Triumphant Eagle Sculpture
This 19th-century bronze sculpture features a triumphant eagle on an ebonized wood base. To create this sculpture, bronze would have been shaped through a mold, which accounts for the unique detail across the eagle’s wingspan. Even though the author of this sculpture is unidentified, the artist’s expertise and skill shines through in the amount of detail the bronze mold was able to make. Each feather is rendered with care, the talons are carefully articulated, and the rock the eagle is perched upon is beautifully executed. Originally, the base of the sculpture would have been lighter wood that was darkened with a chemical solution. The result is a base that looks like black ebony, which is known for its strong, powerful, and regal attributes – a perfect fit for this mighty eagle. In Ancient Rome, the eagle was the standard of a Roman legion, and represented leadership, freedom, bravery, and authority. As such, this sculpture has enough detail and rigour to be a powerful centerpiece at any table.
At this time in the United States, the California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, with the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall (1810–1885) at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. This news would entice approximately 300,000 prospectors to California over the next seven years. The Gold Rush had substantial, severe effects for Indigenous societies of the area, who were attacked and pushed off their lands by the gold-seekers. Gold valued at tens of billions of contemporary US dollars was recovered, yet very few reaped these benefits; many who participated earned little more than they started with.