Salt Lake City, Utah –
At 11 a.m. on Thursday, November 5, 2009, the monumental bronze sculpture of Massasoit, created by nationally recognized sculptor Cyrus E. Dallin, will return to the Utah State Capitol Grounds. The sculpture greets visitors as they enter the Capitol Hill Complex from the east side of the Capitol. A brief press conference related to the re-installation will take place at the foot of the statue at the time of installation.
Massasoit is famously known as the Wampanoags Nation Chief who first welcomed the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock after they disembarked from the Mayflower. Dallin created the sculpture in the 1920’s. He was born and raised in Springville, Utah, and is known internationally for his realistic rendering of Chief Massasoit as well as the Angel Moroni statue that sits on top of the Salt Lake City Temple.
Dallin’s sculpture was first unveiled at the Utah State Capitol on July 31, 1922 at a time when Utah struggled economically. The State graciously accepted the generous gift from one of its most famous sons, adding to the Capitol beautiful artwork they could not have otherwise afforded.
During the first unveiling, Dallin expressed his desire that the state accept the gift as a token of his love for his native state of Utah. “These mountains are linked with the story of the Indian,” he said. “In setting up this man of peace, who saved the Plymouth Colony, I have a hope…that I might model the old Chief Washakie of the Shoshones, who, too, was a man of peace; and he wielded as potent and saving an influence over the first Pioneers…as ever did Massasoit over the Pilgrims.”
Classically trained in Paris, Dallin practiced sculpting during a period in art history which was a flowering of classical architecture and sculpture.
Capitol Curator Judith McConkie, PhD, noting that Massasoit is often compared to famous European sculptures, states that “The pose and the idealized body are a direct homage to Michelangelo’s David”.
Massasoit originally stood in the center of the Capitol’s Rotunda from 1923 until 1957, when it was moved outside to the South entrance of the Capitol Hill Complex. Now, complete with a new platform, Dallin’s beloved sculpture will be able to once again call Utah’s Capitol home.