French Sculpture Census

photo credit : ph. Wikimedia/Smallbones
artist © : public domain

MERCIÉ, Antonin
Toulouse, Haute-Garonne 1845 - Paris 1916

Monument à Francis Scott Key (1780-1843)
Francis Scott Key Monument (1780-1843)

1911
bronze, gilt bronze (Columbia), marble, granite

group
overall: approx. H. 40 ft.
on north side, just below the figure of Columbia: KEY
on south side, below columns: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY / 1780-1843 / PRESENTED TO THE CITY OF BALTIMORE BY / CHARLES L. MARBURG

Credit Line : Given by Charles L. Marburg

Baltimore, Maryland, Mount Vernon Place

Provenance

  • 1907, Charles L. Marburg gave $25,000 to his brother, Theodore, to commission a monument honoring his favorite poet, Francis Scott Key. The monument illustrates the circumstances under which the Star Spangled Banner was written. Key had gone on board a British ship in the Baltimore harbor the day before the attack on Fort McHenry. He was a lawyer and was acting on behalf of a client, but when he was ready to leave, the British decided it was too risky to allow him to leave because he might have overheard them planning their attack. Thus he witnessed the bombing of Fort McHenry from out in the Baltimore harbor on board a British ship.
  • The Francis Scott Key Monument is a reenactment of Key's return to shore after spending the night out in the harbor during which time he wrote the poem that became the national anthem.
  • Originally, the bronze figure of Columbia and the bronze reliefs on the base were gilded.
  • 1911, At the dedication, the monument was unveiled by Francis Scott Key's granddaughter. The less than prominent site for the installation of the monument has been controversial.
  • Eutaw Place and Lanvale Street

Bibliography

  • Save Outdoor Sculpture! website, http://siris-collections.si.edu, 22 February 2016
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_art_in_Baltimore, accessed 22 February 2016
  • 1927 Baltimore News
    Baltimore News, November 17, 1927
  • 1929 Rusk
    William Sener Rusk, Art in Baltimore: Monuments and Memorials, Baltimore: Norman, Remington, 1929, pg. 52-53
  • 1942 and 1955 The Sun
    The Sun, Aug. 8, 1942 and Sept. 4, 1955
  • 1960 The Evening Sun
    The Evening Sun, Oct. 6, 1960, pg. 15
  • 1971 Hunter
    Wilbur Harvey Hunter, The Monumental City, The Rinehart School of Sculpture 75th Anniversary Catalogue 1896-1971, Baltimore, Maryland Institute College of Art, 1971, pg. 16-47
  • 1987 Naylor
    Henry and Caroline Naylor, Public Monuments & Sculpture of Baltimore: An Introduction to the Collection, 1987
  • 1989 Kotarba
    Kathleen Kotarba, The Baltimore Bronze Project, Baltimore: Baltimore City Commission for historical and Architectural Preservation, July 1989

Comment



SOS! website, 22 February 2016:
The monument depicts Francis Scott Key returning from the British ship on which he had been detained during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, and offering an allegorical figure of Columbia his poem, the Star Spangled Banner, destined to become the National anthem. At the base of the monument, in a large circular basin, a bronze figure of Francis Scott Key stands in the stern of a stone rowboat, his long overcoat draped over his proper left shoulder and his proper right hand raised. The stone rowboat rides the crest of a stone wave and seated in the bow is a bronze figure of a barefoot sailor manning the oars. Both Key and the sailor look up toward the top of the monument where there is a standing bronze female figure representing Columbia. She strides forward holding up the American flag on her proper left side. Beneath the figure of Columbia is a square pavilion with four Doric Columns. At the base of the columns is a small bowl resting on a low pedestal. Below the bowl is a square base that is adorned with two bronze reliefs. One relief depicts the bombardment of Fort McHenry and the other relief depicts the guns and ramparts of Fort McHenry.