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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Appeal to the Great Spirit” by Cyrus Edwin Dallin

"Appeal to the Great Spirit" by Cyrus Edwin Dallin

“Appeal to the Great Spirit” by Cyrus Edwin Dallin

“Appeal to the Great Spirit” by Cyrus Edwin Dallin is a 1909 equestrian statue that was the last in a four-piece series called the “Epic of the Indian”. This version of the “Appeal to the Great Spirit” is installed outside the main entrance to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It was cast in Paris, in 1909, and won a gold medal for its exhibition in the Paris Salon. The sculpture depicts an American Indian Chief, sitting on horseback with his arms outstretched, palms up and head back, looking to the sky. The Boston version has the light green tones that have developed on the equestrian sculpture over time.

Dallin has created a classical sculpture of the American Indian that has become an iconic representation of a mounted chief, his arms spread wide in a moment of individual communion with a higher power. Dallin stated that in this work he was attempting to capture the moment when the chief made his:

“final appeal to the Great Spirit for peace with the white man” after “his signal of peace…had been rejected.” 

Dallin created a four-piece equestrian series called “The Epic of the Indian”, consisting of Signal of Peace, or “The Welcome” (1890); The Medicine Man, or “The Warning” (1899); Protest of the Sioux, or “The Defiance” (1904); and Appeal to the Great Spirit (1909). Dallin was a native of Utah, and during his youth he frequently interacted with Native American children, giving him insights that he called upon while creating this and other works.

There is also a full-scale version of “Appeal to the Great Spirit” in Muncie, Indiana, a plaster example at the Cyrus Dallin Museum in Arlington, Massachusetts, and another is in the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York. The Central High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, possesses a plaster example, which was used, in 1985, as the model for a bronze version now installed in Woodward Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. An edition of nine 40-inch bronzes of the “Appeal to the Great Spirit” was produced about 1922 and examples of the 21-inch bronze statuette are at the White House, the U.S. Department of State, and many American museums. Over 400 authorised small-scale bronze casts of Appeal to the Great Spirit has been produced, in three different sizes.

The image of this sculpture has appeared in popular culture as a logo on record covers and in several paintings.

Cyrus Edwin Dallin

Cyrus Edwin Dallin (1861 – 1944) was an American sculptor best known for his depictions of Native Americans. He created more than 260 works, including the equestrian statue of Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts; the Angel Moroni atop Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah; and his most famous work, Appeal to the Great Spirit, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He was also an Olympic archer.

Reflections

  • A final appeal to the Great Spirit for peace.

Appeal to the Great Spirit

  • Title:                Appeal to the Great Spirit
  • Artist:              Cyrus Edwin Dallin
  • Year:                1909
  • Medium:         Bronze
  • Dimensions    290 cm × 250 cm × 300 cm (114 in × 100 in × 120 in)
  • Museum:        Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Cyrus Edwin Dallin

  • Name:                Cyrus Edwin Dallin
  • Born:                  1861, Springville, Utah
  • Died:                  1944 (aged 82), Arlington, Massachusetts
  • Nationality:        American
  • Notable works:

Explore the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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“It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.”
– Apache

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Photo Credit: Sculpted by Cyrus E. Dallin; I took this photograph. [Public domain]

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