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East Elevation - 1905 Building
Robert and Elisabeth Wilmers Building
Original Name: Albright Art Gallery

Buffalo AKG Art Museum, 1285 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York
AKG - Official Home Page

Erected:

Original target date: 1901.
Actual completion date: 1905 at a cost of over $1 million.
5,000 tons of marble were used in the building. When completed, the gallery had 102 columns, more than any building in America except the Capitol.

Architects:

Green and Wicks (E.B. Green's masterpiece)

Sculptor:

Augustus Saint-Gaudens: Caryatid on the east facade copied from the Greek Erectheion.
The caryatids are 8' high weighing 3 tons.
See also:
"Parallels: Erechtheion and Albright-Knox Art Gallery"

Style:

Neoclassical (Temple front)

On this page below:

2002-2016 Photos
2023 Photos
History

2002 - 2016 photos

 

 Overlooking Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park


 

View on Lincoln Parkway






2014 photo,
Karma, by Do Ho Suh



Hexastyle temple-front   Ionic columns supporting portico pedimented roof                               Note that this a pre-2014 photo and that "Karma" has not been placed here.



Colonnade



Ionic order



Ionic capital                        Front cushion side; left and right baluster sides 
                       Egg-and-dart molding                         Front: Volutes with bead-and-reel                        Anthemion                          Sides: Balusters (rolls)                          Fluting on shaft



Lion head water spout
                      Anthemia along raking cornice                          Egg-and-dart moldings                     Leaf-and dart molding



Anthemia on top 
                        Egg-and-dart                        Leaf-and-dart



Egg-and-dart
                        Leaf-and-dart                         Bead-and-reel




Marble entrance:  
  Ancone supports cornice                          Cornice has anthemion ornamentation                            Note also egg-and-dart molding



Detail below:


Copper:   Anthemia
                        Lion-head  scuppers



Note 1962 auditorium addition at far left



Note 1962 auditorium addition at far left



1962 auditorium addition at  left




One of two caryatid porches at right




  Caryatid porch 
                       Figures carved by Augustus Saint-Gaudens                          Two details below:


At right: architecture (figure holding a capital)







2023 Photos




Vertical sculpture on steps:  Karma, by Do Ho Suh


Do Ho Suh, Karma


2-bay building at left:  1962 addition (The glass-topped center bay was originally an interior open air courtyard; in 2023  it was remodeled to be a roofed entrance/exit)




Nancy Rubins, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I, Built to Live Anywhere, at Home Here







Summer 2023 jazz concert


The Gallery in its external and interior detail follows almost exactly the high Ionic order of the Erectheum. The ten columns supporting the east portico are exact copies (in everything except scale) of the order used for the east facade of the Erectheum. Each column weighs nineteen tons and the necking of the column shafts is enriched with a band of floral ornamentation arranged in a honeysuckle pattern.

The north and south ends of the building are lower basilicas which, on their east fronts, are complicated by the addition of caryatidAugustus Saint-Gaudens, and the architect. The porches almost hide doors set into the otherwise blank marble faces of the east corners. The doors, are equipped with wrought iron screens. The Gallery was among the last art museums to be based on the Ionic temple form; for that reason it can be seen to a certain extent as the culmination of the temple design then in use for museums in the United States. porches, the result of a collaboration between the sculptor,

Planned as a temple of the arts in the tradition of many nineteenth-century museums, the Albright-Knox specifically evokes the Erectheion in Athens, Greece on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The handsome Ionic portico and the twin caryatid porches -- with figures carved by Augustus Saint-Gaudens -- derive directly from that most elegant of Greek monuments.

It was toward the end of his life that Saint-Gaudens designed the eight dignified figures for the Albright, each carved from a single block of stone. Six were completed before his death in 1907. Four of the figures, the ones at each end of the two groups, are the same. The four interior ones represent the four arts: architecture (figure holding a capital), music (holding a lyre), sculpture (holding a Nike or winged victory), and painting (holding a palette and brushes).

The caryatids were finished in Saint-Gaudens' studio after his death, but not installed until years afterwards. For the opening of the Albright in 1905 two false porticoes were constructed and facsimiles of the figures were placed into position.

The caryatids were said to have cost Albright $75,000. The decline of the Albright fortunes, along with the death of Saint-Gaudens, were probably responsible for the delay. In 1922 the south group of the real ones, loaned by Mrs. Albright, was installed, while the other real group was stored in her basement. After Albright died in 1931, there was some talk of the estate selling them out of town. However, they were purchased from the Albright estate for $25,000 with local moneys from the Forsyth Fund and the Hamilton Ward estate, and the genuine north figures were installed in 1933

Originally the front of the building was overlooking Hoyt (Delaware Park) Lake.

- Source: "Buffalo Architecture: A Guide," by Francis R. Kowsky, et. al. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981

- Source: "The Gallery Architects: Edward B. Green and Gordon Bunshaft," by John Douglas Sanford

- Source: Saint-Gaudens and Buffalo, by Austin M. Fox, Buffalo Spree, Spring 1988


Photos and their arrangement 2002-2016 Chuck LaChiusa
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