Weekend Inspiration, 2-15-2013

This weekend’s inspiration comes from one of my favorite spots in NYC, Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. My photos hardly do justice to its abundant and intricate sculptural and decorative program. I highly recommend seeking out Sara Cedar Miller’s Central Park, an American Masterpiece, from which I’ve drawn the historical background below.

Originally intended to be the “heart” of Central Park by the park’s designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Bethesda Terrace features both spectacular scenic views and a complex sculptural program. I confess to being drawn to the Terrace primarily because of the intricate carvings, designed under Vaux’s supervision by Jacob Wrey Mould in 1863, which represent allegories of the seasons, the times of day, the ages of man, the four geographic elements, and the human pursuits of science and art. Vaux intended the terrace to center around the theme of “Love” as the principal that brought these natural and human elements into harmony. The terrace features the first major public commission by a woman in New York–Emma Stebbin’s fountain sculpture of the Angel of the Waters, which was dedicated in 1873. The dark arcade that joins the lower terrace to the rest of the park to the south is brightened by colorful Minton tilework, designed by Mould’s mentor Owen Jones. Although the terrace fell into disrepair in the 1970s, it was a focal point in the Central Park Conservancy’s project to restore and revitalize the park in the early 1980s.

(see also: Sara Cedar Miller, Central Park, an American Masterpiece, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in association with the Central Park Conservancy, 2003): pp. 36-69.)

Is anything inspiring you this weekend? Post your links in the comments!

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