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William Henry Rinehart's Marble Studio

Updated on December 06, 2016

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The Process of Creating a Living Image

Between March 29th 2015 and August 15th 2015 a Special Exhibition ran at The Walters Art Museum. "Rough Stone To Living Marble" showcased the works of William Henry Rinehart as well as explained in detail the marble carving process.

The ingenuity put into the marble carving process is an interesting one, yet simply put it requires precision. However one of the themes of the exhibition (and possibly an unintentional one as most exhibitions at The Walters cause) was the question of who really created the showcased art.

In our present day of advanced machinery one person, the artist, can create whatever they want. During the time of William Henry Rinehart such pneumatic tools, computers, and 3D printers did not exist yet. Artists like Rinehart required a team of sculptures to build his master pieces, but how hands-on is that exactly? Can you really call a man an artist if he just sits back and points his workers in various directions?

The process of marble carving is an art form that has been around since the Roman period. If you think about it as humans we have been carving things out of rock since the beginning of time, but since ancient Rome the process of marble carving has been one of the oldest known art forms.

Just walk into any museum and you can see that marble sculptures from that time period may not be perfect, but they are still there. Despite years of war, and conflicts of faith and nationality, marble sculptures stand the test of time.

In The Entrance

“Yours, Mine, and Ours” (2010) by Sebastian Martorana (American) 1981-present. Made of marble and held on the wall with steel hardware.
“Yours, Mine, and Ours” (2010) by Sebastian Martorana (American) 1981-present. Made of marble and held on the wall with steel hardware.
“Sleeping Children” (modeled 1859, sculpted in 1870) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made of marble.
“Sleeping Children” (modeled 1859, sculpted in 1870) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made of marble.
“Peneroso (Ideal Head)” (modeled 1863) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with marble.
“Peneroso (Ideal Head)” (modeled 1863) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with marble.
“Thetis” (modeled 1861) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made of marble.
“Thetis” (modeled 1861) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made of marble.
Carrara marble from Carrara Italy. Most of the items in this gallery once begun as a slab f Earth just like this one.
Carrara marble from Carrara Italy. Most of the items in this gallery once begun as a slab f Earth just like this one.
Except for this piece of course which is made out of plaster. “Love Reconciled with Death” (1865-1867) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874.
Except for this piece of course which is made out of plaster. “Love Reconciled with Death” (1865-1867) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874.

As you walked into the gallery you immediately were greeted by the above examples of capturing human effects in the artwork. "Sleeping Children" by William Henry Rinehart being the creepiest. I suppose it depends on how you look at things but this piece represents just that. You can either view as just two children sleeping, you could think glass-half-empty (like a lot of Victorians did) and say they are in some kind of Gothic death slumber. Considering this is used as a gravestone in numerous cemeteries it's probably the latter.. Speaking of death and grave sites. "Love Reconciled with Death" was the base for the bronze statue above the Walters family grave at Greenmount Cemetery.

The Back of The Gallery

Here is what William Henry Rinehart looked like... or at least something close to that. “Portrait of William Henry Rinehart” (1865) by Francis (Frank) Blackwell Mayer (American) 1827-1899. Made with oil on canvas.
Here is what William Henry Rinehart looked like... or at least something close to that. “Portrait of William Henry Rinehart” (1865) by Francis (Frank) Blackwell Mayer (American) 1827-1899. Made with oil on canvas.
What more lovely way of saying "Happy Mother's Day" than to make a bust of your mom? “Bust of the Artist’s Mother: Mrs. Israel Rinehart (Nee Mary Snader, 1797-1868)” (ca. 1868) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made of marble
What more lovely way of saying "Happy Mother's Day" than to make a bust of your mom? “Bust of the Artist’s Mother: Mrs. Israel Rinehart (Nee Mary Snader, 1797-1868)” (ca. 1868) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made of marble
Not sure who the hell this is though... “Bust of Mrs. J. Edward Farnum (Nee Eliza Leiper Smith, 1849-1912)” (1866) by William Henry Rinehart. Made of  marble.
Not sure who the hell this is though... “Bust of Mrs. J. Edward Farnum (Nee Eliza Leiper Smith, 1849-1912)” (1866) by William Henry Rinehart. Made of marble.
“Account Book” (ca. 1859) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with ink on paper. “Libro Maestro (Studio Account Book)” (ca. 1861) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with ink on paper. Can't read it? It's in Italian.
“Account Book” (ca. 1859) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with ink on paper. “Libro Maestro (Studio Account Book)” (ca. 1861) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with ink on paper. Can't read it? It's in Italian.
“Set of Eight Modeling Tools” (ca. mid-19th Century). (French). Made of Wood. The one in the upper left would probably make a good back scratcher is if it were longer.
“Set of Eight Modeling Tools” (ca. mid-19th Century). (French). Made of Wood. The one in the upper left would probably make a good back scratcher is if it were longer.
“Sketchbook” (ca. 1860-1874) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with graphite and paper. “Sketchbook” (ca. 1860-1874) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with ink and graphite on paper.
“Sketchbook” (ca. 1860-1874) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with graphite and paper. “Sketchbook” (ca. 1860-1874) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with ink and graphite on paper.
“Rounded Point Chisel” by Bicknell Tools (Elberton, Georgia). Made of steel and carbide. “Rasp” (ca. 2008) by Mulani Utensili (Pietrasanta, Italy). Made of steel. “Hammer” by Trow & Holden (Rutland, Vermont). Made with steel, wood, and tape.
“Rounded Point Chisel” by Bicknell Tools (Elberton, Georgia). Made of steel and carbide. “Rasp” (ca. 2008) by Mulani Utensili (Pietrasanta, Italy). Made of steel. “Hammer” by Trow & Holden (Rutland, Vermont). Made with steel, wood, and tape.
“Pointing Apparatus” (ca. 1930) (Italian). Made with brass and steel. Modern Bust of William T. Walters. Made of plaster.
“Pointing Apparatus” (ca. 1930) (Italian). Made with brass and steel. Modern Bust of William T. Walters. Made of plaster.

Carving Sculptures From Marble

As I mentioned above one of the most important aspects of marble carving is the precision. Personally I am not that crazy about mathematics, but with marble carving it all comes down to the slightest point of the mark.

The pointing apparatus is responsible for making sure the artist gets his drill point precisely where they want it. The "drilling" being down with a tool called a violin. The artist uses a metal drill bit (that's basically what it is, so get off my ass if there's an ultra artsy name for it) to make holes in the marble block.

From there they use a chisel and hammer to break off chunks of the marble after drilling their points. At this time in the marble carving operation their intended work starts to take shape. However this is not carpentry and requires more than a piece of sand paper to get the job done.


Going Back Toward The Entrance

Ignore the foot, it use to be attached to a statue...
Ignore the foot, it use to be attached to a statue...
“Daguerreotype of ‘Sleeping Peri’ Sculpture” (after ca. 1856) After Erastus Dow Palmer. Made with Daguerreotype.
“Daguerreotype of ‘Sleeping Peri’ Sculpture” (after ca. 1856) After Erastus Dow Palmer. Made with Daguerreotype.
“Brooch with Profile of Ellen Walters after a Bust by William H. Rinehart” (ca. 1862) by Tomasso Saulini (Italian) “Cameo after William H. Rinehart’s ‘The Woman of Samaria’” “Brooch with Cameo of ‘Spring’ After a Relief by William H. Rinehart"
“Brooch with Profile of Ellen Walters after a Bust by William H. Rinehart” (ca. 1862) by Tomasso Saulini (Italian) “Cameo after William H. Rinehart’s ‘The Woman of Samaria’” “Brooch with Cameo of ‘Spring’ After a Relief by William H. Rinehart"
“Portrait of Ellen Harper Walters” (ca. 1859) by George Augustus Baker (American) 1821-1880. Made with oil on fabric.
“Portrait of Ellen Harper Walters” (ca. 1859) by George Augustus Baker (American) 1821-1880. Made with oil on fabric.
“Bust of Jennie Walters” (1874) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with marble.
“Bust of Jennie Walters” (1874) by William Henry Rinehart (American) 1825-1874. Made with marble.
"If we squint we can just make out that suspicious looking person."
"If we squint we can just make out that suspicious looking person."

Working In The Special Exhibtion

The gallery was set up in a strange way. The Special Exhibition at the museum is like a large horse shoe, but only a third of the overall space was utilized. Two security guards were posted in the Exhibition at all times. The cameras were only pointed toward the entrance/exit and for the most part were either blocked or did not work at all. I am still not sure how this was considered ok by our Security Director, Chris Kunkle, who would normally oversee the installation of special exhibitions. Especially making sure that every single camera is in it's place and working perfectly.

Luckily 80% of the pieces were either made of marble or behind glass. There was also a great hiding spot near the emergency exit. That not only had a chair (a very important survival tool for long Thursdays) but also had great wifi. There was a sit-down spot near the Emergency Exit, provided that you dragged one of the comfy chairs back there with you. The Supervisors never really came into the exhibition or cared what you did at the time. Unfortunately this was the last exhibition that Reggie worked before he quit suddenly. I'm not sure of the reasons behind it, but I doubt it was the boredom of this place that did it.

Like us they did not take this exhibition seriously since the work order did not require more than two guards at a time. I know there are a lot of people that say "you must be so lucky to work in an art museum!" For the most part working Security in an art museum, especially this one in this city, is educational.

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