JAMES HENRY HASELTINE (1833–1907)
America Honoring Her Fallen Brave, 1867
Marble, 29 1/2 in. high
Signed, dated, and inscribed (on the back): J. HENRY. HASELTINE. F. / ROME. 1865; (on socle): AMERICA / HONORING HER FALLEN / BRAVE
Model executed in 1865
RECORDED: cf. Glenn B. Opitz, Dictionary of American Sculptors: 18th Century to the Present (1984), p. 174 [full-length version] // cf. Sally Mills, “Of Art and the Haseltines: A Family Affair,” in Marc Simpson, Andrea Henderson, and Sally Mills, Expressions of Place: The Art of William Stanley Haseltine, exhib. cat. (San Francisco: M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, 1992–93), p. 56 fig. 4 [full-length version] // cf. Kristen Grieco, “Beauty in the Basement,” Gloucester Daily News, September 14, 2007, p. 1 illus. in color (of a newly discovered replica)
EX COLL.: private collection, Florida; to [Berry-Hill Galleries, New York]; to private collection, United Kingdom, until 2006
Haseltine appears to have first modeled the bust version of America Honoring Her Fallen Brave about 1865, the year the present sculpture is dated. Clearly intended as a response to the conclusion of the Civil War, in which Haseltine fought, this ideal figure represents Columbia, partially draped and with a star-studded Phrygian cap, also known as a liberty cap, covering her curly tresses. The figure looks down and to her left, her face filled with pathos for the suffering the nation endured during the conflict. The modeling of the figure is angular and severe, typical of Neo-Classical sculpture of the moment. The success of this bust design prompted the Union League of Philadelphia, which was founded in 1862 and of which Haseltine was a member, to commission a full-length version as a monument to those who had served in the war. Haseltine completed this commission and presented it to the Union League in 1867, and the statue has remained in the Union League’s collection in their headquarters on South Broad Street until the present day. A smaller-scale statuette of the full-length version was also produced.
America Honoring Her Fallen Brave thus is, and was in Haseltine’s own time, the best-known work in the artist’s oeuvre, a fact attested to in a portrait of Haseltine done in 1868 by the French painter Emilie Rouillon (1868, The Historical Society of Pennylvania; see Mills, p. 52 illus.), which shows Haseltine seated by a bust of America Honoring Her Fallen Brave, with the artist holding a mallet and stone-working tool in his hands.
It is not known how many replicas of the bust version of America Honoring Her Fallen Brave were executed. The only other known example was discovered along with its original pedestal in a crawl space within the basement of the Manchester Public Library, Massachusetts, in September 2007. The library building was the former headquarters of a local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War active between 1866 and 1925, so it is believed that the bust was originally part of the chapter’s collection. (see Kristen Grieco, “Beauty in the Basement,” Gloucester Daily News, September 14, 2007, p. 1 for the discovery of this bust).