Daniel Chester French was approached in 1897 to create a memorial monument for Asa, John and Samuel Melvin, three brothers who died in the Civil War. Their surviving brother, James C. Melvin, commissioned the memorial.
The Melvin Memorial was created by French in 1906-1908 and it was installed in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. See also my Daniel Chester French: "Mourning Victory" page for images the marble copy French made of the "Melvin Memorial" for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
The "Melvin Memorial" is one of the finest war monuments by an American artist. The monument consists of French's central sculpture of an image of "Victory" with her eyes downcast, hair billowing, and holding an American flag. Below the sculpture is an engraved tablet with the following inscription:
IN MEMORY OF THREE BROTHERS BORN IN CONCORD
WHO AS PRIVATE SOLDIERS GAVE THEIR
LIVES IN THE WAR TO SAVE THE COUNTRY
THIS MEMORIAL IS PLACED HERE BY THEIR SURVIVING
BROTHER, HIMSELF A PRIVATE SOLDIER IN THE SAME WAR.
"I WITH UNCOVERED HEAD
SALUTE THE SACRED DEAD
WHO WENT AND WHO RETURN NOT."
French's original design was to have the image of "Victory" with her right arm outstretched and the left upraised. However the location of the monument in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery caused French to alter the monument so the left arm was outstretched in order that people coming on the path to view the monument would not have the face of "Victory" covered by her upraised elbow. When French duplicated the sculpture in marble for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he had it carved according to his original design, with the right arm outstretched.
For more information about the Melvin Memorial and the Melvin brothers to whom it is dedicated, visit John Forcucci and Lisa M. Sama's informative website on the Melvin Memorial.
All photos below were taken by Douglas Yeo in February, 2002.
|Daniel Chester French's "Melvin Memorial," as it stands In Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. Click HERE to download a higher resolution image of this photo.|
|A view of the memorial tablets at the foot of French's sculpture, one each for Asa, John and Samuel Melvin.|
|A further away view of "Victory" and the memorial tablets for the Melvin brothers.|
|A full view of the entire Melvin Memorial. Click HERE to download a higher resolution image of this photo.|
|A view of the Melvin Memorial as one comes around the path to view it. You can see why French decided to have the left arm of "Victory" outstretched in order to prevent her elbow from covering her face as you come toward the memorial|
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