Showing posts with label Statues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Statues. Show all posts

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Golden Woodsman

Perched majestically atop the Oregon State Capitol Building
in Salem, the 22-foot 23 carat gold leaf covered lumberjack known as Oregon Pioneer began his momentous cross-country trek in New Jersey.

Sculpted in 1938 by Ulrich Ellerhusen, the Pioneer was created for Salem’s new capitol building after their previous one was destroyed by fire in 1935. He allegedly traveled through the Panama Canal and reached Salem by railroad.

Facing north and clutching an axe and a tarp, he peers westward and strikes a pose that suitably evokes the rugged frontier spirit of the state of Oregon and its surrounding regions.


Who would have guessed that the brawny golden paragon of the Pacific Northwest was originally a Jersey boy? Now, if only we can find a Colonial-clad statue overlooking Trenton that was crafted in the woodlands of Oregon, a swap could somehow be negotiated by the appropriate authorities thereby aligning the moon and stars once again.

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Christopher Robinson

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Days of Gods and Games

Statue (image)
Continuing my examination of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this week’s post sees another great gargantuan of Greece— the Statue of Zeus at Olympia.

The Greek sculptor Phidias, already renown for his earlier work, the Statue of Athena Parthenon, appropriately crafted his new 40-foot statue in the Temple of Zeus utilizing cedarwood, ivory, gold and ebony.

Seated on an opulent black marble throne, the god of sky, thunder and weather held a second statue in his hand, that of Nike, goddess of victory. In his other hand, he held a staff with a perched eagle. Allegedly, the statue had to be continually covered in olive oil as a safeguard from elemental erosion(!) The Temple of Zeus itself was located in Olympia, then controlled by the city-state of Elis, where every four years, fans congregated to witness its famed athletic games.

After eight years of construction, Phidias completed the statue in 5th Century BC which attracted awestruck onlookers from across the globe and dictated Zeus’s popular image in art, poetry and culture for centuries.

In 426 AD, the temple was destroyed in an earthquake but not before being desecrated and neglected by Roman emperor Theodosius I who banned all pagan cult activity, thus sidelining the Olympic Games for a spell.

But what became of Zeus? No longer a feature of the temple by the 6th Century, the statue of Zeus (formerly) of Olympia had seen renovation and subsequent relocation to Constantinople where anything from a tsunami, earthquake or fire may have claimed it.

That which we know of the majestic Statue of Zeus comes chiefly from its depiction in ancient art and coins. The timeline of its construction might also be a mystery were it not for the discovery of Phidias’ workshop in the 1950s. Little by little, discoveries of the such help us uncover the answers to the same age-old questions— When... where... how... and why?

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Christopher Robinson

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Behold the Colossus

Around 280 BC, a sculptor named Chares and a 300-man crew constructed a statue of the Greek god Helios on the island of Rhodes, completing it in only twelve years. The giant bronze figure which stood 108 feet high at the mouth of the city’s harbor was erected in celebration of Rhodes’ liberation from armies in Northern Greece.

For a period of 56 years the Colossus stood at the port attracting mariners from other lands as one of the world’s Seven Wonders.

At some point around 226 BC it was toppled in a devastating earthquake, supposedly snapping at the knees. Its titanic remains were left where they laid for fear of defying a religious oracle. For another 800 years, the Colossus, even in ruin, continued to marvel those who beheld its awesome sight.

The precise location of the Colossus remains unknown. Nor is there any certainty regarding its appearance or pose. Much of those inferences are rooted in the poetry and literary references of the Hellenistic period, which lend themselves to vague embellishments.

In Sergio Leone’s 1961 film, The Colossus of Rhodes, Rory Calhoun portrays a Greek soldier who assists in a siege of the Colossus in a plot to overthrow the king of Rhodes. The statue in the film is scaled much larger so as to house arsenals and accommodate armies inside. The Colossus is also depicted as being made of hollowed brass and its massive scale enables it to straddle the harbor to breathtaking effect.

Though its moment in the sun was a fleeting one, the towering figure certainly made an impression. As in Newton’s law of universal gravitation, however, what goes up... must come down.

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Christopher Robinson