John Joseph Boyle
Indian Capturing an Eagle, 1905
18 1/2 inches high
Roman Bronze Works N. Y.
John Joseph Boyle 1825-1917
Raised in Philadelphia and born in New York City, sculptor John Boyle was descended from Irish stonecutters. When his father died, he quit school and worked as a stone carver and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy with Thomas Eakins. With money that he had saved, he then went to Paris from 1877 to 1880, and enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux Arts. During this time, to support himself, he painted portraits in Paris and also took decorative commissions in London.
He first established his studio in Philadelphia and in 1902, moved to New York City where he became a sculptor-member of the Art Commission. Association memberships included the National Sculpture Society, the National Academy of Design, the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and the National Art Club.
Boyle's sculptures are installed at the Library of Congress, Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, and Lincoln Park in Chicago. Subjects include Indians and historical figures, and in 1906, he received $50,000 as a commission to do a bronze figure of Commodore John Barry. Upon completion it was unveiled by Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States.
"Stone Age in America" by Boyle installed in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park in 1888, provided him home-town distinction. The work, in classical realist style, originally depicted an eagle attacking an Indian family with the mother trying to defend her children. However, a group of citizens thought the sculpture demeaned America's sacred symbol, the eagle, and Boyle reluctantly exchanged that bird for a bear, "robbing the group of much of its power" (Reynolds 143).
However Philadelphia citizenry expressed much admiration for his seated figure of Benjamin Franklin, which has been called "the finest statue of the colonial statesman executed by an American" (Reynolds 143-144). It was exhibited at the St. Louis 1904 Lewis and Clark Exposition.
Donald Martin Reynolds, "Masters of American Sculpture"
Peggy and Harold Samuels," Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"