Bowdoin College statues get rejuvenation treatment

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BRUNSWICK — Two life-size bronze statues at Bowdoin College, each over 100 years old, are undergoing on-site conservation.

The statues, depicting the Greek playwright Sophocles and the Greek orator Demosthenes, are original to the 120-year-old Walker Art Building, home to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

The statues, crafted in the 19th century by Neapolitan bronze caster Sabatino de Angelis, are being conserved and cleaned by a team from the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, of Williamstown, Massachusetts.

The WACC is a nonprofit regional conservation facility devoted to the conservation and preservation of cultural and historical objects. The BCMA is a founding member.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with conservators from the Williamstown Conservation Center to ensure a long life for these beloved sculptures,” BCMA Co-Director Frank Goodyear said in a press release.

The conservation project is the result of a five-year grant from the Lunder Foundation to the WACC to bolster the conservation budgets of the BCMA and the three other Maine museums that are members of the WACC consortium. These include the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, and the Portland Museum of Art. The Lunder Foundation is a private foundation established in 1998 by Peter and Paula Lunder. It supports educational, arts, and health care organizations. 

“We are grateful for the generosity of Peter and Paula Lunder that has helped make possible this project,” BCMA Co-Director Anne Goodyear said in the press release.

Both statues are copies of much earlier century works. Sophocles was modeled after a Greek marble statue made in the late fourth century B.C.; Demosthenes was modeled from a Vatican collection marble copy of the original bronze, which was sculpted by Polyeuktos of Athens in 280 B.C.

The work is expected to take up to two weeks.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Sidebar Elements

Life-size bronze statues outside the Walker Art Building of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art are receiving conservation treatments this month.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or