archive photo of Boston Library, ca. 1895

History of the commission

Sargent was drawn into discussions with architects Charles F. McKim and Stanford White about mural decoration at the Boston Public Library in spring 1890 in New York City, where he had come to act as an usher at his friend and fellow artist Edwin Austin Abbey's wedding. McKim, whose firm designed the Library, wanted mural paintings and sculpture to adorn the building; he had already asked sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create groups of figures at the main entrance.
Boston Public Library after completion, ca. 1895
Boston Public Library
The Triumph of Religion