web Robert DEROME
Les sources iconographiques
des portraits fictifs du père jésuite Jacques Marquette

1884 Julius Theodore Melchers
d'après un modèle de l'architecte John M. Donaldson

Cette sculpture implante un modèle iconographique original tout en étant dans l'air du temps du XIXe siècle qui a inventé tant d'iconographies de nouveaux saints. La représentation est sobre et efficace. Dans la force de l'âge, Marquette y est glabre (contrairement à 1869 Lamprecht) et chevelu. Ce visage sera imité : dur et carré évoquant un « modèle idéal surhumain » pratiquement militaire. La posture des bras est particulière dans l'iconographie de Marquette : repliés en signe d'humilité, consacrés à l'érudition par le livre. La croix n'apparaît qu'ensuite, probablement suspendue au bout de son chapelet porté à la ceinture. Seule la typologie du visage sera reprise par d'autres artistes (voir Modèles).

« Bela Hubbard (1814–1896), a lumber baron and real estate mogul, commissioned Julius T. Melchers to carve the "larger than life" sandstone statues of Detroit's four French pioneers, Fr. Jacques Marquette, Sieur de LaSalle, Antoine Cadillac, and Fr. Gabriel Richard installed in 1874 on the old Detroit City Hall (1871). Architect John M. Donaldson had created the model Melchers had used for the statue of Marquette. When the old Detroit City Hall was demolished in 1961 the statues were saved and moved to the campus of Wayne State University. (Source). »

« Julius Theodore Melchers (1829–1908) was a German born American sculptor and teacher who immigrated to the United States leaving Prussia after 1848 and resided in Detroit, Michigan after 1855. Statues in front of Saint Andrew's Memorial Episcopal Church, sculpted by Julius Theodore Melchers. Saint Andrew's Memorial Episcopal Church is a church located at 5105 Anthony Wayne Drive in Detroit, Michigan. As of 2008, it is used by Wayne State University and referred to as St. Andrew's Hall; street layout changes have re-indexed the address to 918 Ludington Mall. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 (Source). »

Le traitement du modèle de Donaldson est plus délicat. Le visage est plus ovale, alors que celui de Melchers est plus carré. La physionomie est ici plus fine et élancée. Conservée dans la collection privée de Bela Hubbard, sa photographie a été moins diffusée que celle de Melchers.

« Statue of Marquette, plaster of paris cast used as model for city hall statue of same, model made by John M. Donaldson, who was a sculptor prior to his career as an architect, accepted as best conception of Marquette. The 7' high city hall statues were made of Indiana limestone and are now located at Wayne State University's Ludington Plaza. » From Detroit Historical Society file, collaboration de Adam Lovell.

O. E. Woodworth, Cheboygan, Mich., Rev. Pere Marquette, photographie, AJC, CACSM1-294,5,332a.

John M. Donaldson (1854-1941), Statue of Marquette, 1870-1879, gilded plaster of paris cast, Height 24", Diam 6"3/4, Detroit Historical Society, 1930.128, from Estate of Bela Hubbard.

Notman, Marquette, Monument de la façade de l'Hôtel de ville de Détroit aux États-Unis, vers 1923, photographie, Québec, BANQ, P1000 Collection Centre d'archives de Québec, S4 Documents iconographiques, P1000,S4,D19,P41. Voir aussi Thierry 2007 (web).

Source de ces trois photos :
Béland 2006.


Photo : source.

FANTASTIC FOUR - Help Us Preserve Wayne State University's Fantastic Four ! Source.

They've guarded the campus for over thirty years and now they need our help to restore them to their original glory.

The Fantastic Four (also known as Cadillac, deLasalle, Richard and Marquette) are sculptures by Julius Melchers (1829-1908) that graced the original Detroit City Hall from c. 1885 until the building was demolished in 1960. Saved and gifted to the university by the Detroit Common Council, they were placed on the Ludington Mall near General Lectures in 1973. Now approaching their 125th birthday, the elements have taken their toll and these sculptures are in need of restoration.

Carved in limestone, these 10-foot figures represent four French pioneers who helped open up the territory of Michigan and establish the city of Detroit. The statue of Marquette (far left) was carved after a model created by architect John M. Donaldson (1854-1941). The sculptures are displayed at different heights and in an asymetric design of pedestals, plantings and walls. Prosaically, when sited in 1973 Cadillac was placed facing south towards the Detroit river. Currently, the quartet can be seen in the round, on a 5 acre, park-like informal setting adjacent to St. Andrews Episcopal Church.

Some considered Julius Theodore Melchers the first sculptor of Detroit. Melchers immigrated from Germany to Detroit in 1855 after working on the Crystal Palace in London. He was known as both a sculptor and a woodcarver, having made a partial living by carving cigar-store Indians. In Prussia he had apprenticed with a sculptor and subsequently studied with leading academic sculptors at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Melchers worked in wood, plaster and stone, having a workshop for nearly 40 years which produced architectural sculpture, church carvings, patterns for decorative castings and shop figures. He conducted classes in drawing and modeling, making a major contribution to fledgling artists in Detroit. His son Gari Melchers, had a house built for him in Indian Village which still stands today.

Wayne State University is committed to public art on campus and preserving the history of Detroit. These representations of early Michiganians are a spectacular example of the university's art collection. Costs for the restoration of the four sculptures are estimated to be $45,000.

Please help us preserve this important part of our history! To contribute to our conservation fund for the Fantastic Four, please donate here (please be sure to select University Art Collection as your gift designation).

Thomas AE Weadock MC, PERE MARQUETTE The MISSIONARY EXPLORER By Hon Thomas AE Weadock Member of Congress from Michigan Read before the United States Catholic Historical Society, United States Catholic Historical Magazine, Volume 4, p. 392.

« The statue of Marquette was carved by Melchers after a model created by architect John M. Donaldson (1854-1941). Rescued from their niches when city hall was emolished in 1960-1961, the statues were stored for a number of yers until the Detroit common Council presented them to Wayne State University [Ludington Plaza, Anthony Wayne Drive between West Warren Avenue and Merrick Street], where they were installed in 1974] thanks to the generosity of the Ludington family of Detroit. » Dennis Alan Nawrocki, Art in Detroit Public Places, p. 82-83 : « made in sandstone ».

Julius Theodore Melchers Sculptures (Source)

Possibly the work of famed Detroit Sculptor Julius Melchers. Do these look like the works of sculptor known for his wooden sculptures of Cigar Store Indians? Melchers was also a Mason. See anything in the intricate carvings that could be attributed to the work of a Mason?

"Prussian-born artist Julius Melchers of Detroit elicited his creations from quartered ship masts. Constricted by the contour of the spar, the figures are often spindly. By turning them upside down, you can see the wood's straight grain. He was one of the few artists who used Native Americans as models. Thomas Brooks was known for his "leaners," Indians resting their elbows on log posts, barrels"

"The neighboring Dry Dock Engine Works on Atwater Street created 129 steam engines for marine use; more than one-third of those were sold to Detroit Dry Dock Co. Henry Ford learned the machinist’s trade during his employment at the Works from 1880 to 1882. Julius Melchers, one of Detroit’s first great artists, sometimes supplied a vessel’s finishing touch by carving the figurehead."

"An outstanding creator of cigar ore Indiansin the mid-west was Julius Melchers, a German emigrant who arrived in Detroit in 1852. Within a few years he was well established in the business. A copy of a bill he issued in 1878 showed he charged $53 for one such carving and that his billhead listed him as sculptor, modeler and wood carve. In his book "Artists in Wood"author Frederick Fried said of Melchers, "from the middle of the 19th through 'the 20th centuries no American woodcarver received much recognition..." One of Melcher's cigar store Indians sold January of 1989 for $35,000"

"Julius Melchers (1829-1909), a German sculptor and woodcarver who settled in Detroit in 1855, worked in several different mediums, including wood, plaster, and stone. He had apprenticed with a sculptor and master woodcarver in his native Prussia and studied with two leading academic sculptors at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. For more than forty years, his Detroit workshop produced architectural sculpture, church carvings, patterns for decorative castings, and shop figures. Melchers also conducted classes in drawing and modeling, and so made a major contribution to Detroit's fledgling artistic community. His best shop figures are sensitively rendered, with a naturalism that is quite convincing. The Fur Trapper attributed to him has several conventional features, including a feathered skirt, catamount pelt, and left leg supported by a box, but is nevertheless far from typical. The masterful carving seen in the handling of form, as well as in the modeling of the face and other details, raises it to the level of the extraordinary."

"Detroit was fortunate in getting a large element of these heroic Germans with their ideals of human freedom. This brings us back to our City Hall and its symbolism. Around the clock tower you will see the sandstone figures of Justice, Industry, Art and Commerce. On the facade you will see statues of Cadillac and La Salle and Fathers Marquette and Richard. All these were carved by one of the German Revolutionists of '48, Julius Theodore Melchers. Melchers had been a painter and sculptor as a youth in Prussia. He was one of the many who revolted against the tyranny of the Hohenzollerns and was forced to flee for his life. After his escape he lived in New York for some years and finally came to Detroit in 1855. Here the artist and teacher supported himself by carving wooden Indians, which were placed in front of tobacco stores. Later he conducted art classes on Sundays in the hall of the Harmonie Society. Slowly he developed his art school, with his son, Gari Melchers, as one of its graduates."


Melchers, Julius Theodore, 1830-1903, sculptor.
Pere Marquette, (sculpture).
Other Titles: 
Marquette, (sculpture).
Old Detroit City Hall Figures: Marquette, (sculpture).
1874. Installed 1880s. Rededicated Nov. 25, 1974.
Digital Reference: 
Images Images ImagesImages Images Images
Figure: limestone; Base: concrete.
Figure: approx. 8 ft. x 28 in. x 24 in.; Base: approx. 5 x 5 x 5 ft.
(On front of base:) MARQUETTE
Standing male figure in clerical garb, one foot forward, arms crossed, proper right hand holding book.
Portrait male -- Marquette, Jacques -- Full length
Occupation -- Other -- Explorer
Occupation -- Religion -- Clergy
Ethnic -- French
Dress -- Historic -- Seventeenth Century Dress
Object Type: 
Architectural component
Outdoor Sculpture -- Michigan -- Detroit
Administered by Wayne State University, Art Department, Detroit, Michigan 48202
Located Wayne State University, Anthony Wayne Drive, Detroit, Michigan
Formerly located Detroit City Hall, Facade, Detroit, Michigan until 1961.
One of four figures made for niches in the facade of the Detroit City Hall, built in 1871, demolished 1961. Commissioned by Bela Hubbard. Subject was early French explorer. Inventory has photograph of the figure in his overall setting alongside the other three Old Detroit City Hall Figures. IAS files contain copies of newspaper articles from Detroit Free Press, Nov. 26, 1974, and Detroit News, June 2, 1983, both of which discuss the relocation of the four figures and biographical information about them.
Surveyed 1994 May. Well maintained.
Save Outdoor Sculpture, Michigan survey, 1994.
Detroit Historical Department, 1988.
Image on file.
Related Works: 
For model see 24140012.
The information provided about this artwork was compiled as part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture database, designed to provide descriptive and location information on artworks by American artists in public and private collections worldwide.
Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum, P.O. Box 37012, MRC 970, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Control Number: 
IAS 24140011
Source : SIRIS (web).


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