On an eagle adorned ship bow, with her wings dramatically spread and torch raised upward toward the Connecticut State Capitol, the Spirit of Victory stands as a beacon and guide atop the Spanish American War Memorial in Bushnell Park, Hartford, Connecticut. The 1926 sculpture dramatically crowns a surrounding Tennessee limestone exedra adorned with uniquely stylized relief sculptures of an infantryman and sailor to honor those that served in the Spanish American War. An artistic, bronze replica of the historic Spanish American War medal given to veterans who served, is attached to the front of the sculpture pedestal.
The bronze sculptures are the work of the notable sculptor of the early 20th century, Evelyn Beatrice Longman (1874 -1954). The World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893 inspired Longman to study art and shortly after she graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago under the direction of Lorado Taft. After moving to New York, Longman became an assistant to Daniel Chester French and aided French with the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Longman created her own monumental works that include Electricity, and the iconic, 30’ Spirit of Communication, originally titled Genius of Telegraphy, for the AT&T Building, New York City in 1914. Evelyn Beatrice Longman was the first woman sculptor to be fully admitted to the National Academy of Design in 1919.
The Spanish American War Monument prominently highlights the southern portion of historic Bushnell Park, the first publicly funded park in the nation; park funding was approved in 1854 and the plan designed by Jacob Weidenmann in 1861. The landscape and artworks in the park provide a spiritual reprieve from the surrounding city on grounds once called “hell without fire” by the parks founder, Reverend Horace Bushnell. The park also provides aesthetic and intellectual inspiration with historic sculptures and monuments that include the Horace Wells Monument (1874), General Putnam Monument (1874), Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch (1886), and the Corning Fountain (1899).
The bronze sculpture suffered from surface corrosion onset from a failed coating, open casting flaws, and leaching foundry materials from the interior hollows. The copper alloy corrosion products forming on the bronze redeposited in the pink, Tennessee limestone below, causing green metallic stains. The stone also suffered from surface soiling, organic growth and atmospheric pollution depositions and cracking. The concrete surrounding the monument was fractured from ongoing winter, freeze-thaw cycles.
The complex treatment began with research and the review of the sculpture Minerva, a nearly identical bronze model located in the Loomis Chaffee School, the site of her studio beginning in 1920. The small sculpture has been protected indoors and provided a first-hand source of the artist’s original patina, a rare preservation resource. The restorative patina applied by Conserve Art LLC matched this patina and remnants of original patina found on the sculpture, particularly on the front, proper left wing.