BARTHOLDI, Frédéric-Auguste

Colmar, Haut-Rhin 1834 - Paris 1904

Les Quatre Etapes de la Vie chrétienne : le Baptême

The Four Stages of the Christian Life: Baptism




Photo credit: ph. Church's Facebook

© Artist : public domain


  • 1869-1872, The church was built by architect Henry Hobson Richardson (trained at Harvard and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris) for the Unitarian congregation of the Brattle Street Church. It was the first example of "Richardson romanesque".
  • 1873?, Bartholdi is commissioned to create the four reliefs through his friend, artist John La Farge (1835-1910, with French parents) who is in charge of the decoration of the church.
  • 1874, The plaster models 1/3 real size are exhibited at the Paris Salon; they will be used in Boston by Italian stone carvers who carved in situ the reliefs.
  • 1876, When visiting Boston, Bartholdi is unhappy with the work done by the carvers.
  • 1881, The First Baptist congregation buys the building.
  • since 2017, Restoration is ongoing.
  • The reliefs are on the sides of the belltower.


  • (accessed March 26, 2020)
  • 2019 Belot
    Robert Belot, Bartholdi. L'homme qui inventa la liberté, Paris, Ellipses, 2019, p. 296

Related works

  • From the church's website (accessed March 26, 2020):
    The four reliefs are:
    - Baptism, facing the East and the rising sun, with a likeness of Senator and abolitionist Charles Sumner,
    - Religious Instruction or Communion, on the North side, with likenesses of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
    - Marriage, facing South and noon-time sun, with likenesses of President Abraham Lincoln and Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi
    - Extreme Unction or Death, facing West and the setting sun.
    Also included, though not specifically located, are images of artists John LaFarge and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. One line of thought is that Bartholdi may have included his own image on each of the four scenes.
    Plaster models 1/3 of size are exhibited at the paris salon of 1874, no. 2665.