Cyrus Dallin is Worth Celebrating!
We are busy preparing for a year of festivities to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Cyrus Dallin. In addition to being a world renowned artist, Dallin played an important role in the town of Arlington, Massachusetts, a community he dearly loved and actively served.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can get involved in planning this year’s festivities, which begin in the fall of 2011.
Support the cause!
Donate to the Museum online! Your contributions will provide essential support for an exciting slate of cultural and educational programs that will commemorate this important anniversary.
Experience the beauty, grandeur, and history of Utah, and learn about the legacy of Cyrus Dallin, who was born in this state in 1861. Geraldine Tremblay, Dallin Museum trustee, chronicles in both print and video, her eventful trip to Utah in the fall of 2010 with her husband Don, Cyrus Dallin’s grandson Bob Dallin, and his wife Ginnie. Highlights include the Springville Museum of Art Diane and Sam Stewart Sculpture Garden, which features Lethe, Spirit of Life, Appeal to the Great Spirit, and other Dallin masterpieces; the Italianate house Dallin built for his mother in 1905 to replace the family’s log cabin; the monumental Massasoit in front of the Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City; and Temple Square, the epicenter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the home of Dallin’s Brigham Young Monument and Angel Moroni.
Read Visiting Utah to learn about Geri’s travels, or watch her 4 minute video below.
Cyrus E. Dallin’s Massasoit in Plymouth, Massachusetts
By Geraldine Tremblay
As early as 1911, Cyrus E. Dallin, the sculptor of the famous life size equestrian Paul Revere in Boston, created a clay model of the equally famous Massasoit, the sachem, or leader, of the Wampanoag Confederacy. In Frontier to Fame: Cyrus E. Dallin, Sculptor, authors Wendell Johnson and Rell Francis described the circumstances of the commission: “With the tercentenary of the Pilgrim colony at Plymouth approaching in 1920, Cyrus Dallin was asked to consider doing a fitting monument to commemorate that historic first year in the new world (1620). And it was entirely appropriate, having a deep sympathy for the Indian, that he selected Massasoit as the subject for the proposed monument.”
The Wampanoag, which means “people of the first light,” were the indigenous inhabitants of present day Southeastern Massachusetts (including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket) and Rhode Island. Massasoit was born around 1590 in the village of Pokanoket, near Bristol, R.I. He communicated with colonial leaders through Squanto (Tisquantum). Squanto, a member of the Abenaki tribe, had been captured and sent to Britain where he learned English before escaping and returning to his native land.
On March 22, 1621, Massasoit negotiated a peace treaty between the Wampanoag Confederacy and Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony. This agreement was never broken during the lifetime of the two leaders; it lasted fifty years and showed a spirit of cooperation and mutual protection between both parties. In keeping with the agreement, the Wampanoags provided critical support to the early colonists at Plymouth, likely preventing the failure of the colony. They taught the Pilgrims how to plant the “three sisters” – beans, corn, and squash; how to trap for fish and lobster; how to dig for quahogs and other shellfish; and how to hunt deer and small game for food and clothing.
Arthur Lord, president of the Pilgrim Society, advised Dallin on authentic details regarding Massasoit’s appearance from first-hand accounts of the sachem. On the day of the treaty, Edward Winslow, who served as the colony’s diplomatic ambassador, described Massasoit in his journal as “a very lusty man, in his best years, an able body, grave of countenance, and spare of speech.” In his book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, author Charles C. Mann quotes an entry from the journal of an English settler describing the great sachem: “To the colonists, Massasoit could be distinguished from his subjects more by manner than by dress or ornament. He wore the same deerskin shawl and leggings, and like his fellows had covered his face with bug-repelling oil and a reddish-purple dye. Around his neck hung a pouch of tobacco, a long knife, and thick chain of white shell beads called wampum.”
Dallin produced the first of two models of Massasoit in 1911. This 40 inch clay sketch was approved by the Improved Order of Red Men, the fraternal organization responsible for the monument, which was going to be placed on Coles Hill facing Plymouth Rock. (Founded in 1834, the Improved Order of Red Men appropriated the rituals and regalia of American Indians and propagated a romanticized view of Indian life.) A bronze casting of Massasoit #1 is located at Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1915, brochures and coins with this image were distributed for fund-raising, but the outbreak of World War I stalled the effort.
Dallin continued to revise his sketch of Massasoit. Dallin recalled, “The model for my Massasoit was a young negro of magnificent figure. I was wanting a model, and happened to call upon John Sargent, who was at work on his decoration for the (Boston) Art Museum. I spoke of the matter. ‘Why not use my model,’ he said, ‘in the afternoon, since I use him only in the forenoon?’ So that is what we did. The model was Apollo in the forenoon and Massasoit in the afternoon.”
In 1921 the monumental 9½ foot bronze statue of Massasoit was erected in Plymouth, Massachusetts on a massive boulder overlooking Cape Cod Bay. In 1922 Cyrus Dallin presented the original plaster to the State of Utah. It was displayed in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Salt Lake City for many years, and now resides at Springville Museum of Art in Springville, Utah.