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The Tower of Jewels, and the Fountain of Energy
It was planned that the Tower of Jewels should be the great dominating feature of the architectural scheme of the Exposition; that this unit more than any other should stand as a triumphal monument to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. The mural paintings, the sculpture and the inscriptions all carry out this idea, but the tower, in its architectural aspect alone, fails to live up fully to its purpose. It serves well to "center" the whole scheme, and to afford an imposing pile at the main entrance. Nevertheless it falls short of the high architectural standard of the courts and palaces.
The architectural forms used in the design of the tower are in general classic; but the architect has shown considerable originality in their arrangement and massing.
The lower portion, embracing the imposing arch and flanking colonnades, is very dignified and quite satisfying. Standing close to the structure, on the south side, so that one is conscious chiefly of this lower portion, there comes the proper sense of nobility - the feeling that one obtains from a successful triumphal arch. The chief fault of the tower above is that it lacks the long lifting lines that would give a sense of aspiration. It seems just a little squat and fat - as if it were too heavy on top and splayed out at the sides and bottom. It is also somewhat "showy," with too much hung-on ornament; and the green columns against red walls are not satisfying - this being one of the very few failures of the color scheme in the entire group of buildings.
At night the tower takes on a new and unexpected beauty. The outline softens under the illumination, and the feeling of over-decoration and broken lines is lost. The whole structure becomes a huge finger of light, reaching up into the dark heavens - with softer indirect lighting below, and glowing brilliantly above. Even the hundred thousand pendent jewels, which at best are but flashy in the day time, add to the exquisite fairy like effect at night. The illumination here is such, indeed, that it must be one of the most impressive and lasting memories to be carried away by the visitor.
The Tower of Jewels was designed by Thomas Hastings, of the firm Carrere and Hastings of New York.
The sculpture, like the mural paintings, deals in general with the winning of the Americas and the achievement of the canal project.
Sculpture on the tower. As one stands in the South Gardens facing the tower, one sees above the first cornice, reading from left to right, four statues of The Adventurer, The Priest, The Philosopher, and The Soldier. These finely realized figures, which are by John Flanagan, represent four types of the early conquerors of America. On the next story is a repeated equestrian statue of the Spanish Conqueror, called The Armored Horseman, by F. M. L. Tonetti. These five statues are repeated on the other three faces of the tower. There is much other sculpture of a purely decorative sort, the motives used being those usually found in triumphal monuments, such as eagles, wreaths, and the beaks of ships with which the Romans ornamented the columns celebrating their naval successes.
Equestrian statues at entrance. In front of the two side colonnades are spirited equestrian statues. As one faces the tower, the figure at the left is of Pizarro, who conquered the richest portion of South America for Spain. This figure is heroically decorative, and is by Charles Carey Rumsey. At the other side of the main arch is Charles Niehaus' vigorous statue of Cortez, who won Mexico for Spain. This figure, carrying a flag and pennon on a lance, and perfectly seated on the strong horse, has a live sense of movement, and the whole group is informed with the spirit of the lordly conqueror.
Fountains under the tower. Within the colonnades to east and west of the main archway are respectively the Fountain of Youth and the Fountain of El Dorado.
The Fountain of Youth consists of a central figure on a pedestal, and two rounded side panels with figures in relief. Youth is symbolized as a girl, an immature figure, beautifully modeled. She stands, perfectly poised, among rising blossoms. On the pedestal are more flowers in relief, and two dimly indicated half-figures of a man and woman may be discovered. The side panels show old people being drawn away in ships manned by cherubs - old people who gaze back wistfully at the Youth they are leaving. Really the fountain is far more charming if one forgets all but the central figure. There is in that a sweet tenderness, a maidenly loveliness, that makes it the perfect embodiment of Youth - an embodiment to be remembered with delight again and again.
The fountain was designed by Edith Woodman Burroughs.
The Fountain of El Dorado is on the other side of the archway, and is by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It represents, as a whole, mankind's pursuit of the unattainable. The legend of El Dorado is that there once lived in South America a prince, "The Gilded One," who had so much gold that daily he had his body covered with gold dust. Many Spanish explorers spent fruitless years in search of the fabulously rich country of this prince. The idea of the fountain is that the Gilded One, representing the unattainable, the advantages of wealth and power which deluded men and women seek without value given to the world in return, has just disappeared through the gateway, the gates closing after him. On either side processions of seekers who have glimpsed the Gilded One, strain toward the gateway. Some loiter in love or play, some drop from fatigue, some fight their way along; and the first two, finding that the pursuit is fruitless after all, have dropped to their knees in anguish. The two standing figures beside the gates are said by the sculptor to have no significance beyond the fact that they are "just guardians."
The fountain is notable for its symbolism and for the modeling of the many nude figures. The panel on the right is especially decorative, and has some notably fine individual figures and groups. The spirit of the fountain, with its realism and its note of hopelessness, is not in keeping with that pervading most of the Exposition sculpture. After looking at the work for a time, turn and look back through the two archways at the central figure of Youth at the other side. Certainly no figure in the Fountain of El Dorado has the appeal and charm of that.
On the walls of the archway under the Tower of Jewels are eight paintings celebrating the building of the Canal. All are by William de Leftwich Dodge.
On the west wall the first panel is called Discovery. It portrays the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Balboa.
The second panel is called Atlantic and Pacific. A huge figure of Labor, having brought together the oceans, is opening a waterway from West to East. On the left an ox-drawn prairie schooner has arrived at the shore, with types of Western civilization. On the opposite shore types of the nations of the East, in a colorful group, are straining forward to meet the West.
The third panel is entitled The Purchase. A figure representing the United States is taking over the canal project from France. The French laborers are throwing down their tools, and Americans press forward to take them up.
In the group on the opposite wall the first panel is called Labor Crowned. Victorious Labor is being crowned by the angel of Success, while soldier and workers come to pay homage.
The second panel is entitled The Gateway of All Nations. Figures symbolizing Progress call the world to pass through the Canal. Neptune holds garlands by which he draws ships of the various nations toward the waterway. Two laborers rest on their machines and watch the procession which they have made possible.
The last panel is called Achievement. A woman with the symbols of knowledge, or wisdom, sits enthroned, while about her are grouped figures representing the forces instrumental in building the Canal. At the left are laborers; at the right figures typifying Engineering, Medical Science (with the Caduceus, the wand of Mercury, god of medicine), and Commerce or Munificence.
These mural paintings are among the most interesting and most imaginative of all those at the Exposition. Some of the groups are particularly fine in coloring. Note the method of obtaining the right effect of "flatness" by employing a conventional diaper pattern for the background throughout. The panels here are much more effective under full illumination at night than by daylight.
The Fountain of Energy
The Fountain of Energy in the South Gardens was designed to be the crowning feature of the sculpture of the Exposition, just as the Tower of Jewels was designed to dominate the architectural scheme; and it fails of its high purpose in much the same way. It is closely allied with the tower in symbolic meaning, celebrating man's victory over the forces of nature in the successful building of the canal.
In the pool at the base of the fountain are a number of graceful groups of water sprites on dolphins, and four larger groups representing the four great seas. The one to the east of the main fountain represents The Atlantic Ocean as a woman with sea-horses in one hand and coral like hair, on the back of a conventionalized dolphin. At the north The North Sea is represented by a sort of sea-man, with occasional fins and with a three-pronged spear in hand, riding on a walrus. At the west The Pacific Ocean is typified by a woman on a remarkable sea monster. And on the south a sea-man with negro-like features, and with an octopus in one hand, rides on a sea-elephant, representing The South Seas.
The main pedestal of the statue is a globe, representing the earth. This is supported by a series of figures of mermaids and mermen. The Eastern and Western Hemispheres are represented by figures reclining on the globe, the one to the east a cat-headed woman, the one to the west a bullheaded man. The band, decorated with aquatic figures, which encircles the globe, suggests the final completion of a waterway about the earth.
Energy, the Victor, the surmounting group, typifies the indomitable spirit that has achieved the building of the Canal. The nude figure of Energy with arms outstretched rides a horse through the waves, while on his shoulders stand smaller figures of Valor (with a wreath) and Fame (with a sword) heralding the triumph. These small figures are unfortunate they hardly belong, and instinctively one is worried for their equilibrium.
The whole fountain is instinct with energy, and expresses joyous achievement, as was meant. Moreover it is remarkable in its breadth of conception, in imaginative interpretation of the theme. But it lacks that sense of repose which would make it intimately satisfying.
The fountain was designed by A. Stirling Calder.