Thursday, June 18, 2009
Not a chance. These putti ("cherubs" is really simpler and doesn't sound as pretentious) seem to take their job very seriously. Whatever their job is. I think they're merely decorative. Who would give a gargoyle's job to an out of shape boy? Certainly not the architect of the Burrage mansion!
The Burrage House was built in 1899 as the winter home for attorney, businessman, philanthropist and copper magnate Albert C. Burrage and his family, so says a report by the Boston Landmarks Commission.
It remained in the Burrage family until the death of Burrage’s widow Alice in 1947. Since then, it has been converted, in turn, into doctors' offices, a clinic, a nursing home and condominiums. (In fact, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lived there until recently.)
Charles Brigham was the architect and Hugh Cairns is thought to have done most of the sculpture. Cairns was a Scottish artist who counted H.H. Richardson's Trinity Church in nearby Copley Square among his other significant projects.
With this mansion, Burrage and Brigham were hoping to achieve the opulence of New York's Fifth Avenue, where the Vanderbilt and Astor mansions were built in the chateau style. In fact, the Burrage House is said to be "the only fully executed chateau in Boston," inspired by Chenonceaux, a chateau built in the Loire Valley between 1513 and 1521.
A report by Otis & Ahearn Real Estate estimated that the house's exterior sports nearly 200 griffins, dragons, gargoyles and cherubs.
The American Institute of Architects' Guide to Boston called it "the one exception to Boston's avoidance of flamboyant architecture."
The Boston Landmarks Commission report also says it's apparent that for Brigham and Burrage, "complexity was favored above simplicity, magnificence above charm, and stimulation above peace."
However, this fellow seems to have found some peace and stimulation (of the intellectual variety).