City Hall - Table of Contents

Lobby murals - City Hall
Buffalo, NY

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

On this page, below:

Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form

Construction

Education

Protection

Charity

2008 photos   ....  Visitors are always  surprised by the dim lighting and spotlights fn the first floor lobby. This makes taking photographs quite challenging.

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.

Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress


East mural:   Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress
The mural painting Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress illustrates the significance of Buffalo's location at the border of Canada.   ...   The Angel of 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.    ...   Details, from left to right below:




Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

At the left  is the United States, represented by consumer prosperity.   ...   Some details:
  • Woman wearing 1920's clothing styles, including cloche hat, boa, high heels, dress and wrap, and carrying purse, another shoe, jewelry and jewelry box, and bolt of fabric
  • Man wearing shorts and knickers, carrying two model cars (Thomas, 1902-1919, and Pierce-Arrow, 1901-1938,were auto companies prominent in Buffalo's history). Is the red car on a roundabout?
  • Lower middle: farmer with farming tools; woman with treadle sewing machine
  • Background: City Hall, Niagara Falls, Peace Bridge (dedicated 1927)



Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

 Border: ears of corn, 2 doves symbolizing peace   ...   The Angel of Peace holds a warrior under each arm while they are clutching their respective flags: the 1932 American flag with the 48 stars and the 1932 Canadian flag with the Union Jack


Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress

Background: Peace Bridge    ...   Niagara Falls   ...   Center: Sheafs of wheat flanked by ears of corn    ...    Fruit above "Buffalo" and below in the form of a festoon


Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress
At the right is Canada, with a fisherman and a voyageur with a canoe. Behind Peace is Niagara Falls connecting both countries.    ...    Upper left: Wings of the Angel of Peace and part of the Canadian warrior   ...   Lower left: A Canadian city (Fort Erie?)    ...    Peace Bridge    ...    Front of the canoe   ...
Figures: Mother with her child who is clutching a book   ...   Trapper, wearing fringed buckskin pants and moccasins, with snow shoe carrying trapped animals   ...   Man carrying basket of fish   ...    Native in canoe loaded with green branches   ...  
Right edge of mural: Tree?   ...   Lower right artist signature: Wm. de Leftwich Dodge



Frontiers Unfettered by Any Frowning Fortress
Boy clutching book




West mural: 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.





Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form



Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form



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.





Talents Diversified Find Vent in Myriad Form
The mural represents the industries of Buffalo at which her citizens work.    ...   Grain storage, agriculture, water commerce, steelmaking, construction, and transportation are all represented.









Construction


Construction
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.




Construction







Education

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




Education









Protection


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




















Photos and their arrangement 2008 Chuck LaChiusa
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