Boston Art Commission

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David Ignatius Walsh

Artist:

Joseph A. Coletti

Location:

Charles River Esplanade, along Hatch Shell Circle  

Location

Charles River Esplanade, along Hatch Shell Circle
United States
42° 21' 25.3152" N, 71° 4' 27.372" W

Neighborhood:

Back Bay

Type:

Sculpture

Year:

1954

Medium:

Bronze and Granite

Collection:

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Funders:

Unknown

Description:

After two statues of military heroes, we encounter a figure known for his pacifism. David Ignatius Walsh was the first Irish-Catholic governor of Massachusetts and also its first Irish-Catholic senator. As governor, Walsh fought to give women the right to vote and to reform the state’s labor compensation system. As senator—an office he held for 26 years—Walsh served on the Committee of Naval Affairs and opposed American entry into World War II. He actively participated in America First, an antiwar organization, until the attack on Pearl Harbor changed his views.

Although this sculpture appears intact, its granite base is in fact missing three bronze relief plaques depicting an eagle, the Massachusetts seal, and the Navy’s insignia. The figure’s clothes are heavily stylized, which is to say that their long, linear folds seem more decorative than representational. Above the figure is a Latin inscription that translates as “Not for self, but for country,” also inscribed above the doors to the parish at the United States Naval Academy and  a fitting account of Walsh’s public service.

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