Sunday, February 17, 2008

Naked Roman

Augustus Saint Gaudens' nude centurionDid you know that some of the centurions guarding DC's Union Station are nekkid beneath their shields?

The story starts in 1907.

Apparently when the sculptor, Augustus Saint Gaudens -- who was a pretty popular public art and monument sculptor at the turn of the century -- received the commission for the centurions, he asked if he was to make the Roman soldiers historically accurate.

He was told yes.

When Saint Gaudens delivered the models for the sculptures, Washingtonians on the arts panel were a little shocked to discover that some of the centurion maquettes were fully nude in uncircumsized splendor for all to see.

And so a hundred years ago Saint Gaudens was told to cover them up. In the arguments that I am sure followed, the solution came in the form of shields (which to me look historically inaccurate by the way), which would cover the Italians' willies. They remain naked beneath them.

At the time it was built in 1908, Union Station covered more ground than any other building in the United States and was the largest train station in the world. The building itself is patterned after the Baths of Diocletian in Rome.

Interesting that a century later, we still probably can't put up a work of public art in Washington, DC showing a man's penis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This isn't true. Your links don't even direct readers to evidence. This claim is just another blog rumor.