Boston Art Commission

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  • AlexanderHamilton_long
  • 18. Alexander Hamilton Statue - 2
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Alexander Hamilton

Artist:

William Rimmer

Location:

Commonwealth Ave., between Arlington St. and Berkeley St.  

Location

Commonwealth Ave., between Arlington St. and Berkeley St.
United States
42° 21' 12.3624" N, 71° 4' 20.874" W

Neighborhood:

Back Bay

Type:

Sculpture

Year:

1865

Medium:

Granite

Collection:

City of Boston

Funders:

Unknown

Description:

Born in the British West Indies in 1757, Hamilton became one of the primary architects of the American government. He served as an aide to Washington during the Revolutionary War, participated in the Continental Congress, signed the Constitution, and was appointed the first Secretary of the Treasury under President Washington. Most importantly, Hamilton helped to secure the future of the new United States by creating a unified economy and a national bank. As an advocate of strong federal government, Hamilton made more than a few enemies among his fellow politicians, including Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Some ridiculed him as a monarchist, claiming that he intended to impose a strict, centralized rule on the American people. Among Hamilton’s many personal and political opponents was Vice President Aaron Burr. After challenging Hamilton to a duel, Burr killed him with a shot to the abdomen.

This sculpture by William Rimmer shows Hamilton with cloth draped over his Colonial-era outfit. The heavy folds of drapery bring to mind depictions of Greek and Roman leaders in ancient statuary. Through this anachronistic touch, Rimmer evoked the first democratic-style governments in ancient Greece, thereby emphasizing Hamilton’s formative role in the newly emerging American democracy. Interestingly, Rimmer was a physician before devoting himself to art. He did not use a model to create the statue, but instead employed his unique knowledge of human anatomy to chisel Hamilton’s body from a block of granite. Due to Rimmer’s unusual technique, this sculpture is particularly fragile and difficult to maintain.

Photo Credits:

1. Boston Art Commission, City of Boston

2. Boston Art Commission, City of Boston

3. Boston Art Commission, City of Boston

4. Peter H. Dreyer slide collection, Collection #9800.007, City of Boston Archives, Boston

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