'The Whole Country Was Charmed With It'
Levi T. Scofield
Office 22 Case Block
Cleveland, Ohio __ Nov. 24th, 1890
Mr. Geo J. Langsdale
Prest. Bd. Com. Indiana State S&S Monument.
Mr. Brewster has asked me to write you a few words relative to his figure for your monument. Up to this time I have not made any suggestions about his work, feeling as you did, that it would be an interference and would hamper him in his ideas and design. As the work has progressed I have noticed the apparent defects that you mention in your communication to Mr. Brewster. Of the 21st ...and have heard them discussed many times by Messrs Brewster and Wagner while they have been forming the figure. These seeming irregularities, faults in proportion, etc. have not been made through ignorance, but strength, wisdom and good judgment. The figure does not look any better to them, nor to me than it does to you when viewed from its level, but from the pit of observation it looks exactly right, except the swelling muscles of the arm just below the sleeves. They are, as you say, at that point too masculine and while none too large should be made more even in their contour. The back, shoulders and neck which are so strong when viewed from above (the level that the photograph was taken from) are when viewed from the pit below, as fine and graceful as any form that ever existed.
The expression of the features of the face is in my opinion a matter of no importance; for at the height of 265 (feet) that will be entirely lost. We will be able to see that there are eyes and ears and that there is a nose and chin, but the delicate contour and soul will not be discovered unless viewed with a telescope. All of the faces that Mr. Brewster has modeled look far better from below than they do on the level. The great error that Mr. Brewster has made is in neglecting to insist upon the photographs being taken from the observation pit. He requested the operator to do so, but allowed the fellow to overrule him. It would have been considerable trouble to cant the camera, but even if it had taken a whole day to do it, the results would have amply compensated for it. And you and your friends would say that the expression of the faces were far better than in the small original model which you and all of us have admired so much. The same experience and knowledge of his art was expressed in that small model. On the level the features were plain and to me unsatisfactory, but when tilted back there was an entire change and the whole country was charmed with it. The photographs of the small model that were submitted to you were made when the figure was so tilted. It had the same effect as when looking at it from below.
I will only add that I hope you will induce your whole Board to accompany you to Cleveland and inspect the work from the same advantageous point that we resort to; and then I know that Mr. Brewster will cheerfully make any change that you may agree upon. I also feel confident that you will experience a revelation in the new eyes that you will see strength from that hole in the ground. This I promise you from the life long experience that I have had in preparing designs to look properly when executed at great elevations.
There is one matter that I would like to hear about from you that has caused me some personal solicitude. I have agreed to become responsible for the execution of this work and I desire to ascertain if your Board will insist upon the contract being entirely completed by the 1st of June 1891. If you do I will have to protect myself by seeing that it is done.
We closed a contract yesterday for our “Liberty” and judging from the bids we received, if made in the same proportion for your crowning figure which is one half larger in every way than ours, Mr. Brewster and his sureties will be very deeply immersed in the bouillon; and although confident that every cent of the $12,500.00 will go to some bronze foundry, I trust that you will not have to go down into our pockets for any considerable additional amount. The estimate that I made for Mr. Brewster of $1,400.00 was not a cent too high and I regretted that the price was lowered. Still everything has to be done for glory but I begin to feel that I am contributing more than my share.
As this figure is not my design. I can consistently say a word about art critics. Beware of them! They are a bad lot. I haven’t one particle of confidence in any artist’s ability to criticize another artist’s work.
Levi T. Scofield