I just spent seven days in one of the most historic cities in the United States. A city that birthed a revolution, and a nation. A city that is now full of contrasts. That city is Boston, Massachusetts.
I knew that Boston would provide many sketching opportunities and I was never without my sketching kit. On this trip I used much sepia, quinacridone gold, and olive green to color the historic statues and monuments of “The Cradle of Liberty”. Washington, Franklin, Revere, Sam Adams, Poe and a duck with her ducklings.
Early one morning I walked from my hotel on Washington Street the five blocks to Boston Public Garden. First opened in 1869 (relatively new by Boston standards) the lagoon was added two years later followed by swan boats in 1877. The lagoon (and perhaps the swan boats) attracted ducks and more ducks. This inspired Robert McClokey to illustrate and write the Caldecott award winning children’s book Make Way For Ducklings (1941). This classic has sold over two million copies and is a staple in any primary classroom. In 1987, a Nancy Schön sculpture was installed in the garden. I sketched this sculpture before the hordes of children arrived, who, over the years, have worn the duck heads from bronze to gold.
On another morning I walked down Washington Street to sketch Boston’s oldest standing public building, the Old State House (1713). In my mind, no other building represents the contrast of old and new that this brick building that is now dwarfed by glassy skyscrapers. It was the center of British government and on March 7, 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred in front of the east facade. The Declaration of Independence was first read in Boston from the balcony of the Old State House on July 18, 1776. This early American history is contrasted by the subway station in the basement on the eastern side of the building. The Declaration of Independence is still read from the balcony every Fourth of July.
A spread from two other statues of Boston: Sam Adams and Edgar Allan Poe. The Adams statue stands boldly in front of Faneuil Hall. Adams was a son of the Revolution and a signer of The Declaration of Independence. Faneuil Hall has hosted speeches as diverse as Frederick Douglass and JFK. The Poe statue stands in Edgar Allan Poe Square near Boston Common and features a raven and a tell-tale heart. At first, the statue seems out of place because Poe is more closely associated with Baltimore than Boston. The master of the macabre was born in Boston on January 19, 1809 to his actor parents while there were on tour. He may have been named after a character in King Lear, a play they were performing in 1809. The two statues are contrasted by time and style. The Adams statue was erected in 1880, but the Poe statue is modern and was unveiled in October of 2014.