Boston Art Commission

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Click on thumbnails to view additional images of this piece:
  • Leif revised-for highlighted
  • 1-BAC 1X1-Leif Eriksson-1
  • 1. Leif Ericksson - 1
  • 1. Leif Ericksson - 2
  • 1. Leif Ericksson - 3

Leif Eriksson

Artist:

Anne Whitney

Location:

Commonwealth Ave. Mall, near Charlesgate East  

Location

Commonwealth Ave. Mall, near Charlesgate East
United States
42° 20' 56.4576" N, 71° 5' 28.9104" W

Neighborhood:

Back Bay

Type:

Sculpture

Year:

1887

Medium:

Bronze

Collection:

Funders:

Unknown

Description:

This life-size bronze statue memorializes Lief Eriksson, the Norse explorer believed to be the first European to set foot on North America. Originally sited to overlook the Charles River, Eriksson stands atop a boulder and shields his eyes as if surveying unfamiliar terrain. Two bronze plaques on the sculpture’s base show Eriksson and his crew landing on a rocky shore and, later, sharing the story of their discovery. When Boston philanthropist Eben N. Horsford commissioned the statue, some people believed that Eriksson and his crew landed on the shore of Massachusetts and founded their settlement, called Vinland, here. However, most scholars now consider Vinland to be located on the Canadian coast.

This piece was created by a notable Boston sculptor, Anne Whitney. Several of her pieces can be found around the city. Whitney was a fascinating and rebellious figure for her time: not only did she excel in the typically ‘masculine’ medium of large-scale sculpture, she also never married and instead lived with a female partner.

 

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