Frederick MacMonnies’ (1863-1937) spirited piece Bacchante and Infant Faun, which is located in the courtyard of Boston Public Library’s Copley Square location, was recently restored. The piece was originally given to the library by architect Charles Follen McKim, but removed in 1897 amid protest by the local community, who thought the dancing woman celebrated drinking — and, even worse — subjected her young child to debauchery. The original piece was removed and given to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. More than 90 years later, Bacchante returned to her intended home in the fountain, cast from a copy of the popular original in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
Conservators first constructed scaffolding around the piece and used granulated walnut shells to “blast” green corrosion off the sculpture. Next, they treated the sculpture’s surface to recreate the original patina. A lacquer was applied to recoat the sculpture and re-wax its surface, which adds a final protective coating. Restoration work recently took place on Bela Pratt’s Art and Science sculptures outside the Central Library’s Dartmouth Street entrance. Further details on library artwork not to miss can be found on the walking tour section of the BPL website. Visit www.bpl.org/tours for information on the library’s daily art and architecture tours.