The more I learn about sculpture by Katharine Lane Weems (1898 — 1989), the more I admire the art, the artist and the animals. An earlier post about two rhinos, Bess and Victoria, installed 1937 in Cambridge* led me on to sites in Boston with work by this artist “famous for her realistic portrayals of animals.” Her art combined scientific accuracy, meticulous renderings, and creative design to bring out the animals’ majesty and character. This post notes four places in Boston to be in the presence of her elegant animals.
Lotta Fountain on Charles River Esplanade (between the Arlington and Dartmouth Streets)
“For generations, the Lotta Fountain was a destination spot for dog owners visiting the Charles River Esplanade. It was a place where owners could relax and socialize while providing their canine friends with cool water on hot summer days. The six-foot granite fountain was designed and constructed by sculptor Katherine Lane Weems in 1939 in the name of entertainer and philanthropist Lotta Crabtree, for the benefit of people and their thirsty canine companions.” (quote from Esplanade Association News about award-winning restoration)
“The restoration tackled a number of issues, as detailed by the DCR, from repairing the fountain’s art and functionality to making the structure compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Water once again runs from the ground level spout designed for four-legged visitors — operated by a nearby button.” (quote from “Dogs Definitely Allowed: The Unique History Of A Boston Esplanade Fountain” WBUR Artery article by Elizabeth Gillis and video, June 2107)
“Dolphins of the Sea” near New England Aquarium, Central Warf
“Katharine Lane Weems pursued a distinguished career as an animal sculptor and several of her works adorn the streets and buildings of Boston. …….. she sculpted the work called “Dolphins of the Sea:” six dolphins leaping outside the New England Aquarium. Children often climb on it and hug the dolphins, which accounts for their shiny backs.” [quote from “Boston’s Bronze Rhinos “ by Aline Kaplan]
Rhinoceros at School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 230 The Fenway
“The rhinoceros at the Museum School is a fiberglass copy of one of Harvard’s beasts, the one that stands on the right. That must be Bessie because that’s what the students @SMFABoston call their beast. The sculpture was placed at the Museum School to commemorate that fact that Katherine Lane studied there from 1918 to 1922 and also to celebrate her place as one of America’s foremost animal sculptors.” [quote from “Boston’s Bronze Rhinos “ by Aline Kaplan]
Weems Animal Sculptures, Permanent Exhibit at Museum of Science, Science Park
“Katharine Lane Weems (1899 – 1989), a Boston-born artist, donated her collection to the Museum of Science to demonstrate the many connections between science and art. There are 30 bronze sculptures of animals displayed in this exhibit, and the Museum of Science has the largest Weems collection in the world.”[quote about the exhibit from MOS website]
Though the exhibit is indoors, it is a valuable resource about this artist’s outdoor work!
BELOVED BRONZE RHINOS NEARBY Art Outdoors post, January 2014 *
Boston’s Bronze Rhinos, January 14, 2016 post on The Next Phase Blog by Aline Kaplan
Lotta Fountain for Dogs, Esplanade Association News, 2019
Update: Restoration of Boston’s Lotta Fountain June 7, 2019 post on The Next Phase Blog by Aline Kaplan
Weems Animal Sculptures, Museum of Science
Katharine Lane Weems from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Dogs Definitely Allowed: The Unique History Of A Boston Esplanade Fountain” WBUR Artery article by Elizabeth Gillis and video, June 2107
This is a wonderful post, Deb.
Too often animals in sculpture are anthropomorphic metaphors or props on which humans rest. Weems treated animals for what they are, capturing their essence and grace with realistic accuracy and authentic expression. Thank you for bringing attention to this fantastic artist.