James Henry Haseltine

(2 November 1833 - 9 November 1907)


A native of Philadelphia. He served with distinction in the American Civil War, and at its close went to Italy in the practice and study of his profession, that of a sculptor. He settled in Rome in 1867, spending there the better part of his artistic life. Among his earlier works are, "Excelsior" (in the collection of the late Le Grand Lockwood), "Autumn Leaves," "Liberty", "New Wine," "Religion," and "Superstition." To the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 he sent "Spring Flowers," "Captivity," and "Lucretia."

Artists of the Nineteenth Century. Clara Erskine Clement & Laurence Hutton. Vol. I., 1879

'America Honoring Her Fallen Brave' by J. Henry Haseltine (1833-1907), originally for the Philadelphia Union League Club, signed on base and marked 'Roma'. In larger than life form, with 'America Victorius', this flanked the entrance to the Philadelphia Centennnial Exhibition of 1876. Haseltine was a Major with the 6th Penn Cavalry (Rush's Lancers) during the Civil War, saw a great deal of action, most famously the wheatfield at Gettysburg. This version of the statue, which was probably produced in a fairly limited number, is 14" tall overall.



J. Henry Haseltine, of Philadelphia, has executed several allegorical groups which indicate much inventive expression and poetical significance: among them are "Superstition" and "Religion," represented by a heathen and a Christian mother, the one offering her child a sacrifice to Moloch, and the other presenting hers for holy baptism; they belong to J. Newton Sears, of New York. Haseltine's "Excelsior" gives effectively the ascending movement of the aspiring youth -- while Love, Wisdom, Experience, and Death are represented in appropriate figures in the bas-reliefs of the pedestal: this work is in the collection of Le Grand Lockwood. "Captivity" and "Liberty" belong to Mrs. C. M. Gibson, of Philadelphia; "Spring Flowers" and "Autumn Leaves" are sweetly illustrated by expressive figures and wreaths -- hilarious and pensive -- eloquent of the two seasons; "New Wine,'' "America Victorious," and "Grateful and Ungrateful Love," tell quite diverse stories in an ingenious and ideal way, through graceful forms of plastic art conceived with vividness and executed with skill.

A letter from Rome thus alludes to this artist: "Returning to his studies after an honorable soldierly career in the Union army, he is now finishing a memorial monument for the Union League of Philadelphia. Upon a pedestal ornamented with bas-reliefs is placed a statue six feet in height, of America honoring her fallen brave. It is a figure, gracefully draped, advancing with firm but pensive step; while the head, slightly inclined, the calm, subdued sadness of the thoughtful face, well express the artist's fine ideal of a 'proud sorrow.' Here also are the garlands of laurels and immortelles, but with a new disposition -- clasped upon the breast, with the left hand falling at the side, in the right, as if to be solemnly and reverently bestowed. With such an air a mother might come, after years had passed, to the grave of her brave dead. From this figure several fine busts have been already modelled, as well as a complete copy reduced to three-quarter size. On the hem of the mantle is a dolphin to indicate the navy, crossed cannons for the army, and an eagle as a symbol of the Union, while on the pedestal are all the emblems of the United States."

I noticed here also a bronze 'Excelsior,' with the action and the look which the poem suggests, and bringing out its substantial thought -- the career of irrational, insatiable, but inflexible ambition, admired, mourned, and condemned by turns. This figure is a copy of one in marble now in New York. Two contrasted groups of the Christian and the heathen mother -- the one trustfully presenting her babe for baptism; the other, with a sharp struggle between superstition and natural affection, preparing to surrender hers for idolatrous sacrifice -- well repay examination."

There is a fine little bronze, to be executed hereafter on a larger scale, of 'America Triumphant,' a figure full of calm dignity and confidence, sheathing the sword with hearty good will, fresh as at the opening rather than the close of battle, the face perhaps a trifle too triumphant to suit any but Americans in the hour of vittory; but one statue cannot express all emotions. I must pass by other finished figures, merely noticing recent models for two promising groups of 'Grateful and Ungrateful Love.' "

Book of the Artists, American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists: Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America -- Henry Theodore Tuckerman, 1867



View painter's art: James Henry Haseltine (1833-1907)

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