This vast, light-filled space presents the Museum's unsurpassed collection of American monumental sculpture, architectural elements, and stained glass. It is the grand vestibule to the American Wing, which houses period rooms and galleries for American decorative arts, paintings, and sculpture.
The north end of the court is anchored by the Neoclassical facade of the Branch Bank of the United States, originally located on Wall Street. The exotic entrance loggia designed by Louis C. Tiffany for Laurelton Hall, his country estate on Long Island, stands directly opposite. Nineteenth-century marble and bronze sculptures—from idealized Neoclassical literary and allegorical subjects to Beaux-Arts representations of human and animal forms in motion—are installed throughout the court. The centerpiece is the gilded Diana, heralding the Museum's exemplary holdings of works by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
A comprehensive history of American stained glass is also presented, from William Jay Bolton and John Bolton's Gothic Revival Miriam and Jubal, originally installed at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, to the boldly geometric Avery Coonley Playhouse windows by Frank Lloyd Wright. Tiffany's masterful iridescent and opalescent glass is highlighted in several windows and mosaics.
American Neoclassical Sculpture
The marble sculptures installed directly in front of the facade of the Branch Bank of the United States were created by a group of mid-nineteenth-century expatriate artists who practiced their art in Italy. Based in Florence and Rome, these professional sculptors enjoyed access to talented craftsmen and carvers, an abundant supply of statuary marble, and the inspiration of classical, Renaissance, and contemporary art. They modeled narrative subjects inspired by mythology, literature, and history, in a smooth, idealized style. While Randolph Rogers's Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii drew its theme from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, Hiram Powers's California was inspired by the California Gold Rush that began in 1848.
American Beaux-Arts Sculpture
By the late nineteenth century, bronze surpassed marble as the medium of choice for a generation of American sculptors trained in Parisian academies. These artists worked in a cosmopolitan Beaux-Arts style that emphasized a mastery of the human form, expressive realism, and fluid surface modeling. Bronze was ideally suited to capture every nuanced detail. Sculptors continued to select time-tested subjects and expanded their repertoire to include such contemporary themes as the American Indian or the European traveling gypsy.
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