Bates Hall and from the Chavannes Gallery are of rouge antique and Levanto marble. The mantle of the great fireplace in the east wall - wholly of rouge antique - is exceedingly rich and elaborate. The walls are wainscoted in dark-colored oak to the level of the murals, and the floors are of Istrian and red Verona marble."


Paintings #1-3 -- details below

No 1. The child Galahad, the descendant, by his mother, of Joseph of Arimathea, is visited, among the nuns who bring him up, by a dove bearing a golden censer and an angel carrying the Grail, the presence of which operates as sustenance to the infant. From the hands of the holy women the predestined boy passes into those of the subtle Gurnemanz, who instructs him in the knowledge of the things of the world, and in the duties and functions of the ideal knight. But before leaving the nuns he has performed his nightly vigil has watched alone, till dawn, in the church.

No. 2. This ordeal of the vigil terminates in his departure. Clothed in red, he is girt for going forth, while the nuns bring to him Sir Lancelot, who fastens on one of his spurs, and Sir Bors, who attaches the other.

No. 3. The Arthurian Round Table and the curious fable of the Seat Perilous are here dealt with: the Seat Perilous − "Perilous for good and ill" − in which no man has yet sat with safety, not even the fashioner himself, but into which, standing vacant while it awaits only a blameless occupant, the young Sir Galahad, knighted by Arthur, has sworn a vow to be worthy to take his place. The Companions of the Order are seated in Arthur's hall, and every chair, save one, is filled. Suddenly the doors and windows close of themselves, the place becomes suffused with light, and Sir Galahad, robed in red (the color emblematic of purity), is led in by an old man clothed in white, Joseph of Arimathea, who, according to one of the most artless features of the romance, has subsisted for centuries by the possession of the supreme relic. The young knight is thus installed in safety in the Seat Perilous, above which becomes visible the legend, "This is the seat of Galahad."

No. 12. Sir Galahad, borne upon a white charger and followed by the blessings of the people, is seen passing from the land, where peace and plenty once more reign.

No. 13. Carry him across the seas to Sarras. The Grail, borne by an angel, guides the ship. Sir Bors and Sir Percival follow him. Having sinned once, they can never see the Grail themselves, yet, having persevered faithfully in the Quest, they have acquired the right to accompany Sir Galahad and witness his achievement. Resting upon a cushion in the stern of the ship are three Spindles made from the "Tree of Life" − one snow-white, one green, one blood-red. When Eve was driven from the Garden of Eden, she carried with her the branch which she had plucked from the "Tree of Life." The branch, when planted, grew to be a tree, with branches and leaves white, in token that Eve was a virgin when she planted it. When Cain was begotten, the tree turned green; and afterward, when Cain slew Abel, the tree turned red.

Sir Lancelot

 p.s. Note:  If you plan to visit Boston Public Library and rely on your GPS to help you with directions, you should indicate the Copley Square location or better yet the specific address at 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, otherwise you might end up at a public library in Boston somewhere else -- we did! The GPS was not always very good in Boston -- consider the old GIGO adage!

No comments:

Post a Comment