Arts: Prometheus Unbound

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On the beach near Carrara, Italy, not far from where his body was washed ashore in July, 1822, a colossal monument will be erected to the poet Shelley. It is to be a figure of Prometheus, exceeding 180 feet in height, greater in size than the statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, represented as in Shel- ley's poem* unbound, bearing fire to man. The idea is further expanded by making the shaft, against which the figure stands, into a lighthouse which will throw its signal light far over the Tyrrhenian sea, whose treacherous waters were the poet's grave. The site is not precisely the part of the shore where his body was found, but a much finer one, a mile or so north, where the rugged marble mountains of Carrara furnish a lofty, solemn background. The sculptor, Fontana, has already achieved distinction in works of impressive size—notably in the Garibaldi at Sarzana, and the newly erected Quadriga at Rome. Said Fontana: "We, too, claim some share in Shelley's memory. He lived and died among us. Prometheus has, I suppose haunted most sculptors. What fitter monument could Shelley have than Prometheus Unbound, bearing the torch of freedom? The port needs a lighthouse. The mountains close at hand furnish the marble. The primary notion was that of a memorial to the poet but it is now coupled with that of a symbol of the friendship between the two nations, of old date in spite of passing differences, and we have not forgotten that we had England's sympathy during our time of struggle." There has been a U. S. offer to defray all expenses but both the English and Italian committees prefer that these be met by spontaneous contribution from rich and poor alike of the two countries principally concerned. The marble will be the joint gift of the owners of the quarries. Although the project calls for a statue that will be the most colossal ever carved of marble, the dominant characteristic of the monument is to be dignity and rough-hewn simplicity. The work should be completed within three years.

'Keep Your Hat On'

It has long been observed that Americans approach objects in art galleries much as a mortician approaches a cadaver. They take their hats off. They elevate their noses. They tiptoe. While this procedure is undoubtedly appropriate when the exhibit is very bad, John Sloan, at the Independents' exhibition in Manhattan (TIME, Mar. 24), urged the public to keep their hats on. Now comes Homer St. Gaudens (TIME, May 12), son of Augustus. Said he to newspapermen at the dedication of a new art museum in Houston: "Reassure your public that putting on felt slippers to draw near a picture is unnecessary."

*Prometheus Unbound. Prometheus, legendary hero, brought fire to mortals and as punishment was chained to Mount Caucasus by Zeus, where an eagle by day devoured his liver, which grew again during the night. Aeschylus, Greek tragic poet, wrote two dramas: 1) Prometheus Bound, telling this story, and 2) Prometheus Unbound, telling of the deliverance of the hero by Hercules after a reconciliation of the former with Zeus. Shelley, in his poem, changes the plot somewhat— makes Prometheus an even more adamantine hero who refuses to bow to Zeus, overthrows him, liberates mankind.