August 25, 1925
MAINE GOVERNOR REJECTS
TABLET FOR NEW BRIDGE
Says It Glorifies Pacifism More
Than Maine's Part in World War
Boston. Aug. 25 -- Greatly to the concern of Miss Bashka Paeff, the artist, it became known yesterday that the bronze relief that she was commissioned to make by former Gov. Baxter of Maine for a conspicuous in the war memorial bridge at Kittery has been rejected, temporarily at least, by Gov. Brewster on the ground that the design is more of a glorification of pacifism that of his state's part in the world conflict.
When she was asked to comment on the situation last evening at her studio, 45 River street, Miss Paeff was obviously much disturbed . She firmly declined to talk of the fact that two checks for $10,000 and $12,000 respectively which had been drawn to her credit during the Baxter administration, in addition to a preliminary payment of $5,000, have been held up by the present executive of the state.
The story of the "rejected" relief really begins in May 1924, when the then Gov. Baxter and a memorial committee selected Miss Paeff's sketch from a number of others which had been submitted. They made a contract with her to model the bronze relief after the design in the sketch and agreed to set it in a special plinth at the entrance to the memorial bridge which connects Portsmouth, N.H. and Kittery, Me.
Then, as ex-Gov. Baxter recently explained, that all bills for the
memorial should be met by his administration and not embarrass his successor. Checks were drawn by the state treasurer, payable to Miss Paeff's order, and were locked up for safe keeping with a trust company until they should come due. Previously, however, the sum of $5,000 had been paid the artist to bind the contract.
So far so good. Miss Paeff worked steadily on the relief and a month or two ago finally completed the clay model from which the bronze was to be cast. She was pleased with her work and thought it would be a good notion to invite the Governor of Maine to view it. But by this time Baxter had retired from office and when the executive of the state came It was Brewster, who has a very distinct ideas of his own.
The dramatic force and the artistic quality of the relief were striking, he said. It was skillfully modeled and the symbolic design was deeply impressive. But -- and he mentioned this with disarming mildness -- he doubted whether such a design would be entirely satisfactory to the people of Maine, who expected an appropriate memorial for the deeds of their sons in war.
Miss Paeff pointed out that it was perhaps somewhat late to attempt to change the figures, the design and the whole spirit of the piece, and reminded Gov. Brewster that she was simply carrying out her end of the contract which had been legally and bindingly made with his predecessor.
There are four figures in Miss Paeff's embattled relief. Two of them are the torsos of dead youths, their bodies and features twisted in agony, who are lying at the feet of a horror-stricken mother clasping a baby in her arms. Besides one of the corpses is a dog and in the background is a whirling wrack of midst [sic] suggesting mystery and terror. It is a large panel, 8 by 13 feet.
Reprinted with permission from The Portsmouth Herald
Wednesday, August 26, 1925
1998 photo copyright SeacoastNH.com