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Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated April 15, 1857.

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Title: Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated April 15, 1857.


  • Silloway, Thomas William, 1828-1910


  • Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882

Source Document

Extent: 1 letter

Genre(s): letter



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Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated April 15, 1857., Original located at the University of Vermont's Special Collections in the George Perkins Marsh Collection, filed by date., (accessed January 19, 2018)

Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated April 15, 1857.

Transcribed by : Ralph H. Orth and Ellen M. Thomson

TEI mark-up by : James P. Tranowski andEllen Thomson

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information

Boston April. 15..1857.

Mr. Marsh,

My Dear Sir your letter acknowledging the reception of my letter to the Doctor in regard to the dome, and also a letter from you in regard to the pediment decoration are received. The dome we will consider disposed of so far as the kind of material is concerned. I will see to it that the contour amp;c.amp;c. cc. is not neglected. You may depend on my doing my best in the matter. I think with examples, opinions, and the like before me, that attention and good consideration will give us the right kind of a dome. The remaining part of your letters had principally to do with the sculpture in the tympanum I have had the matter in mind and am pleased to think you also are giving it a proper consideration. In my last letter to the Doct., I speak of your -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- letter and promise to take it to him the next time I go to Montpelier which will be very soon. The letter you write me (received to day) in regard to decoration in lieu of the proposed sculpture I will consider, and as soon as I can get any opinion worth communicating you shall have it. A little time employed in thinking the matter over will be a service well rendered. You will in good time hear from me and then you can amend my ideas as you may deem expedient. I presume the other Commissioners will to a large degree depend upon you for advice in the matter. I have of late, read some little in regard to things of the kind. As I am very busy in preparing drawings for immediate service, I am unable to give the attention I hope to give in a few weeks. I am not entirely agreed -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- with you that sculpture was put in pediments to avoid the ill effect of wind amp;c. To a certain extent this may have been true, but not entirely. However, as the thing is a matter of small moment to us just now, I will not discuss it, but will instead, make a couple of quotations which may do us more good. After speaking of Painting as allied to Architecture [Garbett?] says "Sculpture is more allied to Architecture than Painting. Figures of men and animals may be seen in the highest perfection in the Parthenon. They may be introduced in low, high, or full relief. In the last case their situation is usually that of a niche. We shall say no more on the subject of figures, then that of course, they must have relation to the end for which the edifice is erected, and if not in that respect perfectly intelligible are worse than useless" (The interlining is my own) Chambers says

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"The face of the tympan is always placed on a line perpendicular with the face of the frieze; and when large, may be adorned with sculpture representing the arms or cypher of the owner, trophies of various kinds, suited to the nature of the structure, or bas-reliefs, representing either allegorical or historical subjects; but when small it is much better left plain." (The underlining is mine)

You gave up the idea of an iron dome for the reason that you thought upon mature deliberation that it was better so to do. I shall for the same reason give up the sculpture if the good of the building demands it.

The subject shall be borne in mind and in good time you shall hear from me.

I am yours in haste but very truly

Thomas W. Silloway
121 Court St

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