"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Monday, January 29, 2018

Robert Gould Shaw

 Robert Gould Shaw•Killed•While•Leading•The•Assavlt•on•Fort Wagner•July•Twenty•Third•Eighteen•Hundred•And•Sixty•Three


This version of a Monument to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment by August Saint-Gaudens dominates a room in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
“Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837 – July 18, 1863) was an American soldier in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War.

Born into a prominent abolitionist family, he accepted command of the first all-black regiment (54th Massachusetts) in the Northeast and encouraged the men to refuse their pay until it was equal to the white troops’ wage.

At the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, a beachhead near Charleston, South Carolina, Shaw was killed while leading his men to the parapet of the enemy fort. Although they were overwhelmed and driven back, Shaw’s leadership passed into legend with a unit that inspired tens of thousands more African-Americans to enlist for the Union and contribute to its ultimate victory. Shaw's story is dramatized in the 1989 film Glory, starring Matthew Broderick.” – Wikipedia

The latin inscription translates as “He left behind everything to save the Republic.”

Omnia Relinqvit Servare Rempvblicam

An allegorical figure floats above Shaw and his regiment.

Carrying laurel leaves and poppies (glory and death).

The African American soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment are show marching in tight formation.

“The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first military unit consisting of black soldiers to be raised in the North during the Civil War. Prior to 1863, no concerted effort was made to recruit black troops as Union soldiers. The adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation in December of 1862 provided the impetus for the use of free black men as soldiers and, at a time when state governors were responsible for the raising of regiments for federal service, Massachusetts was the first to respond with the formation of the Fifty-fourth Regiment.” – Massachusetts Historical Society
The clay models Saint-Gaudens used show careful attention to the individual facial features of each soldier.

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