Friday, July 27, 2012

Allegory in Bronze, plastic and cement.

When we were in Washington DC we took a tour of the Library of Congress.  Free and quite interesting.  Some of what follows was from our tour guide, make of it what you will.

Supposedly when a new building was needed for the Library it was handled in the fashion customary for Congressional projects.   Sweetheart bids to cronies, ballooning budgets, completion nowhere in sight.  It was supposed to be a simple project.  In fact the managment of the Library said they wanted something nice and simple, no ostentatious glitz.

Eventually the project got so far out of control that Congress called in Brigadier General Thomas Lincoln Casey, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers.  He had just finished off the Washington Monument, another botched project that had languished for too long.  And he brought it in on time and under budget.

General Casey agreed to finish the Library (acutally the Jefferson Building of same) on the condition that he would have absolute control.  Reluctantly Congress agreed.

Well, Casey had a bit of a wild side to him and went on to create an incredibly ornate building crawling with murals, statuary, architectural frippery of all sorts.  So, just the opposite of what was asked for.  But as promised, on time and under budget.

Out front there is a remarkable statue called "The Court of Neptune".  If you like your art work over the top and heavy on the allegory,  this is a real treat.
I'm sure it is better when they have the water running, but here we have King Neptune with snapping turtles, sea serpents, merfolk of various types.

Bull frog and naked guy.

Buxom water nymph being a little harsh with her horse.

More nautically oriented glitz.

I had these photos tucked away for future reference, when I recently encountered something that struck me as just a little reminiscent.  On a hot and dusty street in small town Wisconsin, another interesting and very busy tableaux:

American flags.  Santa Claus, plaster cats, chickens, mice and a swan.  A couple of cement angels were off camera on one side.  General Casey would have liked this.

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