The white knight: Edwin Austin Abbey's "Quest for the Holy Grail" in the Boston Public Library
AuthorBell, Aileen E.
AdvisorMoore, Sarah J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Boston Public Library was founded on the principle that it would serve the needs of Boston's entire populace, without respect to class, race, or gender. However, despite this democratic ideology, the nineteenth-century library, in its practices and artistic expressions, articulated an elite conception of the perfect American. Edwin Austin Abbey's Quest for the Holy Grail (1890--1902), painted for the library building of McKim, Mead, and White (begun 1883), embodies the cosmopolitan, Protestant, Anglo-Saxon, and masculine values of Boston's elite through its American Renaissance style, its subject, and its iconography. In particular, the figure of Galahad, the hero of Abbey's mural, conforms to models of spirituality, race, and manhood that legitimated the power and social position of the financial, political, and cultural elite that administered and constructed the library.
Degree ProgramGraduate College