19th Century Bronze Relief Recently Discovered at Wellesley College

Author’s note: This article is excerpted from my independent study project that I undertook for my art history major in my senior year at Wellesley College. My project involved researching nineteenth-century sculptor Anne Whitney, who had close connections with Wellesley, and I produced catalog entries for seven of her sculptures that the College is home to. The entry below was for a sculpture that was lost at the College for thirty years, and that I helped to locate while I was conducting research on it.
[For an article about the location of the relief at Wellesley College, click here]
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Mary Tileston Hemenway (December 20, 1820, New York, New York – March 6, 1894, Boston, Massachusetts) (Figure 1) was a well-known philanthropist, education reformer, and advocate of physical education. The daughter of Thomas Tileston, a prosperous merchant-mariner, she married Augustus Hemenway, a successful shipping merchant, in June 1840. They had five children: Charlotte Augusta (1841-1865), Alice (1845-1847), Amy (1849-1911), Edith (1851-1904), and Augustus Jr. (1853-1931).[1]

Hemenway was a leading figure in education. From 1888 to 1889 she helped to implement the Swedish system of teaching gymnastics in the Boston school system. She founded many schools in the area, including the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics (1889), which merged with Wellesley College to become the College’s Department of Hygiene and Physical Education in 1909.[2]

Anne Whitney, Mary Tileston Hemenway, bronze, 32 1/2
Figure 1. Anne Whitney, Mary Tileston Hemenway, bronze, 32 1/2″ x 37″, circa 1894-1895. Wellesley College Archives. Author’s image.

Anne Whitney was friendly with Mary Hemenway; Whitney’s letters and Manning’s diaries mention shared visits, and Whitney and Hemenway spent time together when the two were abroad in Florence.[3] Whitney and Hemenway were like-minded advocates for various social justice movements. Manning’s diaries describe meetings they attended together for Nationalism, which was author Edward Bellamy’s utopian movement.[4]

In the early 1890s, Whitney created a plaster medallion for the Hemenway family. The medallion portrays Mary Hemenway holding her twin grandsons Frederick and Augustus (b. 1877) Eustis; Whitney referred to a photograph of 1878 while modeling the medallion. by her daughter Edith, Frederick Augustus and Augustus Hemenway Eustis (born October 7, 1877).[5] Manning’s diaries cite progress on the medallion. On April 10, 1892, Manning wrote, “…Anne…is working…on a medallion [in clay] for Mrs. Hemenway.”[6] Later, on December 21, 1894, she noted, “Mr + Mrs Hemenway like medallion very much,” and the next day, “Mrs Chars Hemenway to see medallion likes too as much.[7] Since Mary Hemenway died earlier that year, the “Mr. and Mrs. Hemenway” that Manning references must be Hemenway’s only son, Augustus, and his wife, Harriet Lawrence, who married in 1881.[8] The medallion was then cast in plaster, as described in a letter from Whitney to Manning on April 4, 1895: “The work is as good as done, and O’Kelly [a plaster caster] will cast it for me, he says, from the clay, making a glue mould direct. This will prevent cuts and repairs in the plaster, which I was dreading a good deal.”[9] A second cast was also produced; both of which Mary Hemenway’s direct descendants owned both as of 1962.[10]

Whitney also created a bronze relief of Hemenway after her death, here too using a photograph to help her in the process (Figure 1).[11] The conjoined “AW” next to the subject’s left shoulder was Whitney’s typical signature; the “SC” for “sculptor” alongside the signature demonstrates Whitney’s pride in her profession (Figure 2). The earliest reference to this bronze relief is in a letter from Whitney to Manning on April 9, 1895; Whitney mentions “Miss Homans,” who was the director of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, and perhaps the patron of the relief, greatly approved of the “bronze head.”[12] It is logical to assume that Whitney commenced this relief between Hemenway’s death on March 6, 1894, and before this April visit from Miss Homans.[13]

Close-up of signature:
Figure 2. Close-up of signature: “AW SC.” Author’s image.

When the Boston Normal School and Wellesley merged in 1909, $100,000 was given in Hemenway’s honor to build a new gymnasium, eponymously named “Mary Hemenway Hall.” The bronze relief, which almost certainly arrived at Wellesley at the time of the merge, was installed in that gymnasium by 1915.[14] It is unclear where exactly in the Hall it was located, but sometime during or after the 1940s the bronze was installed on a wooden panel in the Hall’s Edith Hemenway Eustis Library, named after Hemenway’s daughter.

In 1985, Mary Hemenway Hall was destroyed in order to make room for the new Keohane Sports Center.[15] Another photograph, which depicts the relief in situ, seems to date from this time, when the library was being packed up and moved in anticipation of the demolition. It is therefore logical to assume that the relief remained in the library until that time.

Following this, the relief was largely forgotten. However, we knew it had to be somewhere, and assembled evidence from the Whitney papers and archival photographs to try to trace its whereabouts with the assistance of both current and retired staff. Finally, we learned where the relief was stored in Archives at the time of the demolition, and the relief was discovered on May 22, 2015. We are thrilled to report its discovery, and hope it might be installed in an appropriate place on campus in the future so we can celebrate Whitney and Hemenway, two influential women so closely connected to the history of physical education at Wellesley College.


PROVENANCE
Mary Tileston Hemenway Holding her Two Grandsons
Molded circa April 1892.
Completed circa December 1894.
Two copies cast in plaster circa April 1895.
In 1962, these casts were in the collection of Mrs. Frederic A. Eustis (Milton, Massachusetts) and Mrs. Mary Hemenway Homans (Canton, Massachusetts)

Mary Tileston Hemenway
Cast in bronze between March 6, 1894 and April 9, 1895.
Mary Hemenway Hall, Wellesley College, by 1915.
Edith Hemenway Eustis Library in Hemenway Hall by 1940s – 1985.
Wellesley College Archives, 1985.

FOOTNOTES
[1] For more information on Hemenway’s relatives and their genealogy, see Robert Lawrence, The Descendants of Major Samuel Lawrence (Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1904): 227-231 and “Mary Porter Tileston,” Ancestry.com.
[2] On Hemenway’s philanthropy work, see “Mary Hemenway School,” Dorchester Atheneum, last modified May 8, 2011 and Larkin Dunton, Memorial Services in Honor of Mrs. Mary Hemenway by the Boston Public School Teachers (Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, Printer, 1894). A school in Dorchester (which no longer exists) was also founded in Hemenway’s name in 1897; see “Mary Hemenway School: School Board Vote So to Name the New Schoolhouse Now Being Built at the Corner of Adams and King Streets, Dorchester,” Boston Evening Transcript, November 12, 1897.
[3] See Abby Adeline Manning diary entry dated January 19, 1888, from Diary, May 17, 1887 – February 28, 1890, Wellesley College Archives MSS.4, Letters from Anne Whitney to Abby Adeline Manning, March 21, 1876, WCA MSS.4.52 and December 26, 1885, WCA MSS.4.2457. Hemenway was in Europe by 1869, in Paris by December 1875, and Anne Whitney mentioned that they were together in Florence in 1876. See Letter from Sarah Whitney to Anne Whitney, June 30, 1868, WCA MSS.4.220, Letter from Mary Tileston Hemenway to Anne Whitney, December 1875, WCA MSS.4.1616, and Letter from Anne Whitney, March 21, 1876, WCA MSS.4.52.
[4] See Abby Adeline Manning diary entries dated February 28 and March 18, 1889, from Diary, May 17, 1887 – February 28, 1890, WCA MSS.4 and Elizabeth Rogers Payne, “Anne Whitney: Art and Social Justice,” The Massachusetts Review 12, no. 2 (1971): 259; also see my entry for Ann Mary Hale.
[5] “Frederick Augustus Eustis,” Ancestry.com, Elizabeth Rogers Payne, “Anne Whitney: Nineteenth-Century Sculptor and Liberal,” Typescript (Wellesley College Archives), 1561, 1565-1567, Payne, “Anne Whitney, Sculptor,” The Art Quarterly 25 (1962): 259 and Letter from Abby Adeline Manning to Anne Whitney, April 10, 1895, MSS.4.2544.
[6] Abby Adeline Manning diary entry dated April 10, 1892, from Diary, April 1, 1890 – January 8, 1903, WCA MSS.4.
[7] Abby Adeline Manning diary entries dated December 21, 1894, and December 22, 1894, from Diary, April 1, 1890 – January 8, 1903, WCA MSS.4.
[8] Edith Hemenway Eustis, the mother of the twins, never saw the original clay version of the sculptor; Manning commented, “I wish the mother of these babies could see this one [sculpture] before it is cast” (letter from Adeline Manning to Anne Whitney, April 10, 1895, WCA MSS.4.2544). Mrs. Chars [Charles] Hemenway must have been another relative of Mary Hemenway.
[9] Letter from Anne Whitney to Abby Adeline Manning, April 9, 1895, WCA MSS.4.2543.
[10] Payne, “Anne Whitney, Sculptor,” 259.
[11] Letter from Adeline Manning to Anne Whitney, April 10, 1895, WCA MSS.4.2544. Like many artists, Whitney did not cast her own bronzes, but instead handed that process off to a professional bronze caster.
[12] Letter from Anne Whitney to Abby Adeline Manning, April 9, 1895, WCA MSS.4.2543.
[13] A plaster cast of the bronze was given to the Mary Hemenway School in 1913 (Documents of the City of Boston, for the Year 1915, vol. 1, Containing Documents from No. 1 to No. 15, Inclusive (Boston: City of Boston Printing Department, 1916): 22.
[14] Documents of the City of Boston, for the Year 1915, vol. 1, Containing Documents from No. 1 to No. 15, Inclusive (Boston: City of Boston Printing Department, 1916): 22, Stephanie L. Johnson, “The History of Wellesley College Athletics,” Wellesley Athletics and “Mary Hemenway School,” Dorchester Atheneum, last modified May 8, 2011.
[15] Stephanie L. Johnson, “The History of Wellesley College Athletics,” Wellesley Athletics.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Documents of the City of Boston, for the Year 1915. Vol. 1, Containing Documents from No. 1 to No. 15, Inclusive. Boston: City of Boston Printing Department, 1916.
“Frederick Augustus Eustis.” Ancestry.com.
Dunton, Larkin. Memorial Services in Honor of Mrs. Mary Hemenway by the Boston Public School Teachers. Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, Printer, 1894.
Johnson, Stephanie L. “The History of Wellesley College Athletics.” Wellesley Athletics.
Lawrence, Robert. The Descendants of Major Samuel Lawrence. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1904.
“Mary Hemenway School.” Dorchester Atheneum. Last modified May 8, 2011.
“Mary Hemenway School: School Board Vote So to Name the New Schoolhouse Now Being Built at the Corner of Adams and King Streets, Dorchester.” Boston Evening Transcript. November 12, 1897.
“Mary Porter Tileston,” Ancestry.com.
Papers of Anne Whitney, Wellesley College Archives MSS.4.
Payne, Elizabeth Rogers. “Anne Whitney: Art and Social Justice.” The Massachusetts Review 12, no. 2 (1971): 245–260.
——-. “Anne Whitney: Nineteenth-Century Sculptor and Liberal.” Typescript (Wellesley College Archives).
——-. “Anne Whitney, Sculptor.” The Art Quarterly 25 (1962): 244-261.

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