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Tuesday, April 24 • 1:20pm - 1:40pm
A Greek Mystery at Biltmore Estate: Identifying the “Heroic Female Figures” of the Library Fireplace

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This paper will attempt to conclusively identify the “two heroic female figure” sculptures on the library fireplace in the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina as either Hestia and Demeter, Aeternitas and Eve, or Urania and Hygieia through the use of visual and textual comparisons. Prior to this exploration, there has been no thorough investigation of these sculptures or their significance to each other and their context, either from scholars or the internal research team of the estate. This missing informational gap stems from a lack of firsthand identification by both the head architect, Richard Morris Hunt, who drafted designs for the entirety of sculpture used in the home, and the sculptor, Karl Bitter. Although there are no primary acknowledgements of these two figures, this research paper hopes to draw connections between the two figures and the larger library as a location for the acquisition of knowledge. It will thoroughly delve into the historical context of these artworks, as well as provide in-depth descriptions of each pairing, utilizing site specific research on the Biltmore Estate through firsthand analysis of the sculptures; comparing them to Classical depictions to confirm or disprove these identifications. The works of Victoria Volk, John Bryan, Mike Dixon-Kennedy, John M. Steadman, Warwick Wroth, and H. B. Walters, and their descriptions of these figures will be examined to understand the allegorical relationships between these women and their location by discussing their Classical significance, their relevance in Victorian era America, and their function in the Biltmore library.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm PDT
237 Owen Hall

Attendees (2)