Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (2022 March 2011)
Paper No. 32-6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM-9:30 AM

THE COMMODORE PERRY STATUE: HISTORY AND WEATHERING OF OHIO'S FIRST MONUMENTAL MARBLE SCULPTURE AND THE TIMING OF THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY REALIZATION THAT MARBLE STATUARY WEATHERS OUTDOORS

HANNIBAL, Joseph T., Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Drive, Cleveland, OH 44106-1767, jhanniba@cmnh.org

Ohio’s first monumental marble sculpture honors Commodore Oliver H. Perry, who won the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. The statue was the key element of the Perry Monument produced by the marble works of Thomas Jones & Sons in Cleveland, with sculptural work done by William Walcutt. The Carrara-marble statue of Perry was erected on a granitic base in Cleveland’s Public Square in 1860.

Marble was the material of choice for statuary (as well as for tombstones) in the mid-1800s when the statue was made (numerous marble statues erected after the Civil War also attest to this), and marble was chosen for the Perry statue even though bronze may have been less expensive. Various sources indicate that by the 1870s and 1880s, however, it was becoming apparent that marble objects kept outdoors were deteriorating, and bronze was chosen for the Moses Cleaveland statue erected in 1888 in Cleveland. Because of deterioration, an early 1890s commission recommended that the Perry statue be replaced with a more “enduring” bronze version; this was eventually done in 1929. The original marble statue was moved to Perrysburg, Ohio, in 1937 and stood outdoors until about 1996. In 2002 it was moved to a visitor center on South Bass Island. The marble statue has been cleaned a number of times, including an 1890s cleaning with acid and a 2009 cleaning using steam.

A plaster version of the statue, presumably made about the time that the original statue was made, has been preserved by the Western Reserve Historical Society. The plaster version, while somewhat altered, is arguably a more accurate image of the statue than the initial bronze replacement. To determine loss of surficial marble, the perimeter of parts of the marble and plaster statues was measured. The perimeter of the left and right ankles of the marble statue are 32.4 cm and 31.6 cm compared to 37.8 cm and 35.2 cm for the plaster version. This is a 10 to 14 % reduction in perimeter before accounting for a 1-mm layer of paint on the plaster version. Protruding veining in the statue, another way to estimate surface reduction, shows lesser amounts of surface reduction. This method shown here is imperfect but has broad applications for use in quantifying weathering over time as plaster replicas of marble statues are not uncommon.

Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (2022 March 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 32
Geology of the War of 1812 and Other Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Wars in North America: Battles, Terrain, Monuments, and More
Omni William Penn Hotel: Allegheny
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Monday, 21 March 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 1, p. 101

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