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to Live in Bronze
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Katharine Clark Prosser
CALIFORNIA, has come into a ;
new historian. Her progress has f
been noted in /prose*and; verse,
and her glories told in : song and
"story since the coming of Balboa, but
it remains : for Arthur/- 1 Putnam of San .-'.
Francisco to • chronicle ; her ' growth in --
figures ;of bronze.' > .•: //;/,
«*-Putnam has been called the ; sculptor
of'; California: Some" call him , the
greatest sculptor in :the west. ■ Few
artists approach him in conception and |
eltimate creation of things human and
otherwise. ;He -: has the gift of • - im-'-.
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parting animate. expression to inani- .
,mate ; clay, of ./making his -1 bronzes liv- ,
ing, breathing entities. ; His figures are
more than anatomically correct, theyj;
are instinct/ with action and grace and
bespeak/; the,/ master in f every line. J
.They have the appearance of ■ creatures;
suddenly stricken ■ dumb ;in and "; amidst -'
the fullness of \ life, and. one can not
help but /wonder how long before the
•pell will be lifted, and, -like Her
mione, they rbe at;liberty • to, descend
from their pedestals. ; * '/..>
;--/In the fall?of-1905 Putnambegan/"
work? on his great idea, which was j no*
more* nor ; less .than; the perpetuating
of California's historical /epochs m-. a;
series -of figures executed fin . bronze.
/Beginning with the early Indian, Put
•■ nam :. planned to follow this • period *up *
with the, Franciscan /monk, the later
occupation of j the Spanish Vto be em
bodied in an equestrian figure." After
this' would come ; a type representative *■
of the '/Fremont; invasion (and .another.
typical fof the ■ men ,of '49. The plow
man, emblematic of the great agricul
; tural / activity i of trie / state succeeding;
the gold fever, "was the next or the
'; series,/while ? a- couple ? of J intermediate
''types',': their 'nature/not -/"definitely set
tled, will complete, the -group. Owing •
to the press other things, the sculp
\ tor > has not been able ;to devote /all -of
his time/ to the"/projected work, only .
three -off the seven for '•; eight /f, pieces);
planned having been completed. These
are the Indian, the padre and the
plowman, the /latter^beirig,the. last to
emerge 'from, the studio. * The- figures
are not/ cast in the heroic size, being
just a fraction over life. . - • - _•
In-the Indian, Putnam has' depicted
the type of the. early California Indian.
-The;splendid;body, with the sugges
tion of/rippling; muscles beneath ; the
bronze flesh, the head in profile show
ing the high cheekbones, aquiline nose,
and firm mouth, with just a hint of
cruelty ;' in its » lines, are alive with the g
rimitive : force of the man. The sin
gle feather in his hair proclaims his'
chiefhood, and there is an . uncon
->•*■•. ■ir"Tjanji»»<*Sw*«*wlr.'-,k--, . - V■-'• — .-'•;
scious arrogance *in his : careless pose.-
The sculptor has taken his subject
from one 'of the higher types of the
western aborigine, and not the gen
erally .^accepted /^digger type of, the
California Indian. -
f The > next of the series to claim the '
artist's ; attention was the Franciscan
monk. Looking on this presentation
of the padre, one marvels at the; com
bination of' religieuse and man, the
dual ■ forces which Putnam has so
clearly ■< defined in the monk. The
mart," his gaunt, body wrapped about in:
the ; loose; brown : robes of * his ; calling,,
his bare feet encased in sandals, the
crucifix showing the body of the
Christ at his side, -is f dominant, de
spite - the devoutly bowed head; and.
close ..clasped hands of the.; priest.
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There is that strength in every line of
the figure which dominated the idle
redmen made of them farmers
and workmen, and brought out* of a
comparative wilderness the proverbial
land of milk and honey. // ;/ i •■:.-;?
But it is in his interpretation of the
plowman s that» Putnam m has excelled;
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himself. The figure f"of - the farmer
seated upon j the upturned plow is v ex
pressive of the utmost weariness. The
The San Francisco Sunday Call
relaxation of the body in its unstudied,
dropping, pose, the lines 'of fatigue in
the face, the. careless sprawl of. the
limbs, bespeak the most "complete ex
haustion, evidently//* shared by the
hound; pup. at his side. *'
The entire series is being worked
fout at the commission of E. W
; Scripps, the / San f Diego millionaire,
aVid as soon as a piece is finished it is
shipped south to the owner's beautiful
; estate at -Miramar. It is believed rii't
f Scripps is planning.; eventually to do
nate the work to fthe-state.- but untfl
its completion the statues will remain
in his possession amid the beauties off
/thelMiramar/' grounds. Whire notning
definite has-/been settled regarding it,.
there is. a. possibility/ that they will be
placed "on exhibition at the time of the
big exposition in 1915. -
In addition to the - historical / group,
Putnam is also -busy/with a number of
small; figures fto be' used in ornamen
tation of a fountain soon to be in
stalled on ;the; Scripps; ranch. There
will be four pieces, one at each cor
ner of. the square base of the. foun
tain, and /in each a typical California
animal; .will be shown, including iAe
puma, bear, jackrabbit and wild cat.
It was in his f puma/ figures / that Put
/■nam first achieved fame. ;.-/■/, '-;■'.'-.--'-
..f. **. ' ■■' "■ ■ ' -"