Bronze Sculptures by Cyrus Dallin in Arlington Combine History and Humanity

Menotomy Hunter (1911) and Robbins Memorial Flagstaff (1913) by Cyrus Dallin

New important plantings around Cyrus Dallin’s long-standing sculpture (since 1912) on the lawn of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston this summer made me realize how much I did not know about the sculptor. That led me to Arlington, where some of his significant works have braved all seasons for over a century, and where the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum has developed valuable online resources about his works.

A winter lull finally let me review my summer notes and photos for Dallin’s art in Arlington, where he lived in the first half of the twentieth century. Now I need to share some fascinating aspects of his art. Quotes about the sculptures come from the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum’s walking tour of Arlington Center. Quotes about the artist are also from the Dallin Museum’s website and from the MFA website too.

Robbins Memorial Flagstaff

“In 1913, Cyrus Dallin was commissioned by the Robbins family to create the Robbins Memorial Flagstaff to be placed next to the new Town Hall. The figures on the flagstaff represent the town’s early history: Woman Leader of the MassachusettsTribe; a Pilgrim father studying his bible; a mother teaching her child to read; and a Minuteman on guard with his musket.” (quote excerpt from Walking Tour, Arlington Center, Cyrus Dallin Art Museum, slide 4 )

(figures on flagstaff in left to right order) Minuteman, Pilgrim Mother, Squaw Sachem, Puritan Divine

“The base is ornamental with reliefs of fruits, nuts, insects, and birds, commemorating Arlington’s famous market garden economy of the early 20th century. ” (quote excerpt from Walking Tour, Arlington Center, Cyrus Dallin Art Museum, slide 4 )

Squaw Sachem of Mistick (c. 1590-1650 or 1667) was a prominent leader of a Massachusett tribe who deeded large tracts of land in eastern Massachusetts to early colonial settlers. ……. In 1639 she deeded the land of what was then Cambridge and Watertown to the colonists an area that covers much of what is now the Greater Boston area, including Newton, Arlington, Somerville, Malden, and Charlestown.”( quote excerpts from Squaw Sachem of Mistick, Wikipedia)

Menotomy Hunter (1911)

“The Menotomy Hunter is the crowning jewel of the Winfield Robbins Memorial Garden, located on the hillside between Robbins Library and Arlington Town Hall.” (quote excerpt from Walking Tour, Arlington Center, Cyrus Dallin Art Museum, slide 3 )

“Dallin chose to pay tribute to the land’s first people, the Massachusett, whose name for Arlington had been Menotomy. “I aimed to have it appear as though the hunter had run down through the trees on the hillock, paused for a drink, and with every line conveying the sense of poise and readiness to be off on an instant,” said Dallin.” (quote excerpt from Walking Tour, Arlington Center, Cyrus Dallin Art Museum, slide 3 )

“Cyrus Dallin (1861-1944) was a celebrated Utah-born sculptor, educator, and Indigenous rights activist who lived and worked in Arlington, Massachusetts for over 40 years. Dallin’s public sculptures honoring Indigenous peoples, Anglo-American figures, and historical events bring beauty and a unique historical perspective to shared spaces across the nation, including Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and Kansas City.” (quote excerpt about Cyrus Dallin from Cyrus Dallin Art Museum Website)

“Appeal to the Great Spirit” at MFA Huntington Ave entrance, with display for current exhibit, Fabric Nation, Dec 2021

“Depicting a Native American man astride a horse with his arms outstretched, Appeal to the Great Spirit has become an icon of the MFA and one of the most reproduced objects in the collection. A part of the Museum’s history, it has entered today’s international debates about cultural appropriation, public monuments, and Indigenous erasure.” ( quote excerpt from Cyrus Dallin’s ‘Appeal to the Great Spirit:’ A Complicated Past MFA website)

Key Resources (Both museums address issues about portrayals of Indigenous people.)

Cyrus Dallin Art Museum: Walking Tour of Arlington Center, Cyrus Dallin, Programs and Events

Museum of Fine Arts Boston: Cyrus Dallin’s ‘Appeal to the Great Spirit’

2 comments

  1. Andrew Jay · · Reply

    Hello Deborah,

    This is a terrific write up. This Spring/Summer, the Dallin Museum will again be offering our popular guided walking sculpture/architecture tours. We also are exploring into cycling with a riding tour to include a visit to Boy with Dog at Lincoln Cemetery. Events are posted on http://www.dallin.org.

    The Dallin also recently received a gift of a Paul Revere sculpture that adds to the collection and creates new opportunities to engage the public.

    BTW- Did you know Bashka Paeff was a student of Dallin’s? If you look at her fountain in the public garden you might notice postural similarities with the “Menotomy Hunter” and the “Boy with Dog”

  2. Thank you so much for these updates and additions about the Dallin Museum!
    I hope to join a walking tour in the spring and then to post with new perspective on art outdoors!
    Enlightened and Delighted,
    Deb Lee

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