Gayasuta Fountain

Location: Sharpsburg, PA, USA

H. J. Heinz, a member of the Temperance movement and extremely unforgiving of those who drank alcohol, donated a cast iron drinking fountain in 1896 surmounted by the statue of an Indian. It was installed at the intersection of Main and North Canal Street currently the heart of the Sharpsburg Central Business District.

The statue represents Guyasuta, a strong warrior and skilled hunter who was also a Seneca Indian chief that resided in the area in the 1700’s. He was chosen by George Washington to be a hunter guide with his party in 1753.

The fountain was struck by a vehicle in 1930 destroying the statue which required a copy to be cast using the original mold. In 1983 the fountain was once again struck by a truck causing damage to the statue. The Indian chief now in his third resurrection was cast by Eleftherios Karkadulias of Karkadoulias Bronze Art Company of Cincinnati.

The original fountain was manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York. The structure was seated on an octagonal stone plinth. It consisted of a single pedestal with attic base and canted corners surmounted by a bronze statue of an Indian Chief.

3-JL Mott_Indian

 

The fountain supplied water to horses, humans and dogs via dolphin mascarons. Eight arched cornices contained dolphin masks which are symbolic of guardians of water. Two of the mascarons spouted water into demi-lune fluted basins for human consumption. Drinking cups were suspended by chains. Horses drank from two large demi-lune fluted troughs from which overflow water fed four smaller basins on each corner for the refreshment of smaller animals. A plaque between the dog troughs was inscribed with the maker’s name, The J.L. Mott/Iron Wks. N.Y.

An attic base supported a short column containing 4 inset panels bounded by pilasters. Four panels offered bas-relief with the option of a dedication plaque.

The capital supported the statue of an Indian which was modelled from an original wood carving created by Samuel Anderson Robb who was the leading cigar store Indian peddler. It was carved for William Demuth & Co. who cast it in zinc and advertised it in his catalog as “No. 53 Indian Chief.” In 1873, the J.L. Mott Iron Works purchased the design and listed it in their catalog of statuary. In his right hand the Indian Chief holds an arrow, and in his left hand he holds a bow attached to a base near his left foot, which rests on a rock. (This stance is called contrapposto, where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed.) A tree stump behind his right leg balances the sculpture. He is dressed in a headband containing three feathers, a bear claw necklace, a cloak, a breechcloth (fabric tucked into a belt that covered the front and back), fringed leggings and moccasins.

Glossary

  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription.
  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

 

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