City Hall - Table of Contents

Lobby murals - City Hall
Buffalo, NY

Artist: William de Leftwich Dodge
Historian: John H. Conlin

Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form

Construction

Education

Protection

Charity

TEXT Beneath Illustrations



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Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

East mural: Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

Detail

Detail

Detail

Detail

Detail

 

 

       

Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form

Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form

Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form

Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form

West mural: Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form

Detail

Detail

Detail

Detail

 

 

 

Construction

Construction

 

 

 

 

Construction

Detail

 

 

Education

Education

Education

 

Education

Detail

Detail

Protection

Protection

Charity

Charity

Protection

Protection - Detail

Charity

Charity - Detail

Excerpt from
Buffalo City Hall: American Masterpiece," by John H. Conlin
Pub. by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, 1993, pp. 26-27

The front and rear end walls of the lobby at the second floor level, display large richly colored mural paintings by William de Leftwich Dodge, a New York City artist. They appear to be held aloft by two green marble pillars, as though on an easel.

The painting at the rear, facing the entrance, is titled "Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form." Seated in the center is a heroic female figure of Buffalo, haloed in a sunburst. She is holding forth festoons of golden fruit. A Native American offers her a bundle of cattails. The mural represents the industries of Buffalo at which her citizens work. Grain storage, agriculture, water commerce, steelmaking, construction, and transportation are all represented.

The mural painting opposite is called "Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress." It illustrates the significance of Buffalo's location at the border of Canada. The central figure of a woman, Buffalo as Peace, holds a warrior under each arm while they are clutching their respective flags.

At the left is the United States, represented by consumer goods and machinery. At the right is Canada, with a fisherman and a voyageur with a canoe. Behind Peace is Niagara Falls connecting both countries. On the Canadian side is the Peace Bridge, and on the American, Buffalo City Hall. The background of the murals is gold.

Style

The muscular, postured figure - studies, and the style of the murals in general - are of the 16th century Italian Mannerists, students of Michelangelo who repeatedly copied his mural figures. It is a rich, colorful, ornamental style.

William de Leftwich Dodge

William de Leftwich Dodge studied in the late 19th century in Europe, notably with the French academic painter, Jean Leon Gerome. Dodge's murals won many awards in late 19th century international expositions and received praise in numerous installations in Boston, New York, and Washington, DC. His mural "Ambition" in the Library of Congress is well known. Other mural work is in respected New York hotels, among them the Astor, Algonquin, Devon, and Waldorf Astoria, in the Majestic Theater in Boston, Esquire Theater in New York, Academy of Music in Brooklyn, and Orpheum Theater in Kansas City.

Four lunettes

Four smaller Dodge murals are located at the ends of the four secondary corridors serving the first floor. The corridors are two-story-high vaults forming, at their termination, a semi-circular wall at the second story level. Because of their shape, the murals mounted on these curved walls are called lunettes. They represent four major services provided by the city government.

"Charity" (Welfare) is a seated female figure of Buffalo in the form of an angel of mercy extending a bag of coins to the aged and a loaf of bread to the infirm.

"Protection" represents the services of the city police and firemen, insuring safety of citizens.

"Education" is represented by a seated female figure wearing a poet's garland, instructively gesturing, surrounded by various instruments of education.

"Construction" (Public Works) is a muscular male figure to the left of whom kneels John Wade, putting the finishing touches on a model of Buffalo City Hall.



Photos and their arrangement © 2008 Chuck LaChiusa
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