Boston Art Commission

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Click on thumbnails to view additional images of this piece:
  • 74-bac_1x1-democratic_donkey
  • 75._democratic_donkey-2
  • DSCF9627
  • DSCF9628

Democratic Donkey

Artist:

Antonio Frilli

Location:

Old City Hall, in courtyard on School St.  

Location

Old City Hall, in courtyard on School St.
United States
42° 21' 28.368" N, 71° 3' 35.424" W

Neighborhood:

Downtown

Type:

Sculpture

Year:

Unknown

Medium:

Bronze

Collection:

City of Boston

Funders:

Unknown

Description:

Also located in the courtyard of the Old City Hall is a statue of a donkey, a symbol long associated with the Democratic Party. The donkey first appeared in 1837 in a political cartoon satirizing the recently retired President Andrew Jackson, known by his opponents as a ‘jackass.’ Several decades later, cartoonist Thomas Nast popularized the donkey symbol, although he too originally intended it as an insult. Nast also helped to establish the elephant as the Republican Party mascot in a cartoon from 1874. Although the donkey had not been adopted as the official symbol of the Democratic Party, all twenty of the Democratic mayors who served at the Old City Hall used the well-known mascot. Our sculpted donkey is depicted looking down at a pair of footprints cast in bronze. The Republican elephant is inscribed in both footprints, and a cryptic message appears below: “stand in opposition.” But who is opposing what? Is the donkey standing up against the elephant? Or has he just found evidence of a determined foe crossing his path? The message is left up to the viewer to interpret.

Audio Description: