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Salada Tea Building Reliefs
Henry Wilson and Caesar Caira
Bronze and marble
The Salada Tea Building was once the tea company’s United States headquarters, and the art on the outer and inner door frames of its twelve-foot high entrance was designed to celebrate the exotic origin of the company’s product. The outer, marble doorframe has pilasters that carry full-length female figures dressed in Asian costume, in high relief. The pilasters’ capitals and the frieze above them feature elephants, and the open pediment shows a seated female figure supported by a child on either side. The outer doorframe’s carvings are the work of Caesar Caira. He was a special assistant to Henry Wilson, the sculptor who designed the ten bronze panels in bas-relief that line the inner door frame. The panels depict stages in the preparation of tea leaves for market, from their harvest in Ceylon to shipment to the west. Of special interest in Wilson’s design, are the pairs of standing figures that flank each panel. In high relief, they represent gods and people of the Far East. Installed in 1927, Wilson’s detailed panels, were a window on a world that few Westerners had seen.
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